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The Short and Skinny on the AFC West

Denver Broncos
Quarterback Jake Plummer remains an excellent choice for a “middle of the pack” fantasy starter.  While he won’t put up numbers on the scale of the Mannings and the Culpeppers, the drop off won’t be as big as you might think.  Plummer can be had somewhere around the seventh round of most drafts. 

The situation at Running Back continues to be filled with question marks.  Mike Shanahan decided he could not harness Maurice Clarett so he is out of the mix.  Mike Anderson has really stepped to the forefront and looks to be the starter, at least to begin the season.  Personally, I don’t have much confidence in Anderson lasting the entire season as the starter with Tatum Bell waiting in the wings.  As for draft position, Anderson’s stock continues to rise, probably somewhere in the sixth round range right now, and rising. 

Ashley Lelie and Rod Smith are getting mid-round attention in most drafts, somewhere around the seventh and eight rounds.  Both were sort of disappointments in 2005, looking to rebound.  Of the two, I think Smith has very good value in these mid-rounds. 

Jeb Putzier looks to be just inside the top 10 at his position, going in the late ninth round on average.  Jason Elam continues to be one of the best kickers while the Denver D no where to be found on the fantasy radar. 

Kansas City Chiefs
Trent Green continues to get a lot of fantasy attention, just inside the top five at his position.  Round three is where he seems to be going, though some recent tests for numbness have to be somewhat of a concern. 

At Running Back, Priest Holmes continues to hold as selection 1.03 on average.  Having Holmes presents a problem for the fantasy owner since Larry Johnson has been going in the fifth round, a high price to pay to get a backup.  Johnson has proven he can do the job and there is word that the two might be sharing more than we’d like. 

Of the wide outs, Eddie Kennison is getting the most attention, that is if you think being a ninth round selection means getting attention.  Mark Boerigter is going a round later, and Samie Parker has been a late round flier.  If it were me, I’d avoid all of these guys and look elsewhere. 

You don’t need me to tell you that Tony Gonzalez is ranked as the top Tight End, going on average in the third round.  Larry Tynes has struggled this pre-season, which is too bad since he might have been a nice late round kicker to select.  The Kansas City D should not be on your defensive radar screen. 

Oakland Raiders
There are high hopes for the Raiders offense this year, and Kerry Collins is the fantasy benficiary of that hype.  He’s been going around the fifth round in most drafts, 5th or 6th taken at the position.  Count me as someone that would be nervous having Collins as my starting fantasy QB. 

Newcomer Lamont Jordan is also getting some fantasy hype, and deservedly so.  After languishing behind Curtis Martin he’s finally out on his own and has a starting job.  He’s been going mid to late in the second round, not a bad player to take as your RB2. 

Another newcomer to Oakland, you may have heard of him, Randy Moss also is setting the fantasy world on fire.  Still the top selection at his position, Moss has been going at the tail end of the first round of most drafts.  I don’t think he will disappoint in 2005.  With all the hype around Moss, many are speculating a great year for Jerry Porter.  Fantasy players have been scooping him up in the fifth round, and let me be the first to issue come caution here.  Keep an eye on Ronald Curry.  Until he got hurt last year, Curry’s numbers were better than Porter’s.  He’s nearly back to 100%, while Porter has been struggling with a hamstring, Curry is an excellent choice in the very late rounds. 

I recommend passing on all Oakland Tight Ends, though Sebastian Janikowski will get a thumbs up as one being well within the top 10 at his position.  You’d be wise to avoid the Oakland D as well, perhaps one of the worst in the league. 

San Diego Chargers
Call me crazy, but I’m not seeing a repeat of 2004 from last year’s fantasy darling Drew Brees.  He’s been going around the eighth round of most drafts, not a bad place for a QB2 is that’s when you want to grab one. 

As if you need me to tell you that LaDainian Tomlinson is the consensus overall top pick.  That’s good, because the corps at wide out is not good.  Keenan McCardell was getting some decent attention in early drafts, but lately he’s been around as late as the 14th round.  Reche Caldwell isn’t getting much attention either, but he might be worth taking as a late round flyer. 

Antonio Gates ended his holdout, which fantasy owners are very happy for.  As a result, he’s been going as the 3rd TE off the board, around the fifth round.  I find it hard to believe he can repeat his 2004 performance as well, but someone has to catch the ball.  Nate Kaeding is not a bad last round selection, job security if nothing else.  The San Diego D barely breaks into the top 20 defenses, look elsewhere. 





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