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2010 Fantasy outlooks: Denver Broncos

Senior Fantasy Writer
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Josh McDaniels has made some questionable moves since taking over for Mike Shanahan as Denver's head coach prior to the 2009 season. He's traded away some key offensive players.

Gone are Jay Cutler, Brandon Marshall and Tony Scheffler. In their place -- at least for now -- is Kyle Orton at quarterback, Jabar Gaffney at wide receiver and Daniel Graham at tight end. Most NFL fans wouldn't make those trades, and Eddie Royal better not invest in any real estate in the Denver area since he's also a Shanahan guy.

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There aren't many great Fantasy options for the Broncos this season. The only guarantee is running back Knowshon Moreno, and Gaffney has some sleeper potential. And in keeper leagues, it's definitely worth investing in rookie wide receivers Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker and even quarterback Tim Tebow.

But imagine if the Broncos still had Cutler, Marshall and Scheffler to go with Moreno and the other complementary players. That would be a fun team to watch -- with plenty of Fantasy options.

Sleeper ... Jabar Gaffney, WR

Gaffney helped a lot of Fantasy owners win a championship last year when he was a star in the final two games of the season. Gaffney had 21 catches for 282 yards and two touchdowns against Philadelphia and Kansas City. In the season finale against the Chiefs, Gaffney had 14 catches for 213 yards, and that was with Marshall out of the lineup.

Now, Marshall is in Miami, and the Broncos need someone to fill the role as the No. 1 wide receiver. Rookies Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker are dealing with foot injuries heading into training camp, and Royal, Brandon Stokley and Brandon Lloyd aren't suited for the position. Gaffney played under McDaniels when he was the offensive coordinator in New England, so there is a familiarity there. And Gaffney showed last year he could shine when given an opportunity. We're not talking about spending a high draft pick on Gaffney, but he is worth taking as your No. 4 or 5 Fantasy wide receiver. Someone has to catch the ball in Denver, and Gaffney has the potential to be a quality playmaker.

Fantasy value chart
Player Draft Day value
Quarterbacks
Kyle Orton
Tim Tebow
Brady Quinn
Running Backs
Knowshon Moreno
Correll Buckhalter
J.J. Arrington
Wide Receivers
Jabar Gaffney
Eddie Royal
Demaryius Thomas
Eric Decker
Brandon Stokley
Brandon Lloyd
Tight Ends
Daniel Graham
Richard Quinn
Kicker/DST
Matt Prater
Broncos DST

Breakout ... Knowshon Moreno, RB

Moreno was better than expected as a rookie last year, and he should take on more of a workload in his sophomore season. He didn't rush for 100 yards in any game, but he did have double digits in Fantasy points in five games while gaining 947 rushing yards on 247 carries and five touchdowns. He also added 28 catches for 213 yards and two touchdowns with four lost fumbles.

He will still lose some carries to Correll Buckhalter this year, and the defense will key in on him with Marshall now gone. But Moreno is it when it comes to legitimate Fantasy options in Denver, and he's worth drafting in Round 2 in all formats. This is the year when Moreno becomes a star. Don't be surprised if the former Georgia Bulldog outperforms his draft status to finish as a Top 10 Fantasy running back.

Keeper-league target ... Demaryius Thomas, WR

The Broncos made two interesting picks during the NFL Draft. They took Thomas ahead of Dez Bryant as the No. 1 wide receiver to come off the board, and they spent a first-round pick on Tebow. While Tebow might develop into a quality starting quarterback, Thomas is the player to target in keeper leagues. The Broncos hope he is the heir apparent to Marshall, who was traded to Miami. Thomas is a risky Fantasy option this year coming off a foot injury in February. But he showed last year at Georgia Tech -- a run-heavy offense -- that he can post outstanding stats with 46 catches for 1,154 yards.

You should also target Decker in keeper leagues. He was drafted in the third round of the NFL Draft out of Minnesota, but like Thomas, he's also coming off a foot injury and is a questionable option as a rookie.

Schedule breakdown

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17
@JAC SEA IND @TEN @BAL NYJ OAK vSF bye KC @SD STL @KC @ARI @OAK HOU SD

The Broncos got off to a great start in 2009, going 6-0 before finishing 8-8. This year, the Broncos won't have such an easy slate to open the season with games against the Colts, Ravens and Jets before their bye in Week 9. The good thing for the Broncos is they close the season with two games against the Chiefs and one game at Oakland. But Denver does have three road games in a row from Weeks 13-15, and that won't be easy no matter the opponent.

Training camp topics

2009 Touches Leaders
Player Touches
Knowshon Moreno 275
Correll Buckhalter 151
Brandon Marshall 108
Jabar Gaffney 54
Eddie Royal 38

Orton enters training camp as the starting quarterback, but McDaniels said Brady Quinn and Tebow will have the chance to compete for the job. We'd be shocked if Orton wasn't the starter in Week 1, and he should be considered a low-end No. 2 Fantasy quarterback.

Quinn, who was acquired in a trade from Cleveland, should remain the No. 2 quarterback, and Tebow will likely be used in certain packages. He could get some short-yardage touchdowns, but he's not worth drafting in the majority of seasonal leagues. Tebow should only be drafted in keeper leagues and rookie formats.

The Broncos also have to figure out their receiving corps with Marshall gone and rookies Thomas and Decker dealing with foot injuries. The one thing you can expect is an emphasis on the ground game, which should mean Moreno getting a lot of work with the hopes of a big year.

Injury update

Demaryius Thomas (foot; probable for the start of training camp) ... Eric Decker (foot; probable for the start of training camp) ... Brandon Stokley (shoulder; probable for the start of training camp) ... Brady Quinn (foot; probable for the start of training camp) ... Jamal Williams (elbow; questionable for the start of training camp)

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us via Twitter . You can also follow Jamey at @jameyeisenberg . Do you have a question or a comment for our Fantasy staff? Drop us a line at dmfantasyfootball@cbs.com .

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Player News
Bears waive defensive lineman Cheta Ozougwu
by Dave Richard | Senior Fantasy Writer
(4/15/2014) The Bears announced Tuesday that they have waived defensive lineman Cheta Ozougwu. He played nine games over the last two seasons with Chicago. 

Steelers land punter Adam Podlesh
by Dave Richard | Senior Fantasy Writer
(4/15/2014) The Steelers have signed punter Adam Podlesh, who previously served with the Jaguars and Bears. He was released from the Bears in March, saving nearly $1.5 million. 

Podlesh ranked 29th last season with an average of 37.9 yards per punt. 


Texans sign Ricardo Mathews
by Dave Richard | Senior Fantasy Writer
(4/15/2014) The Texans have signed defensive lineman Ricardo Mathews to a contract. Originally a seventh-round pick of the Colts, Mathews sparingly played last year. He'll compete for a roster spot in training camp. 

Falcons waive two players
by Dave Richard | Senior Fantasy Writer
(4/15/2014) The Falcons waived tight end Adam Nissley and cornerback Saeed Lee on Tuesday. Neither player ever appeared in a regular-season NFL game. 

How Lloyd's signing impacts 49ers' receiving corps
by Jamey Eisenberg | Senior Fantasy Writer
(4/15/2014) The 49ers signed Brandon Lloyd on Tuesday, which should impact Kassim Osgood and Jon Baldwin but not matter much to Quinton Patton, reports ESPN.

The 49ers are locked in with their top two receivers in Michael Crabtree and Anquan Boldin, and Patton is expected to be No. 3 on the depth chart. After that, the 49ers are wide open, and Lloyd could be No. 4 ahead of Baldwin and Osgood.

The report says if Lloyd makes the team Baldwin will likely be out. The team re-signed Osgood this offseason because he is a huge part of the special teams. But the 49ers will likely not keep more than six receivers.

Patton, who finished the season strong in 2013 as a rookie, should have time to develop as the No. 3 option. The 49ers are also expected to take a wide receiver in the draft.


Josh McCown 'impressed' with Vincent Jackson
by Jamey Eisenberg | Senior Fantasy Writer
(4/15/2014) New Buccaneers quarterback Josh McCown started throwing with his No. 1 receiver Vincent Jackson on Friday. McCown said he came away impressed.

McCown said in an interview with CBSSports.com that he's worked with some top-notch receivers in his career -- Larry Fitzgerald, Anquan Boldin, Steve Smith, Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery -- and Jackson is "right there with those guys."

"I'm very, very impressed with him," McCown said. "You know when you have one of those special guys. You can tell the first time you work with him, you see it and feel it. That was the case throwing with Vincent. You can see why he's been so good for so long because of his work ethic and his attention to detail."


Marshall excited for Josh McCown in Tampa Bay
by Jamey Eisenberg | Senior Fantasy Writer
(4/15/2014) Bears receiver Brandon Marshall played with Josh McCown last season when he started five games for the injured Jay Cutler. McCown signed with the Buccaneers this offseason, and Marshall expects him to play well.

"Josh is going to do some good things," Marshall said in an interview with CBSSports.com. "The way he leads. It's not about what he can do physically. What puts Josh in the position to be successful is the man he is, the character and his leadership skills. I'm sure he'll be the first one in Tampa -- he was the second one behind me to arrive at the facilities -- but he'll be the first one there and the last one to leave. He prepares like he's the coach. That's what makes him special."


Josh McCown likes 'wrinkles' of new offense
by Jamey Eisenberg | Senior Fantasy Writer
(4/15/2014) Tampa Bay quarterback Josh McCown went through installing a new offense last year as the backup for the Bears. This year, he's doing the same thing, only as the projected starter for the Buccaneers.

McCown, who recently started throwing with No. 1 receiver Vincent Jackson, said he's excited for the new offense in Tampa Bay under coordinator Jeff Tedford.

"We went through it last year in Chicago where we were building an offense with coach (Marc) Trestman. it's the same thing all over again with Jeff Tedford, learning his offense," McCown said in an interview with CBSSports.com. "Just trying to help everyone get on the same page and begin to build this thing. ... There's some cool wrinkles (to the offense). There's some new things to it that I have not done yet. I'm excited about running those plays and putting those systems in place and seeing how they go."


Marshall: Marquess Wilson poised for big year
by Jamey Eisenberg | Senior Fantasy Writer
(4/15/2014) Bears receiver Brandon Marshall is expecting a big year out of new No. 3 receiver Marquess Wilson.

Wilson is expected to be Chicago's No. 3 receiver this year behind Marshall and Alshon Jeffery, and Marshall said in an interview with CBSSports.com that Wilson has worked hard this offseason. The trio of wide receivers have trained together in South Florida to get ready for this year.

"I really want to talk about Marquess Wilson," Marshall said. "He came down and trained with us the whole offseason. We're really looking for him to do some big things. This guy, he's probably the steal of the draft last year. I'm going to say that. He came in, he put in the work, he looks like a body builder. Fast, strong, explosive. I'm looking forward to seeing him in OTAs."

Wilson, who is 6-foot-4, 184 pounds, was drafted in the seventh round out of Washington State last year. He only had two catches for 13 yards as a rookie, but he will now replace the departed Earl Bennett in three-receiver sets.


Brandon Marshall healthy, ready for contract year
by Jamey Eisenberg | Senior Fantasy Writer
(4/15/2014) Bears receiver Brandon Marshall is expecting a big year in 2014. He's healthy this offseason and looking forward to his contract year.

Last year, Marshall dealt with minor hip surgery in the offseason, but he said thus far he's in great shape and ready to go.

"The offseason is amazing," Marshall said in an interview with CBSSports.com. "It seems like every other year I get a healthy one. Last year I had surgery and really couldn't train. This one, it's a successful one so far because I'm healthy. Next year should be a big year for me. I'm looking forward to it being my best year ever."

Marshall, 30, is coming off a solid year in his first campain for new coach Marc Trestman. He had 100 catches for 1,295 yards and a career-high 12 touchdowns.

This is a contract year for Marshall, who is scheduled to make $9.1 million in 2014. He told a Chicago radio station in March he's going to force the Bears "to sign me after next year," and he's not worried about getting paid.

"Everybody wants to get a new check," Marshall said. "That will happen when it happens. ... If you go out and play then everything else is slotted. You have to perform. You have to keep the product on the field good."


 
 
 
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