Full 2014 Fantasy Projections for Denver Broncos' Top Offensive Performers
In 2013, Denver's offensive unit shattered NFL team records for points (606) and touchdowns scored (76) in a single season.
Peyton Manning broke the NFL single-season record for touchdowns (55) and passing yards (5,477) en route to extending his league record for MVP awards won when he was voted his fifth one following the 2013 season.
The Broncos also had five skill position players with at least 10 touchdowns last season, another NFL record.
Although the Broncos lost Eric Decker and Knowshon Moreno through free agency, they still have plenty of firepower to replace those pieces in 2014.
In other words, the Broncos are a fantasy player's dream.
Here are the full fantasy projections for the Broncos' top five projected offensive performers in 2014.
Note: All fantasy points are added up using CBS Sports' standard scoring system. Example: 10 rushing/receiving yards = one point. 25 passing yards = one point. Passing/rushing/receiving touchdowns = six points.
5. WR Wes Welker
Projected Stats: 80 receptions, 880 yards, eight touchdowns
Projected Fantasy Points: 136
Wes Welker had a solid first season with the Broncos in which he posted 73 receptions for 778 yards and 10 touchdowns.
Welker's 10 touchdowns were an uncharacteristically high mark considering his track record—Welker’s 10 touchdowns in 2013 actually represented the highest single-season touchdown mark of his 10-year NFL career.
A lot of that had to do with the Broncos’ superb supporting cast and that Manning threw for an NFL-record 55 touchdown passes. Probably more remarkable was the fact that Welker was able to accomplish this mark by playing in just 13 games, considering he struggled with a concussion toward the end of the season.
The Broncos’ No. 2 option in the receiving game, Eric Decker, departed through free agency. One would assume that would mean more targets for the veteran Welker, but the Broncos went out and signed Emmanuel Sanders to presumably replace Decker’s role within the offense.
Manning will have a dip from his record-setting statistics in 2014, and as a result, expect Welker to have a drop in touchdowns. Welker’s 2014 season totals should mirror his 2013 season production as one should expect Welker to play the entire 2014 season considering his durability throughout his career—he has played a full season in six of his 10 seasons.
The issue isn’t so much Welker’s age (33). The issue is, Manning will spread the targets around, and players such as Demaryius Thomas and Julius Thomas will be the beneficiaries of Decker’s departure. Welker will continue to be the Broncos’ safety valve, but in standard scoring fantasy leagues, Welker’s consistency when it pertains to receptions won’t mean zilch.
Welker will continue to be a solid No. 2 or No. 3 receiver option in fantasy leagues, but his days as a No. 1 fantasy receiver are over for the time being.
4. TE Julius Thomas
Projected Stats: 75 receptions, 900 yards, 10 touchdowns
Projected Fantasy Points: 150
Julius Thomas had the biggest breakout season of any NFL tight end last season when he posted 65 receptions for 788 yards and 12 touchdowns in just 14 games played.
Thomas’ stats will remain consistent, since he should have more receptions and receiving yards due to the increased number of targets his way in the absence of Decker. His touchdowns will take a hit, as Manning will throw the ball a little less and won’t be as dynamic as he was in 2013.
Entering 2014, Thomas is the second-best tight end in all of fantasy football. Of all tight ends, only the New Orleans Saints’ Jimmy Graham should be drafted higher than Thomas.
3. RB Montee Ball
Projected Stats: 260 carries, 1,170 yards, eight rushing touchdowns, 40 receptions, 300 receiving yards, two receiving touchdowns, four fumbles lost
Projected Fantasy Points: 199
With Knowshon Moreno now a Miami Dolphin, second-year running back Montee Ball will take over the starting position for the Broncos.
Moreno had one of the finest all-around seasons for an RB in franchise history when he became the first running back in Broncos history to record over a 1,000 rushing yards and 500 receiving yards in a single season. To top it all off, he had 10 rushing and three receiving touchdowns.
Although most of the media attention was focused on Manning and his receiving weapons, Moreno was the glue that held everything together—now Ball will be expected to fill that role.
Ball won’t post the all-around stats that Moreno did in 2013—Moreno was an excellent receiving threat out of the backfield who contributed 60 receptions—but he will run for more rushing yards as the Broncos place more of a focus on the running game.
The Broncos will still possess the league’s most dynamic passing offense, but they just won’t be as dynamic as they were in 2013 when they shattered historical offensive records. This will result in a dip in touchdowns.
Moreno ran for 10 touchdowns in 2013. Ball will rush for slightly fewer in 2014.
Expect Ball to continue having fumbling problems, as he had three fumbles last season.
Though Ball won’t be quite as dynamic across the stat sheet as Moreno was, he’ll still rank as the sixth-best running back in fantasy football for 2014.
2. WR Demaryius Thomas
Projected Stats: 90 receptions, 1,500 yards, 17 touchdowns
Projected Fantasy Points: 252
Demaryius Thomas was quietly the second-most productive wide receiver in all of fantasy football in 2013, catching 92 passes for 1,430 receiving yards and 14 touchdowns. His 220 total fantasy points on the season ranked just behind the 221 points of the Cleveland Browns’ Josh Gordon.
With Thomas entering the prime of his career as the clear-cut No. 1 receiver in Mile High Stadium, expect Thomas to be fantasy’s No. 1 receiver of 2014. Of the main weapons returning to Denver in 2014, only Thomas’ numbers should remain consistent all across the board.
In fact, though his receptions and receiving yards will be nearly identical in 2014 as they were in 2013, expect the receiving touchdowns to increase as Thomas establishes himself as the No. 1 receiver in not only fantasy football, but on the actual gridiron itself.
Thomas should be the No. 1 receiver pick off the board and should be drafted in the first round in all 12-team formats.
1. QB Peyton Manning
Projected Stats: 47 passing touchdowns, 4,900 passing yards, 10 interceptions, two fumbles lost, one rushing touchdown
Projected Fantasy Points: 460
Peyton Manning had such a remarkable and dominant performance in 2013 that it would be unfair to expect him to match those numbers in 2014.
Manning and the Broncos broke so many individual and team records that it doesn’t demonstrate just how dominant the Broncos’ offensive unit was for those 16 regular-season games.
And although the Broncos won’t have quite the same success on offense as they did in 2013, they will come close.
Manning won’t throw for 55 touchdowns, but he will throw for more than 40 touchdowns. He’ll come back down to earth in passing yards, throwing for just under 5,000 yards as the Broncos scale back, and hand the ball off more to Montee Ball.
Although Manning won’t make fantasy owners quite as happy as he did last season, he’ll still make them happy. Manning will again be fantasy football’s No. 1 player.
No excuses—Manning should be the No. 1 player selected across all standard fantasy formats.