Thursday, Sep 5th
Monday, Sep 9th

AFC West

Broncos ::

  • Return most of coaching staff, including HC Vic Fangio, OC Pat Shurmur, and DC Ed Donatell
  • Denver ranked 10th in situation neutral pace of play in 2020
  • OL finished 2020 with a 28th-ranked run-blocking grade, currently projected as the league’s 21st-ranked OL
  • Teddy Bridgewater won the QB battle and will be the start to begin the year, likely due to his poise in high leverage situations (3rd down and goal to go); CAR ranked 2nd in time of possession per drive and 8th in yards per drive in 2020 with Teddy under center
  • Offense returns most starters from 2020, with the addition of Javonte Williams to the backfield to form a tandem with incumbent starter Melvin Gordon
  • Williams was my third highest rated rookie RB out of the 2021 class and should push for immediate playing time as a complete back (pass pro +++)
  • WR trio of Courtland Sutton, Jerry Jeudy, and KJ Hamler form one of the better up and coming units in the league
  • Noah Fant a complete, up and coming TE
  • Ranked 19th in the league in pass attempts per game in 2020 at 34.8 (likely to remain consistent in 2021 or see a slight dip)
  • 57% situation neutral pass rate in 2020, 12th lowest
  • DEN ranked 31st in the NFL in 2020 in drive success rate at 67.2%
  • 28th in points per drive
  • Used six of eight picks in the 2021 draft on the defensive side of the ball, including first round selection of Patrick Surtain II, who should immediately join fellow newcomers Kyle Fuller and Ronald Darby in the secondary
  • AJ Bouye released
  • Von Miller and Bradley Chubb appear healthy, a welcomed sight for a team that allowed a ghastly 4.8 yards per rush attempt in 2020 (fourth worst in the league)
  • FA and the draft did this unit well; appear to be a top 5 defensive unit on paper

Chiefs ::

  • OL overhaul :: Eric Fisher/Mitchell Schwartz out, Orlando Brown/Joe Thuney/Austin Blythe/Creed Humphrey (8th best grade in the nation in 2020) in
  • Mecole Hardman saw starter’s snaps preseason, followed by DeMarcus Robinson and Byron Pringle; saw designed/schemed plays to utilize his speed
  • League’s second most efficient offense in 2020 (behind only the Packers)
  • Most yards per drive and 4th most points per drive in 2020
  • Once crowded backfield now down to Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Darrel Williams, and newcomer Jerick McKinnon
  • CEH averaged 13.9 rush attempts and 4.2 targets per game started in 2020, averaging a league-average 4.4 yards per attempt
  • With the improvements to the offensive line, expect his rush attempts to increase after averaging 66.3% of the offensive snaps in the six games prior to Le’Veon Bell’s arrival in 2020
  • KC ranked 25th in the NFL in red zone rush success rate in 2020, a mark likely to improve in 2021, which should allow CEH the opportunity to improve on the four rushing touchdowns he scored a year ago
  • In games where Sammy Watkins was healthy in 2020, he averaged an 80% snap rate, compared to 58% for DeMarcus Robinson
  • In games where Sammy Watkins missed, DeMarcus Robinson’s snap rate shot up to 79%
  • Byron Pringle saw a snap rate of 54%, on average, in games Watkins missed
  • Based on what we’ve seen in preseason, expect Mecole Hardman to assume the Sammy Watkins role and snap rate, with Robinson settling into about 60% and Pringle settling into about 55%
  • The Chiefs were bottom 10 in the league in RB target rate, top 10 in the league in WR target rate, and 7th in TE target rate in 2020
  • Spagnuolo’s top-down defensive scheme relied heavily on man coverages with cover-2 principles
  • Safety duo Tyrann Mathieu and Juan Thornhill were a big part in the Chiefs’ successes against deep passing in 2020
  • The weakness of their defense was over the short middle of the field; allowed the 8th most fantasy points per game to opposing RBs and 7th most to opposing TEs

Raiders ::

  • Once dominant OL now reduced to PFF’s 26th-ranked unit
  • Lost 3 OL starters during the offseason; replaced by first- or second-year personnel
  • Kolton Miller, Richie Incognito, and rookie Alex Leatherwood grade as above average, while Andre James and Denzelle Good profile as below average
  • John Gruden doubled down on his 2020 rookie WRs, releasing John Brown in the process after he requested as much
  • Henry Ruggs III was clocked as the fastest WR in the 2020 NFL draft; Derek Carr was the league’s 20th-ranked downfield passer in 2020 with a 44.62% completion rate
  • LV’s receiver target separation rate (separation at target) ranked 29th in the NFL in 2020
  • 9th highest situation neutral rush rate in 2020
  • 20th-ranked yards per rush attempt behind an OL that struggled with injuries (this year’s line will be even less experienced)
  • Gruden’s modernized west coast offense mixes spread concepts and is one of the more complex schemes in the NFL
  • With an additional year with 2020 rookies Henry Ruggs III, Bryan Edwards, and Josh Jacobs, we should see a bump to the 10th most efficient offense in 2020
  • New DC Gus Bradley’s defense utilizes 4-3 under principles with bump and run press cover-3
  • This scheme relies on athleticism in the secondary
  • Projected starters Casey Hayward (bottom 30th percentile in speed and burst scores; allowed 17.1 yards per reception in 2020), rookie Trevon Moehrig, Johnathan Abram, and Trayvon Mullen (82nd percentile speed score, allowed 14.2 yards per reception in 2020) appear set to struggle against the deep ball after the team struggled in that area (28th-ranked 11.4 yards allowed per completion in 2020)
  • Bradley’s system blitzed at the lowest rate in the NFL in his four years in Los Angeles
  • The combination of low blitz rates and an inexperienced/poor fit secondary spells trouble once more against deep passing

Chargers ::

  • Brandon Staley HC/defensive scheme (LAR DC)
  • Joe Lombardi OC (NO QB)
  • Renaldo Hill DC (DEN DB)
  • Starting with defense here
  • NT Linval Joseph is one of the league’s premier run-stoppers
  • Brandon Staley’s defense against the run involves complex zone assignments utilizing nickel and free safety influences
  • Derwin James is a top three safety in the league and is finally healthy (for now)
  • Edge rusher Joey Bosa is one of the top pass rushers in the league
  • This defense has the perfect personnel to fit Staley’s defensive scheme and I expect massive leaps forward in 2021
  • Complete OL overhaul including additions of Matt Feiler, Oday Aboushi, Corey Linsley, and rookie Rashawn Slater to join holdover Bryan Bulaga who missed over half of 2020
  • Hunter Henry out, Jared Cook in at TE (joined by Donald Parham, a physical specimen and red zone standout with a 6’8” frame)
  • OC Joe Lombardi has publicly stated that his goal is to get the most out of the talent he has on the field
  • Lombardi utilizes a power run game with heavy short passing… Keenan Allen and Austin Ekeler, anyone?
  • During his last stint as OC (DET), the Lions ranked 25th and 30th in rush attempts per game
  • If Keenan Allen stays healthy, I expect him to challenge the league lead for targets amongst WRs
  • If Austin Ekeler stays healthy, I expect him to challenge the league lead for targets amongst RBs
  • Mike Williams holds one of the deepest aDOTs of any wide receiver over his career
  • With the defense expected to be a top five unit in 2021, I expect the Chargers to land in the bottom five in pace of play (similar to Lombardi’s time in NO)
  • Outside of Keenan and Ekeler, not much left over as far as volume goes for Mike Williams, Jared Cook, and Donald Parham

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