49ers vs. Broncos: Elite Fantasy Players to Watch in Sunday's Preseason Matchup

Donald WoodFeatured ColumnistAugust 26, 2012

CHICAGO, IL - AUGUST 09:  Peyton Manning #18 of the Denver Broncos leaves the field against the Chicago Bears during a preseason game at Soldier Field on August 9, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois. The Broncos defeated the Bears 31-3.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

With Sunday marking the end of Week 3 of the NFL preseason, the matchup between two playoff contenders in the Denver Broncos and the San Francisco 49ers has fantasy owners taking note.

If you want to win your fantasy league, you will have to snag a stud from one—if not both—of these teams. With a stellar matchup on tap, this should be the ultimate litmus test for how these fantasy stars will do in 2012.

With a whole Sunday of relaxation and football ahead of you, enjoy the fantasy knowledge we will offer, and use it to help comprehend the game this afternoon.

Maybe it will make your fantasy picks that much easier to make.


Willis McGahee, RB, Denver Broncos

After a very solid year under new head coach John Fox in 2011, veteran running back Willis McGahee is looking to build on his achievements by capitalizing on the focus that defenses have on Peyton Manning and blasting his way into success.

With a much better passing offense this season, the star running back will see very similar numbers if he can stay healthy. With almost 250 carries and nearly 1,200 yards rushing in 2011, more open space could make this season even more fruitful for the back.

As secondaries begin to respect Manning’s arm again, the stellar Broncos offensive line will be able to open even bigger holes for McGahee to take advantage. San Francisco will be the toughest defense the RB would ever want to see in the preseason, though.

If McGahee can succeed Sunday, it will be a huge year for the veteran.


San Francisco 49ers Defense

There is no better defense in all of the NFL than the San Francisco 49ers' bunch of brutes. Led by the ridiculous run-stopping ability of Patrick Willis, the 49ers are one of the most aggressive defenses in the league and one of the hardest-hitting.

Add in a pass-rush combination of Aldon and Justin Smith, and the brutality of San Francisco's front seven is second to none. Offensive lines know that they are in for a long day against the brutal attacks of the 49ers.

Where San Francisco is actually better this year is in the secondary.

With another year under Donte Whitner and Carlos Rodgers’ belts—along with the evolution of young stars Tarell Brown and Dashon Goldson—the secondary will ensure that the 49ers stay atop the NFC West in 2012 and get you all the fantasy points you could ever dream of from a defense.


Peyton Manning, QB, Denver Broncos

After missing the 2011 season with multiple neck surgeries, the former Indianapolis Colts is trying to mount his comeback in the NFL with the Denver Broncos.

As a fantasy owner, you want to see for yourself that he is close to 100 percent before you draft him.

With an extremely tough San Francisco 49ers team on tap Sunday night, everyone in the Broncos organization and in fantasy-draft war rooms everywhere will be paying close attention to Manning’s performance.

Manning was a top-five quarterback when healthy, so if he can return to that form with the Broncos, the veteran will become a mid-round sleeper pick. If he performs poorly, though, he could be the downfall of your fantasy team.


Check back for more on the National Football League as it comes, and don’t miss Bleacher Report’s NFL page to get your fill of all things football.