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Fantasy Players on Each Team to Exceed Expectations: AFC West Edition

These four AFC West receivers look to outperform their expectations in 2019.

Photo Courtesy of Los Angeles Times

Denver Broncos

The stars seem to be aligned for rookie tight end Noah Fant. Joe Flacco has always loved throwing to the tight end, and Fant’s athleticism and size can translate into a touchdown machine. However, rookie tight ends are rarely successful in fantasy, so while I like him, I’d rather wait and see it first. 

Courtland Suttoncould be in line for a pretty good season. Does this mean that he will be a weekly starter? Maybe not. However, Sutton could be Flacco’s number one option, and any number one option has some fantasy value. If Flacco does anything well, it’s throwing the ball deep (his accuracy is another story, but let’s not talk about that). The bottom line is that Flacco will complete some passes this season, and my bet is that Sutton is on the receiving end of the deep ones. 

Sutton is 6-feet-3-inches tall, and in his rookie season, he averaged about 17 yards per catch, which was the 5thbest in the NFL. In an offense with a below-average quarterback, with a low completion percentage, give me the guy with the highest upside and big play ability. Look for Sutton to separate himself among Denver pass catchers. 

Kansas City Chiefs 

For as high as I am on Sammy Watkins given the Tyreek Hill situation, he is being drafted as the 22ndwide receiver, and I don’t think he outperforms that ADP. However, another opportunity opens up for rookie receiver Mecole Hardman

Hardman ran a 4.33 40-yard dash at the combine. His speed and burst, paired with Pat Mahomes’ arm strength and accuracy, could be extremely difficult for teams to game plan for. He will likely be Mahomes’ third receiving option behind Travis Kelce and Watkins and is talented enough to take advantage of a great opportunity.  

With the possibility of a Hill suspension, the Chiefs will be happy to have Hardman as a big play option in this big play offense. Hardman has the ability to run past defenders downfield, and he can also turn short passes into big gains with his playmaking after the catch. If you’re looking for a late-round pick with some high upside, Hardman is your guy. 

Los Angeles Chargers

Typically, it is difficult to pick elite players to outperform their ADP since their expectations are already high. However, I believe that Keenan Allen, who is being drafted as the 11threceiver, is an exception. In a slightly disappointing fantasy season last year, Allen still posted nearly 1,200 yards on 100 catches, which was good enough to be the 12thbest fantasy receiver. 

In 2018, the Chargers were 28th in the league in plays per game. This seemed to be a fluke considering they had the 11th best total offense and sixth-best scoring offense. Due to the low volume on offense, Philip Rivers attempted just 508 passes, his lowest number of passing attempts since 2009.

Injuries were a big part of why the Chargers didn’t maintain long drives. With a healthy Melvin Gordon back with Austin Ekeler and Mike Williams, the Chargers offense will likely be on the field longer, which will result in more opportunities for Allen. There isn’t much more to be said about Allen. He is likely a top five route runner in the NFL and catches a lot of balls near the line of scrimmage out of the slot. His skills haven’t diminished, and I think the Chargers are able to maintain longer drives in 2019.

Oakland Raiders 

Former Los Angeles Charger Tyrell Williams has an opportunity to bring his big-play ability to Oakland. His 15.8 yards per reception was 11thin the NFL, and he will have plenty of opportunities against single coverage with Antonio Brown lined up on the other side of the field. 

Derek Carr certainly didn’t have a good year in 2018, but in his defense, his top options were Jared Cook (yikes) and Jordy Nelson (who probably had to be picked up from the nursing home before each game).  In 2016, Carr proved that he can be a serviceable quarterback for fantasy receivers, as both Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree surpassed 1,000 yards.  Williams is being drafted as the 50thwide receiver. I bet he finishes the season closer to a WR3 than a WR5, which is where he is being taken. 

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