Fantasy Football Outlook: AFC West Pre-Draft

It is never too early to start game planning for the next fantasy football season. That being said, the NFL Draft is a little over 1 month away, so now is the perfect time to start analyzing the fantasy-relevant needs of teams across the NFL. We will continue with the AFC West. 

Denver Broncos

2023 Draft Picks- 3.68, 3.69, 4.108, 5.140, 6.194, and 7.247

    The Broncos are a conundrum in themselves and I am not sure anyone knows what to expect from them in 2023. We all had high hopes for them going into last season and we saw where that got us. The Broncos will be without a 1st or 2nd round pick for the next two drafts, so they will be limited on what they are able to do from that standpoint. The good news for the Broncos is that they will have competent coaching this year, due to the fact that they traded for Sean Payton this off-season. When it gets down to it, the Broncos really do not have many needs on the offensive side of the ball. Whether people are happy about it or not, Russell Wilson is the starting QB for the Broncos for at least 2023. This situation should be the best possible setup for Wilson to succeed. With the new coaching staff and the offensive weapons surrounding him, Wilson will have no excuses for not being able to play at a high level. I do not expect the Wilson that we knew and loved in the past but I do expect a QB with a much safer floor and a higher ceiling than we had this past season. Wilson is a mid-tier QB2 with an upside in 2023. The RB situation in Denver is interesting. Mainly due to the fact that you would think that they have their RB of the future on their current roster, but it does not seem that way too many in the fantasy football community. Javonte Williams is extremely talented but he has a couple of major factors against him heading into this season. Not only is he coming off of a major injury ( torn ACL, LCL, and PLC), but he is also going to be dealing with an entirely new coaching staff in 2023. I would be hesitant to draft Williams early on in redraft leagues in 2023 due to the amount of risk he currently offers. We have seen a similar case with Ravens running back, J.K. Dobbins, and it took almost the whole season for him to be fantasy relevant. The Broncos also have Latavius Murray and Samaje Perine under contract as well. Both backs could have value but it will be hard to see who will be the back to own until we see their usage. Both backs have low-end flex value going forward with upside if Williams isn’t able to start the season. The wide receiver position for the Broncos looks good on paper but in reality, it seems a little shaky. There have been reports that the Broncos are looking to trade Courtland Sutton, but at this time nothing has happened. If the Broncos WR group stayed the same, it would consist of a solid group of guys including Jerry Jeudy, Courtland Sutton, Tim Patrick, and KJ Hamler. I would assume that they would not be getting a top-tier WR free agent and therefore there would not be a major impact on the current group. They also do not have the draft capital to add a top-tier option. I believe that no matter if Sutton is traded or not, Jerry Jeudy is the WR1 for this team going forward. He is the player that I expect to offer the most upside for the Broncos offense in 2023. Jeudy is a low-end WR2 with an upside heading into this season. Sutton and Patrick will still have fantasy value but I expect that they will be closer to a flex play with upside this upcoming season. The tight end position is solidly filled by 2nd year TE, Greg Dulcich. I do not expect the Broncos to use high draft capital on a rookie TE or to acquire a top-tier option in free agency. Dulcich was able to produce in his rookie year, even while being in a subpar offense. I expect things to be even better for Dulcich heading in 2023 with a better overall system and coaching staff. Dulcich should be viewed as a high-end TE2 with an upside heading into the season. 

Kansas City Chiefs

 2023 Draft Picks- 1.31, 2.63, 3.95, 4.122, 4.134, 5.168, 6.197, 7.217, 7.219, 7.227, 7.251, and 7.257

    The Super Bowl-winning Chiefs have one major luxury heading into the offseason, and it is that they don’t really need much of anything on the offensive side of the ball. The Chiefs main needs are on the defensive side of the ball and that is where I would assume they use a majority of their early draft picks. Now getting back to the offense, The Chiefs easily have the best QB in the league. There is not much more to say,  Patrick Mahomes will once again be a QB1 in fantasy football and real football in 2023. I would like to say that I have confidence in the running back position for the Chiefs, but at the end of the day, I could see them making some moves. The current RBs on the roster are Isiah Pacheco, Clyde Edwards- Helaire, and La’Mical Perine. Pacheco looked amazing last year but the fact that there is not much money/ draft capital behind him has me concerned that they could move on from him without much of an issue. I would expect the Chiefs to add a running back at some point. Whether that is Jerick McKinnon, a FA, or adding one in the draft. As long as the RB is not a top-tier option, I would be confident in Pacheco in 2023. He is a low-end RB2 with an upside. The wide receiver position for the Chiefs is a whole different story from every other offensive position on the team though. Although we have seen the Chiefs win without a top-tier option, their wide receiver group is getting pretty thin. They currently have only 3 fantasy-relevant players on their roster: Kadarius Toney, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, and Skyy Moore. I expect the Chiefs to either add a FA, draft a rookie, or trade for a decent WR this off-season. They need at least to get 1-2 solid players that would add to their WR group. If they don’t add anyone of value, then all 3 players I named would be in the flex conversation. It will be hard to know which one will be “the guy” on any given week unless one of them breaks out of the pack. The tight end position is also one that does not need to be questioned for the Chiefs. Travis Kelce will be back as the best tight end in the league in 2023. He will undoubtedly be the #1 target for the Chiefs and Patrick Mahomes. Until we see Kelce fall off, we should continue to treat him as the TE1 and therefore a 1st round pick in redraft leagues in 2023. Kelce is as safe and reliable as it gets at the TE position. 

Las Vegas Raiders

2023 Draft Picks- 1.07, 2.38, 3.70, 3.100, 4.109, 5.141, 5.144, 5.174, 6.204, 6.214, 7.220, and 7.231

    I am fortunate to be writing this article after the free agency has begun, so we already know what the Raiders have been doing. The QB for the Raiders for at least this year has already been solidified with the addition of Jimmy Garoppollo. Now, this does not mean that they won’t be taking the future of the franchise with the 1.07, but it does mean that Jimmy G will most likely be the starter come week 1. Jimmy has been a reliable option when starting for the Niners in the past. He offers fantasy managers a safe floor with a decent ceiling depending on the matchup. He should have plenty of success in Las Vegas with Davante Adams and the rest of the offensive weapons. Jimmy G is a low-end QB2 with an upside in 2023. Heading into the offseason the majority of the fantasy community thought that Josh Jacobs was going to be leaving the Raiders, but we were wrong. After an amazing season, the Raiders decided to use the Franchise tag on Jacobs. The Raiders also have Zamir White, Ameer Abdullah, and Brandon Bolden under contract. Out of all of those players, only White offers high-end backup value, if Jacobs were to go down with an injury. Otherwise, none need to be drafted in redraft leagues heading into 2023. Jacobs is a low-end RB1 with an upside in 2023. The Raiders WR position is not a huge need heading into the 2023 draft. The WR group is headlined by Davante Adams, who should have similar numbers with Jimmy G as he did with Carr last year. They recently signed Jakobi Meyers, who should fit in as their #2 receiver ahead of Hunter Renfrow. Renfrow figures to be their 3 /4 receiving option this year. Adams will once again be a top-tier WR1 heading into the season. Meyers can be looked at as a mid-tier flex option and Renfrow will be a low-end flex with more value in full PPR leagues. The tight end position for the Raiders is wide open. They recently signed Austin Hooper and O.J.Howard is in free agency, but neither of those players offers any consistency or true upside at the TE position. I would expect the Raiders to draft one of the top-tier TEs in the 2nd round of this year’s draft. If it is Mayer, Kincaid, Washington, Musgrave, or Laporta, I could see them having an immediate impact as a rookie in 2023. They would offer high-end TE2 potential with upside.

Los Angeles Chargers

2023 Draft Picks- 1.21, 2.54, 3.85, 4.125, 5.158, 6.200, 7.241

    The Chargers have plenty of offensive needs but quarterback is not one of them. Justin Herbert is the QB of the future for the Chargers and he should have a much better season this year than he did in 2022. The Chargers will hopefully solidify some of their major offensive holes, which should allow  Herbert to succeed in the Chargers offense. Herbert is a low-end QB1 with high potential if everything works out for the Chargers this off-season. The running back group for the Chargers is a major question mark heading into the off-season. There are reports that Austin Ekeler is looking for potential suitors for a trade, as the Chargers and Ekeler were not able to work out a long-term deal. If Ekeler were to leave, the Chargers would have a glaring hole at the RB position. The other current running backs on the roster are Joshua Kelley, Isaiah Spiller, and Larry Rountree III. Any of those backs can come in and be a decent fill-in for Ekeler, but none of them offer the same kind of ability or upside that Ekeler brings to the table. If Ekeler were to stay, he is easily a top 3 RB in fantasy for 2023. If he were to leave via trade, I would expect the Chargers to use their first-round pick on Bijan Robinson if he were still available at the 21st overall pick in the draft. I could also see them adding one or two of the top-tier free agents that are still available and using an RBBC for the 2023 season. If that did happen, it would be a mess that I would avoid until we saw one of the RBs on the roster emerge. The WR position is nicely filled by Keenan Allen, Mike Williams, and Joshua Palmer, but that does not mean that the Chargers aren’t going to draft a WR early this year. If Ekeler stays, then the 21st overall pick could certainly be used on a top 5 WR in this year’s draft. I would expect that the WR chosen would eventually be the replacement for Allen, therefore I expect it to be one of the following: JSN, Jordan Addison, or Zay Flowers. Any of those 3 would immediately be the 3rd/4th option for the team and would have immediate fantasy value due to how often the Charger receivers are injured. The long-term value of any of those WRs would also be great because of the potential of Allen leaving after this season. Allen and Williams are both low-end WR2s heading into next season. Palmer is a low-end flex with upside if they do not take a 1st round receiver. The tight end position for the Chargers is filled by Gerald Everett, Donald Parham Jr., and Tre McKitty. None of those screams TE1. Everett has the best chance to do so, but I feel we have seen exactly what he is capable of last year. Everett is nothing more than a mid-tier TE2 heading into next season. If the Chargers were to take a top-tier TE in this year’s draft, then I would be more excited about that prospect’s potential heading into fantasy drafts. Hopefully, the Chargers fix things with Ekeler, invest in their OL, and draft a WR. That would be the best combination for the Chargers and for fantasy football managers this upcoming season.

Please make sure to be following me this offseason via Twitter @JGalt93 and the podcast as well @TheHateful8FF!