Football is back! With the preseason under way, fantasy players are doing mock drafts hourly (or maybe it’s just me) to prepare for their fantasy drafts. Each year fantasy owners want to construct their team with a proper mix of good value players and upside sleepers while avoiding players with high bust potential. In the final installment, I will look over the AFC West and provide ADP values, likely to bust candidates and potential sleepers.

Players ADP is based off of PPR scoring according to the fantasy football calculator. Remember you can practice for your fantasy drafts using the mock draft simulator. Check out the previous installment here. As always, happy hunting fantasy friends!

ADP Values

Demaryius Thomas, WR, Broncos (4.10) – Until it happens, I’m not putting any stock into the Demaryius Thomas trade rumors, and honestly the Broncos shouldn’t trade him. Despite horrible quarterback play from Trevor Siemian, Brock Osweiler and Paxton Lynch last season, Thomas finished as the WR16; averaging 12.9 FPPG.

Last season, Thomas had 140 targets, a 25.4% target share and a 25% red zone target share; all ranking in the top 20 in the league among wide receivers. Furthermore, Thomas has been consistent for fantasy owner over the last several seasons.

Since Peyton Manning’s last healthy season in 2014, Thomas has finished as a top-24 wide receiver in 54.2% of his games in the three seasons since, and has finished as a WR3 or better in 70.8% of his games, despite horrible quarterback play. Last season, Thomas fell seven catches and 51 yards short of his sixth straight season with at least 140 targets, 90 catches and 1,000 yards.

Season

Targets

Catches

Yards

FPPG

WR Finish

2017

140

83

949

12.9

WR16

2016

144

90

1,083

14.1

WR16

2015

177

105

1,304

16.7

WR11

2014

184

111

1,619

21.3

WR2

2013

142

92

1,430

19.9

WR1

2012

143

94

1,434

18.2

WR6

When Thomas had a healthy Manning from 2012 to 2014, he was clearly an elite fantasy receiver. However, from 2015 on, his quarterback play has clearly been horrible. Case Keenum had a 98.3 quarterback rating last season; which would have been the highest for the Broncos since Manning’s 101.5 rating in 2014.

Thomas has finished as the WR16 or better in six straight seasons in PPR scoring. His floor is a mid-WR2 with some upside to return to his old form, if Keenum plays similarly to how he did last season.

Philip Rivers, QB, Chargers (10.01) – For some reason no one wants to draft Philip Rivers, yet he is one of my favorite fantasy quarterbacks. As the forgotten man, Rivers has finished as the QB14 or better every year since 2012, finishing as a QB1 four out of five seasons. The one season Rivers finished as the QB14, Keenan Allen missed the season with a torn ACL; as Rivers week-to-week production is dependent on Allen’s health.

Over the last three seasons, Rivers has played 25 games with Allen and 23 games without him. Rivers finishes as a QB1 way more consistently on a weekly basis with Allen in the line up than out. With Allen in the line up, Rivers finished as a QB1 in 68% of his games, compared to just 22% of his games without Allen.

Given that Allen’s injury history is more of a fluke rather than a consistent thing, Rivers has a high chance to finish every week as a QB1 and is a shoe in to finish this season as a top 12 quarterback, yet somehow he gets no respect.

Busts

Sammy Watkins, WR, Chiefs (8.06) – Being on his third team in three years is a minor red flag for Watkins to me. No matter where he is, Watkins’ has struggled to be a fantasy starter. In his four year career, Watkins has never finished as a top-18 wide receiver and has just one season in the top 24.

Last season, Watkins finished as the WR41, as he saw just 70 targets. After signing a three-year/$48 million contract with the Chiefs, many expect Watkins to have a break out year. However, looking at the Chiefs target distribution over the past three seasons, that isn’t likely to happen.

Season

Top Target Share

Second Target Share

Third Target Share

2017

Travis Kelce 22.6%

Tyreek Hill 19.4%

Albert Wilson 11.5%

2016

Travis Kelce 21.5%

Tyreek Hill 15.3%

Jeremy Maclin 13.9%

2015

Jeremy Maclin 26.3%

Travis Kelce 21.8%

Albert Wilson 12.1%

Watkins’ career target share is 17%, while the Chiefs number three target guy has averaged just 12.5% target share over the last three seasons. Given the way Watkins has looked this preseason, there is no chance he overtakes Kelce or Hill in the target share order, as Watkins caught just one pass on seven targets in three preseason games.

Unless the Chiefs easily lead the league in pass attempts — which is possible — Watkins will end up being a very expensive decoy this season. Fantasy owners should stay away.

Jordy Nelson, WR, Raiders (8.12) – The Raiders had an odd preseason, as the starters didn’t play much; Derek Carr had just seven pass attempts in two games. Jordy Nelson had just one catch on two targets for four yards; so take the preseason and throw it out the window. However, how much does Nelson have left in the tank? Currently, Nelson is being drafted as the WR39, if he has something left he will be a value at the price, if not then he won’t be on fantasy rosters by week three.

Part of me wants to take Nelson’s 2017 season and throw it out the door given the Packers quarterback situation. In games with Aaron Rodgers, Nelson averaged 16.8 FPPG compared to just 5.9 in games with Brett Hundley. Meanwhile, Davante Adams (while clearly taking over as the number one wide receiver) averaged 15.4 FPPG with Rodgers and 16.3 FPPG with Hundley.

However, in the one game Rodgers came back after suffering a broken collarbone, Nelson caught just 50% of his targets for 28 yards and 5.8 fantasy points, while Adams caught 71.4% of his targets for 57 yards, a touchdown and 16.7 fantasy points. Nelson could find fresh life in Oakland or be totally finished — and I can see it going either way — so buyer beware.

Sleepers

Mike Williams, WR, Chargers (9.06) – Last season Mike Williams dealt with a nasty back injury that basically ruined his rookie season, as he played in 10 games but scored just 20.5 fantasy points. However, Williams has looked solid in the preseason, catching four passes for 56 yards, one touchdown and 15.6 fantasy points in three games. As a former top ten pick, both Charger fans and fantasy owners expect big things out of Williams this season.

Where I believe Williams will make the most impact is in the red zone, as neither Hunter Henry nor Antonio Gates will suit up for the Chargers this season. There is an outside chance Gates comes back for one more season, but how much can the Chargers expect from him at 38 years old? Last season Henry and Gates combined for 23 targets, six touchdowns and 3.3 FPPG in the red zone; Williams should see most, if not all, of that volume this season.

For fantasy owners who are concerned that Tyrell Williams will limit Mike Williams’ upside; don’t worry. In 2016, with Keenan Allen tearing his ACL in week 1, Tyrell Williams averaged 13.6 FPPG with a 20.6% target share and finished as the WR18.

However, in 2017 with Allen playing 16 games, Tyrell Williams averaged just 8.6 FPPG with an 11.8% target share and finished as the WR45. If the Chargers were all that impressed with Tyrell Williams’ big 2016 season, they wouldn’t have used a top ten pick on Mike Williams.

Derek Carr, QB, Raiders (12.10) – After a strong 2016 season, the entire Raiders offense took a huge step back in 2017. Amari Cooper dropped from the WR14 in 2016 to the WR36 in 2017, while Michael Crabtree dropped from the WR12 in 2016 to the WR30 in 2017.

Of course, with the drop off in play from his wide receivers combined with a back injury, Derek Carr dropped from the QB11 in 2016 to the QB19 in 2017. Hopefully now that Carr and Cooper are healthy, the Raiders will be more fantasy-friendly in 2018 and allow Carr to be a sleeper.

The reason Carr could be a very sneaky quarterback pick this year is because the Raiders could be so bad defensively that he is forced to throw a ton. The Raiders just recently traded their best defensive player, Khalil Mack, to the Bears.

Even with Mack last season, the Raiders ranked in the bottom ten in several defensive categories. With a much improved division around them, the Raiders should once again struggle defensively, leaving it up the offense to win them games.

However, I don’t have high hopes for the team this season (sorry Raiders fans), but I do believe Carr could be in place to have a similar season as Blake Bortles in 2015, where he finished as the QB4. Because the Jaguars were being blown out in almost every game that year, they had plenty of time to consume “garbage time” production.

For fantasy owners, this production is just as good as meaningful production. If the Raiders are placed in a similar situation this season, Carr should see enough volume to finish as a QB1.

About The Author Mike Fanelli

Mike is a former journalism major who spent all four years in high school working for the school newspaper. At 25 years old, he is happy to write for Breaking Football as it gives him a platform to get his fantasy football takes and sports opinions out there.