AFC West Quarterback Preview

Well, there's Peyton Manning at least!

If not for Peyton Manning, the AFC West could contend for having the worst QB's for fantasy purposes in 2013. Manning is the only fantasy starter from this division. There are two others who could be good fantasy backups, but Philip Rivers is a huge question mark after a poor 2012 season and I'm going to need to see Alex Smith not just manage games, but put up some stats doing it before he's more than a low end fantasy backup. As for the Raiders? They'll contend with Jacksonville and the New York Jets for having the worst fantasy QB options in 2013.
Denver Broncos
Starter: Peyton Manning
Backup: Brock Osweiler
Outside of the impressive play of the rookie QB's there couldn't have been a bigger surprise at the QB position than Manning in 2012. Manning answered all concerns about how well he'd return from the neck issues that caused him to miss the 2011 season. His 4,659 passing yards, 37 TD's, and 68.6 completion percentage were the second highest of his storied career in those categories. While the combination of the neck injury and his age (37) have reduced his arm strength from what it used to be, he more than makes up for it with his accuracy and smarts. With DeMaryius Thomas, Eric Decker in a second season with him in the system, along with the addition of Wes Welker, it should mean another stellar campaign from Peyton in 2013. Osweiler reportedly is progressing as his backup.
Kansas City Chiefs
Starter: Alex Smith
Backup: Chase Daniel
We're going to find out a lot about Smith in 2013. Andy Reid has always had a prolific passing attack and Smith will be his starting QB in Kansas City. While in San Francisco, Smith developed into a strong game manager type of QB but was never really a strong statistical performer. There is some upside here for Smith as I think he fits Reid's style. Smith is likely to be undervalued as a fantasy backup because of his prior low statistical production but I think he is a safe backup fantasy QB with enough upside to be a competent starter if he clicks with both the weapons in Kansas City and the new offensive system. Daniel is an intriguing backup who never got much game action as Drew Brees backup in New Orleans.
Oakland Raiders
Starter: Matt Flynn
Backup: Tyler Wilson, Terrelle Pryor, Matt McGloin
Flynn is expected to be the starter for Oakland week 1. Flynn isn't a superior talent and while he is remembered for a couple of great statistical games in Green Bay, he isn't surrounded by nearly the same talent in Oakland. At best Flynn will be a mediocre backup fantasy QB in 2013 and there's a chance that if he fails to get wins or has a couple of poor games, he could lose the starting job to rookie Tyler Wilson. I'd stay away from Flynn on draft day. Wilson is likely to be the top backup as Terrelle Pryor has been awful both in games and practices, and McGloin (an undrafted rookie) is only mentioned here because of the weakness of the talent at this position in Oakland. I would avoid all Oakland QB's.
San Diego Chargers
Starter: Phillip Rivers
Backup: Charlie Whitehurst
Rivers clearly regressed in 2012. For the first time since 2007 he failed to reach 4,000 passing yards and 27 passing TD's. There is speculation that he's lost some arm strength and that his career is on a rapid decline. I'm not ready to throw in the towel yet though on a 31 year old player who put up a combined 17,592 passing yards and 119 passing TD's from 2008-2011. Hopefully having healthy improving WR's will help him out in 2013. While head coach Mike McCoy is known for his work with QB's, new offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt is not. A poor offensive line and inconsistent running game could hurt as well. Rivers has proven to be very good in the past, but I don't see a return to glory in 2013. However, I will give him the benefit of the doubt to be better than he was in 2012. Consider him a risk/reward type of fantasy backup. And we've seen enough of Whitehurst to know he would be pretty miserable if he were to get any game action.