Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Top Fantasy Stars: AFC West Preview

Denver Broncos:

1. Travis Henry-RB- Henry resurrected his career last season with Tennessee and will now be playing for a Denver team renowned for turning out 1,000 yard rushers. He is a bruising back who will fit in just fine with the Broncos blocking scheme. The only worry about him is his propensity towards injury. Even so, Henry will make a fine RB1 and will be snapped up by the very early second round.

2. Javon Walker-WR- Walker put to rest the rumors that his ACL injury from two seasons ago would rob him of his potential to be a great receiver by posting 69 catches and 8 touchdowns last year. He is the undisputed #1 WR on the Broncos and will be counted on heavily by quarterback Jay Cutler. The only wrinkle is the amount of double teams he will most certainly suffer due to the lack of another receiving threat on the team (except for possibly Daniel Graham or Tony Scheffler). However, he is well worth a fifth round pick as a low end WR1 or an excellent WR2.

3. Jay Cutler-QB- Cutler is a rising star in the world of Fantasy Football and his keeper potential is off the charts. In five games last year, he put together an 88.5 QB rating to go along with 1,001 yards passing and nine touchdowns. He will likely still endure some growing pains, but he possesses the arm, the brain and the other intangibles to produce a fine season this year as well. Best of all, you can nab him after the ninth round as a reserve QB.

Bargain Bin: Daniel Graham-TE- Graham got lost in the shuffle on the Patriots where Tom Brady tossed touchdown passes to everyone but the water boy. He is an excellent blocker and that will ensure that he is on the field for a great plays this season. He also has wonderful receiving skills and is a steal past the tenth round as a TE2.

Kansas City Chiefs:

1. Larry Johnson-RB- Johnson's threat of a holdout appears to be coming to an end. Now that he will actually be playing, he returns to his status as one of the top 3 fantasy running backs. There is concern about his durability given that he ran the ball 416 times last year, but it's not enough to eclipse his potential. He's guaranteed to be one of the top 5 players off the board and is a franchise RB1 for keeper/dynasty leagues.

2. Tony Gonzalez- His reception totals have dropped the last two seasons, but he's still one of the top four available at his position. His athleticism, even at age 31, continues to be unreal and he is the primary receiving threat for the Chiefs. What remains to be seen is how the change at the quarterback position affects his performance as he had tremendous chemistry with the departed Trent Green. Take him the seventh round with confidence as your TE1.

3. Eddie Kennison-WR- Kennison is a little long in the tooth at age 34. Still, with defenses concentrating on LJ and Gonzalez, he knows how to take advantage of the mismatches that he sees. Expecting a repeat of his totals last season (53 catches, 5 touchdowns) is not unrealistic. Don't reach, but you can find him after the tenth round as a WR3/Flex player.

Bargain Bin: Dewayne Bowe-WR- The Chiefs expect big things from Bowe, but maybe not during his rookie season. First year WR's rarely contribute heavily, but Bowe might be the exception. He has the opportunity with K.C's poor receiving corps to make his mark and is worth a late round flier as a reserve WR.

Oakland Raiders:

1. Lamont Jordon-RB- Jordon's return from injury is an intriguing storyline. Can he be the powerful runner he was when we last saw him or will the injury and the poor run blocking of the Raider's offensive line knock him back to pedestrian status? With Dominic Rhodes suspended for the first 4 games of the season, he will certainly get the opportunity to reestablish himself. He should still be available past the sixth round and, being that he is a starting running back, is worth the risk as a weak RB2 or a decent RB3/Flex player.

2. Jerry Porter-WR- Porter has been a forgotten man in Oakland. He is entering his prime and is only one season removed from a 76 catch, 5 touchdown year. The QB situation in Oakland is far from ideal, but Porter has the potential to step up and grab the playmaking WR role the Raiders so desperately need filled. He should be around after the ninth round and is worth a risk as your WR3.

3. Ronald Curry-WR- Curry recovered nicely from an injury to post a 62 catch season last year. He was forced to deal with exceptionally bad quarterback issues but emerged as the go- to guy. With Porter returning to the lineup (and no Randy Moss distractions) and drawing defenders away, Curry may improve upon those numbers, especially the 1 touchdown he scored. He'll be available late in the draft and you could certainly do worse than him at the WR3 position.

Bargain Bin: Daunte Culpepper-QB- The days of the NFL fearing Culpepper are long gone after his devastating knee injury from a few years ago. He is being given a chance to resurrect his flagging career in Oakland and should emerge as the starter eventually. He'll be available in the later rounds and might be worth a gamble as a Reserve QB.

San Diego Chargers:

1. LaDainian Tomlinson-RB- Do I really need to tell you take LT with the first pick of the draft? He is far and away the best Fantasy RB in the game today. Barring injury, he will again be the dominant force this season. If you aren't picking first, forget about him.

2. Antonio Gates-TE- Another no-brainer. There is Gates and then there is everyone else at the TE position. His "down" year of last season consisted of 71 catches and nine touchdowns. Take him as your TE1 by the end of the third round.

3. Vincent Jackson-WR- He's is everyone's popular Sleeper pick this year and with good reason. He will fill the role of starting wide receiver left vacated by Keenan McCardell. Though LT and Gates are clearly the dominant Alpha males in this offense, Jackson ought to be able to use his ability and size to carve a nice niche for himself. Take him by the 8th round as your WR3.

Bargain Bin: Phillip Rivers-QB- Rivers has one of the most enviable QB situations in all of football. He gets to pass the Gates in the red zone and to Tomlinson out of the backfield. Take him by the 8th round as a backup QB and play him with confidence if your starter struggles.

Up next....The NFC

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