AFC West’s fantasy strength sits in Denver

Now that we are a couple of weeks into training camps, it’s been interesting to take a look around at the divisions and go fishing for fantasy value. That brings us to the AFC West, aka, Denver and the dwarves. At least that’s how it could go on the field this season. But will it be the same for fantasy owners? We break down the top four fantasy positions, ranking the players/position groups in order from best to worst.

Quarterbacks

Peyton Manning, Denver Broncos: Manning proved last season that he’s still as dangerous on the field and productive in the fantasy space as ever. Now he has an added weapon in Wes Welker and some intriguing help in the backfield with rookie Montee Ball. The Sheriff will keep the peace in the division.

Alex Smith, Kansas City Chiefs: It was a tough call between Smith and Philip Rivers for the next spot on this list. Smith gets the nod because of Andy Reid’s arrival in Kansas City and the addition of the Pistol offense. It doesn’t hurt that Smith will work with one of the league’s top five running backs in Jamaal Charles, either.

Philip Rivers, San Diego Chargers: The upside is that Rivers has Mike McCoy as his head coach — a man that has worked wonders with quarterbacks in the past. The downside is that Rivers has a receiving corps that is long on potential and short on production. What’s worse is that there really isn’t a running game to speak of.

Matt Flynn, Oakland Raiders: It looks like Flynn is going to win the starting job in Oakland, but it doesn’t bode well that there is already talk of Terrelle Pryor earning some playing time. As though the speculation of Tyler Wilson winning the gig wasn’t bad enough.

Running backs

Jamaal Charles, Kansas City Chiefs: Eagles fans and LeSean McCoy owners might urge caution with Reid running the show, but the new head coach isn’t so foolish as to not put the ball in the hands of the team’s best playmaker. If anything Charles earns more cred in PPR leagues playing for a coach that likes to throw the football.

Darren McFadden, Oakland Raiders: The Raiders have said repeatedly that getting Run DMC going in 2013 is a top priority. To that end, they’ve changed the blocking scheme and are looking for creative ways to get him the football. The only question is how many games he’ll play this year. You’ll have a hard time finding anyone who believes that number will be 16.

Montee Ball/Knowshon Moreno/Ronnie Hillman, Denver Broncos: Ball looks like the leader to be the starter, but he’s going to have plenty of help carrying the rock this season. The fear for fantasy owners is that Denver’s running back rotation resembles what the Saints have done for the past few seasons. That could mitigate any potential production any of these backs have.

Ryan Mathews/Ronnie Brown/Danny Woodhead, San Diego Chargers: Not surprisingly, the Charger trio brings up the rear. It’s hard to think Mathews will be as bad as he was last season, but his track record isn’t a good one. Yet the aged Brown makes him unreliable and Woodhead is no one’s fantasy stud. This isn’t a backfield that’s likely to pay dividends this season.

Wide receivers

Demaryius Thomas/Eric Decker/Wes Welker, Denver Broncos: The Broncos have the only receiving corps that’s guaranteed to have all of its key pieces drafted in just about all leagues. The addition of Welker could cut into Decker’s production, but both of those players should still be fantasy impact players. Meanwhile, Thomas has a chance to be a top five option in 2013.

Malcom Floyd/Danario Alexander/Vincent Brown, San Diego Chargers: All three of these players are big plays waiting to happen. It will just be a matter of whether Rivers can consistently get them the football. Add Keenan Allen to the mix as a potential sleeper this season and there is some nice potential fantasy depth in San Diego.

Dwayne Bowe/Jon Baldwin/Donnie Avery, Kansas City Chiefs: Once again, Andy Reid’s influence and insistence on the passing game should pay dividends in Kansas City. Bowe is easily the prize in this group, but Baldwin is in a make-or-break year and Avery has big play ability. The latter two are worth taking a chance on late in deep drafts, but expectations should be tempered.

Denarius Moore/Jacoby Ford/Rod Streater, Oakland Raiders: This group has been marked by injury and inconsistency. An unproven quarterback and a new look on offense won’t enamor them to fantasy owners this season. All three will likely be waiver wire fodder.

Tight ends

Antonio Gates, San Diego Chargers: He’s not close to what he once was, but he’s still a player who gets plenty of looks in the red zone. And unlike the duo in Denver, Gates is the only tight end on San Diego’s roster that will get any real run in 2013.

Jacob Tamme/Joel Dreessen, Denver Broncos: Peyton Manning likes his tight ends, but with so many other weapons at receiver, there might not be enough passes to go around. Add to it Dreessen’s second knee surgery and this duo could become a solo act. That’s good, but not great — even at a watered-down tight end position.

Anthony Fasano, Kansas City Chiefs: During his tenure in Miami, Fasano was consistent. The problem is that he was consistently below average. It’s hard to imagine that changing in Kansas City where he’ll be well down the pecking order of touches within the offense.

David Ausberry/Richard Gordon/Nick Kasa/Mychal Rivera, Oakland Raiders: What happens with this group is anyone’s guess. But when you have a group of four tight ends with a combined 12 catches and one touchdown, don’t expect fantasy owners to beat a path to your door.

– Follow Marcas on Twitter @MarcasG

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