2017 Fantasy Football Draft Prep: AFC West schedule breakdown

You can do plenty of research when it comes to every NFL skill-position player, but none of it would matter if you knew they'd have a tough schedule, or even an easy one. 

This June, we graded every defense based on talent, depth and coaching, then used those grades to determine which teams had the easiest and hardest schedules. The results are published by division. The goal is to draw some conclusions about Fantasy players who you might not start every week regardless of matchup.   

AFC West common opponents: AFC East, NFC East

Denver Broncos

Broncos team defensive grades -- Run: 7 | Pass Rush: 10 | Pass Coverage: 10
Sked specs: Week 5 bye, Week 15 Thursday game at Colts, one game indoors, two games on turf, one game with opponent coming off a bye week (vs. Patriots, Week 10).
Sked notes: We should see a hot start from Denver -- four of their first five games are at home. After that, all bets are off. The Broncos play three straight on the road in Weeks 7 through 9 and then host the Patriots before things lighten up toward the end of the year. That's when we especially might see the Broncos' passing game find its groove.
Broncos projected opponents defensive ranks -- Run: 6th | Pass: 22nd
Predicted record: 10-6

Kansas City Chiefs

Chiefs team defensive grades -- Run: 6 | Pass Rush: 8 | Pass Coverage: 7
Sked specs: Week 10 bye, Week 7 Thursday game at Raiders, two games indoors, five games on turf, no games with opponent coming off a bye week.
Sked notes: The first-place schedule really hurts the Chiefs, especially when it comes to opposing pass defenses. Not only will the Broncos and Chargers create problems but the Patriots, Texans and Giants -- all on the road -- will be difficult to deal with. Their meeting at Denver is in Week 17, which helps owners who don't play the final week of the regular season.
Chiefs projected opponents defensive ranks -- Run: 12th | Pass: 30th
Predicted record: 9-7

Los Angeles Chargers

Chargers team defensive grades -- Run: 8 | Pass Rush: 7 | Pass Coverage: 7
Sked specs: Week 9 bye, Week 12 Thursday game at Cowboys, one game indoors, four games on turf, no games with opponent coming off a bye week.
Sked notes: The Chargers have a chance because they don't face a ton of overpowering offenses and their defense might be the best-kept secret in football. Changing coaches didn't mean overhauling the offense because they kept playcaller Ken Whisenhunt, which is another advantage. It really lines up perfectly for Melvin Gordon to keep grinding and scoring.
Chargers projected opponents defensive ranks -- Run: 4th | Pass: 29th
Predicted record: 7-9

Oakland Raiders

Raiders team defensive grades -- Run: 3 | Pass Rush: 10 | Pass Coverage: 5
Sked specs: Week 10 bye, Week 7 Thursday game at Chiefs, no game indoors, one game on turf, no games with opponent coming off a bye week.
Sked notes: It's a tale of two halves for the Raiders. From Weeks 1 through 9, they have a couple of truly tough matchups but a lot of real juicy opponents. After the bye they take on nothing but playoff contenders until the final two weeks of the season when they finish at the Eagles and at the Chargers. It's crummy timing for Marshawn Lynch -- the Raiders would be wise to limit his reps until their bye, then let him loose. Unfortunately it'll come against some good defenses.
Raiders projected opponents defensive ranks -- Run: 23rd | Pass: 28th
Predicted record: 9-7

Senior Fantasy Writer

Dave Richard has spent nearly his entire career covering the National Football League. Beginning with NFL.com at the boom of the Internet, Richard was that site's first Fantasy Football writer before transitioning... Full Bio

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