Denver, CO…..Roughly 15 million people play fantasy football every year now. Web sites are devoted to it, stats are constantly displayed during games because of it, and some fans literally spend hours each week researching various players to gain an edge. It is one of the most revolutionary things to happen not only to football, but really to all sports over the last twenty years. But specifically, fantasy football has made each and every game throughout the NFL season watchable, as countless fantasy teams are on pins and needles watching any given team run a 3rd and 8 in the 4th quarter. The popularity of fantasy football and the NFL are at all time highs, and there is no stopping this locomotive that so many fans treat like a religion each fall. We are currently in that period that happens each July, sort of a lull if you will. Baseball is entering its dog days of summer, and we have about two weeks until NFL training camps fire up. Once those get rolling, and fans begin to see footage of teams across the country in helmets and pads, the competitive fantasy juices start to simmer. Typically, leagues have their drafts in mid to late August, as we all try to do our due diligence in order to pick the right players for the season ahead. We research mock drafts online, look up historical trends and injury reports, and watch for news about hot rookies and potential holdouts. So on a local note, and because this year we in Denver may be treated to quite an interesting year in general, it’s time to look at our Broncos and what their fantasy potential is for 2012. In this installment of our “Top 7″ Series, here are the 7 Denver Broncos I would consider on fantasy draft day……
1 – Peyton Manning - The fact he is in orange and blue is still strange, but what Broncos fan can’t love it? So, with him missing all of 2011, what do you do with Manning on draft day? Manning fans will undoubtedly go overboard and possibly even select him in the first round. That’s a mistake. With the fact that there are so many really good QB options who are not 36 years old and not coming back from neck surgery, Manning should not be selected until around 3 or 4. Brady, Brees, Rodgers, Rivers, Vick, Newton, and Romo should all definitely be chosen ahead of Peyton.
2 – Eric Decker - In my opinion, this guy is gonna have a bust out season. He runs precise routes, and has really good hands. Peyton will look for him in key situations, and Eric could have a Pro Bowl type year. Something like 80 catches, 1100 yards, and 10 TD’s sounds right to me. Decker is somewhat of a sleeper nationally, and would be a great 2nd WR on your team.
3 – Willis McGahee - He is just about over the hill as far as RB’s are concerned, but can still bring it with his tough style of running. He had some nagging injuries last year, so durability may be a bit of a concern. If healthy, McGahee has the potential for a 1,000 yard season in this offense. A 6th-7th round choice seems right, and is a decent 2nd RB on your roster. If Willis falters or is hurt, keep an eye on rookie Ronnie Hillman, who may be a hot free agent pickup later this year.
4 – Demaryius Thomas - This guy is a wild card for me. He has great size, and obviously last year showed he can make some really big plays. His hands and precision are not as good as Decker’s, so I don’t believe he will get the amount of targets that Eric will. He strikes me as a guy who one week will have 4 catches for 120 yards and 2 TD’s, then the next week have 1 catch for 15 yards. A potential fantasy headache here. I would be comfortable with him as my 3rd WR, maybe in round 7 or 8.
5 – Joel Dreessen - The signing of Jacob Tamme got more news because he played with Peyton in Indy, but Dreessen may prove to be the better TE option here. He is more athletic, and a pure receiving option who never got enough of an opportunity in Houston the last 5 years. Whichever TE emerges, whether its Dreessen, Tamme, or Julius Thomas, will produce enough to be a potential starting TE in your league.
6 – Matt Prater - “Money Matt” emerged last year as a clutch kicker, and should only get better. He should get even more opportunities than last year, as this Peyton Manning-led offense should find the red zone quite often. With kickers, it’s all about chances they get, and Matt should end up in the top 10 in fantasy points at his position. He has also shown a knack for hitting 50+ yarders, nailing 12/16 during his short career. Having Prater as your kicker is not a bad choice in your drafts final round.
7 – Broncos D/ST - I love the potential big play capability from this new version of the “Orange Crush”. The tandem of Dumervil and Miller should pressure QB’s all year long and get their share of sacks. If they can get some heat up the middle from rookie Derek Wolfe, this could be an outstanding front seven. This pressure will only help Champ Bailey and Tracy Porter pick off some passes, with returns for TD’s being a real possibility. I foresee this defense ending up in the top 10 in fantasy points, so drafting them in the late rounds is something to consider.
Denver Sports by J Simp