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Fantasy Football Team Previews: Denver Broncos

The Denver Broncos will look a lot different offensively in 2020.
Courtland Sutton is a budding star in the NFL. (Twitter // @PFF)

2019 summary

Record: 7-9 (2nd in AFC West)

2019 Offensive Points-Per-Game: 17.6 (28th)

2019 Total Defense-adjusted Value Over Average: -9.0%

Joe Flacco started the 2019 season as the starting quarterback for the Denver Broncos. That pretty much tells you everything you need to know about how last year went for the team. However, in a cluster of mostly despair, there was a glimmer of hope thanks to the play of Drew Lock down the stretch. The rookie QB started the final five games of the season, leading Denver to a 4-1 record in those contests. The statistics weren’t eye-popping – he was QB24 in fantasy football during those games – but he seemed competent. Courtland Sutton made major strides as a sophomore, finishing with 1,112 receiving yards and six touchdowns on 72 receptions. Phillip Lindsay rushed for over 1,000 yards once again, toting the rock with an impressive 4.5 yards-per-carry. Rookie tight end Noah Fant also had some stellar moments, highlighted by a pair of monster performances that occurred in Week 9 and 13.

Major additions

  • G, Graham Glasgow
  • QB, Jeff Driskel
  • RB, Melvin Gordon
  • TE, Nick Vannett
  • DT, Shelby Harris
  • CB, A.J. Bouye
  • DT, Jurell Casey
  • WR, Jerry Jeudy
  • WR, K.J. Hamler
  • C, Lloyd Cushenberry
  • CB, Michael Ojemudia
  • DT, McTelvin Agim
  • TE, Albert Okwuegbunam

Major subtractions

  • CB, Chris Harris
  • DT, Derek Wolfe
  • QB, Joe Flacco
  • FFB, Andy Janovich

2 major storylines for 2020 (Only 2 because No. 2 answers everything)

Can Drew Lock solve the Broncos’ QB woes?

Desperate doesn’t even begin to describe Denver owner John Elway in his search for a starting QB. He has sunken to Brock Osweiler, Case Keenum and even Joe Flacco levels of despair while trying to find his field general. Lock, although it was only for five games, showed just enough to instill some hope in Broncos brass. There are some things that Lock will have to improve upon in his second season, however.

Despite being noted as a strong arm QB, he didn’t stretch the field much in Yr. 1. His 6.9 average intended air yards ranked bottom-7 in the NFL last season and he finished the season with a pedestrian 6.5 yards per attempt. There were some positives to his game, though, as he only threw three interceptions across the five games he played. He will also benefit from the plethora of new players the team has added to its offense. Lock is best drafted as a QB2 who has sizeable upside.

How will this offense shake out with all of the new offensive players?

The Broncos completely overhauled its offense this past offseason. Melvin Gordon, Jerry Jeudy, K.J. Hamler and Albert Okwuegbunam have all been added to the fold in Denver. They join Courtland Sutton, Noah Fant and Phillip Lindsay as the players who will play a key role in this offense.

You may find this hard to believe, but Lindsay (2) actually has more seasons of at least 4.0 yards per carry than Gordon (1). Lindsay (2) also has more seasons of rushing for 1,000 yards than Gordon (1), despite the latter being in the league for five years while Lindsay’s only played two seasons. Lindsay’s efficiency on the ground will cut into Gordon’s fantasy value, which makes me believe he is being slightly overdrafted as RB16 in NFFC leagues.

Jeudy may cut into Sutton’s production, but I do think the two can co-exist while remaining fantasy relevant. Jeudy and Sutton actually have skill sets that can compliment each other. Jeudy profiles as an unbelievable route runner with good hands and solid speed. Sutton has the speed to burn defenses down field while also possessing the size to dominate cornerbacks in the redzone – he’s going to be a star in this league. Sutton is currently WR20 in NFFC leagues while Jeudy is WR40, and I think there is some value for both considering new offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur has shown a tendency to deploy a pass-first offense. In three of his past four seasons in the NFL (two as New York Giants head coach, two as offensive coordinator for the Minnesota Vikings) his team has ranked top-10 in passing play frequency.

At tight end, Okwuegbunam offers somewhat of a subtle threat to Fant. Fant’s 2019 numbers are inflated by two mammoth performances that occurred in Week 9 and 13 last season. Lock likely has more chemistry with Okwuegbunam than Fant, considering the pair spent two full seasons together at the University of Missouri. Additionally. Okwuegbunam is primarily a receiving tight end, highlighted by his lightning fast 4.49 40-yard dash time while measuring at 6’5″ and 258 lbs. Shurmur has some experience as a tight ends coach on his resume, which means the Broncos could utilize a lot of 12 and 22 personnel this season, although Shurmur did heavily rely on 11 personnel with the Giants last season (used on 74% of all plays). I’m not looking to draft either of Fant or Okwuegbunam in fantasy football for 2020, as there are other options I find more appealing in their range.

Lastly, Hamler, the team’s second-round pick in 2020, didn’t land in the best spot for his fantasy football value. He’ll immediately supplant the underperforming DaeSean Hamilton as the team’s No. 3 option, but I wouldn’t expect that role to return much value in year one. He’s a speedster who runs good routes and doesn’t have any glaring flaws. He’s a great stash in dynasty leagues, but in re-draft, he’ll only be relevant if either Sutton or Jeudy miss time.

Sleeper: Jerry Jeudy

Jeudy was arguably the best wide receiver in a class that was absolutely stacked at the position. If he and Lock can get on the same page during training camp, he has the prospect profile that suggests he could dominate as a rookie. In NFFC drafts currently, he’s being selected outside the top-100 picks.

Bust: Melvin Gordon

Gordon’s not a bust in the sense that I think he’s going to have a bad season – I actually think he and Lindsay are going to be a great tandem. That, however, is the problem. He will have to split work with Lindsay, something that is preventing me from taking him at pick No. 28 and RB16 in NFFC leagues.

Broncos Players in Rally Towel’s Top-200 Fantasy Football Rankings

37. WR, Courtland Sutton

39. RB, Melvin Gordon

106. WR, Jerry Jeudy

110. RB, Phillip Lindsay

122. QB, Drew Lock

131. TE, Noah Fant

Download Rally Towel’s 2020 PPR Fantasy Football Cheatsheet here.

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