Denver's infamous running game has diminished, their defense is a shell of it's former self, and their top receiver could be suspended. Hardly the news you were looking for if you are a Bronco's fan.
Luckily there is good news. Quarterback Jay Cutler is progressing well and if Brandon Marshall avoids a serious suspension, the two will likely re-produce their late season success once more.
Is that the only good news in Denver? Not quite.
Denver was been doing progressively worse since Cutler became the starter, but it is far from his fault. However, if Cutler can work on not forcing the ball as much and his ability (or lack of) to read pass coverages, he could finally start to use his cannon of an arm to it's full extent. That change would probably help the team's record as well.
Here is a little known fact about Cutler. He ranked fourth amongst quarterbacks in rushing yards last year. He may not do it again, but he will give you an extra point or two each week with his legs alone. It's not much, but it adds to his value.
The difference between him being a No.1 fantasy quarterback and a No.2 fantasy quarterback will be Brandon Marshall. I'll expand more on that later, but for now just know that without Marshall, Cutler is just an average quarterback.
Selvin Young/Ryan Torian
There was once a time where even a high school janitor could rush for 1000 yards in the Bronco's offense. While those days are done, there is still a bit of magic left in Mike Shanahan's offense. Travis Henry is gone and two youngsters are looking to fill his spot. Michael Pittman is also in the running, but will most likely be held back by his injury history.
The undersized Young looks like the obvious choice to be the starter based off of his success while replacing Henry last year. He carried the ball 140 times last season for 729 yards and boasted a 5.2 yards per carry average.
As good as that looks, he is coming off of off season arthroscopic knee surgery and there is heavy doubts that he can be an every down back. He will be part of a committee and as a result shouldn't be considered more than a No.4 fantasy running back.
Torian looks to be Shanahan's newest rookie crush. He isn't fast (4.70 40 yard dash time), but he is a solid inside runner with the ability to crush defenders and move the pile. He is also a very skilled receiver. He could end up being a third down and/or short yardage back.
He could become the one to share carries with Young. However, as it stands he doesn't have much fantasy value and won't be drafted, but that could change with his performance in camp.
Brandon Marshall/Darrell Jackson/Tony Sheffler
According to the NFL Network's Adam Schefter, Marshall may be staring down a four to eight game suspension due to his recent off field issues. It doesn't take a genius to realize that a threat like that can drop a player's fantasy value.
"Baby T.O." has the size, speed and skills to become one of the top-ten receivers in the league in a couple of years, but for now he is just a No.2 fantasy receiver if he doesn't get suspended. His 102 catches last year also proves that he is Cutler's go to guy. Don't forget that he is also a force in the red zone.
Jackson will benefit most if Marshall does get suspended. It would push him into the No.1 role netting him all the passes that come with it. Too bad his history of knee injuries and shaky hands would prevent him from taking full advantage of the situation. He is an unreliable fantasy player and my advice would be to stay away from this risky pick.
A lot of people seem to love Sheffler's potential this year and I am starting to see why. He is too fast for most linebackers to cover him and too big (6'5" 250 lbs.) for safeties to take him head on.
Only two things are holding him back from becoming a top flight tight end. First is his mediocre blocking skills that will limit his playing time. Second is the fact that Denver likes to run in the red zone and if they do pass in close, it will most likely be to Marshall. He is still a No.1 tight end and can usually be picked up a little later than other top tight ends.
Right now there is nothing but question marks concerning what he can do. He missed three of his four field goal attempts last year before becoming a kickoff specialist. He will most likely be in competition with Garret Hartley for the starting kicker job, but neither will be worth much fantasy wise, as we don't really know what to expect.
Here stands the 3rd worst rushing defense in the league. They do very poorly against the run because they have players on their defensive line like Elvis Dumervil who is a great pass rusher, but barely holds his own against the run. To throw more fuel on the fire, their best linebacker is their middle linebacker D.J. Williams who is better suited to play on the outside.
Their strongest point is their defensive backs led by Champ Bailey and Dre' Bly, but their safeties leave something to be desired, especially after the departure of former defensive leader John Lynch. Lynch's abilities were declining, but he is still better than what they have and a decent starter on most teams.
Bailey is the real deal, but Bly is average at best. Considering Bailey can only cover so much ground, their pass defense is also on the decline. Look for tight ends to put up good numbers against Denver this year.
Eddie Royal looks to be their return man this year and the fast wide receiver has shown plenty of ability in the return game in the past. He will be looking to salvage an already abysmal return game, and he could be what keeps this team as a No.2 fantasy defense in a deep league. I wouldn't go near them though.
Top Five Denver Broncos Fantasy Players
1. Brandon Marshall
2. Jay Cutler
3. Tony Sheffler
4. Selvin Young
5. Darrell Jackson
Bye Week: 8