Depth charts can be tricky this early before the season gets rolling. They can be a trove of misinformation and lead fantasy owners to chase a concept down a wormhole to nothingness. Chip Kelly once said, in regards to an early depth chart, "I don't care". He went on to say, that it was his understanding that the Eagles PR department put those together. It's true, often these early releases can be just that. With that in mind, let's go over all the AFC depth charts to examine what useful information we can glean, and what we can, within reason, ignore.
The big items of note are the Frankensteins put together by Rex Ryan at multiple positions. The Matt Cassel/Tyrod Taylor/EJ Manuel hybrid is pretty predictable. Ryan has been intentionally convoluted in delivering messages on which quarterback he wants to start Week 1. There's still no telling who is the early favorite in this job. Tyrod Taylor had the most dazzling preseason opener, and was tabbed as the second game starter.
This version of the depth chart has Bryce Brown over Karlos Williams, although the latter received most of the praise from camp. Williams was sent to the hospital with an unknown issue. As long as it's not serious, he is still the back to watch, unless Brown has a strong preseason performance or two.
Most notable is that the Miami depth chart features three wide receivers. The team lists Jarvis Landry, Kenny Stills and Greg Jennings as starters. That top three should be all but set in stone to start the season, although DeVante Parker (foot) could steal Jennings' spot at flanker once he is healthy. This is an offense that is ascending, and has plenty of young talent to groom.
As expected, Damien Williams is the number-two back behind Lamar Miller. Jay Ajayi, a popular draft prospect, is back with the pack and fourth on the depth chart. He is not redraft relevant this year. Williams has some talent, but this is not a handcuff situation. Miller is a workhorse, but if he gets injured, keep Williams on your waiver-wire speed dial.
The Patriots running back depth chart is as confusing as ever. The team lists two starters, with LeGarrette Blount presumably as the full time running back and James Develin the fullback. However, James White and Dion Lewis were listed under this assumed fullback spot. Those two could not be further from that position. We gleaned no clarity on the running back rotation from this depth chart.
In case you forgot, Chris Ivory is the no-question starter at running back. Supposed potential challengers Zac Stacy and Stevan Ridley are third and fifth on the depth chart, respectively. Ivory's late ADP continues to be baffling. He has weekly RB2 upside every time he hit the field on sheer volume alone.
Jace Amaro still finds himself in the midst of one of the rougher offseasons around the league. Thought to have a good amount of upside as a second-year player in Chan Gailey's offseason, struggles in OTAs and training camp saw Amaro tumble to third on the depth chart. Until he makes up some ground, he's not rosterable in any seasonal format.
Breshad Perriman has not been on the field for long enough stretches of time this offseason to make a claim for the starting job. Thus, he finds himself behind Kamar Aiken. Perriman could still leap the veteran before the preseason ends, but we cannot pencil him in for 100-plus targets until he does.
Much to the dismay of the Buck Allen supporters, he finds himself behind Lorenzo Taliafarro on the depth chart. The second-year running back is the primary backup to Justin Forsett, not the rookie.
No real surprises from the Bengals lineup, although it's worth noting that Mohamed Sanu is the current WR2 over Marvin Jones. Popular belief held that a healthy Jones would resume his role as the starter, and regain sleeper status, relegating Sanu to the slot. Perhaps the team is waiting to see more before they move in that direction. It looked that way in the preseason, as Jones played deep into the fourth quarter.
Cleveland Browns depth chart
Not made available at this time.
As Ben Roethlisberger forecasted, Markus Wheaton is indeed still ahead of Martavis Bryant on the depth chart. Will that mean Wheaton has more fantasy value than Bryant? That is no given. This team will be in three-wide receiver sets more often than not this season. Even in limited preseason time, Bryant dusted a Jaguars cornerback for a 44-yard touchdown. The depth chart standing in no way sets this situation in stone.
Brian Hoyer gets the first crack at the starting quarterback gig. He is listed as the number-one on the depth chart, and took the first reps in their preseason opener. Hoyer did not flounder, but Mallett was still tabbed as the starter for the second exhibition content. This will be an ongoing competition throughout the preseason, as there is no favorite dictated by pedigree.
The running back battle seems to be Alfred Blue's to lose. He is listed as the top player on the depth chart, and showed good vision in the preseason debut. Say what you want about Blue's talent, but he should be looking at a fine opportunity. Similarly, it appears Cecil Shorts has the number-two receiver gig locked up. Shorts could have some PPR bye week-filler potential, provided he stays healthy.
There's not too much to break down here, all the starting spots are filled with the "as expected" players. Frank Gore is a favorite to push for high-end RB2 status this season, and a favorite of many fantasy analysts. However, his age is still a reality. If he does get hurt or hit the end of the road as a Colt this year, we'll want to know who the backup is. Dan Herron had a few nice games as a pass catcher down the stretch last season. He's the top listed backup on the depth chart. However, Josh Robinson looked quite good in his NFL preseason debut. This is a situation to watch.
T.J Yeldon is already the starting running back. He has workhorse potential, and should see work on all three downs. Yeldon's touchdown upside is capped in this offense, but the touches will be there.
It's good to see Denard Robinson listed separately from the other backup running backs, even if it means nothing. Robinson performed admirably when stretched out of his skill set comfort zone as the team's featured back last season. Even just anecdotally, it's good to see a player who has worked hard to make a successful position switch be viewed highly by his team. Whether that turns into fantasy production is another story with Yeldon entrenched. But Robinson should be on every league's waiver wire speed dial.
Marcus Mariota checking in as the starting quarterback falls in line with everything coming out of Tennessee during the offseason. His passing game weapons are not so set in stone. Harry Douglas comes in as one of the wide receiver starters, despite positive buzz around Hakeem Nicks from camp. Whichever player wins that job will not have consistent fantasy value.
David Cobb is buried on the depth chart, but we should not read too much into that. Some team's early depth charts push rookies down without any real reason. In the preseason opener, Cobb took 11 carries for 53 yards against the Falcons. While that was very late in the game, he is going to earn first-team reps, per head coach Ken Whisenhunt.
C.J. Anderson is the starter on the depth chart, just in case there were any delusions anywhere out there that this was not a no-brainer. Montee Ball looks like the number-two player there. Ronnie Hillman still has his moments, but Juwan Thompson could push him for a roster spot, given his overall competence.
Perhaps most notable from this depth chart is just how questionable this offensive line is. They have a second-round rookie starting at left tackle, and more inexperience next to him. Gary Kubiak's zone blocking offense can field a strong running game even with a sub-par line in tow. But it's fair to wonder if Peyton Manning can still mask deficiencies in the pass blocking at this age, as he has throughout his career.
Trent Richardson is listed as the number-two behind Latavius Murray. This is curious as NFL Media Insider, Ian Rapoport, reported he possessed a 50/50 chance to make the roster. Even if he is the primary running backup, Roy Helu is still the passing down back here, and only other interesting asset in the backfield.
Stevie Johnson finds himself listed as the second wide receiver behind Keenan Allen. Much like Crabtree, Johnson is a forgotten veteran who could easily outperform expectations away from the mire that was the San Francisco offense. Johnson is going to absorb all of Eddie Royal's 91 targets, and do not rule out him siphoning some from other players.