The Fantasy Points staff recently welcomed NFL Films legend Greg Cosell and NFL Insider Adam Caplan to talk about the AFC West as part of our Virtual Pow-wow Series. I highly encourage you to check out the entire conversation by accessing our Livestream archives.
Greg and Adam joined John Hansen and company to break down the AFC West from front to back to help us get a deeper understanding of every roster heading into the summer. John has been holding these closed-door meetings with Greg and Adam for the last 15+ years. The Fantasy Points staff is proud to let the public peek behind the curtain during these exclusive Livestreams! Here are the notes I compiled from the AFC West meeting, and I included my biggest fantasy takeaways for each team.
Adam said the Panthers couldn’t get Teddy Bridgewater out of the building quick enough this off-season. They couldn’t stand that he refused to drive the ball downfield. Greg adds that the league has told us what they think of Bridgewater…he’s a backup quarterback. Drew Lock has flashed and he thinks Lock will be the guy to start the year unless he’s a disaster in August. Everyone knows what Teddy is at this point. He’s limited as a passer and he has a lack of awareness in the pocket. Lock is clearly a superior talent over Bridgewater.
Greg said they have to figure out what’s causing Lock’s mistakes. He recently had a discussion about how Sam Darnold has always thrown interceptions at every level of his career. Can you coach mistakes out of players like Lock and Darnold?
Adam said Jerry Jeudy is way better than he showed last season. Greg said drops weren’t an issue for him at Alabama but he had way too many drops on routine passes. Jeudy recently talked about how timing issues were a big cause for his drops. He clearly has a mind for route-running and he has excellent separation skills.
Greg said Noah Fant is a bit limited with lateral quickness — he’s a bit of a straight-line player — but he can really move for a tight end.
The crew agrees the Broncos are in play for Aaron Rodgers because they have a lot of offensive talent. This offense is loaded with receivers and they could be a top-10 offense with good quarterback play. Adam adds that K.J. Hamler’s hamstring issues date back to Penn State.
Adam and Greg think Javonte Williams will take the job from Melvin Gordon before long, but Williams isn’t a great receiver at this point so Gordon could handle passing-down work. Greg said his Williams’ hands weren’t bad but he’s not natural as a receiver.
Brolley’s Fantasy Takeaways
Jerry Jeudy has been my favorite target from the Broncos, and he’ll likely go down as one of my highest-owned WRs this year with his ADP sitting at a tasty 83.8 (WR37) over the last month. I could see him breaking out for an 80+ catch season if Teddy Bridgewater is the quarterback the Broncos go with for the majority of the season. I’ve been mostly out on Courtland Sutton at his ADP of 68.1 (WR30) as he comes back from his ACL injury, but he’d get a slight boost if the more aggressive Drew Lock sees the majority of playing time.
I’m out on both Javonte Williams (56.9, RB26) and Melvin Gordon (65.5, RB28) at their current prices unless one of them starts to fall in drafts or we get more clarity with their roles. I’m worried Williams could handle the most touches in this backfield only to give way to Gordon on the money snaps on third downs and at the goal line.
Kansas City Chiefs
Adam said you have to give Andy Reid’s backs time. Andy still believes in Clyde Edwards-Helaire and he thinks he’ll be fine. Greg adds that CEH is a back on a pass-heavy team, which is going to limit his carries. The running game isn’t a week-to-week priority for this offense, and he doesn’t believe CEH is ever going to be an 80-catch back playing with Patrick Mahomes.
Edwards-Helaire averaged nearly 85 yards per game, but he disappointed for fantasy because of his low target share and his struggles around the goal line. At least Le’Veon Bell is gone but he still has to deal with Darrel Williams stealing third-down snaps as well as Jerick McKinnon.
Adam said Mecole Hardman has been a disappointment as a receiver since he hasn’t stepped up to be more of a factor as a receiver. The Chiefs drafted him in the second round in 2019 because of Tyreek Hill’s off-the-field concerns Tyreek’s issues off the field in 2019 — the Jets really wanted him too.
Graham said the Chiefs were telling everyone what they thought about Hardman last year when they played Byron Pringle and Demarcus Robinson over him when Sammy Watkins was out of the lineup. Adam said they see Robinson as a #4 WR and as a special teams player.
Brolley’s Fantasy Takeaways
I have no earth-shattering takes on the Chiefs’ offense at the top of the draft. Patrick Mahomes is being drafted before I’m comfortable taking a quarterback with an ADP of 37.0 while I’ll have shares of Travis Kelce (7.9, TE1), Tyreek Hill (10.0, WR1), and Clyde Edwards-Helaire (27.1, RB17) at their fair market ADPs. CEH could really unlock some fantasy teams as an upside RB2 if he has better luck at the goal line after he converted just one of his nine opportunities inside the five-yard line.
I’ll be avoiding Mecole Hardman in season-long leagues because of his inconsistent performances to this point in his career, but I’ll be taking some cracks on him in best ball formats at his reasonable ADP of 130.7 (WR52). I have little reason to believe he’s due for a breakout third season, but they’ve cleared the runway for him to take off with their thin WR depth chart and they used significant draft capital on him in the second round in 2019.
Las Vegas Raiders
Adam is more bullish about their offense than most. They thought Derek Carr had his best season in 2020 and Darren Waller is one of the best receivers at his position. They also have some talent at wide receiver that needs to step up. Bryan Edwards will play the X if he can stay healthy, Henry Ruggs will play the Z, and John Brown will rotate in at both spots.
Greg said Ruggs can run but he needs more work to become a more complete receiver, but he added that a lot of receivers make big jumps from Year One to Year Two. This is a big year for both Ruggs and Edwards. Ruggs is the wild card for this offense. Greg saw some similarities in the skill sets between Edwards and Justin Jefferson coming out of college last year. Edwards’ tape was really good against SEC competition and he thinks he has a chance to be a volume receiver.
Greg said Waller is such a weapon for this offense when they split him out wide. It really helped Carr to feel more comfortable last season because it defined what the defense was showing him.
Adam said he hasn’t seen a contract for a backup running back as the one Kenyan Drake got in 10 years. They can’t walk away from him for the next two years and he’s going to have to play a lot to justify the contract. The situation doesn’t bode well for Josh Jacobs. The Raiders can say whatever they want but the contract shows they don’t have a lot of faith in Jacobs.
Greg said he really likes Jacobs’ talent, but he’s a hard runner who gets nicked a lot. Joe adds that Jacobs’ usage in the passing game has been apocalyptic with just one third-down target to start his career.
The start of Jon Gruden’s tenure has been befuddling for Graham. He’s done some great things by unlocking Waller and Nelson Agholor but then he’s underutilized Jacobs, who was a first-round pick, before giving Drake a massive contract this off-season.
Greg thinks Alex Leatherwood can play left tackle but he has some work to do with his technique. He reminded Greg of Duane Brown with his size and mass, but he needs some work to better coordinate his feet and hands.
Brolley’s Fantasy Takeaways
- I’ve been completely avoiding Josh Jacobs and our talk convinced me even more to stay the hell away from him. The Raiders gave Kenyan Drake a loaded contract this off-season and I doubt he just sits on the sidelines since he’s locked in for the next two seasons. Jacobs has also had no passing-down role to this point in his career, which is a bit worrisome since the Raiders have the league’s seventh-worst season win total sitting at just seven victories (-115).
Los Angeles Chargers
Greg has heard Justin Herbert tests off the charts on mental capacity tests. His issues at Oregon didn’t really show up on tape last season. Adam added that he was a see-it and throw-it quarterback before getting to Los Angeles, but he processed well enough last season and he made up for any deficiencies with his arm strength.
The Chargers addressed their O-line in a big way this off-season by signing C Corey Linsley and OG Matt Feiler. They also landed Rashawn Slater with the 13th overall pick and they’re going to plug him in at left tackle right away.
Greg liked both third-round picks Tre’ McKitty and Josh Palmer. The Chargers drafted McKitty for what he could become. He was strictly used as a big and athletic blocker in Georgia’s offense, but he has some receiving traits to potentially be developed.
Adam said OC Joe Lombardi had a rough go in Detroit but he got humbled by the experience. He probably got the job in Detroit before he was ready but this will likely be his last chance at making a good impression. He’ll bring some elements from the Saints and Austin Ekeler should have an Alvin Kamara type of role in his offense.
Graham said Ekeler is going to crush it between the 20s this season but the big question is will he get chances to score this year with the new coaching staff.
Greg said Larry Rountree isn’t as explosive or as dynamic as Zack Moss but they have some similarities and they’re both professional runners. He likes Rountree more than Joshua Kelley in the power-back role while Justin Jackson is more of a slasher.
Brolley’s Fantasy Takeaways
- The Chargers’ top offensive weapons are all fairly priced heading into the summer months. Mike Williams is the one player who could be a small value at his current ADP of 118.8 (WR50), but he’s been a player who has found ways to disappoint when he’s been in seemingly great positions to succeed the last couple of seasons. It’s setting up well for him this season with Hunter Henry leaving town, but Keenan Allen is still here vacuuming up so many targets while Jalen Guyton and Tyron Johnson impressed when they got chances to play last season.