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.
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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.
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
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.
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)
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