Omaha! ...
Season 4,

#164: 2019 AFC West Preview with Nick Kendell of

September 17, 2019

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  1. Last season, the Raiders offense was pretty much unwatchable even before they traded Amari Cooper. Now they have Antonio Brown, arguably THE best wide receiver of the decade, whom they acquired in a trade from the Steelers. They also signed Tyrell Williams, an EXTREMELY underrated vertical receiving threat and they also drafted Josh Jacobs, a multi-dimensional RB from Alabama. However, if these new weapons are to take the league by storm and the Raiders are going to surprise some people this season, Derek Carr must play like he did in 2015 and his MVP-caliber 2016 season as opposed to how he has performed the previous two seasons. This is likely Carr’s final chance to cement himself as the Raiders franchise QB as the team can save $16.5 million by releasing him after this season. Do you think Derek Carr is still capable of being that QB we saw in 2016, or are his best days behind him?


  1. FANTASY FOCUS: Antonio Brown may be getting a gold jacket one day, but from a fantasy perspective this season, he gets a steep downgrade at QB going from Roethlisberger to Carr. According to Fantasy Football Calculator, Brown’s current ADP is 2.09. Is Antonio Brown still a lock for a 1200+ receiving yard season with double digit TD’s as a Raider? Would you put WR’s with slightly lower ADP’s like Tyreek Hill and Mike Evans ahead of him on fantasy draft boards?


  1. After trading away Khalil Mack, the Raiders pass rush was almost lifeless as they registered a league low 13 sacks. That’s why they used their first of three first round picks on a pass rusher in Clelin Ferrell. However, the selection of Ferrell was thought of as a reach by many, especially since there were better options on the board in Josh Allen and Ed Oliver. I understand GM Mike Mayock wanted to make a statement about character in the pick, but with questionable pieces around Ferrell on that DL, how much does he alone improve that anemic pass rush?


  1. For the third time in four seasons, the Broncos have a new starting QB. With the Ravens eager to begin the Lamar Jackson era, the Broncos pounced and traded for his predecessor and Super Bowl XLVII MVP Joe Flacco. While many (including you) believe Flacco is an upgrade from Case Keenum, Flacco’s stats last year weren’t that much different from Keenum’s, and he has been at the bottom of the league in overall QBR for the past few seasons. And FWIW, Flacco and the Broncos offense have had a very sluggish start to training camp. Based on tape alone, why is Flacco an upgrade over Case Keenum?


  1. After Phillip Lindsay’s historic rookie campaign for an undrafted free agent, his current ADP of 4.08 is understandable. However, given Lindsay’s petit-ish size, the Broncos want to scale back his touches this season. FYI, Lindsay averaged slightly more than 15 totes per game last season. As NFL insider (and friend of the pod) Benjamin Allbright recently reported, the plan is to only give Phillip Lindsay 50% of the touches and Royce Freeman around 40%. That said, new OC Rich Scangarello plans to utilize Lindsay a lot more in the passing game, which could make Lindsay even more efficient this season. All things considered, would you take Phillip Lindsay at his current ADP, or would you rather pass and take Royce Freeman at his current ADP of 8.03, which is four rounds later than where Lindsay is going?


  1. What excites me more about the Broncos this season than the past three seasons is the presence of new head coach Vic Fangio, one of the NFL’s best defensive minds. Last season, despite excellent performances from Von Miller and Bradley Chubb, the Broncos defense took a statistical dive, particularly against the pass. The No Fly Zone became the GO Fly Zone as the Broncos only had the league’s 20th ranked pass defense. Fangio has an extraordinary track record with secondaries, most recently in Chicago, where he helped Kyle Fuller and Eddie Jackson become All Pro and/or Pro Bowl talents and Adrian Amos land a lucrative deal in free agency. In the offseason, the Broncos brought in both Bryce Callahan and Kareem Jackson, who among the 10-15 highest graded corners according to PFF last season. Also, Fangio’s scheme is a FAR better fit for the Broncos promising young safeties Justin Simmons and Will Parks than Joe Woods’ scheme was. If Callahan and Jackson are as good as advertised and Simmons and Parks have the breakout seasons I personally expect them to have, will it surprise you if the Broncos rank in the top-10 in pass defense, let alone the top-five?


  1. The Chargers have one of the most complete rosters in football. It is very hard to find a glaring weakness on this team. Can you?


  1. FANTASY FOCUS: If his health holds up, how likely is it Hunter Henry (current ADP 6.03) will total 50+ receptions for 800+ yards and 6+ TD’s?


  1. I LOVED what the Chargers did in the first two rounds of the 2019 NFL Draft. As good as their defense has been the past few seasons, I think it can only get better. And they arguably put the defense to do just that by selecting Notre Dame DT Jerry Tillery in round one and Delaware S Nasir Adderley in round two. By the way, you can catch my interview with Nasir Adderley at the Senior Bowl by visiting right now! How do those two rookies make this insanely talented defense even better?


  1. For a significant part of the offseason, it looked like Tyreek Hill’s days with the Chiefs were numbered. Heck, the Chiefs initially thought so which is why they drafted super speedy Georgia WR Mecole Hardman. Once the pick was made, Twitter immediately crowned him as Tyreek Hill’s successor. However, that all turned out to be far too premature as the NFL determined it could not find enough evidence to suspend Hill for the alleged abuse of his son. While that process was sorting itself out, Hardman was standing out during Chiefs OTA’s. Now, with him AND Tyreek Hill in the fold, is the Chiefs high-flying offense going to be even more difficult to defend than it was last year?


  1. FANTASY FOCUS: Damien Williams is currently being drafted in the late second round according to Fantasy Football Calculator. Carlos Hyde, on the other hand is being drafted at the end of round 11. While it may be tempting to wait and buy Hyde later, renown NFL analytics guru Warren Sharp tweeted out yesterday just how ineffective Carlos Hyde has been the past few seasons. In 2017, he averaged 3.9 YPC. Last season, he averaged only 3.4 YPC with Cleveland and 3.3 YPC with Jacksonville. Is the Chiefs backfield a situation to avoid in fantasy, or will you be willing to take Damien Williams in round three or four?


  1. Even though he’s still going to be awesome, statistical regression for Patrick Mahomes is a virtual guarantee. Thus, the Chiefs revamped defense is going to have to show quite a bit of improvement in order for the Chiefs to win the Super Bowl. And the pieces are in place for such an improvement, in my opinion. You fire Bob Sutton as DC and replace him with Steve Spagnuolo.


  1. Truth/Exaggeration


-Josh Jacobs will total 1800+ yards from scrimmage and double digit TD’s this season

-After combining for 26 sacks last season, Von Miller and Bradley Chubb will combine for 34 sacks in 2019

-Whether Melvin Gordon’s holdout lasts into the regular season or not, Austin Ekeler and Justin Jackson will combine for a third of the totes in that backfield or more.


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