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Fantasy Football Burning Questions - AFC West

Our advance Fantasy Football divisional preview series of important questions to tackle continues in the AFC West.

We focus on two RBs who seem to have something to prove, one who is established but raising annual questions, and a superstar WR in a new home. In all four instances, our AFC West subjects have to quiet some doubters.

When you're done, check out our burning questions for the AFC East, NFC East, NFC South, NFC North, and NFC West.

Editor's Note: Get any full-season NFL Premium Pass for 50% off. Our exclusive In-Season Lineup Tools, Lineup Optimizer and over 150 days of Premium DFS Research. Sign Up Now!


Denver Broncos

Burning Fantasy Football Question: Can Phillip Lindsay perform at a high level again?

The King’s Answer: Can we also ask in retort to that query, why not?

All reports indicate that he will be recovered from wrist surgery in time for training camp, so health is not an issue. So it must be about pedigree, and believing he was a fluke, that his impressive rookie season was a freak happening. Lindsay was an undrafted free agent and yet outshined fellow rookie Royce Freeman, who was picked in the third round.

There is already published speculation that Lindsay could still be the lead RB for Denver, but will cede more work to Freeman. There have also been Broncos onlookers that believe the two RBs will actually battle for the RB1 job.

Well, that seems a bit disrespectful after Lindsay rushed for 1,037 yards and scored 10 times as a rookie. After his lost and frustrating initial pro campaign, shouldn’t Freeman be far on the outside looking in?

One minor concern is that Lindsay wore down later in the season. He only totaled 152 yards from scrimmage in his final three games. He still finished as RB13 in PPR formats. Plus, he may have now learned how to pace himself better over a full pro season.

If the Broncos do indeed trim his workload, why can we not be confident that Lindsay can still be very efficient and make the most of his touches? Heck, he averaged 5.4 YPA as a rookie. Not every lead RB has to be a workhorse to produce well for Fantasy purposes. He cannot be overworked at 5-8, 190, but he only had more than 15 rushing attempts three times last year and still rushed for over 1,000 yards. Heck, upon reviewal, does he really need to be scaled back much at all?

The only way Lindsay could see a reduction in touches is if Freeman forces the issue into more of a timeshare. But the pressure is truly more on Freeman than Lindsay, who has already shown he is capable of being the lead RB. Lindsay likely knows he may have to still show he can be a featured RB again, and I believe he will be up to the challenge. I predict Lindsay will still be the Broncos’ lead RB in terms of touches and I will draft him confidently as an RB2. Even if Freeman pushes his way into the mix more, Lindsay will make his Fantasy presence felt very often.


Kansas City Chiefs

Burning Fantasy Football Question: Is Damien Williams an RB1 heading into the 2019 season?

The King’s Answer: In my ranks, he just makes it as RB12. Obviously, I have McCaffrey, Zeke, Barkley, Kamara, Conner, Bell, Mixon, Gordon and David Johnson ahead of him. I will also take Nick Chubb ahead of him, but Todd Gurley is obviously shaky at RB11. But that is where the list of guys ahead of Williams at RB ends.

Williams always had shown flashes of explosiveness in the past as a reserve, but once he finally had an opportunity to be pressed into significant action last season, he responded in a big way. In the final four games of the regular season he totaled over 100 yards from scrimmage twice and scored six total TDs. He rushed for 129 yards in the opening round of the playoffs and totaled four more TDs in two games. He caught five passes in each playoff game after totaling more than six catches in two of his final three regular season games.

So now Williams is naturally in place to be the team’s unquestioned starter for the Patrick Mahomes-led Chiefs offense from the outset in 2019, and with his versatility, he could be a very busy performer for Kansas City. Listed at 5-11, 224, Williams should also be able to handle a significantly increased workload.

The only issue seems to be that this will be the first time Williams has been handed such an opportunity. He has never been a featured back over a full season before. He had only four career starts prior to 2018, and that was with a Miami team that was often searching for a real impact RB. Williams was mediocre as a brief starter for the Dolphins late in 2017, with three games of under 40 rushing yards and six catches in his final three outings.

But that was on a much lesser team in a much lesser offense, and now Williams has possibly found a real home and a true opportunity to shine. Yes, he must prove himself over an extended stretch. That’s the risk you take when you draft Williams this year. But he has a real chance to perform very well in a high-level offense and has already displayed a lot of promise in the role. Every player you can make a case to draft over him at RB has some sort of risk involved. I will take the chance on Williams showing more of what he did late last season and when it mattered so much in the playoffs. He has the job and has flashed the necessary skills. Those are two big reasons for him to be considered a back-end RB1.


Los Angeles Chargers

Burning Fantasy Football Question: Is Melvin Gordon a significant health risk?

The King’s Answer: The Chargers’ star RB was the biggest Fantasy heartbreaker of the 2018 season. After 12 weeks he was RB5 in PPR scoring. But he missed the next three weeks with an MCL sprain, and totaled 44 yards from scrimmage with a TD when he returned. Gordon had led many Fantasy teams to the verge of the postseason and then deserted them. It was a disappointing end to Gordon’s season. I never endorse getting mad at a player for getting hurt, but it was certainly frustrating.

Gordon played in 16 games for the first time in his career in 2017, but did have to work through some knee issues. He also had the end of his 2016 season cut short with knee and hip issues, and his 2015 season also ended with a knee injury. Last season’s injury was to his right knee, while he had endured previous issues with the left knee.

So if you have not noticed, and some have not, because Gordon has been so good when he is available, that he has been in the league for four seasons and has dealt with mostly knee issues in every campaign, and has seen his season cut short three times. While many Fantasy owners are worried so much about Todd Gurley, why are they not seemingly quite concerned about Gordon? Gurley’s issue may seem to linger and progressively hurt his production, but Gordon’s problems seem to return on an annual basis.

There is no doubt that Gordon is a versatile and outstanding RB1 when available. But availability seems to be a recurring issue with him, which is why I have to consider him a back-end RB1 heading into 2019.


Oakland Raiders

Burning Fantasy Football Question: Will Antonio Brown still be a Fantasy WR1 with the Raiders?

The King’s Answer: It seems to be an obvious QB downgrade from Ben Roethlisberger to Derek Carr for Brown. But is it enough to take Brown out of WR1 territory? Seeing as Brown is heavily a self-made superstar in many ways, you cannot give Roethlisberger too much of the credit for his success to this point. Of course, the Steelers QB played a part in Brown being a top-shelf Fantasy WR for so many years, but opposing defenders would likely agree that Brown is an incredibly tough guy to cover on his own.

Brown suffered at times statistically when Roethlisberger was out, but the drop-off to previous Pittsburgh backup QBs was much more dramatic than it will be to Carr. Plus, teammates and opponents marvel at Brown’s great techniques and high football IQ to go along with his great athleticism. Brown essentially changed the game from one where big and tall WRs dominated the position. Brown has certainly earned the superstar tag with much of what he has worked to accomplish, even in light of some of the friction he created as a personality.

As recently as 2016, Carr showed his best form so far with nearly 4,000 passing yards, 28 TD passes and six INT. He also threw for over 4,000 yards for the first time in 2018. Carr will have his best supporting cast ever with Brown, Tyrell Williams and prized rookie Josh Jacobs. He has one seemingly final chance to prove he can be that same guy he was in 2016.

Unless a QB is really a mediocre backup type, it would be hard not to take advantage of what Brown offers as a receiver. I believe Carr still has the potential to be a quality NFL starter. Relying on Brown is the apparent key to success. Brown’s talent level does not appear to be in any danger of eroding this year, he simply has changed teams. So even if you no longer regard Brown as the overall Fantasy WR1 because of the QB switch, he still has to at least be considered a mid-range top starter at the position until proven otherwise.

More Fantasy Football Analysis

Check out all of RotoBaller's fantasy football rankings. Staff rankings are updated regularly for all positions and include standard formats, PPR scoring, tiered rankings and dynasty leagues.

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