Oakland Raiders tight end Zach Miller (80) is tackled by Denver Broncos cornerback Nate Jones (33). (AP Photo/ Jack Dempsey )

Broncos: From Fantasy to Reality

Without question, fantasy football is the most played online fantasy sports game.  The game allows every sports fan to live the dream of coaching their favorite sport.  Obviously, no practices are scheduled, no team meetings are held, and there is no coach/player relationship.  So perhaps the correct way to describe the dream is that we, the fans, get to live the dream of managing a team.

Regardless of how we describe it, fantasy football makes real football a lot more enjoyable to watch and at the same time that much more agonizing.  It wasn’t bad enough that Chris Johnson was your opponent’s number one pick, but he also ran all over your favorite team  in week 1 and handed you a brutal loss (Raiders).  

However, the interesting thing that many of us look over is the correlation of fantasy value to actual talent.  For example, Brandon Marshall, the ex-Broncos wide receiver who dominated the field up and down and from side to side, is now a Miami Dolphin.  Since being traded to the Dolphins, his stats have been absolutely horrible.  Yet many of us more than likely selected him in the third round or higher.  This reality of stats must equate to an actual on-field issue.  Is Brandon Marshall not all he was cracked up to be?  Highly unlikely.  A WR does not have three straight consecutive 100-catch and 1,000-yard seasons and then suddenly in the span of one half season we find out  he was actually really bad.  That’s an insult to us and that’s an insult to the Beast.  So we will look elsewhere.  

There is a large debate out there which argues this simple question: “Does the QB make the WR, or does the WR make the QB?”  In Peyton Manning’s case, he makes the WR.  In Brandon Marshall’s case, he makes the QB.  Jay Cutler is not having a wonderful time in the windy city.  Granted, the issue could lie with scheme or overall talent, but Brandon Loyd is lighting it up with no running game. Brandon Marshall is not.  So Chad Henne, QB of the Miami Dolphins, must be the issue.  Just to prove I’m right, the QB was benched in place of 34-year-old Chad Pennington.  After coming off another shoulder surgery, Chad Pennington will be starting this Sunday.

So, JHawk, how does this apply to my precious Broncos?  This is a valuable question and one I intend to answer.  I do not wish to evaluate the offensive side of the ball.  This is just not worth the time.  Jabar Gaffney is good regardless of stats.  Eddie Royal, we all KNOW is good regardless of stats.  Brandon Loyd is a journeyman WR and is the top WR in stats this year so we will assume he is good.  Kyle Orton has top tier stats but many of us don’t want to believe he is good.  Knowshon Moreno has yet to post a 100-yard game but every scout out there would tell you any football team would love to have him, so that must mean he’s good.  So again, where am I driving at?  The defense…

The Broncos’ defense has been an interesting unit this year.  Plagued by injuries in very key roles, the unit as a whole has not been consistent.  Josh McDaniels has been playing with the 4-3 scheme in an effort to make up for the loss of Rober Ayers and Elvis Dumervil.  The idea is that because he won’t have his top two outside linebackers, he’ll instead put a DE on the line in the three point and place a linebacker behind him to fill the gap.  However, McDaniels has not necessarily stayed true to this.  He still believes the 3-4 scheme is a better look for his team and that in the 3-4 they stand a stronger front against the run.  Either way, the stats don’t lie.  I could sit here and list all the stats.  For instance, the Broncos are second to last in stopping the run and are ranked 23rd overall in total defense.  I suggest a closer look.  Instead of the stats, let’s look at their fantasy value.

I play in two different leagues.  The way the defense score is calculated is different in both leagues.  One league calculates your score based on how many points your defense allows. The other league scores the defense on how many yards they allow.  When it comes to turnovers and sacks, both leagues score the same.  What I find interesting, however, is that regardless of the different way of scoring, typically the defenses will have very similar scores in both leagues.  This translates to the idea that teams who can accumulate yards on offense also accumulate points.  But I have bad news for us all.  The Broncos are dead last in one of my leagues and second to last in the other.  Their average between the two is 32.  To get an idea of the type of impact I want this to have, here’s our AFC rivals:

San Diego Chargers:  Avg Points – 78          Avg Rank – 12

Kansas City Chiefs:    Avg Points – 73          Avg Rank – 15

Oakland Raiders:        Avg Points – 99          Avg Rank –  4

Green Bay Packers:   Avg Points – 108        Avg Rank –  1

I added the Green Bay Packers mainly because the were the first place defense in both fantasy leagues.  They have a play maker over there named Clay Matthews and that man never ever quits.  

So I ask the Broncos a simple question: “Who’s our play maker on defense”?  Champ Bailey, as talented and awesome as he is, doesn’t make plays anymore. The main reason for this is the fact that no one throws it at him.  But Champ still comes up big when he needs to and makes aggressive open field tackles like clockwork.  Brian Dawkins makes plays in tackling and is an emotional leader, but boy did he ever get burned and beaten in the 49ners’ game.  A horribly and ill-advised thrown ball came his way and he embarrassed himself with horrible coverage.  I’ve watched that catch several times and I still can’t tell you what it was he was doing.  Andre Goodman tries to make plays, but he’s hurt, he’s getting slower, and he’s getting exposed. Perrish Cox is a bright and upcoming talent, but this is clearly his humbling season.  Sack Master Doom is out for the season, so no plays will be made by him.  Robert Ayers is coming along, but just doesn’t have that tenacity all the great ones have.  D.J. Williams has got to be the best thing on defense.  I can’t imagine where this team would be without him.  He has given heart, soul, and body for this team.  Don’t anyone ever say nothin’ bad bout my man D.J. Williams.  Still, D.J. can’t be a play maker in this scheme.  

The D-Line provides no pass rush which means Bailey can’t be a play maker.  The Broncos are hurting in their sack category and they’re hurting in their turnovers.  They’re hurting in their run stopping which translates to hurting in there overall points allowed.  All of this then translates to the Broncos being last in fantasy which ultimately translates to 2-6.  

Offense wins games, but defense win championships.

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Tags: Brian Dawkins Champ Bailey D.j. Williams Defense Denver Broncos Fantasy Football

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