This pretty much sums up the new-era Broncos. A series of inexplicable highs offset by inexplicable lows that leaves fans scratching their heads.
Last season the team traded away star QB, Jay Cutler. This off-season they traded the oft troubled Brandon Marshall, their leading receiver, and one of the best receivers in all of fantasy. They then acquired QB Brady Quinn from the Cleveland Browns only to turn around and draft poster boy QB Tim Tebow.
While no one is yet quite sure what to make of McDaniels moves, he is making it clear that he is reshaping the Broncos into HIS team. His moves, his personnel, and the team will thrive or dive based on his work, outside the shadow of who has come before him.
How his moves will improve the team’s fantasy value remains to be seen.
Division: AFC West – Projected Finish: 2nd Place
Strength of Schedule - #23 = 9th best. The Broncos will need a soft schedule to start rebuilding this team with new pieces and a new direction. McDaniels’ direction.
Yes, they went out and brought in Brady Quinn, who believe it or not has a good deal of talent (1,339 yards, 8 TDs and 7 INTs alongside a 53.1% completion rate which is pretty good for someone who played on the 2009 Browns…but you don’t need me to tell you that right?) The problem is so does Kyle Orton, who has proven to be a fairly effective, though an unexciting game manager. In 2009, Orton set career highs in competition percentage (62.1%), yards (3,802) and touchdowns (21), but remember one little note: a ton of that was because Brandon Marshall was a Bronco.
Now, in 2010 Orton will try to lead an unproven receiving corp in Eddie Royal, and rookie Demaryius Thomas without the aid of an impact TE which makes him more of a risk this year than last.
In other words, Orton’s value took a big hit this off-season and you may not want to target him as early as you expected to.
Orton ended the 2009 season ranked15th in fantasy scoring for QBs, sandwiched between David Garrard and Joe Flacco. Don’t expect him to do as well in 2010.
The ground game was a pleasant off-set to all the goofy things going on in Denver last year. Knowshon Moreno wound up being the guy we all thought he was going to be rushing for 947 yards on 247 carries with seven touchdowns, and 213 yards on 28 catches for 2 more scores.
The Broncos revamped their O-Line and added meatier guys up the middle which leads us to believe they will run more in 2010 in an attempt to control more clock. Moreno will play an even bigger role this season but Correll Buckhalter will continue to play an active, albeit lesser role for the team.
Brandon Marshall is gone after a banner year, Eddie Royal floundered last year, but could be ready for a breakout, Jabar Gaffney is the grandfather on the team, and Demaryius Thomas is supposed to be the second coming of Marshall.
- Eddie Royal was a huge disappointment in 2009 as he didn’t even reach 400 yards, and failed to score a single passing touchdown. But in 2010, the team plans to get Royal more inclusive to the mix, in a Wes Welker type of role (fopr those of you who may not understand that, he is expected to play out of the slot and be a primary target in the short passing game which could mean big numbers for him in PPR leagues…again, just like Wes Welker.
- Demaryius Thomas and his 6’3” 229 pound frame has some big shoes to fill, and the Broncos feel he is more than talented to do so. He has great vertical pass catching abilities, uber speed, and is a strong physical receiver who is able to break a lot of tackles. He should have an immediate fantasy impact in 2010.
- Jabar Gaffney is getting up there in age and has definitely lost a step, so he doesn’t figure to be anything more than a decoy on the field, while rookie Eric Decker will wind up playing the role of the middle child.
There is little to speak of when it comes to the Broncos TEs simply because they are a team that rarely uses them. At least coach McDaniels doesn’t. Tony Scheffler—now a Lion—only had 416 yards and two scores on 31 catches all year…nothing to see here people, move along.
The Broncos ended the season 6th overall in fantasy team production in 2009, after being cellar-dwellers in 2008. Of the team’s that surprised last season on defense, look for them to fall back to earth in 2010. we currently have them ranked at 18th this season.
For those of you in IDP leagues here are the names to know: At Linebacker, Elvis Dumervil racked up 17 sacks last year after only 5 in 2008. He is a strong fantasy player, but someone else is likely to over pay for him based on last seasons sack total. D.J. Williams remains the first Broncos IDP player to nab and is currently ranked 8th at LB.
2010 Regular Season Schedule:
Wk Date Game Stadium Time (ET) Network 1 Sep 12 DEN @ JAC Jacksonville Municipal Stadium 1:00 PM CBS 2 Sep 19 SEA @ DEN Invesco Field at Mile High 4:05 PM FOX 3 Sep 26 IND @ DEN Invesco Field at Mile High 4:15 PM CBS 4 Oct 03 DEN @ TEN LP Field 1:00 PM CBS 5 Oct 10 DEN @ BAL M&T Bank Stadium 1:00 PM CBS 6 Oct 17 NYJ @ DEN Invesco Field at Mile High 4:05 PM CBS 7 Oct 24 OAK @ DEN Invesco Field at Mile High 4:15 PM CBS 8 Oct 31 DEN @ SF Wembley Stadium 1:00 PM CBS 9 Bye 10 Nov 14 KC @ DEN Invesco Field at Mile High 4:05 PM CBS 11 Nov 22 DEN @ SD Qualcomm Stadium 8:30 PM ESPN 12 Nov 28 STL @ DEN Invesco Field at Mile High 4:15 PM FOX 13 Dec 05 DEN @ KC Arrowhead Stadium 1:00 PM CBS 14 Dec 12 DEN @ ARI University of Phoenix Stadium 4:15 PM CBS 15 Dec 19 DEN @ OAK Oakland Coliseum 4:15 PM CBS 16 Dec 26 HOU @ DEN Invesco Field at Mile High 4:05 PM CBS 17 Jan 02 SD @ DEN Invesco Field at Mile High 4:15 PM CBS
Normally, this is where we like to breakdown how the team likes to manage it’s offense, improvements and such, but honestly, under the Josh McDaniels no one seems to know what he’ll do next. Fans have already been calling for his head after the team’s meltdown last season.
He’s been labeled the mini-Belichick, and much like his mentor he plays his cards close to the vest and gives away very little.
McDaniels’ philosophy is based on multi-receiver sets that is geared towards getting the ball to the open receiver rather than forcing the issue. This could mean big things for Royal, Thomas, and even Gaffney at times. Marshall is no longer with the team, so a more “spread the ball around approach” is the talk out of camp early.
Obviously, we’ll all have to wait and see how things develop…basing your opinion now is a bit futile.
Don Martindale, the 2009 LB coach for Denver, was moved from linebackers coach to the new DC for Denver, and some feel that the Broncos will be more of a coverage team than a blitzing team as they were in 2009. This shouldn’t effect their ability to get to the ball (for all of you Dumervil fans, but what it will do is open the door for a new linebacker corp. that was lackluster at best in 2009.
The Broncos moved way to many people in and out of formations for the backers to have significant value; something that should change in 2010 with the new scheme.