How does Russell Wilson’s status impact the rest of the Denver Broncos’ fantasy options?
Sit Russell Wilson & Brett Rypien
Had it not been for the concussion Russell Wilson suffered last week, there would be room for quiet optimism against the Cardinals in week 14. The red birds are allowing 20 fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks which puts them at 26th in the league. But we don’t know if Wilson be cleared in time to play, for one. Even if he does go, we can’t be sure he’s fully healthy. If that’s not enough, Kyler Murray will be missing on the other sideline. Although that seems irrelevant to Wilson’s fantasy stock, it stands to reason that Arizona will shift towards more of a slower, run heavy approach. They’re currently leading the league with 68.6 plays per game, and although they ran 69 with Colt McCoy under center last week, a week of game planning might shift the approach. There’s a lot of risk in playing Russ if he suits up, too much for the fantasy football playoffs.
Much of the same can be said for Brett Rypien, but he simply isn’t as good as Wilson. Only the deepest of 2QB leagues should consider him.
Sit Latavius Murray & Marlon Mack
With Mike Boone joining Chase Edmonds and making his second stint of the season on IR, we are back to a two-man backfield. Upon Boone’s exit last week, it was Marlon Mack who stepped into the third down role. He flashed some explosiveness, taking a screen pass 66 yards for a touchdown and finishing with 15.7 fantasy points on the day. The assumption here is that Latavius Murray will continue to operate as the early down back while Mack handles third downs, but we may see more of Mack than many are expecting. Murray has been a solid contributor for the offense this season but lacks explosiveness, evidenced by his 3.8 yards per carry which falls to 3.3 outside of his longest run of 52 yards.
Opposing running backs have tallied 21.8 points per game against the Arizona defense, ranking them 23rd in the league. While the Broncos may want to lean on the run if Wilson can’t go, the Cardinals will surely sell out to stop the run and force Rypien to beat them over the top. Sitting at 25th in rushing yards per game, the Broncos haven’t been able to run the ball whether teams are selling out to stop them or not. You should be able to find better options in the playoffs.
Start Jerry Jeudy if Russell Wilson plays, sit if he doesn’t
Sit Courtland Sutton and Kendall Hinton
Jerry Jeudy has been quietly effective this season when healthy. If we remove the three games in which he left early or played at significantly less than full speed, he’s averaging 16 points per game. That would put him right on the WR1/2 borderline. He hasn’t lived up to the lofty expectations from his draft profile, but he’s developed a nice chemistry with Russell Wilson. If Russ goes, Jeudy is a viable option but he’s a huge risk if Russ sits this one out.
Courtland Sutton left week 13’s game against Baltimore after one target and missed last week’s game against Kansas City. It’s unclear if he will suit up this week, but hamstrings can linger, and you don’t want to get stuck in a playoff matchup with somebody who reinjures himself or plays on a snap count. Add in the uncertainty at quarterback, and it’s best to look past Sutton this week. If the offense had proven itself more throughout the season, we might consider playing him, or somebody like Kendall Hinton, but you can do better.
Start Greg Dulcich
Similarly to the rest of the offense, the quarterback situation throws some cold water on Greg Dulcich and his fantasy viability. But Dulcich is having a very strong rookie season, sitting at fourth among qualified tight ends in yards per reception. He’s received eight targets in each of the last two weeks and is the TE9 from his first game in week 6 through week 14. Arizona also presents a dream matchup for Dulcich as they surrender the most points against tight ends at 15 per game. If you have one of the elite options at the position, play them over Dulcich. Otherwise, fire up the rookie in this one.
Start Broncos D/ST
The injuries and constant weight on their shoulders via the offense has caused Denver’s defense to fade a bit since their bye week. From week 10 forward, they have one game in which they posted more than four fantasy points. The good news is that the majority of that game came against a backup quarterback, as will Sunday’s game against Arizona. The Denver defense posted 13 points against the Ravens in week 13 and held their own with four points last week against the Chiefs. We can’t expect a career backup to come into Mile High and put-up respectable numbers. Start the Denver D/ST.
In addition to contributing as a writer for Mile High Report, Chad Workman is a contributor at FantasyPros and co-manages a fantasy football Patreon page, Filmalytics. Follow Chad @tweetsbychad and Filmalytics @filmalytics_ on twitter.