The Denver Broncos had a few wide receivers who showed flashes of brilliance in 2011, and that was with Tim Tebow and his 46.5% completion rate trying to get them the ball for the majority of the season. What happens now that Peyton Manning is under center? Obviously, if healthy, things change dramatically. Instead of being peripheral options the Broncos receivers could quickly emerge as go to players for fantasy owners. Let’s take a look and try to determine who the best of the bunch could be:
A former first round pick in 2010 (22nd overall), we have already discussed Thomas as a potential third year breakout wide receiver (click here to view). However, the flashes he showed last season definitely bear repeating.
He finished the season with 32 receptions for 551 yards and 4 TD, averaging 17.2 yards per reception (11th among receivers with at least 30 catches). The latter number alone has got to excite you if the Broncos have a healthy Manning throwing him the ball.
Thomas’ health is also a major concern, having played just 21 games over his first two NFL seasons. That said, ESPN’s Gary Horton (a former NFL scout) said the following about Thomas (click here to view):
“Thomas has size and toughness along with underrated deep speed and vertical potential. He averaged over 17 yards per catch during the regular season, and I can see that increasing in 2012. Manning makes everyone around him better, and if Thomas can stay healthy, he will be something special.”
He has the potential to be a WR1 by year’s end and is worth drafting as a low-end WR2/high-end WR3 immediately.
Another third year receiver, Decker posted 44 catches for 612 yards and 8 TD a year ago. He doesn’t have the same explosiveness that Thomas possesses, averaging 13.9 yards per catch in 2011, but he should be the steady receiver for the Broncos and help to open up the field.
He doesn’t have the WR1 upside that Thomas does, as he’s not likely to be the red zone target. That said, he could pile up the catches and be a solid WR3 this season. He’s definitely worth targeting for a bench spot on your fantasy roster.
Andre Caldwell/Brandon Stokely
Neither of these veterans played for the Broncos in 2011, but both should see opportunities in three and four receiver sets. While they likely won’t offer much fantasy appeal (barring injuries) their veteran presence should help the development of the team’s top two receiving options.
That said, both Thomas and Decker have missed time due to injuries so both of these players will want to be watched closely. If they get an opportunity to play, they could surprise. These are names to monitor off the waiver wire and nothing more.
The Broncos have a few other receivers, like Jason Hill and Matt Willis, but they will likely be peripheral options. If the Top 4 remain healthy, there is unlikely to be any other fantasy appeal.
Jacob Tamme will offer another option out of the tight end spot, where he could also hold value (something will discuss in the coming weeks). However, the true prize of the group is Demaryius Thomas and he should be near the top of your priority list on draft day. I wouldn’t draft him as your top receiving option, but he has the potential to end up there by year’s end.
Make sure to check out our 2012 fantasy football rankings: