For fantasy owners, there was some apprehension when the Denver Broncos decided not to bring back 2-time 1,000 yard wide receiver, Eric Decker. He subsequently signed with the New York Jets.
Who would the Broncos turn to as their WR2 on the outside, opposite of Demaryius Thomas? Bubba Caldwell signed a new deal with the Broncos in the early stages of free agency, but it was hard to believe that he’d get promoted, although if he did, I think he’d shine under Peyton Manning.
Then with stunning aplomb, John Elway, swept the rug out from under Division foes, Kansas City Chiefs, and scored a shiny new WR.
Enter Emmanuel Sanders.
Sanders, of course, spent his first 4 years in the league with the Pittsburgh Steelers, catching balls from Big Ben. His first 3 years in the league, he was used primarily as their WR3, while Mike Wallace and Antonio Brown received the lion’s share of targets. But in 2013, Wallace left, via free agency, to Miami and Sanders saw an increase in production.
In 2012, for example, he was targeted 74 times. He hauled in 44 balls for 626 yards and 1 TD.
In 2013, he was targeted 112 times. He hauled in 67 balls for 740 yards and 6 TDs, all career highs.
As a WR2, he didn’t exactly set the world on fire, like his counterpart, Antonio Brown, did in similar circumstances. But let’s face it, Big Ben is no Peyton Manning.
Gone will be the scramble drills for Sanders. He’ll be expected to run his routes, and run them well. And the ball will either be there right on time, or it won’t be there at all.
With Sanders’ excellent open field capabilities and the Broncos’ penchant for the screen game, this could be a match made in fantasy football heaven. In Eric Decker’s first year with Peyton Manning, he caught 85 balls, for 1,064 yards and 13 TDs.
I expect Sanders’ 2014 numbers to be similar, but maybe not as many TDs. Shiny new 2nd round pick, Cody Latimer, will be taking reps from him in the redzone, due to his excellent size.
All things considered, Sanders is a sleeper that will go unnoticed by the not-so-savvy fantasy owners. Make sure you’re not one of them. I could see him going somewhere between the 4-5th round.
Do you plan on drafting Emmanuel Sanders? Tell us in the comments, Broncos Country!