He wasn’t spectacular in his first season as a starter, but
Trevor Siemian was also rarely the reason that his team lost games.
Current reports indicate that 2016 first round NFL Draft pick Paxton
Lynch has shown some signs of improvement in OTA’s and minicamp
and certainly his upside is believed to be higher than that of Siemian,
but it’s Siemian who has been the more consistent of the two.
With an 18-to-10 touchdown-to-interception ratio and 3,401 passing
yards in 14 starts, Siemian produced enough numbers in 2016 that
will likely make the Broncos signal caller at least to start the
season. The presence of Lynch should be a concern for fantasy owners,
but the generally mediocre fantasy production from Siemian should
be the primary reason that he goes undrafted in most leagues. Not
much has changed in the Denver offense that should lead fantasy
owners to believe that there will be a substantial improvement in
the Denver passing game this season.
The Broncos perceived starter at running back heading into the 2017
season, C.J. Anderson is now entrenched in what now could be a three
player battle for snaps now that Denver added veteran Jamaal Charles
to the mix. Anderson has spent the most time in Denver and has the
trust of the coaching staff, but his production took a dip this
past season as he fell from a 4.7 yards per carry average in both
2014 and 2015 to a 4.0 yards per carry average in 2016. Still, there
are many questions about the other backs on this roster, which should
mean that Anderson is in line to get the biggest share of the touches.
One positive skill that Anderson has going for him is his hands.
He’s fumbled just three times in over 500 career touches and his
reliability will be an important consideration for the Denver coaching
staff as the team looks to get back to the playoffs in 2017. Anderson
is more of an RB3 for fantasy purposes right now, but he could find
himself as an RB2 on some rosters. Understand however, that his
upside is limited due to the crowded nature of this Denver backfield.
Once an elite fantasy player, the wheels seem to have finally
come off veteran running back Jamaal Charles. After spending his
entire nine-year career in Kansas City, Charles and the Chiefs
parted ways this off-season. Injuries led to Charles playing in
just eight total games over his past two seasons, but the Broncos
seem to believe that there is still some life left in the legs
of this once superstar talent. After two knee surgeries,the 30-year-old
has a long road back to getting on the field, let alone getting
back to fantasy stardom. Not only that, but he’s going to have
to fight for carries in a crowded Denver backfield. While neither
C.J. Anderson nor Devontae Booker looked particularly great in
2016, both players know the Denver offense and they’re both back
this season. The upside here is tremendous, but drafting Charles
is not without some serious bust potential. However, if Anderson
and Booker look like they did last season, Charles could get an
opportunity to show that he’s still the same guy who once won
his owners fantasy championships.
Now entering his second season as a pro, Devontae Booker should
be looking to forget what was a poor rookie season. The former
fourth round pick showed some serious signs of potential early
in 2016, but failed miserably to produce even acceptable numbers
once he was given the opportunity after an injury to C.J. Anderson.
Booker finished his rookie season with just a 3.5 yards per carry
average in Gary Kubiak’s one-cut, zone blocking scheme.
Coaching changes now have most experts believing that the Broncos
will turn to a more traditional power running scheme in 2017,
which could do wonders for a 220-lb back like Booker. He’ll
start the season behind Anderson on the depth chart and he could
even be behind Charles once he gets on the field. For that reason,
Booker projects as a late-round flier with upside, but one who
is unlikely to produce unless other players on the team go down.
With five straight 1,000-yard receiving seasons, few players in
the league have been more productive for longer than Demaryius
Thomas. He’s battled through quarterback changes, coaching changes,
injuries and host of other potentially devastating issues but
Thomas continues to produce low-end WR1 or at least solid WR2
numbers every season. Thomas did it again in 2016 and he did so
after suffering a hip injury on literally the first play of the
season. Now fully healthy, Thomas has been telling reporters that
he’s never felt better and with some progression from Trevor Siemian,
there’s no reason to believe that Thomas can’t get back to being
a top-12 fantasy WR. The nice thing about Thomas is that while
his ceiling may not be quite what it was when he was catching
passes from Peyton Manning, there is still very little competition
outside of Emmanuel Sanders for targets in this offense. As long
as that is the case, Thomas has a very low bust potential thus
making him one of the safer WR2 options on the board and a player
who will produce quality numbers most weeks.
Like his partner in crime Demaryius Thomas, Emmanuel Sanders continues
to produce quality fantasy production despite shaky quarterback
play and numerous coaching changes during his time in Denver.
Sanders’ numbers have dipped in each of his three seasons
with the Broncos, but he’s never finished outside of fantasy
WR2 range. The tremendously high usage could allow both of these
receivers to finish within the top 12 at their position in targets
this season returning WR2 value in the process. What’s interesting
about Sanders is that his numbers in 2016 were decent, but they
could’ve been substantially better if he didn’t fall
upon some bad luck. He finished in the top three of all receivers
in inaccurate passes thrown in his direction. While Trevor Siemian
isn’t likely to suddenly become an extremely accurate passer,
chances are that he’ll make some sort of progression this
season and that could lead to good things for Sanders and his
fantasy production. Despite being highly targeted, the Denver
offense simply doesn’t put up enough points that Sanders
is likely to be an elite option at his position, but he does offer
a high floor.
While Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders are locked in as the
Broncos top two targets, it’s worth considering who will
get the next look in the Denver passing game. While he hasn’t
been much of a producer at least early in his career, there’s
a real chance that tight end Virgil Green could emerge as that
third option, particularly in the red zone. At 6’5”
and 255 lbs, Green possesses the type of size that can help make
up for some of the inaccuracy problems that Siemian has shown
thus far in his career. Green won’t be without competition
as rookie tight end Jake Butt is progressing following a torn
ACL in his final game in college. Green should see Butt as a potential
threat to his playing time which could lead to him kicking things
up a notch as he tries to hold onto his starting spot. Green is
not a draftable player in almost any format, but he’s a
player to keep an eye on early in the season.