The Denver Broncos were an instant favorite to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl following last season. Since said prognostication, it has been an offseason to forget for the Broncos following front office personnel firings for poor decisions, the suspension of All-Pro Von Miller, and “Fax-Gate” in which the Broncos lost Elvis Dumervil to the Baltimore Ravens.
The Broncos quickly followed up the tumultuous offseason with an embarrassing loss to the Seattle Seahawks, full of undisciplined and flat out sloppy play. And although the outcome was different against the St. Louis Rams on Saturday, it was another game filled with drops, turnovers and all around, once again, sloppy play.
Needless to say, the Broncos will need to tighten up several areas of their game if they plan to represent the AFC in February.
Fortunately for Fantasy Football GMs, the outcomes and methods on the field often times don’t always impact fantasy results (think Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo). Despite back-to-back games of less than spectacular play, the Broncos are still a franchised packed with fantasy options; they will move the ball and score plenty in 2013.
Peyton Manning may have found the proverbial fountain of youth in the cold water streams of the Rocky Mountains. One season removed from arguably his best as a pro, he shows no sign of slowing. In just three quarters of work, Manning threw the ball 34 times, completing 25 for 234 yards and a score. This minus slot man Wes Welker.
Eric Decker and Demaryius Thomas were their traditional solid selves; Decker caught six balls for 66 yards and Thomas hauled in seven grabs for 64 yards and a score.
An intriguing Manning target to monitor this season is tight end Julius Thomas. Manning and Thomas are showing very good chemistry this preseason. In limited opportunities in three preseason games, Thomas has caught 12 balls for 123 yards. Thomas is a deep sleeper that could develop into a viable fantasy option.
Ronnie Hillman remains the number one back on the Broncos depth chart even though, for the life of me, I cannot figure out why. Hillman has fumbled the ball four times in the last two games, losing three, including one returned by Rams rookie linebacker Alec Ogletree for a touchdown Saturday.
Montee Ball has struggled to impress this preseason, but showed a spark Saturday, gaining 43 yards on 14 carries, including a touchdown. Ball also caught two balls for 27 yards, but he did drop an easy pass in the red zone that could have been a second touchdown.
Needless to say, there is no overwhelmingly positive option at running back at this point for the Broncos. If you feel a deep yearning to draft a Broncos running back, Montee Ball has the most upside, but personally, I am avoiding the situation altogether.
Sam Bradford had an efficient night for the Rams, completing 9 of 16 passes for 110 yards and a score.
His target for the touchdown was tight end Jared Cook, an offseason acquisition by the Rams with high fantasy expectations in 2013. Saturday would be a coming out party for Cook, grabbing four balls for 50 yards and the scores. This is a guy that has tremendous upside, and has generated a fair amount of fantasy buzz this offseason.
The Rams wide receiver corps is an interesting development this preseason. Tavon Austin is supposed to be the Rams’ wide receiver with the most upside this season, but second-year receiver Chris Givens has upstaged the rookie in three preseason games. Austin has caught five balls for 43 yards, while Givens has caught five for 156 yards and a score.
Right now Givens is coming off draft boards several rounds after Austin. If you’re looking for a Rams receiver, Givens is certainly the value pick.