Feb 2, 2014; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; Denver Broncos running back Montee Ball (28) and wide receiver Andre Caldwell (12) before Super Bowl XLVIII at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports
This post comes from Justin Becker of FantasyFootballOverdose.com. You can follow him on Twitter @NFLRankings or the Fantasy Football Overdose Google+ Page, and for more NFL Fantasy Football Projections, visit Fantasy Football Overdose.
The Denver Broncos are friends to those who love fantasy football. Peyton Manning made it so when he came back from a neck injury two years ago. Truth be told, though, Denver was already pretty solid in the fantasy realm even when Tim Tebow was under center.
It’s a whole new world these days, however, and that’s been made quite clear. Needless to say, most fantasy owners wisely look to land top level Denver Broncos players in fantasy drafts. They’re so explosive that they even reach for them.
Despite insane value at the quarterback position, you still see Peyton Manning picked in the first round. Despite a lack of true experience, Montee Ball can be found there, too. Even though he has just one good season under his belt, tight end Julius Thomas is inching closer to about the third round, as well.
Yes, if you want a Broncos fantasy weapon, you have to act early.
Unless, of course, you dig one out that other people aren’t willing to take a chance on. That, or you just wait and pluck them off the draft board later in the draft. With so many studs on the team, there understandably aren’t a whole lot of gems to be discovered in Denver this year.
We have to try, though. With that, let’s break down three Broncos fantasy options that could surprise in fantasy football this year:
Cody Latimer (Wide Receiver)
Eric Decker is now with the New York Jets, so naturally someone has to make up for his absence. That extra work could easily be spread out between Wes Welker, Demaryius Thomas and Julius Thomas, while freshly signed receiver Emmanuel Sanders should factor in to a certain degree, as well.
But the Broncos didn’t draft the explosive Latimer for fun. Sure, he’s a long-term weapon that can help out in a number of areas, but Peyton Manning isn’t going to be around forever. They got him an extra toy to make the league’s most explosive offense even better.
Of course, that doesn’t guarantee fantasy value. What could, however, is a shaky injury history and overall consistency out of the newly added Sanders. Add in Wes Welker’s age and concussion issues stemming from a year ago, and that door opens just a bit wider.
Latimer is an elite Dynasty grab and is probably someone to take a long, hard look at in regular redraft leagues, as well. It doesn’t take much to jump into a nice spot and go off with the Broncos, after all. Just ask Julius Thomas, who entered 2013 as a nothing man and emerged as one of the best tight ends in football.
Ronnie Hillman (Running Back)
It was just last year that everyone was going ga-ga over Montee Ball as a super sleeper as he entered his rookie season. In the end, his issues with ball security, catching and blitz pickup kept him from running away with the job. Instead, the unlikeliest of heroes emerged, with the often injured Knowshon Moreno careered and became a top-10 fantasy contributor.
That might not be Hillman this year, but you can’t say for sure it won’t be, either. C.J. Anderson holds a slim lead ahead of Hillman to be Ball’s top backup, but there isn’t much separation there and Hillman is arguably the much better talent. His issues have stemmed from shaky fundamentals, but Denver has always been high on his versatility and elite athleticism.
It’s anyone’s guess if he’ll fend off Anderson and nail down the top backup spot, but if he does he’ll have a decent role in a potent offense. That alone would give him Flex value in any given week, while he’d be one injury away from being a borderline elite fantasy play.
Andre Caldwell (Wide Receiver)
See: Latimer, Cody. It’s the same deal here. Sure, Latimer is young, way more talented and has much better upside, but Caldwell is still alive and breathing, too, and he plays in the same awesome system.
More specifically, Caldwell isn’t rehabbing an injury like Latimer is and he also already knows the system like the back of his hand. We also saw him shine in week 16 when Welker got hurt, where he hauled in six balls and a touchdown. Denver spreads the ball around a ton, so even if he got a jump in his role he’s not guaranteed anything. However, with Latimer not at 100% and both Sanders and Welker having injury issues in their pasts, he can’t be left completely off the fantasy radar.