GET: TE Owen Daniels, DT Vance Walker, G Shelley Smith, S Darian Stewart, DE Antonio Smith, TE James Casey, C Gino Gradkowski
LOSE: TE Julius Thomas, DT Terrance Knighton, G Orlando Franklin, WR Wes Welker, C Manny Ramirez, LB Nate Irving, S Rahim Moore, S Quinton Carter, TE Jacob Tamme
RE-SIGN: TE Virgil Green
DRAFT: 1st round: OLB Shane Ray, Missouri 2nd round: OT Ty Sambrailo, Colorado State 3rd round: TE Jeff Heuerman, Ohio State 4th round: C Max Garcia, Florida 5th round: CB Lorenzo Doss, Tulane 6th round: DT Darius Kilgo, Maryland 7th round: QB Trevor Siemian, Northwestern CB Taurean Nixon, Tulane LB Josh Furman, Oklahoma State
SUMMARY: Denver may not get the championship it thought it would with one of the sport’s greatest leaders. Peyton’s playoff struggles have continued despite all of John Elway’s best efforts and even longtime Peyton fans such as myself are starting to wonder where Peyton’s ability to win in the clutch has been his whole career. For a quarterback this precise, this dedicated, this detailed and this close to performance perfection, come playoff time, the wheels of Peyton Manning run for the hills. In other words, I don’t expect the Broncos to win a Super Bowl anytime soon. Peyton finished fourth in passing yards last year and Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders both finished top-five in receiving. The Broncos finished the year second in points per game behind Green Bay with 30.1. The Broncos defense second against the rush and ninth against the pass.
With all that said, this team’s chances to win the Super Bowl are slim to none. Peyton’s shown no ability to win playoff games and when he has to shoulder a team, he can’t do it. He was on better teams during Indianapolis’ heyday and couldn’t do it then and I doubt age has made him better at the postseason stage. Will the Broncos dominate? Of course. I expect them to win the division, hands down, but during the playoffs, they’re a whole different team.
Losses on the offensive line are going to hurt the Broncos and Peyton’s delicate. If he takes too many hits and misses games, they could miss the playoffs and their hold on the AFC West.
If you’re smart, you’ll avoid matching your players in fantasy against the Broncos defense. DeMarcus Ware, Von Miller, T.J. Ward and Aqib Talib? No thanks. On offense, go all out. Peyton should be elite during the regular season as always and Thomas and Sanders will thrive as well as new slot receiver Cody Latimer. I’d also suggest taking TE Owen Daniels. Peyton loves tight ends and so does Gary Kubiak’s offense. Avoid C.J. Anderson. He’s a running back for a passing team and one above-average season does not make you a top-ten pick. Don’t waste yours.
SCHEDULE PROJECTED RECORD: 11-5
Week 1: vs. BAL Week 2: @KC Week 3: @DET Week 4: vs. MIN Week 5: @OAK Week 6: @CLE Week 7: BYE Week 8: vs. GB Week 9: @IND Week 10: vs. KC Week 11: @CHI Week 12: vs. NE Week 13: @SD Week 14: vs. OAK Week 15: @PIT Week 16: vs. CIN Week 17: vs. SD
SAN DIEGO CHARGERS
GET: G Orlando Franklin, WR Jacoby Jones, CB Patrick Robinson, WR Steve Johnson, DE Mitch Unrein, OT Joe Barksdale, OT Chris Hairston
LOSE: RB Ryan Mathews, LB Dwight Freeney, WR Eddie Royal, G Chad Rinehart, G Doug Legursky, S Marcus Gilchrist, C Nick Hardwick, RB Ronnie Brown, CB Shareece Wright, LB Jarret Johnson
RE-SIGNS: CB Brandon Flowers, OL King Dunlap, DE Ricardo Matthews
DRAFT: 1st round: RB Melvin Gordon, Wisconsin 2nd round: ILB Denzel Perryman, Miami 3rd round: CB Craig Mager, Texas State 5th round: OLB Kyle Emanuel, North Dakota State 6th round: DT Darius Philon, Arkansas
SUMMARY: Philip Rivers finished yet another great chapter in his career last year and was paid like one of the better quarterbacks in the league this offseason. While he certainly struggled early in his career, the last few years have been a huge career resurgence for Rivers. He finished eight in passing last year despite a struggling receiving corps. Malcolm Floyd was the team’s top receiver and had only 856 yards, 39th in the league. The need for a running back was also a huge concern. Ryan Mathews wasn’t there and Branden Oliver, an unknown commodity, ended up leading the team in rushing. One of those spots had to be filled in and so, the Chargers moved up in the draft to select RB Melvin Gordon from Wisconsin, one of college football’s most explosive play makers. Big things are expected from him and I don’t expect to be disappointed. Improvements on offense should be expected across the board. Don’t expect San Diego to remain 30th in rushing. They lost two of their starting offensive linemen but should still be feared with King Dunlap, Orlando Franklin and D.J. Fluker.
On the flip side, San Diego was fourth against the pass, although that stat may be bloated since the team allowed nearly 2,000 yards on the ground. Their front seven isn’t scary.
Defensive struggles aside, the Chargers are poised to fight for a wild card spot.
As for fantasy, Rivers, Gordon and Antonio Gates are all great pickups. Malcolm Floyd has been going especially late in all the drafts I’ve done this year.
SCHEDULE PROJECTED RECORD: 9-7
Week 1: vs. DET Week 2: @CIN Week 3: @MIN Week 4: vs. CLE Week 5: vs. PIT Week 6: @GB Week 7: vs. OAK Week 8: @BAL Week 9: vs. CHI Week 10: BYE Week 11: vs. KC Week 12: @JAC Week 13: vs. DEN Week 14: @KC Week 15: vs. MIA Week 16: @OAK Week 17: @DEN
KANSAS CITY CHIEFS
GET: WR Jeremy Maclin, S Tyvon Branch, G Ben Grubbs
LOSE: WR Dwayne Bowe, DT Vance Walker, WR Donnie Avery, DT Kevin Vickerson, OT Jeffrey Linkenbach, TE Anthony Fasano, WR A.J. Jenkins, C Rodney Hudson
RE-SIGNS: LB Tamba Hali, LB Josh Mauga, S Ron Parker, WR Jason Avant, TE Richard Gordon
DRAFT: 1st round: CB Marcus Peters, Washington 2nd round: G Mitch Morse, Missouri 3rd round: WR Chris Conley, Georgia CB Steven Nelson, Oregon State 4th round: OLB Ramik Wilson, Georgia 5th round: OLB D.J. Alexander, Oregon State TE James O’Shaughnessy, Illinois State 6th round: DT Rakeem Nunez-Roches, Southern Miss 7th round: WR Da’Ron Brown, Northern Illinois
SUMMARY: The Chiefs didn’t perform to the level I thought they would last year and improvements need to be made if they want to get past San Diego. The Chiefs were second against the pass last year behind Seattle, a very impressive stat, until you look at how they got destroyed on the ground (28th). There’s no excuse for this, not when you have Justin Houston, last year’s sack leader, Derrick Johnson and Tamba Hali in you linebacking core and Dontari Poe at nose tackle. The team was heavily injured last year and I’m sure that played a factor, but the defense has to step up. As always, this team will lean heavily on the defense. If the defense struggles, so will the Chiefs. The Chiefs have a capable offensive line and the signing of Jeremy Maclin was huge, but the fact remains the receiving corps for this team are extremely thin. The drafting of Chris Conley was huge and hopefully an impact can be made. The Chiefs drafting two corners in the first and third round only boost their strong secondary but I still find myself wondering where the offense from this team is expected to come from. Charles and Maclin are two people.
SCHEDULE PROJECTED RECORD: 8-8
Week 1: @HOU Week 2: vs. DEN Week 3: @GB Week 4: @CIN Week 5: vs. CHI Week 6: @MIN Week 7: vs. PIT Week 8: vs. DET Week 9: BYE Week 10: @DEN Week 11: @SD Week 12: vs. BUF Week 13: @OAK Week 14: vs. SD Week 15: @BAL Week 16: vs. CLE Week 17: vs. OAK
GET: WR Michael Crabtree, LB Curtis Lofton, DT Dan Williams, S Nate Allen, RB Roy Helu, OT J’Marcus Webb, QB Christian Ponder
LOSE: LB Sio Moore, CB Carlos Rogers, LB LaMarr Woodley, CB Tarell Brown, S Tyvon Branch, DE Antonio Smith, WR James Jones, TE David Ausberry, RB Darren McFadden, C Stefen Wisniewski, RB Maurice Jones-Drew, G Kevin Boothe, QB Matt Schaub, WR Vincent Brown
RE-SIGNS: S Charles Woodson
DRAFT: 1st round: WR Amari Cooper, Alabama 2nd round: DE Mario Edwards Jr., Florida State 3rd round: TE Clive Walford, Miami 4th round: G Jon Feliciano, Miami 5th round: ILB Ben Heeney, Kansas OLB Neiron Ball, Florida 6th round: ILB Max Valles, Virginia 7th round: OT Anthony Morris, Tennessee State WR Andre Debose, Florida CB Dexter McDonald, Kansas
SUMMARY: Fun fact: the Oakland Raiders had more passing yards than Seattle. Just something you probably didn’t know.
For a rookie campaign, Derek Carr was serviceable. He surpassed 3,000 yards, had a 58.1 completion percentage and had a 21:12 TD:INT ratio. However, his yards per attempt was the lowest in the league at 5.46, more than .6 yards behind Blake Bortles. Carr also had the whole offense to carry because as expected, Darren McFadden was unreliable and the Raiders finished dead last carrying the rock.
I wasn’t a fan of the Raiders taking Amari Cooper. I don’t deny the upside of the Alabama prospect but this team needs defense and a running back badly. Andre Holmes is an upcoming receiver and James Jones had the talent required. This team needs defense and should have stuck with that. They took Mario Edwards Jr. in the second round and I imagine he will start. A tight end in the third round made no sense to me. Overall, just a real head scratching draft for Oakland.
Expect the same from Oakland this year. Should be an improvement with Murray at running back and Cooper and Crabtree at receiver. As for the defense, it’s Khalil Mack, Charles Woodson and if he can stay healthy, D.J. Hayden. I’m avoiding everyone from Oakland in fantasy, even Cooper.
SCHEDULE PROJECTED RECORD: 4-12
Week 1: vs. CIN Week 2: vs. BAL Week 3: @CLE Week 4: @CHI Week 5: vs. DEN Week 6: BYE Week 7: @SD Week 8: vs. NYJ Week 9: @PIT Week 10: vs. MIN Week 11: @DET Week 12: @TEN Week 13: vs. KC Week 14: @DEN Week 15: vs. GB Week 16: vs. SD Week 17: @KC