The AFC West has all four of its teams roughly in the middle of the pack in terms of target retention. Kansas City is coming off back-to-back Super Bowl appearances, and their expectations have to be yet another appearance in this upcoming season. Behind them, the Raiders, Chargers, and Broncos all have playoff aspirations, but none had winning records in 2020, so they all face uphill climbs. Derek Carr and Justin Herbert return at QB for the Raiders and Chargers respectively, while the Broncos return Drew Lock but added Teddy Bridgewater to compete with him for the starting job. None of these QBs will face major overhauls, but all will have to deal with some losses and work on chemistry with the new additions.
Roster Moves through July 9th
Kansas City Chiefs
- Overall Targets Returning: 85.8% (524/611) (11th)
- WR Targets Returning: 83.4% (276/331) (16th)
- TE Targets Returning: 92.8% (154/166) (10th)
- RB/FB Targets Returning: 82% (91/111) (14th)
The Chiefs’ only loss at WR is Sammy Watkins, who was fourth at the position in targets in 2020 and never really lived up to the big contract the Chiefs gave him in 2018. The Chiefs didn’t add much at the position, with Cornell Powell, a fifth-round draft pick, being the most notable, so they will mainly rely on internal improvement to fill the loss of Watkins. Mecole Hardman and Demarcus Robinson already played sizable roles in 2020, so Byron Pringle is likely to be the biggest beneficiary at the position. Pringle only had 17 targets in 2020, but he seems likely to be the fourth WR in this offense and would see a sizable increase if that holds true. At TE, Travis Kelce is returning and that is the key at the position. He commanded the vast majority of the targets at the position and actually led the team in 2020, and both should be expected again in 2021 as long as he stays healthy. Behind him, Blake Bell was signed from the Cowboys and Noah Gray was drafted in the fifth round. Clyde Edwards-Helaire and Darrel Williams will be the top two RBs yet again in 2021 and see a large share of the targets. Behind them, the Le’Veon Bell experiment definitely seemed to fail, so he is gone and has been replaced by Jerrick McKinnon as a depth back alongside Darwin Thompson. At FB, Anthony Sherman retired after 8 years with the franchise, and his replacement, Michael Burton, will likely fill a similar role.
Las Vegas Raiders
- Overall Targets Returning: 76.7% (401/523) (17th)
- WR Targets Returning: 64.9% (155/239) (27th)
- TE Targets Returning: 90.1% (155/172) (11th)
- RB/FB Targets Returning: 81.3% (91/112) (15th)
Nelson Agholor departed after being the leading target getter at the WR position, and Vegas reacted by adding veterans John Brown and Willie Snead in FA. Both are expected to provide depth at the position behind a young trio of recent draft picks: Henry Ruggs, Bryan Edwards, and Hunter Renfrow. Ruggs had a mostly minor role in his rookie season and Edwards had an even smaller one, but both are expected to grow into much larger roles in 2021. Renfrow will likely maintain similar status as the slot receiver and see a similar number of targets. The target leader of this offense will almost certainly be Darren Waller yet again. He had 63 more targets than the next highest player in this offense in 2020 and should be expected to repeat as the overwhelming focal point when healthy. Beyond him, Jason Witten’s retirement means Foster Moreau and Derek Carrier move up on the depth chart and will take on slightly larger roles. At RB, Kenyan Drake was brought in to offset the losses of Devontae Booker and Theo Riddick behind Josh Jacobs. Jalen Richard is returning but could see a slightly reduced role to make room for Drake, who will likely command more targets than the departures at the position did.
Los Angeles Chargers
- Overall Targets Returning: 77.7% (475/611) (16th)
- WR Targets Returning: 100% (325/325) (T-1st)
- TE Targets Returning: 23.8% (31/130) (31st)
- RB/FB Targets Returning: 76.3% (119/156) (19th)
The Chargers return every WR that had a target in 2020 and added Joshua Palmer in the third round of the draft, so there is good continuity and depth at the position. Keenan Allen will be the clear target leader for the position and the team, with Mike Williams likely next in both as well. Beyond them, Jaylen Guyton, Tyron Johnson and Palmer are all likely to have decent roles in the offense with Guyton’s likely to be the largest of the three. TE is where the big changes are for the Chargers, as Hunter Henry’s departure leaves a gaping hole at the position, with Virgil Green also departing but from a much smaller role. The additions of Jared Cook in free agency and Tre’ McKitty in the third round of the draft will recoup some of those targets, but likely not all because of how large Henry’s role was. The Chargers will also be running a new scheme, as they have a new OC, Joe Lombardi. Lombardi was in New Orleans with Jared Cook in 2020, so it’s reasonable to expect his usage of the TEs and Cook will be more similar to what New Orleans did in 2020 than to what the Chargers did. At RB, Kalen Ballage and Troymaine Pope both departed, but a healthy Ekeler backed up by Justin Jackson and Joshua Kelley should be more than enough for the Chargers at the position.
- Overall Targets Returning: 84.4% (450/533) (14th)
- WR Targets Returning: 85.9% (269/313) (12th)
- TE Targets Returning: 83.1% (123/148) (15th)
- RB/FB Targets Returning: 80.6% (58/72) (16th)
DaeSean Hamilton is the only departed receiver with a target in 2020, and he was only fourth among receivers in targets. There is no external addition of real consequence, but Courtland Sutton will return after tearing his ACL in Week 1 of 2020, and he had 124 targets in 2019, so a large role will likely await him. To account for that, expect slight decreases in targets for everyone else as they slide down a rung to fit Sutton back into the WR1 role. At TE, Nick Vannett, Troy Fumagalli, and Jake Butt departed, which was a blow to Denver’s depth at the position, but they still have Noah Fant to carry the load as the main TE and Albert Okwuegbunam to serve as his primary backup in an increased role over last year’s. Denver only loses Philip Lindsay at the RB position, a position they didn’t throw to very often in 2020. Javonte Williams and Mike Boone were both added at the position, but neither should be expected to factor too heavily into the passing games, as it isn’t their strengths as players.