The NFL Draft is almost here! The glorified conference call takes place starting April 29, meaning that we should probably start figuring out where we want fantasy football guys to go! Last year I wrote, “while the world descends into a depression following a global pandemic, wherein our leaders are calling up to 200,000 deaths a great victory!” I think it’s cute that I said following the global pandemic. Anyway, here are the greatest needs for the fantasy football prospects of the AFC West, to kick things off.
Denver Broncos (5-11)
Picks: #9, #40, #71, #114, #152, #191, #237 (NYG), #239, #253 (CLE)
Key Additions: Mike Boone (RB)
Key Losses: Phillip Lindsay (RB)
2021 NFL Draft Fantasy Football Wish List: Quarterback, Interior Offensive Line
It’s hard to say that the Denver Broncos really did… anything in the 2021 NFL free agency period. Their biggest offensive moves came in the form of swapping one depth running back piece for another. Obviously, everyone could use an offensive line upgrade, and the Broncos are no exception. Pro Football Focus ranked them as the #25 line in the NFL, though they note that Garett “flag on the play” Bolles finally became an NFL caliber Left Tackle. The Broncos hope to bookend him with Ja’Wuan James in 2021, but the interior of the line is still a fingers-crossed situation.
Unfortunately, that’s not their most dire need. Drew Lock isn’t it, and for fantasy football, if your quarterback isn’t it, it’s hard to keep everyone else up in the stratosphere. The best-case scenario for the Broncos’ fantasy football options is moving up to draft one of the big boys in this draft. Drew Lock could continue to drag this team along, or they could draft Trey Lance and turn Courtland Sutton, Jerry Jeudy, and Noah Fant into bona fide fantasy football stars.
Kansas City Chiefs (14-2, AFC Champions)
Picks: #31, #63, #94, #136, #144, #175, #181, #207 (PIT via MIA)
Key Additions: Joe Thuney (OG)
Key Losses: Mitchell Schwartz & Eric Fisher (OT), Sammy Watkins (WR), Damien Williams (RB)
2021 NFL Draft Fantasy Football Wish List: Offensive Line, Offensive Line, Offensive Line
The Chiefs don’t suffer from a dearth of talent in their weaponry. Former second-rounder Mecole Hardman can barely scratch relevance. They have Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce to soak up all their targets, and they took Clyde Edwards-Helaire in the first round of the draft last year. KC signed Joe Thuney away from New England, but ended up parting ways with both their 2020 starting tackles. They need to address these spots in the draft, lest Patrick Mahomes spend all year doing stuff like this again.
Las Vegas Raiders (8-8)
Picks: #17, #48, #79 (ARI), #80, #121, #162 (MIA), #167 (SEA), #200
Key Additions: Kenyan Drake (RB), John Brown & Willie Snead (WR)
Key Losses: Nelson Agholor (WR), Gabe Jackson (OG), Rodney Hudson (C), Trent Brown (OT)
2021 NFL Draft Fantasy Football Wish List: Offensive Line
The Raiders traded away or released 60% of their starting offensive line this offseason, and let Nelson Agholor bounce out to New England. On paper, they lost a lot at WR with Agholor getting one of the bigger wide receiver contracts, but I don’t think losing him is a big deal for the Raiders. They arguably upgraded from Agholor by adding John Brown, and they get Bryan Edwards, who lost most of 2020 with a foot problem, back and healthy. The Raiders also expect major growth from sophomore WR Henry “Hank” Ruggs III.
But, they need an offensive line. So bad. So, so bad. Either that or their offensive line plan is to kill Derek Carr with plausible deniability and replace him with Marcus Mariota. Which… that might not be the worst plan I’ve ever heard. But, it would probably be better to restock the guys upfront in the draft rather than bring the full weight of David Carr down on you for hurting his little brother.
Los Angeles Chargers (7-9)
Picks: #13, #47, #77, #97, #118, #159, #185 (JAX via TEN), #198, #241
Key Additions: Corey Linsley, Jared Cook
Key Losses: Hunter Henry, Kalen Ballage
2021 NFL Draft Fantasy Football Wish List: Running Back, Wide Receiver, Offensive Line
The Chargers adding Corey Linsley does a lot to address their offensive line needs but Pro Football Focus ranked their OL dead last in 2020, after multiple years of ending up toward the bottom. Given what they found with Justin Herbert last season, it wouldn’t shock me to see three of those top-100 picks go toward the big boys upfront.
Outside of an offensive lineman, the Chargers need some running back depth. Austin Ekeler is best suited as the big part of a platoon, and Justin Jackson and Joshua Kelley could end up as straight backups in the NFL. While I like Jackson, Kelley doesn’t thrill me so much. Ideally, they drop down to RB3 and RB4 on this team.
Wide Receiver is a big issue for the Chargers. Hunter Henry leaving ripped a giant hole in their pass-catching depth chart. Mike Williams hasn’t lived up to his draft stock, and if Keenan Allen goes down, LA will lean on Jalen Guyton as their WR2. That’s not great, Bob. Mock drafts have seen them take one of the Alabama WRs (Jaylen Waddle/DeVonta Smith) at 13, but I still think they should go OL in the first round. Still, if Kyle Pitts is there at 13 to replace Hunter Henry, wheels up.
Editor’s Note: Kyle Pitts won’t be there at 13.