- Demaryius Thomas – Thomas is the closest thing to a sure bet you can have on this Broncos squad. He hasn’t missed a game in over 5 years, and he hasn’t gone below 1,000 yards in that time either. His TDs have taken a hit over the past 2 years, but Thomas is in the best shape he’s been in years and the new offense may shift more to the pass.
- Emmanuel Sanders – The main reason I didn’t put Sanders at no.1 is that he doesn’t have the TD upside that Thomas brings while sitting around a similar amount of yards per season. He’ll also get a bump in the new offense.
- C.J. Anderson – Finally we get to a running back. Anderson will get first crack in the Denver backfield, but he’s no lock to maintain a starting role with several borderline-capable backs hovering around him.
- Jamaal Charles – There really isn’t a better pass-catching back in the league when Charles is healthy, but that’s the big question mark. He hasn’t played in more than 5 games a season in the last 2 years. The ripe old age of 30, ancient in running back years, Charles could be the steal of the draft or a wasted pick. His upside is impossible to ignore though.
- Trevor Siemian – Quite possibly the most unappealing pick at QB for fantasy purposes, Siemian should be serviceable in 2 QB leagues under (new to him) O.C. Mike McCoy. McCoy loves to pass, and Siemian has two of the better veteran WRs in the league inThomas and Sanders.
Kansas City Chiefs
- Travis Kelce – My main reason for putting Kelce this high is because he’s one of the few guarantees for weekly production at the tight end position in the league. His 1,125 yards in 2016 led all tight ends, and if he can start adding TDs to the mix, there’s an argument for him being the top option at his position.
- Tyreek Hill – Last year’s second half of the season surprise, Hill is poised to have a monster season as the undisputed no.1 receiver in Kansas City now that Maclin is gone. In all honesty, he probably would have been even if Maclin stayed. His ability to flourish in whatever situation he’s put in will help mitigate Alex Smith lack of adventure in the passing game.
- Kareem Hunt – Yes, he’s just a rookie, and yes Spencer Ware is listed as the starter, but Spencer Ware isn’t a special player, whereas Hunt definitely has the makings of one. Equally powerful and evasive, Hunt could run away from the competition early this season.
- Spencer Ware – Ware has a tenuous hold on the starting job in Kansas City for now, and that’s enough to put him in this spot. There’s nothing really exciting about Ware, but there aren’t that many exciting things about this offense.
- Patrick Mahomes – Pick up Smith if you want, but this guy is the future of the franchise. Mahomes is smart as a whip with a cannon for an arm. It may be a multi-year development, but I’d take Mahomes upside over Smith’s agonizingly underwhelming play any day.
Los Angeles Chargers
- Melvin Gordon – No controversy here. Gordon is the bell cow and though he didn’t top 1,000 yards rushing in 2016, his 10 TD upside makes him one of the safest picks at the position.
- Tyrell Williams – I know, Keenan is the “no.1”, but Allen has also never played a full season since he’s entered the league. He hasn’t even topped 8 games in the last 2 years. Williams can put up similar numbers, and he’s less injury prone already.
- Keenan Allen – Can’t let Allen fall too far though. If he manages to stay healthy, which is a big if, Allen can be a top 5 WR.
- Phillip Rivers – Rivers probably has the most talented receiving corps he’s had since entering the league. Even at his age and relative unreliability, he’s going to put up great numbers most of the time… I think.
- Hunter Henry – While I can’t say that rookie Mike Williams is going to be a focal point of the offense this season after missing precious time in the preseason with injury, I can say that Henry will for all intents and purposes be the go-to tight end for the Chargers this season. Antonio Gates is almost 37, and his TD record is already a lock. They’ll ease him out of a primary role over the season.
- Marshawn Lynch – Lynch is the walking dead by running back standards at 31, but he’s been resting for a year, and he’s running behind one of the best O-lines in the league. If his health holds up, we could be looking at a 1,200 yard, 12 TD campaign.
- Amari Cooper – The only reason I have Copper over Crabtree at this point is because Cooper is 8 years younger. Crabtree is a bigger TD threat and puts up comparable yards.
- Michael Crabtree – Crabtree just keeps producing at a high level in this Oakland offense. I’m not mad if you take him over Cooper. Crabtree isn’t as sexy, but he’s more consistent over the second half of the season.
- Derek Carr – A heartbreaking end to his 2016 season won’t keep Carr from coming back better this year. Soon to be maybe the highest paid QB in the league, it’s not a stretch to say he’s one of the best.
- Cordarrelle Patterson – Yeah, conventional wisdom would put TE Jared Cook here, but the Raiders have had good production out of their third receiver in recent history, and Patterson is a better athlete than any of the most recent one. He can also run the ball and be an asset in the return game. He’s worth a gamble.