We got to start getting down to business here, people. The regular season opens in a little more than three weeks and most leagues will start drafting very soon. We'll be bringing you rankings for every position as well, so lets motor through these team previews. Today, we'll focus on two AFC West pushovers, the Chiefs of Kansas City and Raiders of Oakland.
The common thread between both these teams? Their offenses blow hard. KC's Brodie Croyle may be the NFL's worst starting QB- hurray for this guy!-, and after roughly eight kazillion carries the last three seasons, good ole' Larry Johnson doesn't look as awesome as he once did. The Raiders' O will likely be equally anemic, but they at least have potential. With JaMarcus Russell and Darren McFadden lining up in the backfield, the Raiders should be set for a very long time. It's just unlikely that both will make big contributions in their first full seasons. The real reason fantasy owners may want to avoid these two teams is because both feature poor offensive lines. Also featuring: Al Davis and Herm Edwards. That isn't a good thing.
Simply put, these two young signal callers won't be selected in any fantasy leagues. Not even the one Matt Millen plays in. Russell may be worth monitoring, though. He has a cannon for a right arm, and has big time potential. If the offensive line improves and his receivers take a step forward, Russell could be appealing on the waiver wire.
Raiders- Justin Fargas/Darren McFadden
Chiefs- Larry Johnson
Stats: Johnson, Fargas
Johnson is the most attractive fantasy player you'll find on either of these two teams. While most owners consider him worthy of a top ten pick, there is some sediment that Johnson has taken too much of a pounding in recent years to continue to be effective. ESPN's venerable Matthew Berry ranks Johnson as the 16th best running back, and 21st overall player. I don't know about you, but I trust the guy that helped create Al Bundy.
The glut of runners the Raiders have to choose from really diminishes the fantasy value of Fargas or McFadden. McFadden, the first running back selected in in April's draft, likely won't be Oakland's starter Week 1, but will be more valuable than Fargas in fantasy leagues because the Raiders are going to have to find a way to get him the ball. Expect D-Mac to rack up a lot of receptions and a good number of carries. McFadden may get over-drafted in some leagues because everyone loves rookies- well, everyone but Dusty Baker, but if you can grab him around round four or five, he has enough upside to warrant a chance.
Raiders- Javon Walker, Ronald Curry
Chiefs- Dwayne Bowe
Stats: Walker, Curry, Bowe
Everyone knows who the first option in Kansas City's passing game is, but Bowe's standout performance as a rookie makes him one of the hottest young pass catchers in fantasy this season. Most receivers don't make an impact until their third season, but Bowe jumped the learning curve by gaining 995 yards last year. Expect Croyle to look his way all season long. KC's number two receiver is Devard Darling, who I didn't know existed.
The Raiders receiver situation is even more dicey. Javon Walker signed a huge offseason contract, but considered retirement after taking a beating on the streets of Las Vegas. Walker says he is 100% committed to football now, but no fantasy owner will want to risk anything but a late round pick on him. Ronald Curry, a former UNC baseball standout, has quietly put together two nice seasons in a row. Still, with Oakland ready to run, drafting any Raiders receiver might be foolish.
There isn't much to say about Tony Gonzalez. He's one of the best tight ends ever, and continues to put up huge fantasy number as he ages. Gonzalez is a top three fantasy tight end again this year, and would be the unanimous number one if only he had a more established quarterback.
Miller could be a sleeper. He was the second tight end selected in the 2007 NFL Draft, behind only the Bears Greg Olsen, and put up decent numbers as a rookie. Don't draft him, but monitor his performance if you need a mid-season tight end pick up.
Most fantasy leagues have ten to twelve teams, and each team selects only one defense. That means you don't need to know anything about Oakland or KC. Just ignore them.