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Fantasy Exit Interviews: AFC West

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AFC West


Denver Broncos (6-10)

2018 Team Offensive Ranks Total offense: 24th
Passing: 19th
Rushing: 12th

Statistical Leaders (Final positional ranking/PPR ranks)
Passing: Case Keenum -- 3,890 yards, 18 TD, 15 INT (QB18)
Rushing: Phillip Lindsay -- 1,037 yards, 9 TD (RB12/RB13)
Receiving: Emmanuel Sanders -- 868 yards, 4 TD (WR24/WR23)

What went right: The Broncos blew us all away with a rookie running back from a Pac-12 school. Just not the one we were thinking of. Denver spent a third round pick on Oregon's Royce Freeman, but it was Colorado's Phillip Lindsay that turned everyone's heads. Lindsay topped 1,000 yards in his first campaign, finished ninth in the NFL in rushing yards and was a legitimate RB1 for a long stretch of the season. This will certainly make for an interesting training camp battle in 2019. Does Denver roll with the guy who was more productive as its starter? Or will they open the door for a competition with the guy they drafted? The worst case scenario would be a timeshare, which could be good for the Broncos but bad for the rest of us.

What went wrong: Plenty of people entered the season thinking Case Keenum, fresh off a career year with the Vikings, was certain to be an upgrade over Trevor Siemian. After a full season, the answer is a solid "maybe". Keenum reminded the world why he has been a journeyman and career backup with an underwhelming 2018 season. The Denver passing game went through a transition when stalwart receiver Demaryius Thomas was traded to the Houston Texans (and summarily disappeared from fantasy consciousness). Emmanuel Sanders led the team in receiving but struggled to carry the aerial attack and eventually went on injured reserve, possibly ending his stint with the club. The upside is that those moves opened the door for a new wave of Denver receivers with first-year receiver Tim Patrick and rookies Courtland Sutton and DaeSean Hamilton earning larger roles.

What needs to improve: For yet another offseason, the Broncos are looking to fill a void at quarterback -- or at least find improvement with their current signal caller. The team fired head coach Vance Joseph after two seasons and replaced him with former Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio. Former 49ers assistant coach Rich Scangarello will be the team's offensive coordinator and the man tasked with reviving an offense that was 24th in points per game and tallied more than 28 points only once last season.

Kansas City Chiefs (12-4)

2018 Team Offensive Ranks
Total offense: 1st
Passing: 3rd
Rushing: 16th

Statistical Leaders (Final positional ranking/PPR ranks)
Passing: Patrick Mahomes -- 5,097 yards, 50 TD, 12 INT (QB1)
Rushing: Kareem Hunt -- 824 yards, 7 TD (RB8/RB12)
Receiving: Tyreek Hill -- 1,479 yards, 12 TD (WR1/WR3)

What went right: In a word ... everything. A Chiefs offense that was very good in 2018 took the wraps off Patrick Mahomes and went next level in 2019. The young quarterback in his first year as a starter threw for more than 5,000 yards with 50 touchdowns on his way to being the top scoring player in fantasy -- and the NFL's MVP award. The offensive success didn't stop there. The Chiefs fielded a top 12 player at each of the main skill positions -- including three No. 1 players (Mahomes, Tyreek Hill, and Travis Kelce) in standard scoring leagues. The offense even returned Sammy Watkins to relevance for a number a weeks before a mid-season injury kept him sidelined for eight games. When it came to offensive success in 2018, the Chiefs were kings.

What went wrong: The early part of the season was filled with cries of "why aren't the Chiefs running the ball?" Eventually those wails quieted when Kareem Hunt erupted for 121 rushing yards in a Week 4 win over the Denver Broncos. However, Hunt's season would end prematurely when he was released by the Chiefs in November after video surfaced of an incident in which Hunt assaulted a woman in an Ohio hotel. In his place, Kansas City turned to Damian Williams and Spencer Ware, who filled in admirably.

What needs to improve: When you're "only" 16th in rushing offense compared to a third-ranked passing offense, I guess there's room for improvement. But this feels like splitting hairs.

Los Angeles Chargers (12-4)

2018 Team Offensive Ranks
Total offense: 8th
Passing: 10th
Rushing: 15th

Statistical Leaders (Final positional ranking/PPR ranks)
Passing: Philip Rivers -- 4,308 yards, 32 TD, 12 INT (QB11)
Rushing: Melvin Gordon -- 885 yards, 10 TD (RB6/RB8)
Receiving: Keenan Allen -- 1,196 yards, 6 TD (WR14/WR12)

What went right: Much of Los Angeles might not have noticed but the Chargers had a very good offensive season in 2018. Philip Rivers topped 4,000 passing yards for the 10th time in 11 seasons and retained his title as the patron saint of The Church of Waiting on a Quarterback. Keenan Allen's numbers were down from 2017 but the Bolts' top wideout still put in a low-end WR1 performance worthy of his draft status. After a poor rookie season, Mike Williams took a big step forward in his sophomore campaign Melvin Gordon was again Melvin Gordon but this year, he had help. Second-year running back Austin Ekeler was asked to carry a larger load and did so admirably, with nearly 1,000 scrimmage yard and six total touchdowns. Yet if you want the true test of what went right for the Chargers in 2018 -- they found a kicker! After seasons of being plagued by an inconsistent kicking game, Los Angeles seems to have found reliability in Michael Badgley, who connected on 15-of-16 field goal attempts. Huzzah!

What went wrong: The season got off to a sour note when tight end Hunter Henry suffered a torn ACL, keeping him out for the entirety of the regular season. Gordon's status as a touchdown machine has kept his fantasy draft stock elevated but the running back started fewer than 14 games for the third time in four seasons and fell short of 1,000 rushing yards yet again. With Ekeler eating into Gordon's snaps and touches, it's worth wondering if he will have first-round draft appeal in 2019.

What needs to improve: Melvin Gordon's 50 catches were nice and Mike Williams improvement was welcomed after losing Henry in the preseason but the Chargers will need more help on the outside. After Allen's 97 receptions, Mike Williams was the second-leading wide receiver with 43 receptions while Tyrell Williams still hasn't been able to duplicate the magic of his breakout 2016 campaign. Rivers has been incredibly durable (he hasn't missed a start since taking over the gig in 2006) and done excellent work for years but entering this 16th season at age 37, it might behoove the Chargers to make sure the cupboard is stocked with weapons.

Oakland Raiders (4-12)

2018 Team Offensive Ranks
Total offense: 28th
Passing: 18th
Rushing: 25th

Statistical Leaders (Final positional ranking/PPR ranks)
Passing: Derek Carr -- 4,049 yards, 19 TD, 10 INT
Rushing: Doug Martin -- 723 yards, 4 TD
Receiving: Jared Cook -- 896 yards, 6 TD

What went right: It's hard to find a lot of true successes in the Raiders offense this past season. Jon Gruden returned to the sideline after a decade in the broadcast booth and retooled the offense. In the end, the best thing to come out of it was 31-year-old journeyman tight end Jared Cook having the best season of his 10-year career. Doug Martin played a larger role than anticipated before the season began and had more than a few fantasy relevant weeks, though his production was often hard to predict due to an offense that was predictably inconsistent.

What went wrong: This offense seemed doomed to flop from the beginning. Almost immediately, it got older by adding former Packers star Jordy Nelson to go along with Cook and Marshawn Lynch. Things got worse when Lynch landed on injured reserve after six games with an abdominal injury. About the same time, Oakland traded struggling receiver Amari Cooper to the Dallas Cowboys where he would eventually thrive and help the team to the playoffs. Speaking of trades, did we mention the Raiders preseason deal to send sack artist Khalil Mack to the Chicago Bears? Because that happened, weakening an already poor defense while strengthening the Bears already formidable unit.

What needs to improve: The offense underwent an overhaul last offseason and could stand to go through another one this spring. Derek Carr is set to be the quarterback for another season amid lingering questions whether he's a fit for Gruden's offense. The running back corps is old and the wide receivers (aside from Nelson) are unproven. Other than that, things are just fine for the Silver and Black. There won't be a lot of fantasy options drafted from this squad next season.

Marcas Grant is a fantasy editor for NFL.com and a man who is learning to be one with traffic. Send him your moments of transit zen via Twitter @MarcasG. If you read all of that, congrats. Follow him on Facebook and Instagram.

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