Fantasy Football: Can Emmanuel Sanders Replace Eric Decker?
You know you have a great quarterback when Emmanuel Sanders did not even have to meet with the Denver Broncos to sign with them. Peyton Manning will have a new weapon for the 2014 season, but will Sanders be able to produce the same numbers as Eric Decker?
The first thing that fantasy football players will want to analyze is the strengths and weaknesses of both Sanders and Decker. Manning can instantly make anyone a star, but some players will have better seasons than others. Instead of instantly adding Sanders to your draft board and overreaching for him, fantasy players need to understand that throwing anyone into the Broncos’ offense does not guarantee that they will be a star.
While Decker is a big, physical receiver at 6-foot-3, Sanders is only listed as 5-foot-11 and 180 pounds. Even though he tries, Sanders has never been the type of receiver to win jump balls. If Manning lofts the ball deep down the field and the defender stays toe to toe with Sanders, the pass is going to be incomplete or intercepted. Luckily for Sanders, he should not face too many of these situations with Julius Thomas and Demaryius Thomas as his other receivers.
Sanders does have the edge over Decker in the speed department. He ran a 4.41 in the 40-yard dash, and he can easily get behind defenders. With the other talent that Denver has at the receiver position, this could create many mismatches that Sanders should be able to take advantage of.
He is not the physical threat that Decker is, but Sanders could become a solid start at the flex position because of his speed. He isn’t going to have a better season than both of the receivers with the last name of Thomas, but he could usurp Wes Welker if the latter is unable to stay healthy. Sanders could find himself as a top-20 wide receiver by the end of the year.
So don’t go crazy and draft him in the fourth round of your draft, but don’t be afraid to try and pick him up starting in the ninth or 10th round. His speed adds a different element to the offense that could make him as successful as Decker.