The Denver Broncos took a calculated risk prior to the 2012 season by signing quarterback Peyton Manning, but the move worked out well and wide receivers Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker became top options for fantasy football owners.
The Broncos added another weapon at wide receiver this offseason by signing Wes Welker, who of course spent the last several seasons with the New England Patriots as a top target for quarterback Tom Brady. Welker’s presence looks certain to have an impact on the opportunities Decker gets in 2013, but can both remain relevant for fantasy owners?
Welker’s resume speaks for itself, as he had at least 111 catches in five of his six seasons with the Patriots. Durability has not been a major issue for him, but Welker’s diminutive stature and age (32) creates some risk for a decrease in production as nagging injuries have a chance to become a factor.
Decker was reasonably productive in 2011 (44 receptions for 612 yards and eight touchdowns), despite catching passes from Tim Tebow for a big chunk of that season, and Manning’s presence brought an expected boost for him across the board last season (85 catches for 1,064 yards and 13 touchdowns).
League format will go a long way toward determining if Welker or Decker is the better fantasy option this year. Welker remains a high-end WR2 or low-end WR1 in PPR leagues, and he is a viable WR2 in standard formats due to the volume of targets he should receive.
Decker’s catch total is virtually certain to drop this season with Welker in the fold, which obviously diminishes his value some, but his role as a primary red zone option for Manning should not go away and his value in touchdown-heavy leagues remains strong.
All things considered, and leaving aside league format however briefly, I choose Decker over Welker here. Welker will have to produce close to the level he has in the past to prove worthy of where he will go in most fantasy drafts, while I think Decker has a chance to become a draft day steal if negative buzz continues to surround him.
Brad Berreman is a contributing writer at Rant Sports.com. Follow him on Twitter @bradberreman24.