Denver Broncos Offseason Changes
Offseason Acquisitions – WR Emmanuel Sanders
It’s no secret that Peyton Manning had an unbelievably historic season with the Denver Broncos last year. Having lead the league in passing attempts, completions, yards, and touchdowns, it’s likely that Manning was the number one player in fantasy regardless of your own league’s format. Aside from Manning, the Broncos boasted several other valuable fantasy players that benefited owners tremendously. Between Demaryius Thomas, Knowshon Moreno, Julius Thomas, Wes Welker, and Eric Decker, it’s easy to claim that the Broncos were the most useful offense for fantasy in all of football last year. The question, of course, is whether or not that feat is repeatable, or at least close to it. Given there is some turnover on the roster, there will be some slight variations in performance but as a whole the Denver offense will be just as potent as most expect it to be.
Denver Broncos Quarterbacks
There isn’t much to be said about Denver quarterback Peyton Manning that hasn’t already been said one place or another. We’ve already mentioned his 2013 stats, he was phenomenal last year. The main issue to cover is where exactly to draft him. Nearly every ranker has Manning slotted as a first rounder, as he should be. After the top four running backs, (Adrian Peterson, Jamaal Charles, LeSean McCoy, Matt Forte) it’s fair to begin questioning the value of taking another back who has some uncertainty attached to his value. Peyton Manning is actually as safe as it gets after the “elite” running backs in round one. Marshawn Lynch may end up in a running back by committee, Eddie Lacy has both injury concerns as well as a fear of the dreaded sophomore slump, and the list goes on. Peyton won’t burn you. A common counter argument to investing in Peyton in the middle of the first round is the worry of him regressing back to the mean of the position but that’s actually built into his consensus ranking as a mid-first rounder. If there weren’t any concerns about him regressing, he’d be ranked number one overall by practically every ranker in fantasy. Of course, it’s fair to simply default back to taking a running back in round one regardless due to the scarcity at the position but it’s worth at least considering Peyton. Peyton Manning will not burn you if you take him in the middle/end of the first round. You would just have to stack some running backs late as opposed to early and hope one of them hits. Manning is safe. If he’s your first pick and your top three running backs end up being, say DeMarco Murray, Frank Gore, and Joique Bell, you should still be in pretty good shape.
Denver Broncos Wide Receivers
The consensus on Demaryius Thomas is that he should be the second wide receiver drafted in any format after Calvin Johnson. This is fair ranking as he should live up to his expectations as an early second rounder. Demaryius is indeed a safe player to build your team around. He was top five in receiving yards and receptions last year; he’s certainly a stud. The concerns of there being too many mouths to feed in Denver were answered by a stellar year from Demaryius Thomas. The bigger questions surround the supporting receiving cast. Wes Welker is currently ranked toward the back half of the top 20 at the receiver position, and much lower than that by resident RotoBaller Zach Wilkens in his Top 40 WR Tiered Rankings. This isn’t necessarily performance based so much as it is health. Welker has been prone to concussions as well as several other injuries throughout his career so the ranking is more of a concern whether or not he can stay on the field. If he manages to play all 16 games this year, he will have been undervalued on draft day. Until that time comes, however, the injury concerns are justified. Your team will be solid if Welker is your second or possibly even third receiver but be wary about his health. With Eric Decker off to the New York Jets, Emmanuel Sanders seeks to fill in the number three receiver role for the Broncos. On most teams, the number three receiver isn’t a surefire starter but given Denver’s high-powered offense Sanders does possess some intriguing value. If Welker were to miss significant time or even if Sanders simply has a breakout season, it’s likely Sanders will be a steal in your draft. That being said, he’s already considered a trendy sleeper and didn’t exactly have an amazing year with the Steelers last year. He had his moments in Pittsburgh but was never truly poised to breakout. Sanders is absolutely worth stashing on your bench but don’t overpay for him. His projected value outside the top 20 receivers is accurate.
Denver Broncos Running Backs
The most intriguing move for the Broncos is the departure of running back Knowshon Moreno. In his place is second year player Montee Ball, a player who was highly touted as a sleeper in his rookie season. Ball is currently slotted as a sure thing to get drafted in the second round. Beyond his fumble issues last season, there really isn’t much else to worry about in drafting Ball. The “safety” for Ball lies in the fact that he’s going to get the bulk of the work in the Denver offense. Another plus for Montee Ball is the simple fact that he plays on the same team as Peyton Manning. Historically, a team involving Peyton Manning requires the running back to stay on the field more often than not given the tempo of the offense. If you need some added reassurance, here’s a stat to consider: 192 of Moreno’s 241 carries last year came with the opposing defense loading up six men or fewer in the box. That’s 80% of Moreno’s entire rushing total. Even if you expect some regression and drop that number to 70%, that’s still a lot of easy carries for Montee Ball. The role is simply too valuable to pass up, especially considering the other question marks attached to the second round running backs. Ball should be another safe Bronco to roster in the upcoming fantasy season.
Denver Broncos Rookies and Tight Ends
Julius Thomas was one of the most talked about breakout players from the 2013 NFL season. The problem with trusting Thomas heading into this year, however, is the fact that he’s never played a full season in his career. Thomas appeared in just 5 games in 2011 and didn’t play at all in 2012. Granted, the tight end position is shaky at best after consensus number one Jimmy Graham so it’s not like you should be too worried about it. Thomas should put up numbers that justify his fourth/fifth round ranking as long as he stays on the field. Any player who catches 12 touchdowns in the best offense in the NFL is absolutely worth drafting. As far as rookies are concerned, Denver selected wide receiver Cody Latimer out of Indiana in the second round. It’s difficult to anticipate if and when Latimer’s presence will be felt, if at all this season. It’s conceivable Latimer’s value could be directly attached to Wes Welker’s health. If Welker were to go down, Sanders and Latimer would eat up Welker’s targets. Beyond that, Latimer isn’t worth much more than a dynasty league stash.
Denver Broncos In Summary
The “too many mouths to feed” analysis in Denver really only applies to the back end of the roster. Guys like Cody Latimer will likely be the odd ones out while Demaryius Thomas, Montee Ball, and Julius Thomas should benefit without issue. Peyton Manning is worth considering after the comfortable running backs are off the board in round one. As a whole, the Denver offense should be one of the safest collection of players to draft in any fantasy format.