When football season rolls around, so does a staple of your average football fan; fantasy football. In preparation, I have done far too many mock drafts to get an idea of draft trends.
When it comes to the Broncos, the team boasted top performers at every position outside of the D/ST slot. The Broncos offense this season will feature 2 new starters in place of 2 departed fantasy studs. So I advise “buyer beware” on a few of the highly sought after Broncos.
Montee Ball has been a very popular back in fantasy circles as of late. Last season, he was a fantasy sleeper to have a big year, only to be nothing more than a fantasy handcuff. I have participated in a few mock drafts where he has gone in the top ten, but for the majority, he tends to get taken in the picks 15-20 range.
I have even seen him fall as late as the 30th pick. For me, I wouldn’t touch Ball until the 3rd round in most drafts, and target him in the 20-25 range. The reason for my rationale is that there are RBs that will be available in the 20s that will have similar value. So instead of reaching for your #2 RB, you can grab a stud receiver.
Last years starting RB, Knowshon Moreno, went undrafted in the majority of drafts, or was picked extremely late, mostly by Bronco fans who foresaw Moreno as the starter come week 1. My advice is to temper expectations. While logic would have us think Ball can at least replicate Moreno’s season, we have to remember that Moreno was a much more complete back, namely in the passing game, and that Ronnie Hillman is back in the offense and expected to have a supporting role. Not to mention, the Broncos face a much tougher schedule this year in terms of run defenses and Ball is coming of an appendectomy. So… Buyer Beware.
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I am admittedly very excited to have Sanders in a Bronco uniform and can’t wait to see what he does this upcoming season. He replaces a WR that had back-to-back huge seasons, with 87 receptions for 1,288 yards and 11 TDs in 2013 and 85 receptions for 1,064 yards and 13 TDs in 2012.
Sanders comes from the Steelers, where he and Antonio Brown came to the team during the 3rd and 6th rounds of the 2010 draft. Although Sanders was the better prospect, it is Brown who has enjoyed the success in the NFL.
Many have been of the mind that Sanders can duplicate and improve upon the numbers of departed Eric Decker with ease. A few things that are wrong with this sentiment, Decker is a much more refined route runner and a better target in the redzone.
Sanders has some of the surest hands in the league, dropping 2 passes while boasting a 6.94 drop rate in 2013, lower than any Bronco receiver. While I expect Sanders to improve upon his 67 catches for 770 yards and 6 TDs in 2013, I would draft him as nothing more than a solid bench contributor, as he is likely the 4th target in the passing game. So… buyer beware.
This one is pretty simple. Latimer is a rookie. He will be nothing more than the 5th option on offense, that is assuming he can beat Bubba Caldwell (2 years with Manning) and Jordan Norwood out for snaps.
Many will double take at my inclusion of Norwood, but he has earned a spot on this team with his play throughout camp, and his ability in the return game. It doesn’t hurt that he is a 5 year vet playing on a minimum contract. If Latimer has an impact this year, it will likely be due to injuries. Don’t waste a draft pick here, he will be available on waivers. So… buyer beware.
Buyer beware on the Broncos defense, to a much lesser degree. This is a unit that had a huge fantasy season in 2012, and a forgettable one in 2013.
While the unit boasts depth that the team has not enjoyed since the 2005 season, I would still advise to temper expectations. The NFL is a “what have you done for me lately” league. While the acquisitions of DeMarcus Ware, T.J. Ward and Aqib Talib have helped to bolster Bronco weak spots, it comes with a caveat.
Ware was dogged by injuries in 2012, which was the first time in his career in which he was hit with the injury bug. He will be 32 this season. Aqib has yet to play a full season, since entering the league in 2008. Ward missed a total of 10 games from 2011 through 2012.
This unit will also expect major contributions from 4 players returning from major injury (Rahim Moore, Chris Harris, Von Miller and Derek Wolfe) and a couple of first year starters (Nate Irving and Sylvester Williams).
For fantasy purposes, the defense is paired with the return game. This season will be the first without boom or bust return specialist, Trindon Holliday. Fantasy football does not care about ball security, so Holliday’s 6 return TDs as a Bronco will be missed. This unit will have growing pains.
They will not come out week 1 and look like the Orange Crush reincarnate. While I expect the Defense/ST to be a great starting option during the second half of the season, it would be best to go with a top-tier defense that doesn’t boast the turnover that Denver’s unit does. So… buyer beware.
My favorite piece of fantasy advice will always be “buyer beware before you have buyers remorse.”
Under Peyton Manning, the majority of Denver Broncos have been fantasy gold, but sometimes it’s better to go with proven production from outside teams, especially in fantasy football. What are your thoughts? Will these players be worth the risk? Tell me in the comments section.