AFC West Arms Race: Fantasy Football Impact

Last season, in terms of cumulative record, the NFC West was the top division in football. Their 40-23 mark was slightly ahead of the 38-25 record the AFC West posted. 

With all the player acquisitions made by AFC West teams so far this offseason, this division figures to take over the mantle of the best division in football. 

And with such talented QBs and excesses of offensive firepower in one division, the AFC West will definitely be the most exciting. This article looks at how some of the recent moves will impact (non-IDP) fantasy football leagues in 2022.

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Denver Broncos

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By leaving the NFC West for the AFC West, new Denver Broncos QB Russell Wilson has swung the balance of power in the NFL.

In the biggest move in the AFC West this offseason, the Denver Broncos acquired QB Russell Wilson from the Seattle Seahawks. Undoubtedly, everyone in the fantasy world knows what this means. All skilled-position players on the Broncos should get a major bump.

Although it remains to be seen as to which WR will emerge as Wilson’s go-to target, WRs Courtland Sutton and Jerry Jeudy have a chance to enjoy career years next season. And things are set up nicely for second-year RB Javonte Williams to break out in this potentially explosive offense. 

And with the departure of TE Noah Fant, Albert Okwuegbunam steps into the starting TE role. Okwuegbunam has always had natural athletic ability but has never really been given the opportunity to make an impact. With a stud QB like Wilson getting him the ball, this is Okwuegbunam’s chance to shine.

In some dynasty leagues, he was waiver wire fodder just a few weeks ago. By now, he will likely be on a roster in most dynasty leagues, but if not, of course, you should hurry and snap him up. Further, if you can get him in the mid to late round rounds of your redraft league, that would be a great value.

Additionally, WRs KJ Hamler and Tim Patrick should benefit from teaming up with a bona fide QB like Wilson. However, it is hard to know whether the Broncos’ offense can support that many players in fantasy football. Unless something happens to Sutton or Jeudy, it will be hard for Hamler and Patrick to get consistent targets each week. 

Kansas City Chiefs

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WR Juju Smith-Schuster looks to recapture his previous form in 2022.

There is no doubting who has been the juggernaut of this division. The Kansas Chiefs have won the AFC West six years in a row. Unquestionably, with all the explosive weapons that a creative play-caller like Andy Reid has in his arsenal, the Chiefs will once again have one of the more fantasy-friendly attacks in the league. 

The one major move the Chiefs have made offensively was to add WR Juju Smith-Schuster in free agency. If Juju Smith-Schuster can recapture his previous form, this could turn out to be a great move for the Chiefs. With the departure of WR Sammy Watkins last offseason, the Chiefs did not really have a consistent threat as their WR2. 

WR Juju Smith-Schuster signed a one-year contract for $10.75 million. Thus, his dynasty value is a bit murky. However, for next season, I am expecting him to rebound and produce at least mid WR2 numbers.

Accordingly, I feel it might finally be time to admit that WR Mecole Hardman will not likely emerge as a consistent fantasy option. Entering the final year of his rookie contract, Hardman will have more competition for targets than ever. 

Lastly, this is a very important season for RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire. While his career has been somewhat disappointing so far, he will still be in a position next year to make a fantasy impact. Hence, in my opinion, he is a buy-low candidate in both dynasty and redraft leagues.

Las Vegas Raiders

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WR Davante Adams is reunited with his college QB Derek Carr.

In perhaps the second biggest move in the AFC West this offseason, the Las Vegas Raiders acquired WR Davante Adams from the Green Bay Packers. 

To speculate what this might mean in fantasy football, some simple arithmetic is required. For instance, Raiders QB Derek Carr should get a major fantasy boost by adding a weapon like Adams to the equation. 

Conversely, if we can acknowledge the drop-off at QB from Aaron Rodgers to Derek Carr, we can safely assume that Adams’ numbers will take a bit of a hit. 

Furthermore, the Raiders already have a target monster in TE Darren Waller. Thus, in what figures to be a more well-rounded offensive attack, Adams and Waller may not see quite as many targets as they are accutomed to.

While I expect them both to still be ultra-productive next year, I feel that their peak seasons in terms of fantasy production may be in the rearview mirror.

Lastly, the value of Raiders RB Josh Jacobs is unclear at the moment. Like the Chiefs’ Edwards-Helaire, 2022 figures to be a make-or-break season for Jacobs. If he can stay healthy, he will be in a position to make an impact this season. And his value in the mid-rounds of redraft leagues will be enticing to some fantasy managers.

Regarding dynasty, Jacobs’s value is mere speculation until he signs his second contract. This year, Jacobs will be playing the final year of his rookie contract. And the Raiders have to decide by May whether they will pick up his fifth-year option for 2023. 

Los Angeles Chargers

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QB Justen Herbert is a legitimate MVP candidate in 2022.

In 2021, the Los Angeles Chargers’ defense was their Achilles heel. Hence, this is where the Chargers’ front office focused their attention this offseason. With some of the additions they made to address their defense, it is hard to imagine anyone in the AFC West has had a better offseason.

From a (non IDP) fantasy football perspective, the Chargers were able to retain WR Mike Williams. Thus, along with stars such as QB Justin Herbert, RB Austin Ekeler, and WR Keenan Allen, the Chargers should once again boast one of the better offenses in the league. 

With added experience, an improved offensive line and so many dynamic weapons at his disposal, I am expecting Herbert to be in the MVP discussion next season.

Finally, with the departure of TE Jared Cook, whose contract has expired, TE Trey McKitty is a player to keep an eye on. At the moment, he is the next man up and is flying completely under the radar. Unless something else materializes for the Chargers, McKitty is worth a stash on your bench in dynasty and a late-round sleeper pick in redraft leagues.

Thank You For Reading – AFC West Arms Race: Fantasy Football Impact.

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