Fantasy football is just around the corner. Be sure to check back frequently for up-to-date fantasy football rankings. Keep those rankings in mind as we take a look at each division’s players on the rise, on the decline and ones to watch for all 32 teams. Here’s a look at the AFC West.
Royce Freeman, RB—I’m willing to bet Freeman gets the starting job before too long. He only has to beat out Devontae Booker, who has averaged just 3.6 yards per carry in his career. Freeman is currently being drafted in the fifth round, behind Sony Michel, but I think he ends up being the fourth rookie running back taken after Saquon Barkley, Derrius Guice and Rashaad Penny.
Devontae Booker, RB—Though Booker could end up being a value—he’s being drafted in the 11th round—Freeman has the ability to take that starting job quickly. Booker isn’t a productive runner, but he does have catching ability. He’s hauled in 61 passes over two years and that may give him his biggest shot to contribute. Booker being named starter in camp just offers you a discount on Freeman.
One to watch
Emmanuel Sanders, WR—Before last season (47 catches, 555 yards, 2TDs), Sanders had three straight 1,000-yard seasons. Last year the quarterback situation in Denver was atrocious. Now that Case Keenum is in town, I’d expect Sanders to be a candidate for a nice bounce-back season.
Sammy Watkins, WR—Watkins’ value will depend on how well Patrick Mahomes plays. Watkins reportedly injured his hip during practice on Monday, but signs are that it isn’t serious. Despite his seemingly underwhelming play in four seasons, he’s actually scored 25 touchdowns. Watkins is getting drafted in the sixth round, and if this injury knocks him down further, you could find yourself a value.
Spencer Ware, RB—Kareem Hunt solidified himself as the main rusher for Kansas City as he led the league in rushing last season. Hunt will have to get injured or falter spectacularly if Ware is going to gain fantasy relevance.
One to watch
Patrick Mahomes, QB—The Chiefs believed in Mahomes enough to let Alex Smith leave for Washington. The range of outcomes for Mahomes is pretty wide, however. In college he threw an interception in 21 of his 32 games. His rushing ability could be the x-factor that makes him fantasy relevant.
Amari Cooper, WR—Cooper hit a major regression last season, but he still scored seven touchdowns. Fantasy owners are taking him early in the fourth round, which seems a bit high after a rough season. The targets will still be there, especially with Michael Crabtree in Baltimore.
Derek Carr, QB—Carr looked like he might enter the elite fantasy QB tier before last season, but he fell into mediocrity, throwing just 22 touchdowns and a career-high 13 interceptions. He lost Crabtree in the offseason, but will have to replicate his play from two years ago if he’s going to help you win in your league. He’s getting drafted behind quarterbacks like Jared Goff, Mahomes and Marcus Mariota.
One to watch
Martavis Bryant, WR—I very much like that Bryant is being drafted in the 12th round. He could end up providing a big return on a small investment. Jordy Nelson isn’t getting younger and he’ll be the main competition for Bryant. Much was made of Jon Gruden’s criticism of Bryant Saturday, but the coach ended his comments expressing confidence in the receiver.
Keenan Allen, WR—Allen finally topped his great rookie season in his fifth year. Injuries have plagued his career, but he finally put it all together in 2017. Allen and the Chargers should continue to put up points this season. Melvin Gordon will get it done on the ground while Allen produces through the air.
Tight end—With Hunter Henry falling to injury before training camp even started, it looks like there will be a pretty big void to fill at the position. The Chargers may end up luring Antonio Gates out of retirement. If not, Virgil Green will likely start.
One to watch
Mike Williams, WR—Williams is having a great training camp and it looks like he’s itching to be the No. 2 target in Los Angeles. With Hunter Henry going down, Williams could help take pressure off Allen and prove to be a tremendous value. He’s being drafted in the 11th round.