For Peyton Manning to have this group of receivers around him is a little unfair for the rest of the NFL. Quarterbacks would kill to have two of the four players at Manning’s disposal. This is why the Denver Broncos scored the most points in a regular season and Manning threw for a record number of yards.
Demaryius Thomas was the first Broncos and fifth overall wide receiver drafted, averaged in the third round. He had six touchdowns in the first eight games. While that’s a lot, he had eight in the final eight games. His 14 touchdowns were a season-high among pass catchers, tied with Jimmy Graham.
He finished as the No. 2 fantasy receiver with 220 points, one point behind Josh Gordon. Thomas has scored 24 touchdowns in the last two seasons and will be another top-five receiver in 2014.
Wes Welker was the second receiver taken, about a round later, finished as the 21st-best receiver. This was a result of him missing the final three games with a second concussion. Welker scored a touchdown in the first six games, a total of eight scores. While those touchdowns help the value of a receiver, Welker did not break 100 receiving yards in a game and failed to reach 800 yards for the first time since 2006.
Age is also an issue with Welker, who finished his 11th season, three more than his two teammates combined.
Eric Decker had just three touchdowns in the first half of the season. He finished the 2013 season scoring eight times in the final five games. He did benefit greatly from Welker’s absence. Decker was drafted in the sixth round in most leagues as a WR2. He played up to his value and finished eighth in fantasy points among wide receivers, ahead of Andre Johnson, Victor Cruz and Larry Fitzgerald, and should be drafted ahead of those players in 2014.
Of these three receivers, Thomas is still the first one to draft. He stretches the field and can score an 80-yard touchdown in the blink of an eye. Though, all three of these players have top-10 value in PPR leagues. For what it’s worth, I rank Decker ahead of Welker because he stays healthy. He’s also a bigger redzone threat.
In what could be Manning’s final year as a legitimate fantasy quarterback, you can’t go wrong by drafting any of these players.