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Broncos fantasy football focus: Sizing up Denver's skilled position players into the bye week

The Broncos offense made a name for themselves in 2013, setting record upon record, which meant that many of them were drafted high in fantasy drafts this season. We take a look at how the Denver players are performing in comparison to their lofty average draft positions (ADPs).

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Demaryius Thomas has been the biggest fantasy disappointment in Denver this year, but it's not time to call him a bust just yet.
Demaryius Thomas has been the biggest fantasy disappointment in Denver this year, but it's not time to call him a bust just yet.
Steve Dykes

We're only three weeks into the NFL season, and we're now starting to get a clearer idea of how individuals and teams are going to perform over the course of the season. Since the Broncos are on a bye week, a start 'em, sit 'em column would be of no use, other than to tell you to sit all of your Denver players on the bench.


Now that that is done (Ed. note: Whew, thanks), in place of the weekly start 'em, sit 'em post, we thought it's about time that we take a look at how the Broncos' skilled position players are performing fantasy-wise, in comparison to what their ADP was. In case the acronym is new to any of you, ADP stands for average draft position, and refers to what round, on average, a player was drafted in fantasy leagues in drafts this season. The ADP rankings for this post are taken from the CBS Fantasy website.

Peyton Manning

Overall ADP: 3.62 (3rd)

Position ADP: 1st

Total fantasy points: 64.06

Overall ranking/Position ranking: 3rd/3rd

Manning is living up to his average draft position, despite not performing at the astronomical pace that he did in 2013. By this point last season, Manning had racked up 93.02 points, thanks to a 46.28 point Week One against Baltimore; however, his current count of 64.06 is no small feat. There are still some tough weeks to go for Peyton and the Denver offense, with games against the Chargers, Patriots, Cardinals, 49ers, and Bills defenses, but Manning managed 20.02 points in a very tough match-up last week in Seattle, and should be able to put up similar, if not larger numbers against those teams. So far, Peyton is paying off with his high ADP and should continue to be worth the high pick, especially if Demaryius Thomas can get back into form.

Demaryius Thomas

Overall ADP: 11.84 (11th)

Position ADP: 2nd

Total fantasy points: 22.10 (35.10 PPR)

Overall ranking/Position ranking: 114th/37th (41st PPR)

No player on the Broncos has been more of a fantasy disappointment than Thomas up until this point in the season. Thomas' 22.10 points drastically pale in comparison to his 43.7 by this point last season. Thomas has just 141 receiving yards in 2014, and just one touchdown to go along with those yards, but it's not quite time to start calling him a bust just yet. Demaryius should enjoy a couple big games against the Jets and 49ers, who are three and four weeks ahead in the schedule and have allowed the 4th and 1st most fantasy points to wide receivers respectively.

Advice: Keep Thomas on your rosters if you already have him; and if you don't, try to send a low-ball trade to whichever opponent has him. Now is the time to take advantage of Thomas' slow start and get him for a bargain; he'll bounce back and return to prominence in this offense.

Montee Ball

Overall ADP: 15.04 (13th)

Position ADP: 7th

Total fantasy points: 25.60 (34.60 PPR)

Overall ranking/Position ranking: 86th/22nd(23rd PPR)

Montee Ball's case is a little different than Demaryius Thomas, because Ball does not have as much impact on the solution to his problem. Ball has been struggling primarily due to poor run blocking from the Broncos' offensive line, as opposed to Thomas, whose struggles have been his own. Ball has done all he can do to work with what the offensive line has given him, forcing the third-most missed tackles in the league, but he'll have a hard time improving his fantasy numbers (not that he cares at all about that) if he doesn't receive more help from the offensive line. That being said, Ball will remain a starter in two-running back leagues and will still be a starter in almost all 12-14 team one-running back leagues moving forward, especially in PPR leagues.

Julius Thomas

Overall ADP: 29.21 (27th)

Position ADP: 2nd

Total fantasy points: 46.00 (60.00 PPR)

Overall ranking/Position ranking: 20th/1st (3rd PPR)

Julius Thomas has been the stud that everyone was hoping for when drafting him 27th overall in the draft, and judging by his 20th overall ranking, he's actually been a bargain at that ADP. Thomas' production is likely to slow down, simply due to a regression to the mean, but don't expect Manning to target him any less in the red-zone until opposing defenses prove they can keep Thomas from catching the ball in the end-zone. Thomas has undoubtedly lived up to (and outperformed) his 27th overall ADP in 2014.

Emmanuel Sanders

Overall ADP: 59.24 (58th)

Position ADP: 20th

Sanders is the 13th-best wide receiver, despite being drafted as the 20th overall receiver, and that's with zero touchdowns so far.

Total fantasy points: 34.30 (59.30 PPR)

Overall ranking/Position ranking: 57th/13th (6th PPR)

There is no player on the Broncos, or perhaps the entire league (outside of Martellus Bennett) who has been more of a bargain than Sanders' 58th ADP. While he's only the 57th overall point-scorer in the league, Sanders is the 13th-best wide receiver, despite being drafted as the 20th overall receiver, and that's with zero touchdowns so far. Once Sanders catches a few touchdowns, his owners will be laughing straight to the bank (er, um...fantasy points bank). Sanders' production was not slowed down by the Seahawks secondary or the return of Wes Welker, and he looks to continue to be a high-end WR-2 in every league format, especially PPR.

Wes Welker

Overall ADP: 72.66 (70th)

Position ADP: 25th

Total fantasy points: 6.0 (12.0 PPR)

Overall ranking/Position ranking: 248th

Wes Welker is off to a slow start to his fantasy season, but that was to be expected, considering his concussion situation, coupled with the suspension that was supposed to keep him out of the first four games of the season. Welker showed well in his first game back in the blue-and-orange, as long as you have him in PPR leagues. The receiver's 6.0 points (12.0 in PPR) were accrued against a tough Seahawks defense, on a week where he got into the game-plan much later than usual; after an impeccably-timed bye week, Welker should be good to go for fantasy owners once the Broncos' season resumes. Advice: For those fantasy opponents who don't follow a ton of football except for game-days, Welker is still a viable low-ball trade option at this point. If you can swing a trade for Welker, particularly with someone who needs a bye-week replacement, you'll likely reap the rewards as the season progresses.


Editor's Note: SB Nation's partner FanDuel is hosting a $350,000 Fantasy Football Contest for Week 4's NFL games. It's only $10 to join and first place wins $30,000. Starts Sunday, September 28th at 1pm ET. Here's the link.