QB Peyton Manning (Denver)
It’s possible that the addition of Welker can lead to be even further improved Manning, but I don’t find it that likely that Manning will surpass the arguably 2nd best season of his career (at least in terms of QB rating) in what is his age 37 season. It’s more likely that regression to the mean and normal diminishing physical skills for a 37-year-old who has recently had a serious injury lead to an inferior 2013 as compared to 2012 for Manning. Sure, Manning’s mean is still one of the best in the game, but I don’t buy that he’ll be improved over last season just because of Wes Welker’s presence on the slot. Don’t buy too high, especially in a deep year for quarterbacks.
Projection: 4500 passing yards, 35 touchdowns, 16 interceptions, 20 rushing yards, 0 rushing touchdowns (292 pts standard, 362 pts 6 pt td leagues)
RB Montee Ball (Denver)
8/27/13: A day after being benched, Ronnie Hillman was back working with the first team offense again today. John Fox said that the Broncos will be using a running back committee, as he usually does. John Fox hates rookies, so while Ball should lead the team in touches, I think it’s generally a situation to avoid in fantasy this season, at least for drafting purposes.
Ball is the most talented of the Broncos’ running back trio, but John Fox notoriously hates playing rookies, especially at the running back position. Peyton Manning also requires his backs to pass protect and he could very well have a say in who plays running back this season. Ball played his college ball at Wisconsin, which was not a pass heavy team, even when they had Russell Wilson in 2011, so he’s understandably raw in pass protection. Ball will probably still lead the team in carries, but he’s being overvalued at this point. There are much better RB options at his current ADP so let him be someone else’s problem.
Projection: 150 carries for 660 rushing yards 6 total touchdowns 17 catches for 130 receiving yards (115 pts standard, 132 pts PPR)
RB Ronnie Hillman (Denver)
8/27/13: A day after being benched, Ronnie Hillman was back working with the first team offense again today. I still think he’s the 3rd most valuable fantasy back on this team, but it’s a situation to avoid entirely. Let someone else sort out this mess.
8/25/13: Ronnie Hilman has been a mess in the pre-season. I’d take Ball and Moreno over him. He’s barely worth a late round flier at this point.
Ronnie Hillman isn’t a rookie anymore, but the 2012 3rd round pick still is a young back and at sub-200 pounds, he doesn’t have the frame to carry the load or to hold up in pass protection. He was down as low as 175 pounds as a rookie. He’s best suited as a change of pace back, though he was working as the starter in Training Camp because, again, John Fox hates rookies. I’d rather have him at his current ADP in the 9th or 10th round than Ball at his current ADP in the 4th.
Projection: 100 carries for 450 rushing yards 3 total touchdowns 23 catches for 200 receiving yards (83 pts standard, 106 pts PPR)
RB Knowshon Moreno (Denver)
8/25/13: Originally, I thought it would be Ronnie Hillman to start the season for the Broncos, but he’s been a mess in the pre-season so it’s beginning to look like Moreno is going to be the early season back and passing down complement. Montee Ball will eventually take over the starting job, like he would have if Hillman were the guy and I do expect him to lead the team in carries, but John Fox hates playing rookies.
Projection: 120 carries for 500 rushing yards 4 total touchdowns 23 catches for 190 receiving yards (93 pts standard, 116 pts PPR)
WR Demaryius Thomas (Denver)
Thomas also broke out in 2012, catching 94 passes for 1430 yards and 10 touchdowns. He might not reach those numbers again, but Welker’s presence won’t eat too much into his targets as he operates in a completely different part of the field, serving as the primary deep threat. Decline by Peyton Manning as he ages is more of a threat to Thomas than anything, but he remains a WR1.
Projection: 85 catches for 1300 receiving yards and 11 touchdowns (196 pts standard, 281 pts PPR)
WR Eric Decker (Denver)
After largely being a non-factor in his first 2 years in the league, the 2010 3rd round pick Decker caught 85 passes for 1064 yards and 13 touchdowns last season. However, Wes Welker will eat much more into his targets than Demaryius Thomas so I don’t expect him to reach those numbers again.
Projection: 70 catches for 900 receiving yards and 8 touchdowns (138 pts standard, 208 pts PPR)
WR Wes Welker (Denver)
You heard it from Welker himself: “If I have to catch 112 balls, that probably means we’re in trouble.” The Broncos will spread it around more than the Patriots did. The Denver Post projects 75 catches for him. He’s also going into his age 32 season and has never been a touchdown threat. Let him be someone else’s problem. He’ll be overvalued, especially in non-PPR leagues.
Projection: 82 catches for 900 receiving yards and 5 touchdowns (120 pts standard, 202 pts PPR)