Wes Welker came into Denver with some questions in 2013. He had spent the majority of his career with the New England Patriots, where he averaged over 100 receptions a season. He was the focal point of an offense. He was the Patriots offense, really. How was he suddenly going to fare playing second or third fiddle with talented receivers like Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker also vying for targets?
As it turns out, pretty well. Welker answered all of his fantasy football owners’ questions right away in week one, notching nine receptions and two scores. Tight end Julius Thomas even broke out, and that didn’t stop Welker, either. Through six weeks, Welker was on a torrid pace toward 98 receptions in his first season as a Bronco, and already scored eight touchdowns.
When it was all said and done, Welker put up over 70 receptions, nearly 800 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns on a new team, with a new quarterback and in a new system. And he did this all in just 13 games. Concussion issues led the Broncos to sit him over the final three weeks, or we might have seen drastically different (aka better) numbers out of the little guy.
Still, we have to go off of what we saw. And what we saw was WR1 production in PPR leagues and at the very worst high-end WR2 production in standard formats.
So, with a year under his belt in Denver, what can we expect out of the soon to be 33-year old slot machine? Let’s do a quick pros and cons test to find out:
- Eric Decker and his 80+ receptions and 10+ touchdowns are now in New York
- Welker still had a very productive first season in Denver
- He will still work out of the slot and will be used even more with Decker gone
- Peyton Manning still exists
- He has the offense down better now than he did a year ago
- Newly added Emmanuel Sanders has an injury history, which could open the door to more targets
- Concussion issues stemming from last season
- Newly added Emmanuel Sanders isn’t as solid as Decker, which could be harmful
- Julius Thomas should see his role grow
- Knowshon Moreno is gone, potentially hurting Denver’s rushing attack
- Natural aging and regression
Welker isn’t down the Austin Collie road just yet, so over-worrying about his noggin isn’t really suggested, nor is there any real concern about his surroundings. Sanders isn’t as good as Decker was, and he also isn’t a red-zone presence. Sanders could get hurt and open the door to more action for Welker, but even if he’s completely healthy, he’s not the guy that will keep Welker out of the end-zone.
In his second season with the Broncos, barring some tragic injury (knock on wood), Welker should threaten for 90+ receptions, 1,000+ receiving yards and 8-10 touchdowns. He remains a WR1 in PPR formats and should again at the very worst be a high-end WR2 in standard leagues, as well.