Las Vegas Raiders
The Good: It starts up front for the Raiders with the 2nd and 6th rated run and pass blocking rankings respectively. This offense has some athleticism to it as they checked in at 5th in offensive athleticism. The Raiders are league average in the draft capital department as they have all their picks moving forward.
The Bad: On the defensive side of the ball the Raiders ranked 29th in athleticism. A year after spending a top 5 pick on a pass rush the Raiders still find themselves at 28th in ORR. 22nd in the youth power index, the Raiders are trending the wrong way in terms of youth. While a serviceable quarterback, Derek Carr comes in at 23rd in adjusted QB Rating.
The Bottom Line: The Raiders are a tough team to gauge subjectively. With the talent on offense like Henry Ruggs, Darren Waller, and Josh Jacobs you feel like there is something to work with. A top offensive line will allow you some room to operate early on, however, that line’s age will become an issue early in a cycle. The defense on the other hand has issues all over and none greater than the lack of pass rush.
Ideally, you’d love to find an heir to Carr but with other needs that probably will need to wait until the draft. Pass rusher would be my main concern, but it will be an expensive need and with a cap situation that doesn’t support eating bad contracts you may find yourself stuck with what you have. In my mind I move some of the older quality linemen for draft capital, the reason being in this division the Raiders need an infusion of skill players on defense to contend.
The Raiders will be a tough team for owners to get excited about outside of Ruggs, but honestly for some that will be enough. There are things to like, but with the age of the offensive line and the issues on the defensive line, this team is a ways off from contending. The Raiders aren’t best rebuild to start with but should be a team that someone will have fun trying to shape into their own.
Kansas City Chiefs
The Good: Patrick Mahomes is the #1 ranked QB in adjusted quarterback rating. The Chiefs’ offensive weapons are rated 3rd in the league, as well as 3rd in athleticism. The Chiefs have the 10th rated pass-blocking offensive line. 4th ranked in abilities, the Chiefs have guys with talent all over the field.
The Bad: The glaring issue is the lack of athleticism on the defensive side of the ball where they rank dead last in the league. 24th in run defense, this team will struggle at times to contain some of the better running attacks they face. A big problem for the future of this team is their 30th ranked cap situation.
The Bottom Line: I expect to get some hate mail on this one but hear me out. Patrick Mahomes is great, and their offense is dynamic, but that cap situation is absolutely brutal. Before their recent signings, they were sitting at 14th overall so that alone dropped them four spots. Add in some of their issues on defense and you can see this team is not as clean as many think.
If I was managing this team the first thing I’d do is start shedding some cap. Fisher is a cut candidate as he won’t have much trade value. Mitchell Schwartz should be a trade candidate to a team like the Bengals who need offensive line help. I’d even go as far as to consider trading an aging Travis Kelce to clear his $9 million dollar cap hit. Sammy Watkins is still solid but he probably doesn’t fit into future plans in KC as he needs to be resigned, so getting something now is a better option even if it doesn’t help cap.
Don’t get me wrong the Chiefs are a really good team. Some will see this ranking and disregard what I am saying, but this cap situation is going to force the team to be stripped down a bit after season one whether you want to or not. All that said, a good owner will have a lot of fun navigating the cap issues while lighting up scoreboards.
The Good: The Broncos possess a top 10 coverage unit with top 10 ranked man and zone coverage units. In the front seven, the Broncos boast the #2 ranked run defense along with the #10 ranked ORR. Being 2nd in offensive athleticism should attract a lot of owners to this team.
The Bad: While the weapons are athletic they aren’t highly rated as they ranked 31st in weapons rankings. Conversely, the defense is very highly rated across the board, however, they rank 26th in athleticism. Another concern would the offensive line which is bottom 10 in both run and pass blocking.
The Bottom Line: One of the “sexy teams” in many franchise’s team selection discussion, the Broncos actually back up that interest with the data. Most people talk about the offensive weapons, however, the defense is the star right now. The offense is young though with upside and over time, as the defense ages out, the offense should be able to carry the squad.
Cap wise, the Broncos are in a pretty good situation allowing them to be on the lookout for the veteran value dumps. Since the defense is already on the older side I would focus on offensive veteran value trades, specifically, I’d look to improve the offensive line. If you can get a division rival to make a trade both the Chiefs and Raiders would be teams in such a situation to move veteran offensive linemen.
This will be a fun team throughout the cycle. Many people are banking on being able to develop an offense full of young talent, but owners must keep an eye on the defense and trying to infuse some youth there early on in your league. This team should compete throughout the cycle and is a great choice for almost any owner.
Los Angeles Chargers
The Good: The Chargers have the 2nd best coverage secondary in the league ranking 2nd in both man and zone coverage. One of the better pass-rushing units in football, the Chargers are the 7th ranked team in ORR. Complimenting the pass rush well is the 4th ranked defense athletically in the league. With the 3rd most cap space, the Chargers should be able to fill any holes that emerge.
The Bad: On offense, the Chargers are not very explosive as they land at 29th in offensive athleticism. The run defense could use some improvement as they are the 22nd ranked in the run defense metric. The team as a whole is trending to the older side, at 22nd in youth power index the Chargers will need to add some youth over time.
The Bottom Line: There is a lot to like about this team but I think they may not be for everyone. The offensive weapons lack the athleticism many owners covet in their teams, while the defense is aging a bit in the cornerback room. The other big question is what to do at QB with Justin Herbert being a middle-tier option long term at first glance.
This team is flush at corner, and with such need for the position, should be able to use one of the corners to improve elsewhere. The question is “which corner to trade?”, and the answer is “whichever one gets the most in return”. On the other side, I am probably looking for some sort of athleticism at wide receiver. In a division with three really athletic offenses, the Chargers will need to get better there to compete.
If it was me personally I would take the Chargers early and often in any franchise I was in. I get why some people may be less than excited about the offensive outlook, however, I think the defense has staying power and the offense can be easily fixed. Owners should keep in mind that as good as the chargers are, because of the talented teams in the division signing up for the Chargers is signing up for a battle in most leagues.