Fantasy Fallout: Who Will Catch Passes in Denver?

by Ray Kuhn

I know I say this all the time, but there is a large part of fantasy football success that is based on opportunity. And right now, a very good example of this resides in Denver.

The Broncos backfield situation appears to muddled, but I would argue it is clearer than it actually appears. Ronnie Hillman is likely done for the season and Montee Ball didn’t have an impact in his return this past week. In fact Ball re-aggravated his groin injury, so I don’t think we have to worry about him going forward. Every indication, is that it appears to be C.J. Anderson’s backfield.

However, who Peyton Manning will throw to is not as clear. Well aside from Demaryius Thomas that is.

Yes, I know Manning had a very un-Peyton like game as the Broncos put up just seven points against the Rams in their loss. Obviously Manning was not at his best, but we must give some credit to St. Louis’s defense which has been living up to their pre-season expectations over the past few weeks. However, Manning was also without one of his top targets for most of the game and another for a good portion of the second half.

Julius Thomas left early in the game with an ankle injury, and the recipient of his targets was immediately clear. Manning’s old friend Jacob Tamme was targeted 10 times and caught four passes for 31 yards. That brought Tamme’s season total to 10 catches, 88 yards and two touchdowns which is a far cry from Thomas who has 40 catches for 426 yards and 10 touchdowns.

At this point, Thomas’s status for Week 12 is unclear, but his outlook does not look good. I’m not sure we can expect Tamme to receive 10 targets again, but it is clear that he has a role in Denver’s passing game, especially in the red zone as Manning trusts him. Tamme is not worth a waiver claim, unless you are truly hurting at tight, but he is worth a look if there is a need as he is owned in just 0.3% of ESPN leagues. With the majority of tight end’s struggling this season, Tamme could end up being the best streaming option available for Week 12. And we know he will be cheap in daily games.

Emmanuel Sanders also left in the third quarter with a concussion. Again, it is too early in the week to tell whether or not Sanders will be available in Week 12, but it never hurts to be prepared. That is especially true when the player who stands to benefit the most was drafted in all leagues this summer, had 10 touchdowns last season, and name recognition.

In replacing Eric Decker, Sanders has done better than perhaps anyone could imagine catching 67 passes for 954 yards and seven touchdowns. That is a lot of production to make up.

And should Sanders miss any time, Wes Welker would be the likely beneficiary. After catching 73 passes for 778 yards last season, Welker (who was suspended for the first two games of the season) has only 30 catches for 264 yards and a touchdown. The absence of Sanders could help Welker reacquire his role from last season.

If either Sanders or Thomas is forced to miss time, Welker is the player I would target. I know he hasn’t done well this season, but you would still think he should be owned in more than 42.3% of ESPN leagues. He is simply too good a player for that to be the case, especially with the bye weeks drawing to a conclusion.

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