A new quarterback for an NFL team can make all the difference in the world for a receiver. The Denver Broncos decided to roll the dice on Peyton Manning after his multiple neck surgeries when they signed him in 2012 and it paid great dividends to him and the players surrounding.
For one player, Demaryius Thomas, the change at quarterback brought some major changes to his fantasy output.
In the season before the future Hall of Fame quarterback came to the Broncos, Thomas finished the 2011 season with 551 yards and four touchdowns. In terms of fantasy football, this was not a great output and Thomas was not one of the guys to look towards each week.
With Manning on the team, it’s a totally different story. Thomas finished 2012 with 1,434 yards and 10 touchdowns. The simple change at quarterback exploded Thomas’ stat line and he compiled seven games of over 100 yards receiving. Suddenly, Thomas was a top option at the wide receiver position.
So what can we expect from the 6-foot-3 wide receiver in the upcoming season? Will Thomas continue to dominate opposing defenses and bring fantasy owners the points they are looking for, or will he disappear and revert back to the stat line we saw in 2011?
One thing you can be sure of is that Manning will again be on the field throwing passes. With an elite-caliber type of quarterback like Manning, it’s nearly impossible that the receivers will not reap the benefits.
The game management Manning displays is impeccable and his ability to read defenses and know where the holes to throw the ball into have not changed. Calling an audible at the line of scrimmage to send Thomas on a deep go route or a deep crossing pattern worked well last season and will continue to work well again this season.
The only downside to drafting Thomas this year, if there is one, is that the Broncos decided to bring in slot receiver Wes Welker. Shifty and quick, Welker displayed tremendous athletic ability during his time with the New England Patriots.
Manning will look to Welker during the season which could possibly take away from Thomas’ targets, but as far as the value of Thomas declining, I don’t’ see it. The addition of Welker only brings in trouble for Eric Decker since he is the small, shifty player who Manning had success with last year.
If Welker has any effect on Thomas, it will come in the form of added opportunities. Welker is a well-known threat in the NFL and defenses will game plan to take away the short routes that he has been accustomed to running. With the focus on the short game, the opportunities for the deep ball will open up and Manning can hurl the ball far downfield to Thomas for those massive grabs every fantasy owner likes to see.