Forgot Log-in or  Password? |  Help  Not a member, Register Now!
      
Fantasy Football Today
Fantasy Football Today Blog
Gameday Inactives
2014 Draft Prep Guide
Downloadable Draft Kit
Mock Drafts
Get Your Draft Board
Player News
Stats
Players
Depth Charts
Roster Trends
Columns
Injury Report
Projections
Rankings
Schedules
Scores
Fantasy Games
Playoff Challenge
Commissioner
Prize Leagues
Free
Office Pool Manager
Game Pick'em
Player Challenge
Fantasy Baseball Today
Fantasy Baseball Today Blog
2015 Draft Prep Guide
Mock Drafts
Player News
Stats
Players
Depth Charts
Roster Trends
Columns
Injury Report
Rankings
Projections
Schedules
Probable Pitchers
Scores
Standings
Fantasy Games
Commissioner
Free
Prize Leagues
Player News
Stats
Players
Columns
Injuries
Projections
Rankings
Schedules
Message Boards
Fantasy Games
Commissioner
Free
Player News
Stats
Players
Columns
Injury Report
Projections
Rankings
Schedules
Mock Drafts
Scores
Standings
Fantasy Games
Commissioner
Free
Prize Leagues
Downloadable Draft Kit
Player News
Stats
Players
Columns
Injury Report
Projections
Rankings
Schedules
Mock Drafts
Scores
Standings
Fantasy Games
Commissioner
Free
Prize Leagues
No Fantasy Teams Found
 
 
 

2012 Fantasy outlooks: Denver Broncos

Senior Fantasy Writer
  •  

When most teams lose in the second round of the playoffs, they typically re-tool the roster as necessary without making major changes. The Broncos replaced their quarterback of the future with someone else's quarterback of the past and present.

Go figure that John Elway, the Broncos' Hall of Fame quarterback and current Executive Vice President of Football Operations, would jump at the chance to sign Peyton Manning. After chasing him and signing him, the Broncos jettisoned last year's hero -- Tim Tebow -- and steered the direction of the franchise in a whole new direction.

Check out our Fantasy Football podcast!
There is no better source for entertaining Fantasy advice than our Fantasy Football Today podcast. Dave Richard, Jamey Eisenberg and Adam Aizer will help you pass the time as you anticipate Draft Day 2014!
Latest episode | Subscribe today!

But it's not a cinch for Elway: Manning had multiple surgeries to repair his neck last year, surgeries that ultimately cost him his 2011 season with the Colts. When Indianapolis released Manning, it wasn't because the team thought he was done -- it was done to make room for Andrew Luck. But no one in Indianapolis or Denver or anywhere in between can say with absolute certainty that Manning will be healthy for 16 games given the state of his neck. One big hit and ... well, we'd just assume not think about it.

But that doesn't seem to matter to many Fantasy owners, especially after Manning threw with trademark accuracy and almost all of his velocity during offseason camps with his new teammates. Armed with a pair of exciting young receivers in Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker, Manning should be in good shape to reclaim his 4,000-yard, 25-touchdown form. In this day and age of football that's pretty good but not elite production. Manning will likely get drafted accordingly.

With Manning's arrival, the entire focus of the offense changes. Last season the Broncos led the NFL in rushing attempts and yardage because of the scheme that best suited Tebow. You can bet your Rocky Mountain Oysters the Broncos will try more than the league-low 429 pass attempts they had in 2011.

With Manning, the Fantasy draft plan is simple: Until we see him look like his old self in the preseason, aim for him with a pick in Round 6 or so. If you draft early on that could pay off because once Manning makes some highlights against live competition his stock will soar. Potentially, he could be a Round 3 selection just before the start of the season.

Fantasy Value Chart
Player Draft Day value Estimated round
Quarterbacks
Peyton Manning 6
Running Backs
Willis McGahee 6
Ronnie Hillman 10
Knowshon Moreno ND
Wide Receivers
Demaryius Thomas 4
Eric Decker 7
Andre Caldwell ND
Tight Ends
Jacob Tamme 9
Joel Dreessen ND
Kickers/Defense
Matt Prater 14
Broncos DST ND
ND - not expected to get drafted

Breakout ... Demaryius Thomas, wide receiver
This one is obvious on the surface: Top playmaking wide receiver on a team that adds a quarterback with a laser-rocket arm. But Thomas has scary potential -- Calvin Johnson-like potential. We're not just saying that because they went to the same college, but because they're both big, strong, fast receivers that are tough to match up with. Thomas has never played regularly at 100 percent with a good quarterback, much less a passer like Manning, so there's some untapped potential here. Though he's an injury risk given his preseason issues over the last two years, he's in his third NFL season and should be acclimated to what he sees in coverage by now. And he clearly has the skills to catch mid-range and deep passes and burn past defenders. If there ever was a breakout candidate to get behind, Thomas is it. Round 4 isn't too early to take him.

Follow us, Like us, Join us
Want more? Join the discussion on our Facebook page and Google+ and follow us on Twitter for additional insight while interacting with a community geared toward Fantasy Football.

Sleeper ... Jacob Tamme, tight end
If Thomas is roaming as the big-play receiver and Eric Decker does his thing on the other side of the field, then the offense is just a tight end away from being similar to what Manning has been operating in throughout his career. Tamme not only should be that tight end, but he's a guy who followed Manning to Denver from Indianapolis and is the only young pass catcher on the roster with experience working with the quarterback. In 2010 when Dallas Clark got hurt, Tamme stepped up and caught 67 passes for 631 yards over 10 games with four touchdowns. Two years later, Tamme has the potential to exceed those numbers in 16 games. Figure him to line up all over the place and be used in matchup situations against smaller, slower defenders. His potential is good enough to draft him as a starting Fantasy tight end once the rounds get to double digits.

Bust ... Willis McGahee, running back
On the basic premise that the Broncos won't run as much as they did last season, you cannot expect another big campaign from McGahee. Averaging an unbelievable 4.8 yards per carry on 249 tries, McGahee's four rushing touchdowns came on 249 reps with another touchdown among his 12 receptions. His total yardage? 1,250. Turning 31 this October and creeping up to 2,000 career carries, McGahee would have to keep drinking from the fountain of youth while fending off rookie Ronnie Hillman and low-end veterans Lance Ball and Knowshon Moreno to even put up good numbers. McGahee finished 2011 as a low-end No. 2 rusher but shouldn't be counted on this season as anything more than a No. 3 with limited upside. Figure that McGahee is a running back you settle for, not aim to have on your roster.

Schedule breakdown

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17
PIT @ATL HOU OAK @NE @SD bye NO @CIN @CAR SD @KC TB @OAK @BAL CLE KC

Tough start for the Broncos going up against the Steelers, Falcons and Texans in Weeks 1 through 3. After that, the Broncos appear to be in for some shootouts with consecutive games against the Patriots, Chargers, Saints and Bengals (three of which are on the road). The good stretch for Peyton Manning & Co. comes at the end of the year with a five-game stretch that offers only a game at Baltimore as a challenge for this offense. It's a good but hectic schedule.

Training camp topics

2011 Touches Leaders
Player Touches
Willis McGahee 249 carries, 12 catches
Lance Ball 96 carries, 16 catches
Knowshon Moreno 37 carries, 11 catches
Eric Decker 44 catches, 1 carry
Demaryius Thomas 32 catches, 1 carry

Manning's arm will be dissected daily by the media hordes, that much is certain. But assuming he's back to his old self, the talk around the team will go away from Manning's arm and to the Broncos' hands. Thomas and Decker have their spots sewn up and Tamme should see a lot of playing time, but Joel Dreessen was also added this offseason to serve as a threat and could take some work away from Tamme (and the receivers). There's also a battle for the third receiver spot between Andre Caldwell and Brandon Stokley, two receivers with good hands but questionable speed. Unless a receiver emerges in camp, we could see a lot of the two-tight end set from the Broncos this year.

Meanwhile, it's safe to assume we'll see only one running back on the field at a time, typical for a Manning-led offense. McGahee might get the bulk of work at first but there are plenty of people who will be nipping at his heels for snaps in camp. Ronnie Hillman is a back in the Marshall Faulk mold (he even broke some of Faulk's records at San Diego State). Knowshon Moreno is still on the team and could stay there if he proves that he's over his torn ACL injury last season. Lance Ball did some nice work backing up McGahee last season. Hillman has the speed and fresh legs to make the biggest impact, especially if he can improve his pass protection this summer. As for the notion that John Fox doesn't trust rookie running backs, go check out Jonathan Stewart's rookie season. We love the idea of drafting Hillman with a speculative mid-to-late pick.

Even the Broncos' kicker is worth a draft pick. Matt Prater signed a contract extension this summer and will attempt to at least maintain his NFL-record 75 percent accuracy on kicks of 50-plus yards. He's only finished as a Top 10 kicker once in four seasons with Denver but the Broncos' offense didn't exactly afford him a lot of chances to kick. That should change: In the 13 years Manning played for Indianapolis, his kicker finished as a Top 10 option seven times. Remember Prater's name in the final round.

Defensively, the Broncos have a chance to make offenses hurt. The combination of Elvis Dumervil and Von Miller rushing the passer is always dangerous and the secondary got a lot of really good depth with the additions of cornerbacks Tracy Porter and Drayton Florence, both of whom signed after Manning joined the Broncos. Top pick Derek Wolfe also provides depth against the run, which ranked 22nd in the league last season. We could see the Broncos DST be effective in weeks against poor offenses but they might have their hands full otherwise.

So long as Manning can do the same to the defenses he faces, the Broncos have a very realistic shot at going back to the playoffs -- and lasting longer than they did in 2011.

Injury update

Peyton Manning (neck; probable for the start of training camp) ... Eric Decker (knee; probable for the start of training camp) ... Knowshon Moreno (knee; questionable for the start of training camp) ... Andre Caldwell (knee; probable for the start of training camp) ... Julius Thomas (ankle, probable for the start of training camp.

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us via Twitter @CBSFantasyFB . You can also follow Dave at @daverichard and on Facebook .

Get player news notifications, manage your team and check scores
- all updated in real time. Download the CBS Fantasy App.

  •  
 
CBSSports Facebook Google Plus
COMMENTS
Conversation powered by Livefyre
 
 
Player News
Panthers give TE Greg Olsen a three-year extension
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(5:29 pm ET) The Panthers announced they signed tight end Greg Olsen to a three-year contract extension on Thursday that will keep him in Carolina through the 2018 season, per the team's official website. The extension is worth $22.5 million, with a $12 million signing bonus, according to CBS Sports NFL Insider Jason La Canfora.

Olsen, 29, is fresh off a career year after setting franchise records for receptions (84) and receiving yards (1,008) by a tight end in a season. He cracked the 1,000-yard threshold for the first time in eight seasons in the NFL. He has 5,188 yards and 52 touchdowns in his career, and is the only tight end to catch at least five touchdown passes every year since 2008.


Broncos re-sign long snapper Aaron Brewer
(5:27 pm ET) The Broncos have re-signed long snapper Aaron Brewer to a four-yeal deal Thursday, according to the team's official website. The deal will keep him with the team through 2018.

The former undrafted free agent has been with the Broncos for three years.  Since being signed, he's played on every punt, field goal and extra point snap.


49ers sign receiver Jerome Simpson to two-year contract
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(5:26 pm ET) The 49ers announced they've signed veteran receiver Jerome Simpson to a two-year deal on Thursday. 

Simpson, 6-foot-2, 190 pounds, was a former second-round draft selection by the Bengals in 2008. He was last with the Vikings and totaled a single-season best 726 receiving yards in 2013. 

He didn't play in 2014 after the Vikings cut him following a three-game suspension for violating the NFL's substance-abuse policy. 


Colts extend qualifying offer to RFA Jerrell Freeman
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(5:21 pm ET) The Colts gave linebacker Jerrell Freeman, a restricted free agent, a qualifying offer, the organization announced on Thursday. 

The Colts also placed tenders on exclusive-rights free agents OLB Daniel Adongo, RB Dan Herron and OLB Cam Johnson.


Raiders part ways with LaMarr Woodley after one season
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(5:18 pm ET) As expected, the Raiders have released defensive end LaMarr Woodley on Thursday, per the team's official website.

Woodley, 30, spent his first seven seasons in Pittsburgh before he signed a two-year contract with the Raiders last offseason. He had just five tackles last season with the Raiders, and 304 tackles (57 sacks) through eight seasons in the league. He was scheduled to make $3.85 million with a salary cap hit of $5.1875 million.  


Chiefs release linebacker Joe Mays
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(5:06 pm ET) The Chiefs have decided to part ways with veteran linebacker Joe Mays, the organization announced on Thursday. 

The move, according to the Kansas City Star, will save the club $2.7 million in cap space. He was slated to earn a base salary of $2.35 million, with a roster bonus of $300,000 and a workout bonus of $50,000. 

Mays appeared in eight games in 2014 and totaled 20 tackles and one fumble recovery. 


Maurice Jones-Drew calls it a career after nine seasons
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(5:00 pm ET) After nine seasons in the league, Maurice Jones-Drew announced his retirement from professional football via Twitter on Thursday. The 29-year-old running back released the following statement:

"After much discussion with my family and business team during the offseason, I've decided to retire from the National Football League. The past nine years were absolutely amazing! I'll be forever grateful to the countless people who have assisted me throughout my NFL journey. To my fans, and NFL fans worldwide, you are the absolute greatest! But for you, our league would not exist. Football has been a central part of my life over the past 24 years. But, now I'm excited and looking forward to the next chapter of my life."

Jones-Drew was drafted 60th overall by the Jaguars in 2006, and spent his first eight seasons in Jacksonville before an injury-riddled 2014 campaign with the Raiders.

The three-time Pro Bowler and one-time first team All Pro selection won the rushing titles in 2011 with 1,606 rushing yards. Jones-Drew was never able to play a full season due to several injuries. He combined for 1,313 rushing yards the next three seasons after he was the league's top rusher.


Report: Eagles, Giants to pursue S Devin McCourty
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(4:59 pm ET) The Eagles and Giants will both pursue soon-to-be free agent safety Devin McCourty when the new league year begins next week, according to a report from NBC Washington. 

McCourty was not franchised by the Patriots on Monday and will therefore hit the market. He acknowledged earlier this week that he may not be back in New England next season. 

The Eagles are reportedly very interested in McCourty and have him high on their free agent board.

After recent roster moves, which included trading running back LeSean McCoy for linebacker Kiko Alonso, the Eagles are expected to have an estimated $50 million in cap space when free agency begins. 


Report: Giants giving tender to cornerback Chandler Fenner
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(4:47 pm ET) Cornerback Chandler Fenner will be with the Giants in 2015. 

According to the New York Daily News, the Giants are placing a tender on Fenner, who is an exclusive-rights free agent. The tender will be worth $510,000 for the 2015 season.

Fenner appeared in 11 games during the 2014 season.  


Cardinals Carson Palmer talks rehab, possible contract restructure
(4:34 pm ET)

Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer told the media that rehab is going well and that he'll be ready for training camp at a press conference on Thursday.  He is still recovering from a torn ACL that cut short his 2014 season after only six games. 

The 12-year veteran also said that he spoke with the team a month ago about restructuring his contract.  Although it has yet to happen, he is willing to do so to free up cap space for the Cardinals.

The 35-year-old quarterback is going into his 13th season in the NFL.


 
 
 
Rankings