Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

12 Aug 2009

ESPN INSIDER: AFC West Players to Watch

ESPN Insider asked us to do a series of capsule previews of each team, looking at one player on the rise, one player falling, and "one to watch." Rather than 32 different links from FO, I figured I would group them as if it was another round of Four Downs. And so... the last team in the first division went up today, and here are links to the pieces on the AFC West along with which players are discussed:

  • San Diego: Philip Rivers, LaDainian Tomlinson, Antonio Gates
  • Denver: Eddie Royal, Andre' Goodman, offensive line
  • Oakland: Zach Miller, Chris Johnson, Mario Henderson
  • Kansas City: Jamaal Charles, Damion McIntosh, Glenn Dorsey

Posted by: Aaron Schatz on 12 Aug 2009

4 comments, Last at 16 Aug 2009, 3:58pm by Scott C


by bubqr :: Thu, 08/13/2009 - 3:44am

Apparently J.Charles is 3rd on the depth chart. Can anyone explain why ?

by Scott C :: Fri, 08/14/2009 - 10:41am

I think for the Chargers your comments and the "up, down, watch" bit are misleading.

Yes, LT's next 4 years won't be as good as his last 4. But this year will be better than last year -- an UP prediction for the year. He has looked fantastic in camp and all the speed seems back.

As for Rivers, his next 3 years will likely be better than his first three, but this year has a good chance of being less good statistically than last year -- at least in traditional stats. It is unlikely the chargers will play from behind in the 4th quarter as often as last year if the defense improves, taking away attempts. DVOA wise and QB rating wise he should be similar to last year. In either way, IMO on a 1 year trend I don't see much of an 'UP'.

On Gates, his injuries are likely to hurt him less this year. In camp, he has split out wide and run much deeper routes, or run deeper routes from the slot than last year. But its hard to say with all the other playmakers on the team if his receptions or average yardage will go up enough to look more like his production in the Cam Cameron era. He has also reportedly bulked up a lot -- for the first time in his career really using the weight room. His weight is about the same, but body fat much lower.

Anyway, the assessment doesn't fit the description. Rivers won't likely give the chargers a 'jolt' more than he did last year, LT has GAINED a step compared to last year.
Long term career wise? Yes, Rivers is on the up and LT fading. Year over year though I disagree.

by Danish Denver-Fan :: Sat, 08/15/2009 - 8:05pm

First of all: Very good points.

Just a peeve; when "... has looked good in camp" needs to be on your list of reasons why he will have a good year, your list is simply too short.

by Scott C :: Sun, 08/16/2009 - 3:58pm

Last year "looks good in camp" could not be applied to LT or Gates. Clearly they were injury limited last year. So the point isn't that looking good in camp is much of anything on its own. But it is a sign that the effect of past injuries seems to have faded a lot compared to last year at this time.
Of course, there are future injuries to deal with, and I can see an argument that LT will likely have more trouble from injury over the rest of his career than in the past.