The Denver Broncos had one of the league’s best offenses in 2012, finishing second in scoring offense (30.1 points per game) and fourth in total offense (397.8 yards per game), but their defense also performed well. Under the tutelage of new defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio, the Broncos were fourth in the NFL in scoring defense (18.1 points per game) and had 52 sacks (tied for most in the league) last season. They also finished in the top five of the league in yards allowed per play (4.6) and yards allowed per rush (3.6).
The Broncos have gone through the preseason as a highly-regarded defense in fantasy football circles, but recent developments have put a dent in that a bit. Linebacker Von Miller, who led the team and finished third in the league with 18.5 sacks last season, is facing at least a six-game suspension for violating the league’s substance abuse policy, and injuries have the status of cornerback Champ Bailey (foot) and defensive lineman Derek Wolfe (neck) up in the air for the start of the season. Add in the departure of Elvis Dumervil, who had 11 sacks last season, in free agency and you have a defense that is starting to look thin on talent.
Denver’s schedule does not bring a lot of breaks early, with games against the Baltimore Ravens, New York Giants, Philadelphia Eagles, Dallas Cowboys, Indianapolis Colts and Washington Redskins over the first eight weeks. Miller looks certain to miss most if not all of those games, which will make holding down offenses piloted by a sampling of the league’s most talented signal callers an even harder task for the Broncos.
The stock of Denver’s defense may fall to point where they become a potential value in a lot of drafts. They surely don’t belong in the top tier of fantasy defenses at this point, assuming Miller’s suspension comes to fruition as reported and questions remain about Bailey’s status for Week 1. Any fantasy owner that drafts the Broncos’ defense will need to consider drafting a second defense, if only to have a usable option in more favorable matchups early in the season.
Brad Berreman is a contributing writer at Rant Sports.com. Follow him on Twitter @bradberreman24.