Position looking for instant impact: Tight End
Why this Roster?
Though the Broncos just added Jake Butt to the roster in last year’s NFL draft, not much capital was expended to select him in the 5th round. Coming out of college, Butt was considered a poor blocker, both in the run and pass game and wasn’t considered very athletic. I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that part of the reason Butt fell to the 5th round was due to injury, tearing his ACL in December 2016. Butt did have an impressive 19.2 college breakout age and well above average 22.1 college Dominator Rating so there is reason to believe he could be productive at the pro level.
Whether it’s Butt, or someone new brought in to the position, the Broncos could use a boost in production at the tight end position. In 2017, Broncos’ TEs combined for a 50/657/5 line. If the Broncos draft a TE in Round 4 or prior, I’d keep that player on my watch list. Follow this situation carefully; as failing to draft a TE would show that Butt has a clear path to the starting role and would be a strong “buy” recommendation.
If Kirk Cousins decides to sign in Denver, the TE position becomes even more intriguing. Last season, Washington’s TEs put up an 85/966/6 line. Not too shabby considering Jordan Reed missed most of the season and could only suit up for 6 games (leaving one game early). In Jordan Reed’s two healthiest(ish) seasons, Cousins was instrumental in Reed finishing as TE1 in 2015 and 2016 (in average ppg). Reed saw a 19.3% target share in 2016 (9th highest for TE) and a 17% target share (12th highest for TE) in 2017. Kirk Cousins likes to target his tight ends, and especially so when he has a talented one.
Kansas City Chiefs
Position looking for instant impact: Wide Receiver
Why this Roster?
Lost in the euphoria of Alex Smith’s departure, and Patrick Mahomes’ ascension to the starting role, is the fact that Smith supported multiple top-6 fantasy performers last season. Tyreek Hill finished as the WR6 in per-game scoring, Travis Kelce as the TE2 and Kareem Hunt as the RB5. With high-scoring offensive skill players and the QB of the future set to debut in 2018, there are not many areas to look for additional production.
One area to look to is the WR2 for the Chiefs. Albert Wilson was relatively productive in 2017 but is an unrestricted free agent, and the Chiefs don’t have the cap space to accommodate his likely contract demands. Chris Conley is a Sparq freak but has failed to impress so far and is coming off a season-ending Achilles tear. Demarcus Robinson is a bigger receiver but has underwhelming college production, Sparq metrics and NFL profile (so far). The addition of a WR that thrives in the short to intermediate areas of the field could be the one addition to the offensive side of the ball worth picking up in fantasy.
Los Angeles Chargers
Position looking for instant impact: Running Back
Why this Roster?
The Charger’s roster is pretty stacked at every offensive skill position. Without an injury, it’s difficult to see a path to immediate impact at any position. Melvin Gordon might be inefficient, but he’s locked and loaded as the bell cow. Austin Ekeler is more than capable as the 3rd down back and is also able to spell Gordon when needed. At tight end, Hunter Henry is only 23 years old with TE17, and TE7 (ppg average) finishes in his first two seasons. The wide receiver position is at maximum capacity with Keenan Allen, Tyrell Williams, Mike Williams and Travis Benjamin.
I am going to have to cheat because there’s just no position of immediate need for the Chargers. If Melvin Gordon were to go down with an injury, the starting running back role would fall to whomever the Chargers add to their running back stable this offseason. Ekeler looked more than serviceable spelling Gordon last season, but only touched the ball 74 times all season. Though I’ve found stats indicating Ekeler exceeded 225 carries a season while in college, I’m skeptical that a player with a 30th percentile BMI can carry a full workload in college. Monitor the Chargers offseason additions at the running back position for a speculative add to your dynasty rosters.
Position looking for instant impact: Running Back/ Tight End
Why this Roster?
I’m going to have to cheat yet again in this exercise. Though the production may have been underwhelming in 2017, the Raiders do have a full complement of offensive skill players. So, we’ll need to look at the weakest link on offense instead. Wide receiver is a strength for the Raiders, even with Amari Cooper having a terrible 2017. Cooper, Michael Crabtree, and Seth Roberts combined to capture 43% of Raider receptions last season and all return in 2018, so there’s no room for anyone new, barring injury.
Jared Cook is an unrestricted free agent after the 2018 season and is scheduled to make $5.3 million in 2018. The Raiders could cut Cook today and save $5.3 million with no cap hit. Though 2017 was one of Cook’s better seasons, it was still mediocre and he finished as the TE14 (ppg). In 9 seasons, Cook has only exceeded 4 receiving touchdowns twice, which should be next to impossible for a starting TE that stands 6’5″. The 2018 class, though not as touted as the 2017 class, still has plenty of great prospects. Mark Andrews, Dallas Goedert and combine star Mike Gesicki all would be upgrades over Cook and could step into a starting role immediately.
Marshawn Lynch is backed up by Jalen Richard and Deandre Washington, and the Raiders haven’t shown any inclination that they’ll be moving on from any those three players. It is likely that Lynch retires, again, after the 2018 season with the Raiders moving to Las Vegas in 2019. Richard and Washington split the workload when Lynch missed a game last season due to suspension and it doesn’t appear that the Raiders view either player as a starter. Lynch has amassed over 2,600 touches in his career and will turn 32-years old before the start of the 2018 season. With a deep and talented class of running backs, the Raiders may decide to draft their back of the future in April.
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