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DaeSean Hamilton - Rookie Recap / Dynasty Outlook

Many of you have become increasingly involved with modifying your rosters in Dynasty leagues, while others have already succumbed to the temptation of highly addictive Best Ball drafts. Even if your attention has been focused solely on planning your strategy for redraft leagues, the team at RotoBaller is fully aware of your efforts. That is why we have been compiling statistics, analysis, and thoroughly researched recommendations as part of our unrelenting efforts toward helping you win your leagues in 2019.

This process includes our recaps of the production that was registered by rookie wide receivers in 2018, as a cluster of these newcomers delivered results that were encouraging, while the output that others manufactured was largely disappointing. Calvin Ridley led the first-year receivers in receptions (64), yardage (821), and touchdowns (10) while becoming the first rookie to assemble a double-digit touchdown total since Odell Beckham Jr. and Mike Evans accrued 12 in 2014. Ridley's yardage total marked the second consecutive year in which no rookies eclipsed 1,000 yards after five accomplished that feat from 2013-2016 - Keenan Allen (1,046/2013),  Beckham (1,305/2014), Evans (1,051/2014), Kelvin Benjamin (1,008/2014), Amari Cooper (1,070/2015), and Michael Thomas (1,137).

This review will focus on Daesean Hamilton, who ascended into relevance during December, after experiencing 12 weeks of insignificance during his initial season. The recap will be followed by a projection of Hamilton's value as a component within a Broncos offense that is contending with unresolved issues.

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Team: Denver Broncos
College: Penn State
Height/Weight: 6'1", 203 pounds
2018 NFL Draft: Round 4, Pick 13


Late-Season Emergence 

Hamilton was not a factor in Denver’s passing attack throughout most of his rookie season, which kept him from emerging onto the fantasy landscape until early December. He only performed on 17% of Denver's offensive snaps from Weeks 1-11 and entered Week 14 with a grand total of seven targets. That placed him far below other first-year receivers who were being utilized with greater frequency, including Ridley (71), Christian Kirk  (70), and Antonio Callaway (66). Hamilton’s comparative lack of usage through 12 games had also resulted in paltry numbers that included just five receptions for 61 yards.

The Broncos had deployed a receiving trio of Emmanuel Sanders, Demaryius Thomas, and Courtland Sutton during the first half of 2018, which was largely responsible for Hamilton’s virtual nonexistence within the team’s weekly game strategy. He was also limited to just two receptions for 17 yards from Weeks 9-13 after Thomas was traded to Houston. But his responsibilities increased significantly after Sanders suffered a torn Achilles in Week 13, as Hamilton suddenly emerged as Denver's most targeted receiving option. In his final four contests, Hamilton's 38 targets not only led all rookie receivers, but that total was also the league’s seventh-highest among all players at his position.

With his opportunities suddenly expanded by a significant degree, Hamilton amassed 25 receptions, accumulated 182 yards, and generated two touchdowns during that four-game span. His burgeoning production quickly vaulted him into strong consideration as a starting option for owners in PPR leagues as the fantasy postseason unfolded.

Hamilton’s 9.5 target-per-game average from Weeks 14-17 was embraced by owners in dynasty leagues, along with anyone in redraft formats who opted to seize him from their waiver wires. His late-season surge was also encouraging in terms of his ability to maintain an integral role during 2019 and beyond.


Questions Surrounding The Offense

Uncertainty currently engulfs the Denver depth chart at wide receiver and running back as the result of late-season injuries that were incurred by Sanders and Phillip Lindsay. However, John Elway has chosen to address what had been an unsettled situation at quarterback by trading for 34-year old Joe Flacco.

The need to upgrade from Case Keenum was not in question, as just one example of the many disappointing numbers that Keenum generated in 2018 would be his decline from a 22:7 TD/INT ratio in 2017 to just 18:15. But having Flacco under center at this point of his career does not alleviate concerns about what should remain a substandard level of quarterback play. He has averaged just 16 touchdowns since 2015 while finishing among the top-20 in scoring just once during that sequence (QB30/QB24/QB18/QB25).

It is also unclear how new offensive coordinator Rich Scangarello plans to concoct his offensive strategy and whether he will have the luxury of including Sanders in his game scripting. Sanders will be 32 when the Broncos matchup against their Week 1 opponent and may not have progressed sufficiently with his recovery to participate when the season begins.


Competition For Targets

Hamilton will also encounter competition for targets from Sutton, who finished his own rookie season with 84 targets (5.25 per-game), while placing third among first-year wide receivers in yardage (704), fifth in receptions (42), sixth in touchdowns (four), and tied for fourth in red zone targets (eight). But it is noteworthy that despite having his path seemingly cleared for increased production without Thomas and Sanders in Denver's lineup, Sutton only averaged 5.9 targets/3.2 receptions/47.5 yards after the departure of Thomas, and 6.25 targets/3.5 receptions/36.5 yards after Sanders became unavailable.

Tim Patrick also averaged 7.5 targets, 4.8 receptions, and 61 yards from Weeks 14-17 when Sanders was absent, and it is conceivable that the Broncos will rely upon Hamilton, Sutton, and Patrick as their top three receiving weapons. However, that is dependent upon multiple factors including Sanders’ availability, and whether the Broncos make any viable acquisitions through free agency.


Hamilton's Outlook

Another season of Keenum under center would have left Hamilton owners in a lingering state of disappointment, although the transition to Flacco guiding the offense will be equally uninspiring. Still, the change in signal callers should not negatively impact Hamilton's value, nor should uncertainty concerning the health of Sanders or the eventual game planning of Scangarello.

Instead, there are multiple reasons for optimism if you have Hamilton on your rosters, while his potential to become a consistent point producer should provide motivation to procure him if you don't. Not only has Hamilton demonstrated his route running acumen, but he also did a commendable job of capitalizing on the opportunities that were presented late in 2018. His outlook could become even more favorable if no formidable competition for targets is added during the offseason.

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