The Broncos and the Raiders are getting set for a Monday Night Football showdown in Denver, and the storylines are hot.
Denver’s just lost All-Pro left tackle Ryan Clady–arguably the best player in the NFL at his all-important position–to a season-ending foot sprain, of the Lisfranc variety.
Not having Clady is huge, but in case you’ve missed it, I’m not too worried about it. Chris Clark worked with the starters all offseason and a majority of training camp and the pre-season, so he has chemistry with the starters and is a capable player. I’d venture to say Peyton Manning played with far worse offensive linemen in his elite days at Indianapolis.
Losing Clady hurts, but the Broncos have already proven that losing star role players (meaning players not named Manning) hasn’t been that big of a deal.
Replacing J.D. Walton and Dan Koppen with Manny Ramirez was a breeze, and the #NextManUp strategy defensively has worked beautifully in the absence of Champ Bailey and Von Miller.
Oh, you wanted to talk fantasy football? Alright. Here’s who I like for the Broncos this week…Buckle in.
Must Start: QB Peyton Manning, WR Demaryius Thomas, WR Wes Welker, WR Eric Decker, TE Julius Thomas, RB Knowshon Moreno
The entire Broncos’ offense is a must-start in this game, or every game until further notice. I think as the season progresses, we’ll see improvements from rookie Montee Ball, but until we see it on the field, I’m going to err on the side of what we know, and continue to roll with Knowshon Moreno.
Peyton Manning will get his vs. a Raiders secondary that is pretty weak as it is, and they lost Tyvon Branch for the season. Branch was arguably the best player on the Raiders’ entire defense, but it’s no surprise that that didn’t make national headlines. The Raiders aren’t a Super Bowl contender.
You can’t bench a Broncos receiver unless you’re insanely deep at the position. It’s just impossible to know which one is going to rack up the points on a given week, and to be honest with you, they should all put up solid points weekly. That includes Julius Thomas as well. I think all of those guys will see plenty of targets and plenty of opportunities to make plays on a weekly basis.
The other guy you’ve gotta start every week now is Knowshon Moreno, especially in PPR leagues (if you’re not playing PPR, talk to your commissioner about making it happen). Moreno had an awesome game against the Giants and dating back to the 2012 season, he is easily the Broncos’ best and most reliable back. If you took Moreno in your draft, cash in while he rides this hot streak.
Keep Tabs On: TE Joel Dreessen
There are rumors that Joel Dreessen could be back for this game, which would help the Broncos out a ton in the running game, but Dreessen is no slouch as a receiver either.
If he comes back into the lineup, he’s definitely a name you’ll want to monitor going forward, if for no other reason to see what he may take away from the production of Julius Thomas.
Ride the Pine: RB Montee Ball
As much as it pains me to say it, you’ve got to keep Montee Ball on your bench until further notice. He simply hasn’t been able to find a groove. Ball would have scored the Broncos’ first touchdown against the Giants if not for lack-luster ball security.
He has shown an ability to make plays in the passing game, and the Broncos have big plans for him, but right now, Knowshon Moreno just fits the bill and is getting the job done.
Don’t Forget Me: Broncos D/ST
This is such an underrated unit. The Broncos are forcing turnovers left and right to start this season, and against the Raiders and a QB like Terrelle Pryor, they could be in for a few sacks and a few turnovers this week.
What’s more, the Broncos have one of the best return specialists to play the game in Trindon Holliday, who is a threat to score it anytime he touches the ball.