Denver Broncos wide receiver Eric Decker emerged as a great fantasy option in 2012, as he set career-highs across the board (85 receptions for 1,064 yards and 13 touchdowns) with Peyton Manning in place at quarterback. But the offseason signing of Wes Welker has limited his opportunities at times this season and he has just three touchdowns through 10 games along with two 100-yard games so far.
Welker had to leave last Sunday night’s game against the Kansas City Chiefs with a concussion, which has his status for a Week 12 matchup against the New England Patriots up in the air right now. Welker would surely like to play against his former team, but is Decker in line for a big game even if he suits up?
Decker led the NFL in red zone targets last season (25), and even with a drop-off in overall production so far this season he is still toward the top of the league in that category among wide receivers (12 red zone targets). By comparison Welker has been targeted 20 times in the red zone up to this point, which is good for second behind Calvin Johnson among the league’s wide receivers.
The Patriots rank in the middle of pack against wide receivers so far this season (20.3 fantasy points per game, ESPN scoring), but they have allowed nine touchdowns to the position over their last five games, with at least one in each game and six over their last two games. Injuries in the secondary have surely played a role in that recent ineptitude, but New England has also not faced a group of wide receivers as talented as Denver’s over the last five weeks.
Decker is in the mix as a starting option for most of his fantasy owners each week regardless of the situation, but if Welker misses Sunday night’s game there is upside potential in deploying Decker that has not often existed this year. He is definitely in line for a late bump up weekly fantasy rankings if negative reports surface regarding Welker’s status, and Decker could wind up being a worthy low-end WR1 or high-end WR2 in most formats.
Brad Berreman is a contributing writer at Rant Sports.com. Follow him on Twitter @bradberreman24.