2014 DRAFT GUIDE
AFC West

2012-07-10 11:43:52
By JEFF PAUR
Sr Fantasy Writer
RealTime Fantasy Sports

All eyes on Manning in Denver

Raiders

The Raiders always seem to be a team in flux and this season is no different. They have another new coach in place and some question marks on both sides of the ball. The big story for the Raiders might be quarterback Carson Palmer, who is the starter from day one this season. Palmer has some upside and potential but turned the ball over too much last season, which led to several erratic performances. His grasp of the offense will be a big factor to his success for this season, so watching his progress in camp is a good idea. Palmer and the team get started July 30 at Redwood Middle School in Napa, Calif.

Position battle: Not that the starting tight end spot in Oakland scores much, but the starter might be worth a spot start or two in a pinch. And the position is wide open right now. Brandon Myers and David Ausberry are the frontrunners to start for the Raiders. Auberry is the more intriguing fantasy option of the two as he was a receiver in college.

Injury watch: Receiver Denarius Moore injured his hamstring during minicamp. The injury isn't considered serious but it is something to watch going forward, especially since Moore could play a big role going forward. Moore should be ready for the start of training camp but might be slowed a little early because of the injury, which could hurt his chances to grab a starting job.

Broncos

With Tim Tebow gone, the talk of Broncos' camp will be new quarterback Peyton Manning. Can Manning regain his form of old and take his new team to new heights in 2012? It should be a more than interesting camp for Denver. Manning's right arm is going to be the most watched arm in the NFL this training camp. Manning and the Broncos get underway starting July 26 at the Paul. D. Bowden Memorial Broncos Centre in Englewood, Colo.

Position battle: Last season, the Broncos receiving spot brought little to fantasy teams. But this year looks to be a different story with Peyton Manning at the helm. They will be a pass-first team that should produce for fantasy teams. There are plenty of openings at receiver with Eric Decker, Andre Caldwell, Jason Hill, Brandon Stokley and Matt Willis battling for playing time. The only sure thing is Demaryius Thomas, who will be the No. 1. But after him, you'll want to see how things shake out at receiver because one or two of the aforementioned players could be a help to fantasy teams.

Injury watch: As mentioned, the arm of Peyton Manning will be closely monitored during camp. He probably won't ever throw as hard as previous seasons but he needs to be able to dial it up some if he hopes to perform near his level of past seasons. He is a very tough player to gauge for fantasy teams, so getting a look at him in camp could go a long way to deciding where to take him come draft day.

Chargers

The Chargers took a bit of a step backwards last season but still has plenty of talent on the team and should compete for a playoff spot. Philip Rivers had a down season for his standards and will be closely watched this year to see if he can cut down on his mistakes and produce better overall numbers. Rivers probably will be the story of camp, seeing if he can revert to old form. Rivers gets going at camp starting July 23 at Chargers Park in San Diego, Calif.

Position battle: The backup running back spot is up for grabs with the Chargers with Mike Tolbert gone. This is an important position for fantasy teams since starter Ryan Mathews hasn't been able to stay healthy to date. Veteran Ronnie Brown and Curtis Brinkley are the top two candidates for the job. Brown has the experience but Brinkley brings more upside and will be given the first shot at the job.

Injury watch: Antonio Gates has battled foot injures the past few seasons, missing nine games the last two years. He is a force when healthy but hasn't looked full strength in a few seasons. The early reports are very positive for Gates for the coming season but we'll know more when we see him performing in camp and preseason action.

Chiefs

The Chiefs hope to use the momentum from last season's solid finish for a quick start to this year. Romeo Crennell will be coaching from day on this year, hoping to find that spark from late last season. Much of camp will be focused on the health of star running back Jamaal Charles, who is returning from a major knee injury. He is a huge part of the team and will be counted on to produce big if the Chiefs hope to improve from last season. Camp opens July 27 at Missouri Western State in St. Joseph, Mo.

Position battle: Steve Breaston is likely to man one of the two starting receiver spots for the Chiefs but don't discount Jonathan Baldwin for the job. He'll compete for that other starting spot with Breaston. If he can take some steps forward this season, Baldwin could earn a lot more playing time. He brings more to the table than Breaston but has lacked consistency since turning pro.

Injury watch: Running back Jamaal Charles tore his ACL the second week of the season. The only thing good about that injury was how early he got hurt. He should be about full strength for training camp and the start of the year. Charles should open the season as starter, barring a setback.

If you have any questions or comments, please email Jeff Paur at jeff@rtsports.com

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