May 182012
 

QB Peyton Manning (Denver)

I’m projecting a down season for Peyton Manning for several reasons. For one, he’s going to a new team, in a new division, with a new system, and new players, new coaches, new surroundings, everything new. The continuity is gone for Peyton Manning, which is never a good thing. Two, he’s got inferior players around him, at least in comparison to the 2000s Colts or even the 2010 Colts, which had two receivers, Reggie Wayne and Pierre Garcon, who almost had 1000 yard seasons last year with Curtis Painter and Dan Orlovsky.

Three, he was out of football all last year. In 2010, he struggled by his standards for half a season after just missing training camp. Four, he’s coming off of 4 neck surgeries in 2 years. Enough said. Five, he’s 36 and a declining player. He was a declining player even in 2010 and that was 3 neck surgeries and almost 2 years ago. His arm strength wasn’t what it used to be and I can’t imagine it’s any better now. I expect him to have a season worse than 2010, when he had 4700 yards, 33 touchdowns, and 17 touchdowns, particularly because he won’t throw the ball 679 times, which he did in 2010.

Projection: 4370 passing yards, 29 passing touchdowns, 15 interceptions, 40 rushing yards, 0 rushing touchdowns (264 pts standard/322 pts in 6 pt TD leagues)

RB Willis McGahee (Denver)

8/20/12: McGahee’s top backup, Ronnie Hillman, has been dealing with hamstring problems all Preseason. Those things can linger, so it becomes less likely that Hillman overtakes McGahee, especially since Head Coach John Fox doesn’t like rookies. McGahee is still heading into his age 31 season, but he’s reportedly the clear lead back and he should get a bunch of carries and a bunch of goal line carries on an explosive offense.

There’s nothing but downside with McGahee this year after a surprise bounce back year last year. Remember, he’s a season removed from averaging 3.8 YPC as Ray Rice’s backup in Baltimore behind a better offensive line. Now he’s 31 in October. He’s getting drafted too early and Hillman is getting drafted too late as he has real sleeper value.

Projection: 200 carries 820 rushing yards 9 total touchdowns 20 catches 130 receiving yards (149 pts standard/169 pts PPR)

RB Ronnie Hillman (Denver)

8/20/12: Hillman is dealing with hamstring problems and on top of that, news has come out that McGahee is the clear lead back, which makes some sense since John Fox hates rookies. Hillman does have some upside, because he’s the type of pass catching back that Peyton Manning will want on the field with him and because McGahee is heading into his age 31 season, but he’s only a late round flier. He might even start the season below Knowshon Moreno on the depth chart.

Willis McGahee had a bounce back year last year with 1199 yards and 4 touchdowns on 249 carries, but a lot of that had to do with Tebow and opposing front 7s having to focus on him and his running ability. Now he’s a year older, 31 in October, and the Broncos used a 3rd round pick on a running back. McGahee could struggle this season and end up in a 50/50 timeshare with Ronnie Hillman. I actually like Hillman to lead this team in carries. McGahee will get the goal line carries, but Hillman is a better pass catcher.

Projection: 100 carries 440 rushing yards 4 total touchdowns 20 catches 160 receiving yards (84 pts standard/104 pts PPR)

WR Eric Decker (Denver)

8/7/12: Eric Decker and Peyton Manning reportedly have great chemistry in Denver, much better than him and Demaryius Thomas. This makes a lot of sense because Peyton Manning loves crisp route runners with reliable hands, rather than pure athletic freaks like Thomas. With Peyton Manning likely to show diminished arm strength this season at age 36 after 4 neck surgeries and a year out of football, Decker should lead the team in receiving and Peter King’s prediction that Decker will rank among the league leaders in receiving doesn’t sound too crazy.

Everyone assumes Demaryius Thomas will lead the Broncos in receiving, but why? Just because he had 25 catches for 448 yards and 3 touchdowns in his last 5 games last year? Well Eric Decker had 20 catches for 270 yards and 4 touchdowns in his first 4 games last year and that was with Brandon Lloyd opposite him.

Just because Thomas had great chemistry with Tim Tebow doesn’t mean he will have great chemistry with Peyton Manning. Thomas is still a very unproven player and Decker has shown better chemistry with more traditional pocket passers. It’s also worth noting that Peyton Manning specifically requested the Colts draft Eric Decker in the 3rd round in 2010, but the Broncos got him first. We know he thinks highly of him.

Manning has made lemonade out of apples before with his receivers. If Austin Collie can catch 58 passes for 649 yards and 8 touchdowns in 9 games on a more crowded receiving corps in 2010 with Manning, Decker can have a 1000 yard season. I think he’ll lead this team in receiving and exceed his draft range.

Projection: 90 catches 1100 receiving yards 9 receiving touchdowns (164 pts standard/254 pts PPR)

WR Demaryius Thomas (Denver)

8/27/12: Like with the Caldwell entry, I don’t know why Thomas’ numbers were so low. I’m down on him, as compared to Eric Decker, but not too down.

I went into detail about Thomas under Eric Decker’s write up, but Thomas has never had any success in the NFL without Tim Tebow. He also has very little proven success in general with just 54 catches for 834 yards and 6 touchdowns in 2 seasons. He’s got a ton of talent and athleticism, but I think Decker stands a better chance to develop great chemistry with Manning as he’s a traditional drop back passer. It doesn’t hurt that Peyton Manning told the Colts to draft Eric Decker back in 2010. Thomas won’t have a bad year, but could be overdrafted.

Projection: 46 catches 820 receiving yards 7 receiving touchdowns (124 pts standard/170 pts PPR)

TE Jacob Tamme (Denver)

8/27/12: Peyton Manning has been targeting Jacob Tamme and Joel Dreessen equally in the preseason. The Broncos will use a lot of 2-tight end sets this year and their two talented tight ends might just cancel each other out. Tamme caught 67 passes for 631 yards and 4 touchdowns in 10 games in 2010 with Peyton Manning, good for 107 catches for 1010 yards and 6 touchdowns over 16 games, but all that proves is Manning loves throwing to his tight ends. He always has (see Clark, Dallas). However, he’ll split his tight end targets between Tamme and Dreessen this year. Tamme will probably see more targets, but Dreessen will be the preferred goal line target and probably have more touchdowns.

I love Jacob Tamme this year. He caught 67 passes for 631 yards and 4 touchdowns in just 10 games in 2010 with Peyton Manning and he’s the only receiver with any previous experience with Manning. He also will play in a pretty mediocre receiving corps so Manning could target him early and often, especially with his previous familiarity with him.

Projection: 64 catches 700 receiving yards 4 receiving touchdowns (94 pts standard/158 pts PPR)

TE Joel Dreessen (Denver)

8/27/12: Peyton Manning has been targeting Jacob Tamme and Joel Dreessen equally in the preseason. The Broncos will use a lot of 2-tight end sets this year and their two talented tight ends might just cancel each other out. Tamme caught 67 passes for 631 yards and 4 touchdowns in 10 games in 2010 with Peyton Manning, good for 107 catches for 1010 yards and 6 touchdowns over 16 games, but all that proves is Manning loves throwing to his tight ends. He always has (see Clark, Dallas). However, he’ll split his tight end targets between Tamme and Dreessen this year. Tamme will probably see more targets, but Dreessen will be the preferred goal line target and probably have more touchdowns.

Projection: 49 catches 590 receiving yards 5 receiving touchdowns (89 pts standard/138 pts PPR)

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