For the most part, fantasy football owners have spent this season perplexed and frustrated by the inconsistency of the Denver Broncos' star-studded receiving corps. The potency of the high-octane passing offense, led by ringleader and quarterback Peyton Manning, makes all three starting receivers worthy start considerations.
Like a good parent, however, Manning appears to want all of his children to play equally and learn to share, which leads to a pattern of production that is hard to figure out.
The inarguable fact is that Peyton Manning will throw touchdowns; the unforeseeable question is to whom?
So far this season, we've seen Wes Welker go cold after a hot start, Demaryius Thomas follow up two-touchdown performances with fifty-yard duds and Eric Decker score 41 points in a single game after scoring 42 in the previous six games.
To further complicate the puzzle and exacerbate the rate of male-pattern baldness for fantasy owners across the country, tight end Julius Thomas and running back Knowshon Moreno have also played significant roles in the passing game, catching 45 and 42 passes, respectively.
Jealousy needn't be an issue for Manning's children; he seems to treat everyone equally. Here are the stats for Denver's big-three receivers after 12 games:
|Broncos' Big Three WRs|
|DeMaryius Thomas||Wes Welker||Eric Decker|
Clearly, Thomas has been the most consistent receiver, and it's fair to say that he's Manning's most lethal target. While Welker has racked up one more reception than him, Thomas boasts an average of 15.8 yards per reception to Welker's 10.4.
Decker is perceived to be an afterthought after Thomas and Welker; yet, as the stats show, he's been getting just as much love from Manning.
Stat lines only reveal so much about fantasy play, however. Below are the fantasy point totals for each receiver in standard scoring leagues. (1 pt/10 receiving yards, 6 points/touchdown, -2 points/fumble)
|Broncos' WR Fantasy Points For Each Game|
As you can see, despite Thomas being the best overall receiver for Denver, he's only been the top fantasy player on the team five times. Decker has held this honor four times and Welker thrice.
Moving forward, it's best to always start Thomas and sit Decker and Welker unless you have no better options.
While it's tough to sit a guy who just had a 41-point game in Decker, it's also tough to watch one of your receivers put up less than five points. With Welker and Decker, this is a realistic option. They are crapshoots; are you willing to gamble?
In the fantasy playoffs, which begin this week in nearly all leagues, gambling is something I would recommend against.
Below are some receivers whom I would always start over Decker and Welker going forward:
The following list are players whom I would sit for Decker or Welker:
Peyton Manning likes to share and, as a result, Welker and Decker, who would be sure bets on other teams, are risky options. For Denver Broncos fans, this is fantastic; they have three No. 1 wide receivers. For fantasy owners, it's a headache.
Going forward, just remember the rule of thumb: Play the guys who need to touch the ball for their teams to win because there is a better the chance that they will.