NFL Midpoint Evaluation: AFC West

AFC West

Kansas City Chiefs (6-2) –

Offensive Points per Game (3rd) Yards per Game (2nd) –

  • Unbelievably shocking. Considering they drafted a QB early with the obvious intent to replace Alex Smith had he had another down year, and they lost their starting RB before the season even began, this was unforeseen by everybody.  They also let Maclin walk and didn’t sign another big-name WR before the season began.  If you predicted this then you must be a prophet or in a psych ward because that’s just insane.  Regression is coming.

Defensive PPG Allowed (T-19th) YPG Allowed (30th) –

  • This is pretty shocking as well. The KC defense was projected by many to be one of the best fantasy assets this year which equates to one of the better defensive teams in the NFL.  They did lose Eric Berry week 1 which definitely hamstrung this defense, but they still have the talent to be one of the better units in the league.  I definitely expect a rebound in the 2nd half here.

Players above expectations –

  • Alex Smith, I mean nobody would have been surprised if he would have seceded the starting job during the season and not been with the team in 2018. All he’s done is become the #1 scoring player in fantasy and throw for 16 TDs and 0 INTs to start the year.  It’s really unbelievable what he’s done.  No way he keeps this up though.
  • Kareem Hunt, I loved this kid heading into the season and was very disappointed to hear that Spence Ware tore his ACL before it began. I thought Hunt had all the talent in the world and would wrestle away the starting job from Ware eventually.  Obviously Hunt got the nod week 1 and exploded onto the scene in a way we have never seen before.

Players below expectations –

  • Chiefs’ Defense, as I mentioned above, they were projected to be a top 5 unit on almost all fantasy websites and they are outside the top 10 at the moment. The loss of Berry hurt, but there is still time to turn it around for this defense; the upcoming schedule looks promising.

2nd Half Outlook –

  • Considering that the Oakland Raiders (who were a trendy Super Bowl pick before the season) have gotten off to a slow start and not much was expected from either the Broncos or the Chargers heading into the season, the way has been paved for a division title for the Kansas City Chiefs. Injuries or an act of God are the only 2 things that could adjust the course for this team and neither of those can be accurately predicted.  The offense will slow a bit and the defense should settle down as well, but no major changes are suspected.

Denver Broncos (3-4) –

Offensive Points per Game (24th) Yards per Game (15th) –

  • Not too surprising for either number here. The Broncos had a QB controversy heading into the season with nobody really stepping up to the plate and hitting it out of the park and that is still the case now.  There are talented players on this roster, but along with the QB position being underwhelming, so is their O line.

Defensive PPG Allowed (11th) YPG Allowed (1st) –

  • Nothing at all surprising here. This defense has been the best in the league for a few years now and overall is one of the strongest units in the past decade, maybe in history considering how the game has changed over time.  They could get some help if the offense could sustain drives longer and score more points, but that’s about it.

Players above expectations –

  • Jamaal Charles, Charles currently boasts a 4.8 YPC average in a change-of-pace role behind starter CJ Anderson. I honestly thought his career was over last year and sort of rolled my eyes at the thought of him coming into fantasy relevance this season.  Now, he hasn’t put up numbers that indicate that he could be useful for fantasy purposes, but he is doing well in his current role. The team can appreciate more than fantasy players.

Players below expectations –

  • Demaryius Thomas, his issues can probably be blamed on the lack of production coming from the QB position, but DT has had a bad start to the season. He has had a few plays called back due to penalties and he has been held on a few plays that would have resulted in some modest fantasy production, but that could be said for a number of players.  Osweiler is apparently starting at QB for them now, so there is hope for you DT owners.
  • Emmanuel Sanders, same thing for Thomas, but Sanders has also had an ankle injury that has sidelined him since week 6. Osweiler seemingly had better chemistry with Sanders than DT when he was last on the Broncos, so it may be a good time to buy low on Sanders.

2nd Half Outlook –

  • At 3-4 they aren’t out of the race yet but a couple more losses and things will start to look bleak for a team that is continually in the playoff hunt. The defense is doing everything they can to keep this team in contention, they really need Osweiler to step in and command this offense in a way Siemian couldn’t.  This season rides on the shoulders of whomever is at QB for them, plain and simple.

Los Angeles Chargers (3-5) –

Offensive Points per Game (22nd) Yards per Game (17th) –

  • Neither are really very surprising, maybe a tad low. Philip Rivers has to be the abused step-child everybody feels bad for in the NFL.  The guy is a potential Hall-of-Famer, but has not had luck on his side in previous years (in regards to healthy teammates).  He has a good running back and a good #1 target in Keenan Allen (who has missed a lot of time with injury in the past), but the OL is suspect at times and Antonio Gates looks very much his age.

Defensive PPG Allowed (8th) YPG Allowed (19th) –

  • One thing that is finally shaping up for this team is the defense. Recent draft picks have hit the bull’s-eye for this team and they can proudly say that they have a top-half defense for the first time in a while.  With Rivers at QB they aren’t fighting to keep their offense off the field which helps a lot, and as the season grows colder in other parts of the US, this defense should remain hot.

Players above expectations –

  • Travis Benjamin, did pretty well last year in the absence of Keenan Allen and has done pretty well as the solidified #2 with Allen back this year. He hasn’t really gone off but that’s not all that surprising considering they currently have a top 5 back and a true #1 in this offense.
  • Hunter Henry, currently the 12th best TE in fantasy this year – even with 2 goose eggs on his record – Henry has finally started to show that he will be capable of carrying on the tradition of good TE play for the Chargers that Gates set forth so many years ago. He’s got a future with this team and in the NFL and we will all see why once the season comes to a close.

Players below expectations –

  • Keenan Allen, he currently is the 12th best WR in fantasy, but keep in mind that there aren’t many WRs sticking out as true “studs” right now. He’s been consistent which is what you really want from your #1, but he hasn’t had a true breakout game. He also only has 1 TD on the season.  Matchups will start to get easier for him, so buy low now if you can.

2nd Half Outlook –

  • The Chargers lost the 1st 4 games out of the gate, 3 of them by 3 points or less. They aren’t out of it yet, but need to play nearly flawless football to finish out the season in order to make the playoffs.  Their offense should continue to improve and their defense should hold steady, but I don’t think they will make the playoffs this year.  Things are looking up for the future of this franchise though.

Oakland Raiders (3-5) –

Offensive Points per Game (19th) Yards per Game (20th) –

  • This is rather surprising considering they were a trendy playoff pick entering the season and the sole reason for that was their offense. Lynch looked good during the preseason but then he figured out that his OL can’t give him any space.  They are 26th in rushing yards per game and my unborn nephew could tell you that a one-dimensional offense is easy to stop.

Defensive PPG Allowed (23rd) YPG Allowed (25th) –

  • Rather close to what I suspected, Oakland’s defense is one of the worst in the NFL. The glimmer of hope for this team is Khalil Mack, but football is a game of 11-on-11, not 1-on-11.  If they can continue to build around him defensively and keep their offense young and cheap, this team WILL be a Super Bowl contender soon.  For now, Carr just needs to keep throwing 35 times a game in order for this team to have a chance at the playoffs.

Players above expectations –

  • Michael Crabtree, it was wise to think that this would be the year for Cooper to take another step and grab the reigns from Crabtree as the lead dog in this passing game. The opposite has happened and Crabtree has again shown the world that he has been perpetually underrated as a WR in the NFL.  One of the best FA signings in franchise history.

Players below expectations –

  • Derek Carr, Carr looked poised to take another step in the right direction this year, but that hasn’t quite happened yet. I’ll give him a break (break, fracture, get it?  Ha!) because of his injury, but he still has 3 games with less than 200 passing yards and only 2 over 300 so far this season.  Good news is that he still has 8 games to take that next step.
  • Amari Cooper, as I said with Crabtree above, this was supposed to be the year Cooper stepped up. He has looked downright dreadful at times this season (3 games with 1 or 2 catches for fewer than 10 yards), but did have an explosive day with an insane 11/210/2 statline to remind us what he’s capable of.  I’d like to see more of that if you don’t mind Mr. Cooper.
  • Marshawn Lynch, Lynch was drafted as an RB2 before the season started and currently sits at RB 49. This offense isn’t designed for a ground-and-pound running back like Lynch but a little more production from him would have been nice.  He may get better as the season goes on, but the future of the RB position for this team is in Richard and Washington.

2nd Half Outlook –

  • At 3-5, as with the Chargers, making the playoffs will be nothing short of an easy task. Cooper would need to figure his stuff out immediately (not likely based on how he’s done so far), the running game will need to be more reliable, and the defense is going to have to force some timely turnovers.  I don’t foresee any of those happening in the 2nd half, but some changes during the offseason may help right the ship for next year.  No playoffs for you!

 

*Featured image courtesy of thegamehaus.com*