Denver Broncos Helmet

Fantasy Football Projections: Denver Broncos

Calling the Denver Broncos offense a lacking spot to look for fantasy help the past few seasons might well be an understatement. 2016 and 2017 were far from banner years for a team that once had the Peyton Manning machine churning out fantasy championships like the Shriners tossing out candy at a parade. So what can we expect in 2018?

I’m glad you asked. This year’s offense got a key upgrade that should be the rising tide that lifts all boats: quarterback. Case Keenum parlayed his breakout 2017 season, in which he amassed 3500 yards and 22 TD in 15 games, into a starting job on a team with some veteran weapons. Keenum will be working with Emmanuel Sanders and Demaryius Thomas, an experienced and talented duo that has combined for 3600 yards and 17 TD over the past two seasons with poor play from multiple starting QB’s each season. The big question is whether the real Case Keenum is the 2017 version or the guy who couldn’t win a job with the LA Rams. I’m inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt considering he was forced to slog through a classic Jeff Fisher snooze-fest offense in LA. Keenum is going to be a solid fantasy contributor in 2018 and a viable starter as a potential Top 15 arm. I’m using him as a bye week filler, or the first option go-to after injury with potential for more.

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There is a public perception that the running back job is up for grabs in Denver with the departure of CJ Anderson and the addition of Royce Freeman, but I disagree. Devontae Booker will get every chance to run away with the feature back role in Denver this season and despite less than inspiring numbers from his first two seasons, the team is optimistic he’ll take off. Booker was drafted in 2016 because of his ability to contribute in every phase of the game and although the Broncos added rookie Royce Freeman to the fold in the 2018 draft, they are expecting Booker to open as the #1. With an improved offensive line and better QB play, the run game should get a boost and Booker is one of my sleeper value picks late in the draft. Freeman will be ready to take over early down work should Booker falter and would be a wise handcuff to consider as a potential TD vulture. Second-year back De’Angelo Henderson will likely carve out a significant role as a pass catcher out of the backfield and may evolve into a poor man’s Chris Thompson. Draft Booker late as a sleeper with RB2 upside, watch Freeman in standard leagues and Henderson in PPR formats.

Finally, we have someone who can get Thomas and Sanders the ball. The two have managed to salvage some fantasy value the past few seasons but it’s been a far cry from their 2014-2015 all-star years. I don’t think this Denver offense can rival a Peyton Manning juggernaut but Keenum should be able to get both receivers back close to 75 catches and a 1000 yards each. There may now be a different threat that might cap the upside of the veterans in rookie draft pick Courtland Sutton. Sutton is of the same mold as Demaryius Thomas and Brandon Marshall as a contested ball winning, run-after-the-catch talent who doesn’t mind getting his nose dirty. He’s a perfect outside complement to take the pressure off of Thomas and Sanders. The trio likely leaves 2nd year WR Carlos Henderson on the outside looking in and pushes grinder Jordan Taylor out of a role as well. Draft Thomas as a WR2, Sanders as a WR3 and Sutton is a watch-list sleeper.

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Tight end is a wide open battle between Jeff Heuerman and Jake Butt. Heuerman brings experience to the battle but failed to emerge as a primary option in his first two NFL seasons. Butt is a talented pass catcher who missed all of his 2017 rookie campaign with injuries. There may also be a lack of significant targets to go around here further hampering the fantasy outlook at the position. Butt is likely to win the primary pass-catching duties and if he does, he should be monitored as a potential breakout candidate.

2018 Projections:

NAME POSITION CMP ATT PASS YD PASS TD INT RU YD RU TD
Case Keenum QB 345 545 3990 25 7 145 1

 

NAME POSITION CARRIES RU YD RU TD REC  REC YD REC TD FUM
Devontae Booker RB 250 1105 7 35 320 1 1
Royce Freeman RB 105 465 3 5 60
De’Angelo Henderson RB 30 145 20 230 1

 

NAME POSITION CARRIES RU YD RU TD REC  REC YD REC TD FUM
Demaryius Thomas WR 90 1080 6 1
Emanuel Sanders WR 75 915 5
Courtland Sutton WR 35 490 2
Carlos Henderson WR 20 230 1
Jeff Huerman TE 20 210 2
Jake Butt TE 35 405 4
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Ben Stecker

Ben Stecker

Author SportsTalkLine.com at SportsTalkLine
Writer, sports connoisseur, Pacific Northwesterner. Rarely met a sport I couldn't be great friends with. Follow me on twitter @Softball_Guy
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Ben Stecker