THFantaC 2023 Fantasy Football Division Previews: The AFC West

Disclaimer: we are not researchers, just compilers and writers. A majority of these numbers can be found in a myriad of places. For simplicity’s sake, and to prevent you from having to read extensive in-text citations, the list of places we got our data (and what we used) is here:

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Las Vegas Raiders

This entire writeup is so much more optimistic if the Raiders drafted stud guard Peter Skoronski from Northwestern in the first round, but they went EDGE instead, which was also a need, but when you look at the OL on this roster, with solid tackle play and interior linemen that can’t pass block to save their lives, you wonder how much more effective this rebuilding on the fly offense could have become. PFF has them ranked as the 19th-best OL in football, Sharp has them at 15, but FTN has them ranked 30th. This is a Josh McDaniels offense, so who knows how good it could be since dude is kind of a moron. Warren Sharp pointed out how bad McDaniels is as an offensive playcaller: left New England to be the HC in Denver, fired after two seasons. OC for the Rams, the 32nd ranked offense in the league, was fired after one season. In those 3 years, New England’s offense ranked 1, 1, and 3 with a Super Bowl appearance. McDaniels came back after that to New England and presided over Brady’s worst season in NE (the year before going to Tampa Bay, setting records and winning a Super Bowl), and then also presided over year 1 of Mac Jones (bad).


Derek Carr was at his worst in most important metrics last year, and the Raiders sucked in the Red Zone. They lucked out by being the only team in the league with more than 9 Field Goals of over 50 yards, with 11.

One benefit to the signing of Jimmy Garoppolo to be the starting QB in Las Vegas is his prior familiarity with the McDaniels offensive system. Another benefit is knowing he’s most likely going to be a transitional piece while this team is in the early stages of a rebuild. If this team ends up with a top 5 pick, they go QB, right?

Garoppolo can’t stay healthy, and when he does, his performance is consistently mediocre. He’s only played one full season in his career and has had so many season-ending injuries that I had to click the “see more” dropdown box on the website. When he misses time, which he already has this offseason, it’s Brian Hoyer, 37, or Aidan O’Connell. Until then, let’s try to figure out what we can expect from Jimmy G both in real life and what it means for fantasy.

James G has finished as high as QB15 in FPPG, but most of his season finishes are either not sufficient in terms of games played to be measured, or in the 20s. Neither is good. He’s always been a game manager, buoyed by his incredible teammates. Last year, for example, he #2 protection rate when dropping back to pass, and while he was #30 in air yards per pass (6.9), he was 4th in yards per attempt with 7.9. The long ball is going to be non-existent: last year with McDaniels, Carr had 30 passes that traveled more than 30 or more air yards (3rd most in the league), and in the last 3 seasons, Jimmy Garoppolo has 26 combined.

His teammates elevated him by killing it after the catch. He was 1st in the league with his WRs gaining an average of 4.5 yards after the catch, which is fucking insane. At the same time, he was 31st in the league in accuracy, and 32nd in the league in clean pocket accuracy, and he provides no rushing upside. The Raiders pass a ton out of 11 personnel, and if we remove 3rd downs (where defenses are expecting a pass), Jimmy G had an air yards per attempt of 5.0, which was 46th out of 47 QBs. The short to intermediate game is where Jimmy G thrives, and it’s where Carr struggled, so there’s a chance the system plays to both their strengths.

Jimmy G is a 3rd QB in Superflex leagues, a guy who can give you a low QB1 week or two, but his path is much more difficult in Las Vegas than it was in San Francisco, given the massive downgrade in offensive line and playcalling. This offense has weapons, no doubt, but he’s going to have to shoulder more of the work than he’s had to in a really long time.

Running Backs

Josh Jacobs got his contract, so we can stave off the migraine I felt developing. Jacobs had the second most carries in the league last year, one of 3 to have more than 300 rushes in 2022, and somehow found the time to catch over 50 passes. This stat really highlights why Jacobs finally became the RB3 in FPPG after spending years in the top half of the RB2 heap. He played in all 17 games, his first full season, and 70 more carries he had in 2022 than ever before. His additional 600 rushing yards came with great efficiency: 2nd in carries, 3rd in snap share, top 10 in receptions, targets, red zone touches, goal line carries, routes run, evaded tackles, and breakaway runs. The team decided to run Josh Jacobs into the ground, and he killed it.

I’ve spent some time ripping on the Vegas offensive line already, and while their interior linemen suck at pass blocking, they can open up lanes for the run with no problem. Jacobs was averaging more or less four and a half yards per carry going up the middle, on the season. None of those guys changed spots, so another year of consistency will be good for them. The question becomes if this offense can stay close enough in games to allow the Raiders to use Jacobs. The Raiders’ average game script stat (averaged by the average point differential at any point in a given season) says that he was on the field when they were on average down over 2 points, which is the 21st-best in the league. Will his usage go down if that number increases significantly, which it could with a Jimmy Garoppolo injury?

He’s still at a disadvantage going into the season since his splits tend to show a lack of rushing success in games without Derek Carr. If the passing game works, it sets up the run and vice versa. I think this offense can run successfully with the talent at RB, WR, and, yes, TE, but Jimmy G needs to be an elevated distributor to make sure everyone can play to their potential. It sucks to have to slightly downgrade an elite back because his QB is injury prone, but here we are. Josh Jacobs with Derek Carr is one thing, Jacobs with Jimmy Garappolo isn’t ideal but still works, but Jacobs with Brian Hoyer or Aidan O’Connell is not something I want if I pick Jacobs in the late second/early third in redraft.

Zeus White had 17 carries last season, which should tell you how much they want to give the ball to Zeus White if they can avoid it.

Ameer Abdullah will catch 2 passes a game for 13 yards. Sick.

Wide Receivers

Give Jimmy G credit, he knows how to prioritize getting the ball to his playmakers at WR. Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk both performed better with Jimmy G in 2022 than other San Francisco QBs, and Deebo’s receiving numbers with Jimmy are gaudy compared to everyone else.

Davante Adams had the second most deep targets in the league last year, with 33. He was also second in the league in targets, second in targets inside the 10, tied for second in targets inside the 5, and had 100 catches for 1500 yards and 14 touchdowns. For as dominant as Josh Jacobs was, there’s an argument to be made that Adams had the more impressive season, as he came in and proved he was QB, System, Defense, Coach, whatever you want proof for ANOTHER season. Did you know Adams has been a top-10 fantasy WR every year since 2016? I mean good god man, nobody has figured out a way to stop this man and he just comes out and keeps killing it. I went to look up where Garoppolo passes most efficiently, and then saw Davante’s heat chart, and realized it doesn’t matter. Adams will get open no matter what, at any point on the field, and make dudes miss afterward.

He was a WR 1,2, or 3 in 6 games out of 17 last year. If it seems like he did it without much flash, there’s logic behind that assumption: his catch rates were lowest in years, mostly due to Carr’s tendency to throw the deep ball. However, with Jimmy G in here now, there’s a huge opportunity for Adams to make up for the lack of long balls with increased accuracy in the intermediate range (he had 40% of his team’s intermediate targets, and 44% of them were caught- almost 18% deemed uncatchable). If you keep looking at Adams and trying to project him, it’s clear that he’s going to rule no matter what. Even with a step back, is there any way Davante Adams isn’t a WR1 this year? The wall will come at some point, it comes for the best, but Adams is still so elite in all ways that even if he loses a step (though I don’t think he will), he’s still going to be in the top 10 receivers by the time the year ends.

Brian Hoyer? Don’t care. Big 10 rookie QB? Doesn’t matter. Adams is gonna produce.

Mack Hollins (boundary WR) vacated 89 targets for this upcoming year. Jakobi Meyers has run out of the slot on between 60-70% of his routes every year since coming into the NFL. Hunter Renfrow has run between 60-80% of his routes from the slot. This is hard to understand. Depth charts I’ve seen as well as an article about position battles in OTAs from The Atlantic seem to indicate Meyers will be a boundary guy, and Renfrow will be running from the slot. Meyers showed decent aptitude running out of the boundary last season, though it is a small sample size.

So, Raiders WRs and their overall rank for WR slot snaps:

  • DeAndre Carter (11)
  • Jakobi Meyers (16)
  • Hunter Renfrow (21)
  • Keelan Cole (40)

It’s gonna fucking suck and I don’t know how we figure this out for Meyers or Renfrow. I don’t think Renfrow improves on his per-game numbers of last year, with 5 targets, 3.6 catches, and 33 yards receiving. He could also be a camp cut, but I would bet he stays. Renfrow’s success as a player came during that magical 2021 run, but that offensive system is gone now, and we saw what McDaniels wants out of Renfrow. Jimmy G could boost his value, but 5 for 45 doesn’t mean much to me unless it’s an insanely deep league.

If Meyers just gets the lion’s share of the Hollins targets, the absolute best-case scenario is a return to WR3 status on a weekly basis. His career high in targets is 126, but he still finished as a WR3 last year on 95 targets. He’s moving to a new spot on the field, but it’s not like he has never played on the outside before. We’ll see how he’s used, as I think if he’s struggling on the boundary they’ll do something to get involved, but remember, Renfrow and Meyers are fighting for the scraps that Davante leaves on the table. I think it’s reasonable to project Meyers between 3-6 targets a game, and about the same for Renfrow, but with a shorter ADOT.

Tight Ends

Darren Waller’s ADOT last year in Vegas was 13.5, the best for anyone with more than 10 targets at TE last year. He was also third on the team in Red Zone targets, with 11 (3 inside the 5). Darren Waller was also used as more of a flex TE, and the Raiders went out and got guys who can do what Waller did, and line up in-line, in the slot, or even on the boundary, which may work very nicely with the number of slot WRs they have. All three have starting experience, but the assumption is by the end of the year, this is Michael Mayer’s room to lead. The TE was someone we loved here at THfantaC, we love the landing spot, and I think Mayer is the best blocker of the three is going to get him the playing time that makes him into the starter, and once he’s there, I think he provides some upside, even as a rookie. 91 targets went to TEs this year, and Jimmy G made George Kittle one of his primary reads his entire time in SF. There’s plenty to like here, but as always, it’s going to depend on what the depth chart is come September. I’m not drafting him in redraft leagues unless he’s already the starter before the season starts. If that’s the case, and he’s my last-round pick, I’m fine with living in the blob.

Denver Broncos

Last week I said I wanted to stare into the abyss and I’d like to beat my former self up because this felt like I was bungee jumping blind into a convoluted mess of a puzzle to try and extract the most amount of pertinent data and analysis so we know what to do in our drafts on this wild ass horse team.

Up top, the reflection of 2022 of the Broncos can be summed up in 4 words. “Lmao, what the fuck.” We all saw it, Patrick Starr dunked on Russ on Christmas in one of the best football memes of all time. I’m taking that year as a blank slate for this exercise as it was such a terrible situation for everything that it didn’t feel real.

Amongst the wreckage rose Sean Payton as the new head coach and Joe Lombardi as OC, who I didn’t know was there until Tuesday thanks to Tony, so thanks for bringing up this PTSD for me (suck it- ed).

I’ll do a quick summary of the offensive tendencies of Payton and cliff note Tony’s dive into the Chargers offense in 2022 as I think these are the building blocks of a really complex puzzle. During Sean Payton’s tenure in New Orleans, he ran an average offense of 57% passing to 43% rushing, whereas with Drew Brees he’d throw an average of 617 times per season and I don’t want to make the comp of a first-ballot hall of famer to Russ who is also a hall of famer- but it’s not really an apples to oranges comparison in relation to their play style and expected volume. For the next breakdown, there’s a big caveat as Payton has had greats on his roster so some of these values are inflated by the likes of Reggie Bush, Jimmy Graham, and Michael Thomas across positions. Across Payton’s tenure, the target share is as follows:

  • WR:52%
  • RB:27%
  • TE:20%
  • with the remainder to FB or the one play a year where Payton targets a big man, or whatever nonsense he pulled out of his ass with Taysom Hill on a given Sunday

To me, this is the first part of the puzzle to determine where to look and see the tendencies that have been parroted by analysts for a while. Payton is a good coach and knows how to actually win games so there are some seasons where if you didn’t have MT, Graham, or Kamara you were crushed in fantasy. This sort of follows the line for Joe Lombardi last year. Either you had Ekeler or you were dust. Granted there are caveats as to why that happened, but the trend is the same. I’ll dive into my comparisons at a later point when we reach each position and where we’d take them, but this is the appetizer to see what we are dealing with.

The Broncos had 5 draft picks in 2023, one of which they moved up to get my dawg Marvin Mims to one of the most convoluted receiving rooms in the NFL, 3 defensive positions and a Center. Per PFF, the Broncos have improved 10 slots to be the 11th best offensive line, so we’ll see where that ends up at the end of the year but it is a drastic improvement as Russ was the 6th most pressured QB in the NFL last year.


This leads us to the first reason why the Broncos collapsed last year, Mr. Unlimited himself, Russell Wilson.

I’m not sure what happened last year but I think that money made his firmware crash and he never got the update for his cyborg brain. I’ll get the bad out of the way so we can end on a happy note. Russ was the 6th most pressured passer, 4th in interceptable passes, 5th in danger plays, 26th in true completion percentage, 31st in pressured completion, 31 in play action completion, 20th in red zone completion, 21st in clean pocket, 26th in under pressure accuracy and 28th in deep ball accuracy.

Russ was bad, like almost Mariota bad, but I think these are correctable metrics as he clearly was playing hero ball and allowed to cook too much where he became DangerRuss to the game script. I believe the rumors of his demise are greatly exaggerated this year as Payton has proven that he can get workable efficiency from Jameis “40 for 40” Winson.

Even with those atrocious stats, Russ was 12th in pass attempts, 1st in deep ball attempts, 8th in air yards, and 8th in dropped passes. This projected volume with my assumed tightening up of his mechanics to allow for a higher efficiency has me a little more optimistic for Russ this year. He also still has rushing upside as he tends to be a scrambler and can average 5 yards per carry and with 55 attempts on the year, there’s a little bit of juice as a top 12 rushing QB(40-80 attempts)

After looking at the depth chart, either there are more designed rushes to increase from the 18 he had last year or the passing volume will hit levels we saw in peak New Orleans. He won’t be MVP but I think he will be startable at a point. Granted I won’t draft him, but if I get Trey Lanced again like last year, I’ll hit the waiver and see what I have with Russ, or he’ll be a fine QB2 with QB1 weeks in SF and potential cheap play in DFS.

Tight Ends

Last year TE was miserable for the Broncos. There were 101 targets to the TE position, which looks good but they were divided across 4 TEs. Luckily Greg Dulcich was the main beneficiary with 55 targets for 411 yards and a 12.5 yards per reception with a 91% snap share as a receiving option which is pretty juicy. Dulich ran out of the slot 58% of the time, wide 29%, and inline 33%. This share will change as the passing structure is going to change as well, but if we project an increase in passing volume from 570 to around 600 to 620 attempts, based on Payton’s previous snap share, we can conservatively estimate 120ish targets to the TE and with the current room of Dulcich, Albert O and Adam Trautman, I still believe Dulcich has the lion’s share of targets to ~70 this year. Last year Dulcich finished as TE29. Currently, he ranked as TE13 per 4fo4 between Schultz and Chig Okonkwo.

Everyone else is ass, don’t waste your time.

Running Backs

Last year the Broncos rostered 8 running backs, but obviously, that number is inflated as Javonte shredded his knee. All 8 of those players almost put up 2k yards with 706 total receiving yards on 111 targets (19% target share), which if you can split between 2 dudes, great, but trying to chop up that backfield last year was extremely difficult and now its even uglier.

The current RBs on the roster are Samaje Perine, Tyler Badie, Tony Jones, and Javonte Williams.

Right off the top Javonte tore his ACL, MCL, and LCL, and I’m not even going to project any viable fantasy for Javonte to save you all the trouble. Let him be someone else’s problem, we’re all too sharp to expect any form of return on him this season.

Everyone has been beating the drum on Samaje Perine, not because of skill but due to just projected volume, and even then with a higher volume compared to last year, I don’t see how he’s startable. Even on a team last year that had a bad depth to their running game, Perine only saw a 38% snap share. PFF does grade Perine out to be a decent pass blocker so there will be the opportunity for him to stay on the field even if his efficiency metrics are mid at the very best. If we even give Perine a generous 50% of the passing game work, that’s 60 targets to a very not good player. We’re shooting for a Jerick Mckinnon ceiling here and for me personally, I’m not going to waste my time unless I have a starter go down or I’m trying to play “Shane’s Shitty Running Back TD of the Week.”

I’m not touching this backfield even with a gun to my head; it’s not worth the headache unless you’re in extremely deep best ball leagues or you have 4500 to spend on an RB in DFS.

Wide Receivers

Okay here comes the most convoluted part of the Broncos and the most game-breaking component of this team. Entering training camp, the Broncos had 11 WRs on their roster. They cut them down, but Jesus Christ, why? Speaking of Josh Palmer, we’re going back to Joe Lombardi to find the commonalities between the Chargers and the Broncos this year with projected roles to try to make this a 1:1 comparison.  Last year the slot was mainly Keenan Allen and Deandre Carter while Keenan was out. Mike Williams, Jaylen Guyton, and Palmer lined up wide. We’ll probably see a similar pathway for Denver with Jeudy, Sutton, Hinton and My Dawg Marvin Mims.

It won’t help you out for us to just say, “Jerry Jeudy is hurt, fade him.” What can he do when healthy?

Last year, Jerry Jeudy had the most slot snaps with 259 and 54% of his total snaps, while 46% came from running out wide, which lines up pretty 1:1 with Keenan Allen in snap share percentage and being the #1 option on their team.

Outside of being the #1 option on the team, none of Jeudy’s metrics from last year are outstanding. He has some top 12s such as yard per target, deep target, and target quality, but everything else he’s around rank 15-20th which is basically his expectation of a WR2 on your team. He’s been a flex for me in the 2 years I’ve played and he’s right there with where I’ll take him. People are projecting a breakout, but I don’t know how much further he can go from his current slot of 21. Can he finish in the top 15? Sure, but even with an increased volume and accuracy metrics from Russ, I’m still not comfortable with him as my WR1 week to week, but that’s just my play style. The probability of boom is there which I don’t fault for people being in on but with a 20% target share in an even more convoluted receiving room, I just don’t see the massive break out that people are projecting as his red zone targets ranked #40th and #44th in routes ran puts a ceiling on him unless those two metrics change for me.

With a 20% target share and an estimated 620 targets for the Broncos that puts Jeudy at around 125 targets, so the ceiling is there. Granted he can rack up 980 yards in a season with being 88th in route win rate, and 78th in win rate vs. man, but there is still some dawg in there with 14.5 YPR.

Next up is the Mike Will of this team, Cortland Sutton. He ran the most out wide and is projected to do the same this year based on his skill set. Sutton only had 9 more targets (109) and 4 fewer catches than Jeudy, but had 160 fewer yards and 4 fewer TDs. I don’t see how this changes as his knocks and positives are the same for Jeudy but with worse YAC and efficiency metrics. He does get more RZ targets than Jeudy and was #1 in the position at route participation of 100%, which means for every single passing play, Sutton ran a route so that has to equate to something right?

I’m going to talk my shit on Marvin Mims real quick even though I don’t see him as a viable fantasy asset this year due to the slowly becoming less crowded WR room and potentially low target share, buuuuuuut Payton did trade up for his first-ever pick with the Broncos for my dawg Marvin. It looks convoluted but it signals to me that there’s a gem there and it might not be this year but in a keeper league, take him in the last round to see what’s up as the team structure is going to look a whole lot different next year. Mims’ biggest strength is on the boundary outside with a decent middle target after 20 yards.

Last year the Broncos ran out 3 WR sets 62.4% of the time so it just comes down to picking the guy who we think is the one there.

Now that we’ve reached full speed, I’m bringing us to a gallop before I put us in the stable.

Russ is fine, prioritize him as a waiver pickup if one of your top-end guys falls apart.

Dulcich is whatever in normal formats, if you’re picking him, your team is already set everywhere else and he was the last slot to fill.

Do not draft any Denver running backs.

Jeudy, when healthy, has a WR2 floor and potential WR1 upside if his target and RZ targets% make the jump.

Sutton is whatever, just with less upside in PPR than Jeudy due to usage, I’m not drafting unless it’s a deep best ball league.

Take Mims in a keeper league.

Los Angeles Chargers


Justin Herbert fought through a rib injury for most of last season, and he still returned as QB11 on the year, which is not too shabby for a dude on a Joe Lombardi offense. After we take that injury and the play calling into consideration, Herbert averaged 6.8 yards per attempt, right next to Mac Jones, Aaron Rodgers, and Daniel Jones. His heatmap is all green literally everywhere between 0-19 yards, so let’s hope they let him actually throw the fucking ball. The year before, he was at 7.5 yards per attempt, and 7.3 as a rookie. He only threw for 26 touchdowns last year, something that I think is more terrifying than his YPA, but hopefully, a boost in both will help him bounce back in 2022. That 26 is down from 38/31 pass TDs, so I’m expecting positive regression this year. I also believe you’ll finally see more no-huddle, something that Brandon Staley says he loves but didn’t do as often as Kellen Moore’s teams did in Dallas.

According to Warren Sharp and EPA, expected points added on a given play, Herbert was a top 10 QB when passing the ball to a WR beyond the line of scrimmage, and a bottom 10 QB in EPA when throwing to WRs or RBs behind the line. However, of 480 early down passes, Herbert only threw 42% of them to WRs, past the line of scrimmage (regardless of WR). Herbert then threw behind the line of scrimmage at the 4th highest rate in the league. Smooth shit, Joe Lombardi.

In the years that Kellen Moore was running the Dallas offense, Dak averaged between 7.4 and 8.4 yards per attempt, so this bodes well for the Chargers letting Herbert air it out a bit more this year, something that has always been a strength of his. Ironically, it’s less about the deep ball and more about the deeper intermediate areas that Herbert crushes in. 17% of his targets last year went between 10-19 yards from the line of scrimmage, down from 20% the year before and even less than the 18% from his rookie season. I have some trepidation about the WR room this year which we will get to in a second, but I think this is a huge bounceback year for Herbie and he should be a top 5 fantasy QB, even without being a running threat. Even with the bad ribs, terrible play calling, and injured offensive line, Herbert was a top 10 QB in 9 games last year, but only a top 5 QB twice. I expect both those numbers to go up dramatically. The Chargers play the Chiefs twice, and then the Bears, Lions, Vikings, Ravens, and Patriots this year- all defenses that will struggle to get to Herbert. I’m pushing chips in on Herbie this year.

Running Backs

Austin Ekeler was the unicorn last year, finishing RB1 in PPR despite never having more than 19 carries in a game, and not breaking 1000 yards last season. Catching 107 passes certainly helped, as well as his gaudy 18 touchdowns. You have to expect some regression, simply due to the law of averages, unless you think this dude is just the version of Christian McCaffrey who doesn’t own American Sniper on DVD. The switch to Kellen Moore may actually make things less bountiful for Ekeler this year, Kellen Moore is on record looking to keep guys fresh late into the season, so I’m expecting Kelley and Spiller to cut into Ekeler’s early down work. Ekeler outrushed Kelley and Spiller on 217/75/18, and we all know that ain’t happening next season.

In the 4 seasons that Moore was the OC in Dallas, here is what the RB touch distribution looked like (Per PFF):

  • 2019: Zeke: 301 carries/68 targets, Pollard: 86 carries/20 targets
  • 2020: Zeke: 244 carries/68 targets, Pollard: 101 carries/39 targets
  • 2021: Zeke: 249 carries/67 targets, Pollard 134 carries/46 targets
  • 2022: Zeke: 254 carries/28 targets, Pollard 214 carries/56 targets

I think Austin Ekeler will still be an RB1 next season, but he’s certainly not going to be the top back in fantasy anymore, simply because Moore will spread the work around and he isn’t going to score 18 touchdowns again. If Ekeler got 217 rushes last year, I’d imagine he probably doesn’t even get that. He will be a passing game threat, but his 127 targets last season are more than Kellen Moore’s backs have gotten combined in the 4 years he was the Dallas OC. Like, Ekeler was huge in almost every single RB receiving category there is. It was honestly insane. I think Ekeler is the best receiving back in the league, but I also think he had such a rare brilliance and usage last year that will be very hard to replicate, even intentionally. Reading Warren Sharp’s research guide highlights how Ekeler came into the role when discussing Herbert’s rib injury:

“What we do know is without Allen, they devised an RB-heavy passing attack in Week 2. Instead of throwing 19% of all early down passes to RBs as they did in Week 1, they upped that to 38% in Week 2. It remained at 38% for Week 3. And it remained between 24%-41% each week until Week 11, which was the week that Keenan Allen returned from injury. As such, the increase in RB-target rate coincided more with the Keenan Allen injury than it did the Herbert injury, which he said was feeling better by Week 9’s win over the Falcons.”

4for4 has Ekeler in HPPR as RB2, and RB1 in full PPR. No fucking chance, IMO. I’ll take him around Pollard/Bijan/Breece Hall, but he is no longer the bell cow RB, he’s the 1A in a larger committee.

I’m also not going to make any play (right now) toward Josh Kelley or Isiah Spiller: both are 4th round picks that haven’t really gotten a ton of work, but I’d lean toward Kelley. If Moore gets this scheme up and running and there’s a clear 1B in that backfield, I’ll push for him because I believe we’ll see a phasing out of Ekeler in every down work and he could be gone by this time next season. I’ve got a ton of Josh Kelley as my last pick in best ball drafts, but I’m not drafting him in redraft anywhere.

Wide Receivers

Here’s where the money is made, since I’m betting on Herbert to step forward and Ekeler to step back, so let’s try to find out where all those juicy Herbert points are going to go.

Let’s also take a grain of salt here when we look at numbers since Allen and Mike Williams both missed time last year. Let’s contextualize how bad the time missed was, as well: Allen and Williams were only together on 175 dropbacks last season and Herbert was top 3 in success rate, yards per pass attempt, completion rate, and quarterback rating. Just something to keep in mind.

Per game averages (33rd team):

  • Keenan Allen: 50 snaps, 8 targets, 6 catches, 75 yards, 11.4 YPC.
  • Mike Williams: 52 snaps, 7 targets, 4 catches, 68 yards, 14.2 YPC.
  • Josh Palmer: 54 snaps, 6 targets, 4 catches, 48 yards, 10.7 YPC.

Josh Palmer’s numbers look pretty nice on paper but were inflated by his splits in games without either Allen or Williams. In games without Keenan, Palmer had 1.8 more targets, 0.7 more receptions, and 12.3 more yards. In games without Mike Williams, Palmer had 3.1 more targets, 1.7 more receptions, and 24.6 more receiving yards (DLF).

You might be asking me why I’m starting my WR section with Josh Palmer, right? The answer is that he’s the key to figuring this whole thing out. I don’t think we know a ton of where these WRs are going to be and how often, and I learned my lesson last year when I faded the Dolphins WR room because I thought they were gonna run 4 slot WRs on every play.

Josh Palmer ran 26% of his routes from the slot last year, and 74% of them from the outside. Last year, Keenan Allen was in the slot on 64% of his routes. Gerald Everett was in there on about 40% of his. Mike Williams was on the outside on 85% of his routes.

This tells me that I think we write down in pen that Keenan’s slot % goes up from 64, and we see rookie Quentin Johnston in more frequently on the boundary. All Kellen Moore offenses have had at least 4 pass catchers run more than 400 routes in a season, so it’s not a reach to assume Allen, Williams, Johnston, and Palmer can get plus targets. Most Kellen Moore offensive target shares look like this:

  • Alpha gets about 130 targets
  • The second target gets about 105-110
  • The third option gets around 90 targets
  • The fourth gets about 75

I believe we can just assume similar production for Keenan Allen: he and Herbert have chemistry, he is still just as good a route runner as before, and we’ve seen WRs thrive in Kellen Moore’s system, most notably last year when CeeDee ran out of the slot in his two best seasons as a Cowboy, 2020 and 2022. I think Keenan is the one that gets the alpha targets here.

I’m also not of the mind that Johnston takes food out of Mike Williams’ mouth either, since on a per-game basis he’s still a dawg and his boom weeks will win you games. The most frequent boundary receiver on a Kellen Moore offense has averaged about 100 targets a season, right about where Williams has been historically.

I think barring injury, Palmer and Johnston share that other boundary spot, but it’s Johnston’s to lose: both WRs are 6’2” and are within two pounds of each other, but Johnston is an athletic freak with the better 40, and a vertical SIX INCHES HIGHER than Palmer’s. Johnston also does something that Palmer and Williams don’t do: break tackles. The biggest issue with Moore taking over as OC here in LA is his tendency to over-rely on what they call “static routes.” These are routes like the curl, stick, and hitch, which means the WR is turned to face the QB. This means the opportunity to run after the catch is on the WR to break a tackle since he won’t often be catching it on the run. In Moore’s time in Dallas, the Cowboys were 28th in the league in percentage of receiving yards that came after the catch.

I called Johnson a “menace after the catch, especially in the second level of the field” in my scouting review, so this seems like a match made in heaven. I think he puts up maybe slightly diminished George Pickens-type numbers in year one (75 targets, 40 catches or so), but could end up being the most productive WR in the class if the team allows him to be on the field as often as Mike Williams is right now, down the road.

When it comes to red zone work, Mike Williams had 14 targets, but none inside the 5. Keenan Allen had 16, but 3 inside the 5. Austin Ekeler was first with 25 targets (4 inside the 5), and Gerald Everett had 17 (5 inside the 5).

I’m of two minds on Gerald Everett this year: On one hand, tight ends feast in Kellen Moore’s offenses. On the other hand, Moore never had anything nearly as good as the options he has in LA. Yes, Lamb and Cooper were a dominant force, but the third target got a ton of looks since Dallas was rolling out Michael Gallup as the 3rd. Gallup is fine, but I’d rather have Johnston and even Palmer over him, so I think Everett is primed for a down season. A guy who runs a significant amount of his routes out of the slot will probably have fewer snaps there as Johnston kicks Allen to the slot more often. A majority of his formational work will most likely come as an in-line blocker, which is ironically the position he got most of his work in last year at 45%. Everett will pop and have a few big games since passing off play action from multiple TE sets is a Moore staple, but I don’t think I want him as my TE1 anywhere. He’s a streamer at best and though plays will be called for him specifically, I still think he’s 4th or 5th in the pecking order.

Kansas City Chiefs 

Before we do a ton on KC, let’s suss out what matters and what doesn’t. Here’s something that does not matter: the loss of Eric Bieniemy as OC. Despite being replaced with an incompetent idiot in Matt Nagy, this is still Reid’s show. Always has been, and always will be. Something that does matter: losing both their left and right tackle in free agency. They brought in Donovan Smith to be the left tackle from Tampa Bay (and he was 78th out of 79 in run-blocking tackles last year), and Jawaan Taylor from Jacksonville (who was the only tackle worse than Donovan Smith per pff charting when it comes to blocking for RBs). Both are league-average at protecting the QB, and that’s really what matters.


Patrick Mahomes was supposed to have a diminished season last year, right? As the roster turned over, he was supposed to feel the loss of Tyreek Hill and the big question going into last season was how he was going to respond. Well, 5,200 yards and 41 TDs later, we know: it doesn’t matter who Patrick Mahomes is throwing to. He was a top 5 lock almost every week regardless of opponent, and I don’t think we do anything but just sit back and acknowledge him. He elevated dudes like Skyy Moore, MVS, and Kadarious Toney into Super Bowl champion pieces. He should really be getting a cut of Juju’s new salary. Mahomes threw 73 passes inside the 10 last year, 21 more than anyone else. It is crazy to see how he’s counter-adjusted to the way he’s getting played. With Tyreek, he was a downfield guy, and then defenses adjusted and gave him 2 deep shells. In 2021, he started throwing shorter passes as a result. In 2022, with Hill gone, defenses played him differently and he made them pay. The offense lost Hill and went from 19th in the league in explosive play rate to 4th in 2022.

There are three pieces on KC you should want for fantasy this year if you’re asking me, and Mahomes is always worth the cost of admission. He’s going to go out and throw for about 4900 yards and 40 TDs every year. Don’t question it.

Running Backs

Isiah Pacheco is a fun back to watch since he displays a rare combination of speed and running headfirst into a brick wall that so few backs have. He’s a 7th-round pick who unseated a 1st-round pick to be the starter, and everyone will always be interested in some extent because he is the lead rusher on an offense guaranteed to be in the top 5 in total points every season. However, to me, he’s falling into the Devin Singletary trap: of no fault of the player, they get boosts because traditionally it’s a high-volume fantasy position on a great offense for fantasy. So let’s look at the numbers that say he’s a good investment:

33rd in carries but 24th in rushing yards is good!
40th most stuffed runs in the league is also good!

KC is 4th in game script, which means they have a lead on the 4th highest amount of their offensive snaps. Should be good for the running back!

Now the meh:

  • He was an RB2 in 7 games this year, but never better than RB15.
  • He had only 2 games where he had over a 50% snap share
  • He caught 100% of his targets, but there were only 13 of them.
  • He’s on an offense that gets to the Red Zone often, but he was still 25th in the league in Red Zone touches.
  • Kansas City replaced both starting tackles with the two lowest-ranked PFF run-blocking Tackles. If you hated Tampa’s rushing attack last year, well, here ya go.

Pacheco is a fun back, and there’s also the potential that his sparing usage will help his career last longer than it should given his physical play style, but for fantasy, I don’t think anything lends itself to him being a viable weekly fantasy play.

I had a revelation as I was doing research for KC early this summer: it’s not saying much that Travis Kelce is WR1 for this team, but I think as I went on it’s clear to me that Jerrick McKinnon is WR2. McKinnon was RB26 in FPPG with less than 300 yards rushing, which is fucking incredible. I thought he would be a sneaky fun 0RB guy, but the more I look, the more I want to shy away. The dude was an absolute league winner last year, as he scored 9TDs in the last 6 weeks of the season. However, here’s what I noticed: all those big receiving games were in shootouts except for one, a 24-10 win over Seattle. I think of the two of these backs, McKinnon is more likely to win you weeks, but he’s also going to put up those games where he has 3 carries for 18 yards and 2 catches for 15. Like all receiving specialist backs, he needs volume, and when he gets it he’s the real deal. However, it needs to be a high-scoring game, which seems to be where he shines.

Hell, in those games you could play both KC backs in DFS and do well. It’s not going to be about how much Kansas City scores, because games where McKinnon broke out found the Chiefs actually scoring LESS than their weekly average, but when KC needs to pass, it’s Kelce first and McKinnon second. Touchdowns will come, but betting on those is tough. If the offense keeps passing as often as it does in the red zone, McKinnon will get those red zone targets (2nd most in the league behind Ekeler, with 16- and 4 inside the 5), and he was also 3rd in the league in snaps in the red zone. If he keeps this up he might once again return on value in a major, major way. McKinnon was 3rd in the league last year in yards after the catch per reception, speaking to the explosiveness he still has. His pass game metrics all continue to be insane: 15th in routes, 9th in targets, 9th in catches, 7th in receiving yards per game, 3rd in yards per target, 5th in yards per reception, 3rd in yards after the catch, 3rd in yards after the catch per reception, 1st in receiving touchdowns (his 9 almost doubled CMC’s 5), 3rd in receiving TD market share for his team, 5th in designed reads, 7th in first read targets, 2nd in passer rating when targeted, 3rd in yards per target over expected (given ADOT)… the list goes on.

McKinnon is going to be drafted in the dead zone, and will most likely have one of his boom games whenever he faces you. I’m drafting him everywhere I can at cost.

Last year, KC running backs were, per Warren Sharp:
9th in receptions (89)
2nd in yardage (826)
1st in receiving TDs (12)

KC has, like last year, a ton of vacated targets with the departure of Juju. Just like last year, instead of expecting it to go to anyone specifically, it’s probably smarter to just assume small bumps for all these guys, maybe 40-50 targets to Rashee Rice.

I wanted to say this during the Pacheco bit, but I think it’s probably best to put it here. One of the things that I think tells me the most about the Chiefs offense is something I uncovered while researching the Cardinals. One of the biggest critiques of new Cardinals coach Jonathan Gannon was that his defense didn’t change between the first and second half of the Super Bowl. When the Chiefs went to the locker room at halftime down 10, the coaches told them that they were seeing the same looks the entire time, and Reid/Mahomes adjusted to call plays that beat that specific look. Both 2nd half-passing touchdowns to Skyy Moore and Karadius Toney were the same exact play, just flipped to different sides of the field. Though Philly knew KC had their number, they kept running the same thing without an adjustment of their own.

Wide Receivers

No Kansas City wide receiver is worth drafting in standard redraft leagues.

I’m not going to really try to break down any of these WRs individually. In 2021:

  • MVS was WR70 in FPPG
  • Skyy Moore was WR122 in FPPG
  • Kadarius Toney was WR85 in FPPG

What I want to do is look and see what each one does, so we can take calculated risks as to when we should be looking to start these guys either in DFS or to cover for a guy on bye. It doesn’t matter for Mahomes, since he is 10th in completion percentage against man coverage, 9th against the zone, and top 5 in passer rating against both. It doesn’t matter.

Marquez Valdez Scantling beats zone coverage more than man, and with an over 16YPC average, if they’re playing a zone team with bad safeties, I’m betting on MVS.

Kadarius Toney is running out of the slot a lot and beating man coverage over the middle. If they are going to look at short routes, I don’t mind KT with his ADOT of 4.8 yards. I like Toney in games where the opposing defenses have trouble making tackles since he still averaged over 12 yards a catch despite his ADOT. I’ll be looking at missed tackles for linebackers and slot CBs to see if it’s a Kadarius Toney week. I think they spread around Juju’s targets to all the WRs, but I do expect KT to get more looks this year. However, he carries a significant injury risk and I don’t expect consistency here. I expect boom and bust games, so, really the opposite of what Juju brought to the offense.

Skyy Moore didn’t do enough to even have rankings, but I’d like to share with you my favorite Skyy Moore stat. Last year he never finished above WR33, and in most of his games he was in the 80s-100s territory. However, he had 2 top-10 finishes: he was WR7 in the conference championship week, and WR4 in the Super Bowl. So, uh, if nuclear annihilation wipes out 30 of the 32 NFL teams, Skyy Moore might be worth a bench spot on your roster. Reception Perception is actually higher than I am on Moore, highlighting that he was learning all the parts of the offense, and had a Chris Olave-level target rate when he was on the field. They seem to think he profiles best in the Juju role, and he had above-average success in the curl, slant, and dig routes of the tree. Is there a chance he is the underneath guy this year?

Rashee Rice was not drafted to be the slot replacement for JuJu and to be honest, his college profile was essentially “taller Skyy Moore that fumbles.” So, he’s gonna be a boundary guy, and I’m sure he’ll get 45-60 targets and put up one or two good weeks, but as Shane said, you can Skyy Moore me once, but you can’t Skyy Moore me twice.

Justyn Ross ruled in college and has the ability to rule in the NFL, but I’m not betting on it right now.

Tight End

Travis Kelce is god and should be considered in the top 3 of redraft picks. There, I said it. He hasn’t been below TE2 in FPPG since 2015. He scored 316 fantasy points, over 100 more than TJ Hockenson. He scored enough to be RB4 (ahead of Derrick Henry), and WR 5 (less than half a point behind Diggs). He’s #1 in every metric. You know how I said Pacheco has 32 red zone touches as a starting, power RB? Kelce has 30 red zone touches. Take him in the first round, I don’t want to spend all my time convincing anyone about anything. I’d take Jefferson, Chase, and MAYBE CMC over him, depending. After that? Kelce.

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