So most NFL Fantasy Football drafts are likely to be starting within a week or two, and while Mile High Report isn't a specialized fantasy football site, over the past few weeks we have written a number articles asking the question: Should I draft this Denver Broncos player?
Well today I'll just be highlighting those articles and provide links to go back and look at each player we've previewed and hopefully put these resources all in one place. We'll be previewing these players and units, their links are right below:
Wide Receiver Eric Decker
Two words. Peyton Manning.
Any FFL player worth his salt knows the value of Manning in their league and when you have a chance to piggyback him with one of his Wide Receivers, you won’t have to worry about dominating your league. Peyton has averaged close to 4000 yards and 28 Touchdowns passing per year in his 14 seasons, and your best bet for the recipient of the bulk of those stats is Wide Receiver Eric Decker.
Eric is entering his 3rd season and there is reason to believe this will be his breakout year. He led the Broncos in receptions (44), receiving yards (612) and touchdowns catches (8) in 2011. Exactly half of those catches came during the first five weeks with Kyle Orton throwing to him. A strained knee ligament and Tim Tebow starting the remainder of the season coming out of their Week 6 Bye gave way to a run-heavy scheme. Decker faded and Demaryius Thomas ended up with a dominant month in December.
Decker excelled with the traditional drop back passing of Kyle Orton and Thomas did well with the improvisational style of Tim Tebow. Thomas is big enough to out jump any defensive Back and has the speed to get open on a broken play. These are the exact reasons that will make Eric Decker be the guy you want to pair up with Peyton Manning on your Fantasy team.
Like Kirk said, Decker is the best suited wide receiver on the roster for a drop back passer. That's not to day Andre Caldwell and Demaryius Thomas won't see a lot of attention, but Decker is the mold of Manning's previous wideouts. What stopped Decker from topping 1,000 yards was the change in scheme after Orton's benching, had he remained with Orton for 16 games, and stayed healthy he'd have a stat line of:
- 70 receptions
- 851 yards
- 13 touchdowns
That's a much better line than he got in the 2011 season and is closer to what he'll see in 2012, though expect his yards to be even higher.
- 80 receptions
- 1,100 yards
- 9 touchdowns
Peyton Manning has had his #1 running back average 1141 rushing yards and 10 rushing touchdowns. He also has only had two seasons with a running back under 7 touchdowns and six seasons under 10 touchdowns. We haven't even talked about receiving. If we include receiving yards and touchdowns, his #1 running back averages 1392 yards and 11 touchdowns. In terms of scoring, the #1 running back creates 24.3% of all touchdowns, that's just one running back. If the Broncos had this average in 2011, Willis McGahee would have had 8 touchdowns instead of 5. The Colts under Peyton Manning were hardly the massively unbalanced, pass-heavy team we remember, of Peyton's 13 seasons he had a 1,000 yard rusher nine times, he had a running back top 1,500 total yards six times and had a running back top 10 total touchdowns eight times, the run game does well when Manning is quarterback.
Despite 2011 being one of McGahee's best seasons in his career, he struggled to find the end zone, after rewatching the games I found something, he didn't struggle rather the play calling changed. In the red zone Tebow became the primary weapon of scoring, taking away (from a fantasy standpoint) touchdowns from McGahee. With the arrival of Peyton Manning look for McGahee to once again be the main rushing weapon in the red zone, because really Manning isn't exactly mobile. As stated above, the Colts under Manning had their #1 running back average 10 rushing touchdowns, that's where McGahee wants, and likely will, be.
After watching the games again and looking over the results, it seems that McGahee will see little drop off without Tebow. The main reason for this is in the receiving game and red zone. Under Kyle Orton, McGahee averaged close to three receptions a game for an additional 10 yards a game helping him average 86.6 total yards per game. Compare that to his total of one reception for two yards under Tebow, you have a higher total yards per game under McGahee. He also had more attempts per game under Orton, averaging 17 per game compared to the 15 under Tebow. For a simple stat line, here is McGahee under 16 games of Tebow compared to Orton:
- Under Orton: 1386 total yards, 8 100 yard rushing games, 7 total touchdowns, 4.52 yards per carry
- Under Tebow: 1302 total yards, 6 100 yard rushing games, 5 total touchdowns, 5.36 yards per carry
Now the only area McGahee would do better under Tebow is yards per carry (I can't stress this enough, this is fantasy football, I'm not saying yards per carry isn't important, it is, but when it comes to fantasy, it isn't nearly as important). So you have increased total yards, increased touchdowns and for those who get a bonus for topping 100 yards, you get 2 more of those games.
As the article pointed out, some of the biggest things people see as weaknesses against McGahee actually won't hurt him that much. Between age being an overrate issue and the clear sign that no one is going to take away his snaps, McGahee should still be a formidable runner.
- 230 carries
- 1,000 rushing yards
- 8 rushing TD's
- 15 receptions
- 80 receiving yards
- 1 receiving TD
Denver's Defense and Special Teams
The Broncos defense is actually a mixed bag. The Broncos fantasy defense is going to be drafted purely on the sacks you are going to get. The Broncos pass rushing duo of Von Miller and Elvis Dumervil are among the best tandem of outside rushers in the NFL. If they are healthy, they will both top 10 sacks. Dumervil would have topped 10 sacks in 2011 but missed two games, Miller on the other hand racked in 11.5 sacks and that was with finishing the season with a injured hand. These two are the foundation of the Broncos fantasy team, if they are healthy and not suspended come week 1, it's a good sign.
Now we come to another important member of the front seven. D.J. Williams was the other big cog in the Broncos defense, both in terms of fantasy and in reality. Williams last season had 5 sacks and 2 forced fumbles, throw in his history of picking up an interception on two per season, if he's suspended for longer than 6 games or is traded/cut that really hurts the Broncos defense scoring ability. Behind him is a decent replacement in Wesley Woodyard, but he lacks Williams ability to get after the quarterback. Woodyard has played in 58 games and started 15 but only has one interception and 1 sack, and while his real world value is up for debate, he's a huge drop off when it comes to fantasy.
Next we come to the secondary. While the Broncos secondary is improved upon from 2011, the biggest issue of 2011, turnovers, still isn't fixed. Look for the Broncos pass defense as a whole to improve, allowing fewer yards and 20+ yard touchdowns. But having said that, don't look for a lot of interceptions. Champ Bailey, while being a top corner, isn't know for turnovers, at least not since 2006. He still picks up nearly 4 interceptions a season though, but the rest of the group is a mixed bag. When it comes to Drayton Florence, you get a vet who can cover but picking the ball off isn't his strength, averaging only 2 interceptions a year, the same can be said of Tracy Porter. Porter built his career on one huge interception that may still disturb Peyton Manning, but he is no ball hawk, adding little in terms of fantasy. Same for the addition of new safety Mike Adams, not I'm a big supporter of Adams, but in terms of this defense's fantasy value, he's not a big upgrade.This brings us to the young bucks. Syd'Quan Thompson, Chris Harris and Omar Bolden will all likely see playing time next season, and all three have a nose for the ball. Harris finished last season with only one interception but also only saw limited playing time. Thompson was the same way in 2010 where he had the Broncos best interception percentage, snagging 2 on only 200 snaps. Both of these young players will make fantastic nickel and dime backs. That leaves Bolden, a guy who has potential as well.
The big question is can the secondary create turnovers, because the front seven will be able to create sacks, especially once D.J. Williams comes back. The secondary has struggled to grab interceptions in recent years and the addition of Porter and Florence doesn't add much in terms of ball hawking ability, and while the addition of Jack Del Rio does make the front seven better in terms of scheming, it also hurts the secondary with the loss of Dennis Allen. A tough question, but I'd still take them over about half the defenses in the league, though the special teams is a bit weak, the return of Matt Willis and Syd'Quan Thompson do add some spice to the return game, though losing Eddie Royal does hurt it a bit.
Oh and Prater is money with the long shots, so a very good pickup as well.
- 50 sacks
- 12 interceptions
- 15 forced fumbles
- 3 defensive touchdowns
- 2 return touchdowns
Matthew Willis, Wide Receiver
Willis will likely open the season as the Broncos' fifth receiver behind Decker, Thomas, Andre Caldwell, and Brandon Stokley, but he is a playmaker. Two pre-seasons ago, Willis was brought in as a free agent and showed off his skills as a downfield threat, and wound up making the Broncos' roster that was loaded with receivers. Willis hasn't made that kind of big impact on the field in the regular season yet, but he certainly has the capability to shine in an offense with Peyton Manning.
Cornelius Ingram, Tight End
Admittedly, this is a bit of a reach, but when Ingram was added to the roster, I was pretty excited. He has had a ton of injury problems during his time in the league, but coming out of Florida, he was once one of the top tight end prospects in his class. He has very good athletic ability for a tight end, and he made the most of his opportunity in the first preseason game with two catches, one for 20 yards and one for 25 yards. He also caught a touchdown late in the game, and was able to easily get open down the middle of the field a couple of times. This is probably what the Broncos are hoping to see out of Jacob Tamme, Joel Dreessen, Julius Thomas, and Virgil Green.
Jason Hill, Wide Receiver
Hill was an early free agent addition from the Jacksonville Jaguars, and while he's always had great straight line speed, he's struggled to stay healthy and get consistent separation. Hill got off to a good start as a Bronco, though, with a touchdown catch on a pass thrown by rookie Brock Osweiler. He was able to make three catches for 35 yards and a score, and if he can start seeing more time in the slot, he could be a valuable playmaker for the Broncos.
So come draft day, if you are thinking of drafting a Broncos player, keep some of this in mind. Thanks and good luck in your leagues.