It's time to start thinking about fantasy football, and we have started going team by team to let you know what each NFL franchise can do for your fantasy squad. You can click here to see if your team has been previewed yet. If it isn't there, chances are it's coming soon. We have finished the NFC West and are moving on to the AFC West.
*Rankings are based on a 12-team, standard scoring format.
2012 RECORD: 13-3
2013 BYE WEEK: 9
TOP DRAFT PICKS: (1) Sylvester Williams- DT- North Carolina
(2) Montee Ball- RB- Wisconsin
(3) Kayvon Webster- CB- South Florida
QUARTERBACK: Many people questioned whether or not Peyton Manning would be able to return to form after missing the entire 2011 season with a neck injury and moved from Indianapolis to Denver. He responded with the 2nd best statistical season of his career, throwing for 4,659 yards with 37 touchdowns and only 11 interceptions. Things could continue to improve with the addition of Wes Welker and the emergence of Demaryius Thomas as an elite wide receiver. Manning is an obvious QB1 in any format, and should be one of the first 5 quarterbacks off the board. Last year's second round pick Brock Osweiler is the backup. He has apparently developed nicely, but I think Manning is less of an injury risk than others make him out to be.
RUNNING BACK: Willis McGahee is gone after 2 years in Denver, and the depth chart is left with a lot of uncertainty. Last year's 3rd round draft pick Ronnie Hillman ran for 330 yards and a touchdown last year, and though those numbers aren't wowing, he has taken the most reps with the first team. He also has had ball security issues this preseason, fumbling on the 1 yard line against the Seahawks. Montee Ball, a 2nd round rookie out of Wisconsin, could find himself getting more carries of Hillman's issues persist. Ball is not without flaws himself, as he is a liability in pass protection. The health of Peyton Manning is obviously a priority, so unless he starts improving there his touches could be limited. They could be locked in a full on platoon, which is always scary for fantasy purposes. They both have potential if someone clearly takes the lead in the race, but as it stands I can't recommend either as a RB2. Both are worth drafting as either a flex or bench player. If you are investing in one to start for your team, it would be wise to handcuff the other. 2009 1st rounder Knowshon Moreno has been a disappointment thus far, although he did show signs of life late last season. He is the best of the bunch with pass protection, which means he could be on the field in some situations. He probably isn't worth drafting unless one of the other backs is injured.
WIDE RECEIVER: Demaryius Thomas came out as a star last season working with Peyton Manning. He not only set career highs in targets (141), receptions (94), yardage (1,434) and touchdowns (10), but his 2012 totals in those categories beat out his 2010 and 2011 numbers combined. As long as Manning is healthy, Thomas is a solid WR1, probably somewhere in the 5-7 at his position. Eric Decker continued to improve with the addition of Manning, and became his QB's favorite target in the red zone. Decker had 13 touchdowns to go along with his 1,064 receiving yards. He should be looked at as a solid WR2, though his draft day value may drop as there is concern that Wes Welker will take away looks from Decker. Welker leaves New England, where he was Tom Brady's safety blanket in the slot for years, and hopes to make and easy transition into the same role in Denver. Welker's numbers last year were typical of his time in New England, with 118 catches for 1,354 yards and 6 touchdowns. I am looking at Welker as a high end WR3 until I see how often Manning will use him, though you can make an argument for him as a WR2. The Broncos will use a lot of 3-wide sets, and all 3 will see their fair share of targets. Andre Caldwell and rookie Tavarres King will serve as depth, but unless there is an injury they aren't worth rostering.
TIGHT END: Joel Dreessen and Jacob Tamme both had limited roles in the offense last season, and I wouldn't expect that to change much this year. Tamme had 52 catches for 555 yards and 2 touchdowns. Dreessen had 41 catches for only 361 yards, but he added 5 scores. Both could be considered as bye week fill-ins, but you can do much better week to week in your starting lineup. Julius Thomas has been used quite a bit in the preseason, and could develop into a nice weapon. He has had injury troubles his first couple of years in the league, but when healthy the Broncos will use him as a wide receiver and tight end. He is worth watching.
KICKER: Matt Prater was solid, but unspectacular last season. He was 18-19 on attempts from under 40 yards, but he was inconsistent from distance, going 8-13 outside 40 yards. The Broncos will put up a lot of points, so he will probably be worth drafting.
DEFENSE-SPECIAL TEAMS: The Broncos were the #1 defense in fantasy last year, but it is hard to anticipate them being as dominant as they were last year. They lost pass rusher Elvis Dumervil to Baltimore, and Von Miller is facing a 4 game suspension for off the field issues. Add that to the fact that CB Champ Bailey is now 35 years old and a preseason injury to last year's 2nd round draft pick Derek Wolfe, and there has to be some drop off. They will still be a defense you can run out there most weeks, and probably a top 6 unit, but don't draft them expecting last year's production.