I’ll be honest, I’m not a huge fantasy sports person. In our Aerys Sports league last year I did okay considering much of my roster was autodrafted due to unstable bandwidth and difficulty getting our virtual draft to work for league members scattered across the country. A few weeks I never got around to changing a starting lineup. Despite all of that I did play for the championship, a fact that I’m sure is infuriating for people who take these things seriously.
Now, just because I’m not one for fantasy sports doesn’t mean that DHF should be neglecting your passion for it. So in that spirit I’ve put together an extremely non-statistically based prospectus on the 2012 Denver Broncos. As you’ll see…it could be feast or very, very bad famine.
Before we get to players and positions we need to discuss that elephant in the room. Fantasy football, much like actual football, requires a strong component of luck to have a good season. Much like the Philadelphia Eagles of 2011, fantasy teams have a tendency to look incredible on paper, but once the season gets rolling can dissolve into chaos for a variety of reasons. Perhaps there is no greater roster to illustrate that unpredictability than the Denver Broncos. In general, if you’re looking to put Broncos players on your fantasy roster, you probably should make them mid-round pickups rather than jumping other NFL talent while its available. This is all because of…
Quarterback: From a fantasy perspective (and probably a reality perspective), Peyton Manning will solely determine the team’s fate. If he’s healthy, and stays healthy, you can’t really miss on Peyton Manning. He probably carries greater risk than Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers, Ben Roethlisberger (maybe), Eli Manning, Philip Rivers, Matthew Stafford (maybe), Cam Newton, and Andy Dalton. If you’re taking Manning with one or more of those guys left on the board then you can officially make a t-shirt declaring, “John Elway and I are All In.”
Running backs: You know how we just said Peyton Manning was a risk? Well that same risk has combined with another risk pattern to form a perfect storm of risky. Sure, if Manning doesn’t go the distance in the regular season the Broncos will likely turn back to their ground game, thus inflating its numbers. However, the Broncos would likely become sputteringly one-dimensional (sorry Caleb Hanie). One dimensional worked for this crew last year, but read-option one-dimensional is far different than between the numbers one dimensional. Willis McGahee could have a good year, or he could have a bad one, or he could have a very partial one as Denver will likely make running back a committee position. Running backs are popular early round selections, but there’s an incredible amount of uncertainty about this position in Denver.
Receivers: Sure, take Demaryius Thomas. Grab Eric Decker, and heck…throw in Bubba Caldwell, Brandon Stokely and tight end Jacob Tamme as well. These guys are going to be stats machines this year with Manning slinging the ball every which way. See where this is going?
Kicker: This one is weird as the same idea of “The Manning Gamble” still applies, but in inverse fashion. If Manning goes the distance you’ll likely get minimal point production from Prater as the Broncos will likely be scoring touchdowns for points rather than kicking field goals. In a Manning-less scenario, Prater may get more opportunities to point for you, but even then his accuracy thus far is pedestrian at best. You know what…maybe just don’t pick up Matt Prater. It’ll drive you nuts if you do.
Defense: Ah yes, and now we’ve come to it. A safe pick. The Denver defense isn’t going to win you your league, but it won’t lose it for you either. No matter who is playing quarterback for the Broncos this defense will be solid…not awesome…but just solid. They were solid last year, upgraded personnel, and now have the support of two defensive-minded head coaches, one of whom just happens to be working as a defensive coordinator. If Manning makes it, this could be a very opportunistic defense. Maybe it isn’t for you, but call it a hunch the Denver D could be a pleasant addition for fantasy owners.
So there you have it. One additional piece of advice for would-be buyers: view Broncos players as mid- to late-inning relief. This team is installing a drastically different system from last year, and is being helmed by a man who will have been out of football for about 20 months by the time he sees his first real game action. Compound that with a fairly brutal early schedule and there’s a chance you may not be fully satisfied with your Broncos assets for a month or two.
Good luck…you’ll need it.