I’m not entirely sure we all need a fantasy football team preview for the Denver Broncos. This being a team that just put up an NFL record-breaking season in so many ways a year ago, there’s little doubt they’ll be back at it and breaking heads again in 2014.
Sure, Peyton Manning is a year older and the stability of a normally broken down Knowshon Moreno and possibly overrated Eric Decker is no more, but this is otherwise the same saliva-inducing offense that forced fantasy owners who didn’t draft their offensive weapons into cliff dives and neck tie to the ceiling fan hangings. Truly, if you owned zero Broncos players last year, it was a painful ride.
It may not have been more painful than Denver’s brutal run-in with the Seattle Seahawks in the Super Bowl, which is a pretty good argument for that nasty offense to come back with a chip on it’s shoulder. Betting against this offense is like banking on a bulldog not retaliating if you slap it in the face. It’s happening and we just need to accept it. Go limp. And accept it.
Barring Manning’s neck coming unglued or his entire body folding like a lawn chair, he’s going to remain as awesome as ever. He still has Demaryius Thomas and Julius Thomas – both disgustingly awesome – and he even inherited more athleticism on the outside with Emmanuel Sanders and Cody Latimer. In fact, second-year running back Montee Ball is an arguable talent upgrade over the departed Moreno, which could propel this offense to be – dare I say it – better in Manning’s third stanza as a Denver passer.
Reality suggests there will be a minor drop-off, as there often is after insane record-breaking years, but in a passing era like we’ve been witnessing for several years now, the slide won’t extend very far.
The question isn’t should you use Broncos fantasy weapons in 2014, or even which ones. It’s probably – how many of these glorious bastards can I fit onto my roster before the rest of the league realizes I just won the title by default?
In all seriousness, there is still some risk with a few Denver fantasy options. Ball is a theoretical upgrade and should be a monster in the Broncos’ system, but he still is unproven and in his second year. He’s been inconsistent as a receiver, with ball security and in pass protection. He also just had an appendectomy. If any of that becomes an issue, it’s possible spending a first rounder on him could come back to crush your soul. It probably won’t, but I’d prefer to land Ball in round two, if at all possible.
The same goes for our boy, Peyton. He obviously is being drafted in the first round because people think they have a chance at seeing his 2013 production again. With that being pretty unlikely and quarterback being so deep, I’d rather wait on my fantasy passer. That being said, I won’t ever criticize anyone for taking Manning – even in round one.
Demaryius Thomas is best in round two but is ascending into the first round, while Julius Thomas is ideal in the fourth or fifth round, but you may have to spend a third to get him. Wes Welker can and should be had later, as last year is probably his ceiling at this point. He’s got competition for targets again, is 33 and had concussion issues last year. I wouldn’t be shocked if he sharply regressed at some point, whether due to injuries, age or being phased out of the offense in a contract year.
Ronnie Hillman is a nice stash for later in drafts, in the event Ball sucks a big back of you know what’s. He’s a scat back with no strength and he can’t run inside effectively, but he’s fast as balls and is probably going to be Denver’s number two guy. That gives him Flex upside in any given week, which means you need to give a shit about him – starting now. I’m not high on C.J. Anderson, but if he somehow beats out Hillman he obviously needs to be owned, as well.
Emmanuel Sanders is a mid-round pick due to his pure upside and the fact that he might step right in and take over Eric Decker’s numbers. He’s inconsistent and seems to always be nicked up, but he’s a better pure talent than Decker, so it’s feasible he blows the roof off with Manning tossing him accurate, albeit wobbly ducks. The rookie – Cody Latimer – is probably worth a late-round flier, but nothing more. He doesn’t have an immediate role and like all rookie receivers carries risk, but few talented rookies play in this offense. He could go nuts, so he can’t go undrafted.
Denver’s defense is last in the mind bucket, and they’re definitely worth rolling the dice on as a potentially elite unit. They already are solid against the run and can rush the passer, but they also dramatically beefed up their pass defense in free agency. The trio of DeMarcus Ware, T.J. Ward and Aqib Talib alone sounds fantastic on paper. Add in a hopefully healthy Von Miller nad Denver’s defense could finally match it’s offense. But probably not.
Even so, that D is worth using over a bunch of slouches like the Bills or Lions, who we never know what we’re getting with.
In summary, the Broncos are awesome and we knew that coming into this article. If you learned something new or enjoyed it in the least, give me a follow on Twitter. Just hit the little Twitter icon link below by my bio. Or don’t.
*Photo Credit – Econo Auto Sales via Flickr.