Aligning the Denver Broncos' Stars

Rick OliverCorrespondent IJune 9, 2009

ENGLEWOOD, CO - MAY 03:  Quarterback Kyle Orton #8 particiaptes in practice during Denver Broncos Minicamp along with running backs LaMont Jordan #32, Knowshon Moreno #27 and Correll Buckhalter #28 at the Broncos training facility on May 3, 2009 in Englewood, Colorado. Moreno was the Broncos first round draft pick in the 2009 draft.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

It is coming—that time of year when you have the highest of hopes for your team. Not a real team but your fantasy team.  Fantasy draft day is probably the best day of the season.  Nothing has gone wrong yet. No injuries, bye week dilemmas or tough matchups. My sleeper picks haven’t hit the snooze button. It is a beautiful day.


The question is, what can we expect from the Bronco’s stars this year? It is only June, so this is a first stab at it.  I reserve the right to change my mind as the offseason progresses. 





Since we don’t know for sure who the starter is, I’ll assume it is Kyle Orton. Putting a value on Orton may be tricky. New team, better line, new scheme, upgraded receivers there are a lot of questions. Every question is on the upside, but his value last year is still holding him back. 


I would put Orton in the really good backup category. He isn’t a top-tier guy up there with Brady and Manning, but could be a starting caliber QB in larger leagues or leagues that allow more than one QB to play (I hate those leagues, but they are out there).  Orton has a lot of sleeper potential and can most likely be had at a bargain price.



Running Back


History has shown that RB is the one position where rookies can consistently make an impact. Every year, there are rookie running backs that light up the league.


This year’s star is Denver’s own, Knowshon Moreno. If you are a Bronco’s fan, especially in a keeper league, you owe it to yourself to get this guy.  Don’t spend the next five years cringing every time he scores a TD. Your Sundays will be ruined. He will be a starter on your team. Not worth your first pick but consider grabbing him on the way back down.


Denver’s other running backs hold little value except as backups. If someone besides Moreno gets the starting nod, it will be a committee situation that has frustrated many Bronco’s RB owners over the past several years. They will have value but it will be limited.



Wide Receivers


This is the Bronco’s strongest suit, and with the wide-open offensive style that we are expecting them to run, there could be a lot of value here.


Brandon Marshall is the crown jewel of the Bronco’s WR corps.  The problem is we still have questions about his full-season availability.  I am of the opinion that he will be suspended for some time this year.  Delaying his trial until August just adds to the uncertainty. 


I would say even with the risk of losing him for some period of time, Marshall still has top 10 WR value (top five without those concerns). Any player can be lost to injury, so value him as a more injury-prone WR with great upside.  Steve Smith and Marshall both posted good numbers last year despite their suspensions.


Eddie Royal also has value in fantasy leagues. He could be a starter in a 12-team league but most likely only a backup in eight-team leagues. Still, there is a lot of upside, and it only increases with the spread offense and the risk of losing Marshall to suspension. There will be very few leagues in which Royal remains a free agent.


The other Bronco receivers most likely have little fantasy value.  Brandon Stokley will have a reduced rol,l and Jabar Gaffney will get his opportunity, but will not be a fantasy star. Keep an eye on them, and be prepared to pounce if Marshall is suspended.



Tight End


This is an area I am not real sure about.  Both Tony Scheffler and Daniel Graham are good receivers, but we don’t know how much Josh McDaniels will use them as receivers.  No position is more dependent on the coach’s discretion in fantasy football than the TE.


The fact that Scheffler spent most of the offseason as trade bait makes me concerned about his value. If not for this, I would value him as a potential starter in a 12-team league, though he was a marginal starter at best last year. He has also not completed a 16-game season, so with that I would consider him a quality backup.


Graham has always excelled as a blocker. He seems to have some great pass catching ability and has made some clutch catches for the Broncos, but he does not have a lot of fantasy value. No points awarded for great blocks.



Defense/Special Teams


You have to be a Bronco’s fan to draft Denver as your primary defense.  Their lackluster return ability, field goal percentage, inability to create turnovers and propensity to give up huge points over the past few years makes them a homer pick at best. Not that I haven’t made home picks in the past. 


The secondary should be improved, but creating turnovers is also dependent on pass rush. I don’t have the confidence in them until we see them on the field.


I have never played in a league with IDP’s ,so I will defer to someone else on that.


Good luck this year to everyone who plays and may your euphoria last past draft day.