As the NFL preseason gets underway, so does fantasy football draft season. After two straight years of generally mediocre to terrible results, most members of the Broncos offense aren’t getting much love on the fantasy side of things. So with as good as things have begun to look in camp, there just might be some steals available for the savvy Broncos fan.
Let’s take them in order of average draft position (ADP). Fair value is, well, fair. High value indicates a player who may be being under-drafted. And low value indicates a player who may be being over-drafted.
WR Demaryius Thomas
DT has ranked as WR13, WR19, and WR23 over the last three seasons. That’s not bad considering the issues the Broncos have had during that time. It goes without saying that he’s getting a bump from the upgrade from Siemian to Keenum. The question is whether he got enough of a bump, too much, or too little.
Let’s throw too much bump out right from the outset. Barring injury, he should be a top 20 WR this fantasy season. But there are some caveats here. While the upgrade at QB is a big plus, DT has never been a hugely productive receiver in the red zone compared to the other star receivers of his generation. And with the rise of Courtland Sutton, DT’s TD numbers are more likely to fall than to rise. But what he loses in scoring he may very well make up for in yardage, as you can expect him to return to his old 1,000+ receiving yard ways.
Value vs Rank/ADP: Fair
RB Royce Freeman
I feel like Yahoo may be lagging a bit on Freeman, as a 7th round ADP seems low for the Broncos’ expected lead back. Freeman will probably be a better value in regular leagues than he will be in PPR leagues. While he’ll undoubtedly catch some balls, I doubt he’ll be a major factor in the team’s passing game this year.
Running behind a pretty decent run-blocking line and complementing a passing offense that should finally be competent enough to pull teams’ attention off of the run more than it has in years past, a 1,000 yard season isn’t out of the question for Freeman. But neither is it a sure thing. And if there’s a player whose ADP may get thrown out of whack by hype in the preseason, Freeman is that guy. A lot also depends on how committed the Broncos are to using an RB committee versus consistently giving one guy (Freeman) most of the snaps.
Value vs Rank/ADP: High to Fair
WR Emmanuel Sanders
Given the clear rapport Sanders has already built with Case Keenum, he’s a good candidate to grab a round or so ahead of his current ADP if you feel comfortable doing so. He’s likely to be a high-volume target for Keenum, and that means steady returns in fantasy. He could certainly end up delivering a season more in the WR22 to WR 27 range if his connection with his new QB blossoms.
Value vs Rank/ADP: High
RB Devontae Booker
Officially, Booker is still slated to be the Broncos’ starting RB in the Week 1 matchup versus the Seahawks. Meanwhile, fan opinions range all the way from that to Booker not making the roster at all. While he’ll make the roster, Booker has already proven that he’s not lead back material. With a group of talented young backs around him, he’s got a fight on his hands to stay relevant to the team.
He may have more value in PPR leagues, but in standard leagues I wouldn’t touch him inside of the top 10 rounds. Until the order of the RB room is settled, handcuffing simply isn’t worth it in regard to the Broncos RBs. There are just too many unknowns. But if he’s there in the 12th or so? Hey, why not?
Value vs Rank/ADP: Low
QB Case Keenum
QB24, or barely worth backup status, is a disservice to Keenum this season. He’s not likely to be a consistent QB1 week to week either, but you could do quite a bit worse for a backup QB this fantasy season. His current ADP has him going in the 14th round... yeah, no. But if you like to use a QBs-late strategy and he’s still there at that point? Don’t even hesitate- he will have been the best QB left on the board since the about the 9th round.
Value vs Rank/ADP: High
Denver Broncos D/ST
This feels like a ranking that’s kind of hung up in the middle due to the uncertainty at the CB3/CB4 positions. If there turns out to be a gaping hole in the secondary, the Broncos D/ST will have real trouble staying out of the double digits in the D/ST rankings. But if that situation is okay or even nice and solid, this is easily a top 5 D/ST group. The pass rush will be insane, and that leads to very bad days for quarterbacks. Combined with what should continue to be a nigh-impenetrable wall for opposing running backs, and it could turn out to be quite a nice combo.
Don’t reach to draft the Broncos D/ST early this year. If you’re going to go that route, go grab Jacksonville instead. But they’re highly likely to be a viable season-long D/ST option with potentially sky high upside accompanied by a relatively small risk of falling flat.
Value vs Rank/ADP: Fair
WR Courtland Sutton
If there’s a sleeper candidate on the roster, it just might be Sutton. He’s been blowing up training camp so far, pulling down spectacular end zone catches on a daily basis. As a guy who needs to work on his route running, yardage is probably not going to be his bread and butter this year. But expect to see him on the field in the red zone, and figuring prominently in the pass targeting there.
Sutton will be poaching some TDs from Thomas and Sanders, but could easily fail to break 500 total receiving yards in 2018. Or he may thrill us all and put up an awesome and consistent season. But as things stand, he’s most likely a boom-or-bust guy with the answer to that question changing on a week to week basis. Sutton has definite potential as a Flex option when the matchups are right. (Hint: The matchup is going to be right in Week 1 vs the Seahawks.)
That said, be wary of a surge in his ADP if he continues to blow people away in preseason. What’s currently an undrafted ranking could quickly shoot up into WR4/WR5 territory, at which point his boom-or-bust prospects become significantly more difficult to justify.
Value vs ADP/Rank: HIGH
TE Jake Butt
TE29 is a bit on the disrespectful side for a guy who was on his way to being a likely 2nd round pick prior to a bowl game injury. Butt is fully healthy and ready to roll as part of a tight end group that features no one else with his talents. He’s not about to challenge Travis Kelce for the title of best Tight End in the AFC West, but he is a guy with potential as a flex option or spot starter when your usual guy is on a bye. Until he’s proven himself, though, he’s not a guy you want to rely on as your TE1.
Value vs ADP/Rank: High
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