Evan Silva

Offseason Low Down

print article archives RSS

Broncos Fantasy Preview

Thursday, June 22, 2017


Broncos 2016 Offensive Profile

Pass Attempts Rank: 17th
Rush Attempts Rank: 15th
Play Volume Rank: 15th
Yards Per Play Rank: 26th
Unaccounted for Targets from 2016 (Rank): 57 (26th)
Unaccounted for Carries from 2016 (Rank): 73 (13th)

Projected Starting Lineup

QB: Trevor Siemian
RB: C.J. Anderson
WR: Demaryius Thomas
WR: Emmanuel Sanders
WR: Carlos Henderson
TE: AJ Derby
LT: Garett Bolles
LG: Max Garcia
C: Matt Paradis
RG: Ronald Leary
RT: Menelik Watson

Passing Game Outlook

The Broncos will hold another quarterback battle between incumbent Trevor Siemian and 2016 first-round pick Paxton Lynch. Siemian acquitted himself better than anticipated but not exactly well in a 14-start caretaker role last season, finishing as a bottom-half passer in yards per attempt, QB rating, PFF’s deep-passer rating and accuracy percentage, completion rate, and sack rate. Lynch was much worse in two spot starts, however, offering almost no room for optimism on his Falcons (Week 5) and Jaguars (Week 13) tapes. The differences between Siemian and Lynch in Denver are similar to the Cody Kessler-DeShone Kizer contrast in Cleveland. Lynch has a cannon arm and shocking athleticism for a 6-foot-7, 244-pound specimen, but he was always seen as a multi-year project coming out of Memphis. My guess is both make starts this year, but Siemian again asserts himself as the superior option.

Denver’s quarterback transition from Peyton Manning to Siemian was unideal for Demaryius Thomas, who set five-year lows in catches (90), yards (1,083), and touchdowns (5) and finished WR21 in PPR points per game after ranking top 15 four straight previous years. Peyton isn’t coming back, but Thomas’ patented tunnel and bubble screens reportedly are under “new” Broncos playcaller Mike McCoy, who coordinated Denver’s offense in Thomas’ breakout 2012 campaign (94/1,434/15.3/10) before taking the Chargers’ head-coaching job. The Broncos’ chances of fielding a functional running game are slim considering their makeshift offensive line and brutally difficult run-defense schedule. While perhaps not a league-winning, high-upside pick, Thomas has been a 90-plus-catch receiver in five straight years with zero missed games during that span and offers security at his WR15 (MFL10s) and WR17 (FF Calc) ADPs. Over the past three seasons, only Antonio Brown (528) has seen more raw targets than Thomas (505).

Emmanuel Sanders fell seven targets shy of Thomas’ 2016 total (144/137) but again arguably outplayed Thomas on the field by out-producing him in yards per target, yards per reception, and yards after catch per reception for the second straight year. Next Gen Stats charted Sanders with an average of 2.63 yards of separation at target compared to Thomas’ pedestrian 2.05 mark. Thomas did outscore Sanders in Pro Football Focus’ predictive yards-per-target metric for the third straight season and is the Broncos’ 1A receiver, even if 1B Sanders has gained considerable ground. Sanders crushed Thomas in Average Depth of Target by two full yards and remains the Broncos’ preferred deep threat. If forced to decide between the two from a value-based-drafting standpoint, Sanders is the better investment with WR31 (MFL10s) and WR34 (FF Calc) ADPs. In best-ball leagues, I think Thomas and Sanders are roster-able on the same teams.

Even amid shaky quarterback play, Thomas and Sanders are such high-floor investments because the Broncos lack pass-game alternatives to cut into their target shares. No. 82 overall pick Carlos Henderson is a candidate to buck that trend as a 5-foot-11, 199-pound tackle breaker in the slot who profiles as a more explosive Golden Tate or Pierre Garcon should Henderson realize his ceiling. Other candidates for sub-package receiver snaps are unexciting holdovers Bennie Fowler, Cody Latimer, and Jordan Taylor. Henderson seems unlikely to earn enough playing time and targets to become fantasy relevant as a rookie, but he is a mouth-watering Dynasty prospect. Both Sanders and Thomas will be on the wrong side of 30 by the end of this season. Demaryius’ contract contains no guaranteed money beyond 2017.

Broncos tight end snaps are even more up for grabs as blocker Virgil Green returns and in-season trade acquisition AJ Derby comes off his first full offseason with the team, albeit under a coaching staff that did not acquire him. Fifth-round rookie Jake Butt could prove the future at the position, but he is recovering from his second right ACL tear and may not be ready for Week 1. Derby is the likeliest candidate for targets, having earned over 50% of Denver’s offensive snaps last Weeks 10-15 following his trade from New England, and catching 16-of-20 targets for 160 yards (8.0 YPT). Derby ran a rock-solid 4.72 forty with a highly impressive 6.99 three-cone time at 6-foot-4, 255 coming out of Arkansas in 2015 and was always an August standout with the Patriots. Green flashed last preseason, then wasn’t heard from again. Three different coaching staffs have identified Green as a better blocker than pass catcher.

Running Game Outlook

Under McCoy and Vance Joseph, the Broncos have opened their backfield to wide-open competition with intentions of employing a multi-headed committee. Albeit by a slight margin, the tentative favorite for touches is C.J. Anderson, who was on the verge of losing his starting job to Devontae Booker before suffering a year-ending torn right meniscus last Week 7. Anderson was a full participant in the Broncos’ offseason program. Factors working against Anderson are shaky job security, sub-par run blocking, and a schedule Rotoworld SOS analyst Warren Sharp has rated toughest in the NFL. Benefiting Anderson is his relatively high-priced contract, strong pre-2016 efficiency, and the numerous flaws of his backfield foes. Still, there are several higher-upside backs available at Anderson’s RB22 (FF Calc) and RB23 (MFL10s) ADPs. And because his starting job is in doubt, Anderson doesn’t offer an especially safe floor, either.

Devontae Booker is barely on the re-draft ADP map after finishing his rookie season painfully slow. Long forgotten is Booker’s fast start as the 1B to Anderson’s 1A, averaging 4.78 yards per carry over Denver’s first seven games and even out-touching Anderson 18-16 in their last game together before Anderson’s season was over. Too often an impatient runner, it’s conceivable McCoy’s gap-blocking run game will better suit Booker’s skills than ex-coach Gary Kubiak’s outside-zone scheme. Jamaal Charles is trying to return from surgeries on both knees and settled for a near-minimum-salary deal with no guaranteed money. While a Hall of Fame-caliber player in his prime, he is a long shot to become a 2017 reality or fantasy asset. A deep sleeper is sixth-round rookie De’Angelo Henderson, a 5-foot-8, 208-pound Ahmad Bradshaw lookalike with 4.48 speed who rewrote Coastal Carolina’s rushing record books.

2017 Vegas Win Total

The Broncos were a fairly straightforward under bet at last year’s 9.5-game Win Total and look like an under target again at 8.5. The juice is shaded to the over (-125), but quarterback uncertainty remains, and Denver did little to shore up its leaky run defense in free agency or the draft. The offensive line will likely again be one of the weakest in the league, while the Broncos’ running game looks like a potential non-factor with significant personnel and depth chart uncertainty. I also have a hard time buying Vance Joseph and Mike McCoy as upgrades on Gary Kubiak and Wade Phillips. Now facing the NFL’s most difficult 2017 schedule, the Broncos are likely best viewed as a team that would do well to get back to .500.



Evan Silva is a senior football editor for Rotoworld.com. He can be found on Twitter .
Email :Evan Silva



Highest Searched Players over the last 7 days



Video Center

  •  
    Silva: Week 3 Matchups

    Silva: Week 3 Matchups
  •  
    Summerlin: Wk 3 Waivers

    Summerlin: Wk 3 Waivers
  •  
    Dose: Lions Roar Past Giants

    Dose: Lions Roar Past Giants
  •  
    Draftsville: Episode 2

    Draftsville: Episode 2
  •  
    NASCAR meets Fantasy Football

    NASCAR meets Fantasy Football
  •  
    Jesse: MLB Power Rankings

    Jesse: MLB Power Rankings
  •  
    Whoops! Silva Can

    Whoops! Silva Can't Find Gronk
  •  
    NFL Must Haves

    NFL Must Haves