Fantasy Football 2014: Peyton Manning Will Make Emmanuel Sanders a Fantasy Star

By Jim Heath
Emmanuel Sanders
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

WR Emmanuel Sanders of the Denver Broncos will be on the roster of many fantasy football champions in 2014. He will surpass 1,000 yards for the first time in his career, and you can count on double-digit touchdowns. Write it down, lock it up and don’t be that guy or gal I say, “I told you so” to in December of next year.

Had Eric Decker remained with the Broncos, he would have easily been a top-10 WR in next year’s fantasy drafts. As he should be, his numbers would have once again justified said pick. But will his replacement get equal love in fantasy drafts? Absolutely not — only a madman would reach that far for Sanders. But does he have the opportunity to end the season as a top-10 receiver? Not only do I believe there is a chance, it’s a chance with high probability.

Okay, by now a few of you are thinking I am overly optimistic on Sanders. Stick with me just a bit longer. My optimism is not about Sanders. Do I believe he is athletic and has the tools? I do, but my lofty projections have more to do with who is throwing him the ball than it has to do with Sanders himself.

Peyton Manning is the greatest fantasy quarterback of all time – period. Sure, some of you can argue with me about playoff inconsistencies, blah blah blah. This isn’t the NFL, this is fantasy football where playoffs do not matter and regular season Manning is king. Argument ended.

Here’s the thing, Manning is not only the best — he brings out the best in his receivers. Anyone with base line athletic ability in a Manning-led starting lineup has the ability to catch 10 balls, go over 100 yards and/or catch a touchdown or two.

In the top-10 (statistically) list of Manning’s receivers, you will see names like Dallas Clark, Edgerrin James, Brandon Stokley, Pierre Garcon, Austin Collie and Jerome Pathon. Most of these names ring a bell because of their numbers while playing with Manning, but what happened when they left Manning? A couple did semi-decent in a few games, but none lived up to the numbers they had while Manning was throwing them the rock.

Last year, the Broncos played the San Diego Chargers minus Wes Welker (concussion). Playing in Welker’s place was Andre “Bubba” Caldwell. In the starting role, he caught six balls including two scores. Caldwell was a top fantasy option that week.

Listen, Sanders will be a starter in an offense that has Welker in the slot, Julius Thomas as tight end and Demaryius Thomas drawing the best corner – and Manning throwing the ball! And it’s not like Sanders has to improve a lot to get to a grand and 10 scores; last season, he caught 67 balls for 740 yards and six scores.

So, what does this all mean? Sanders is at worst a good WR2 option who you can draft in later rounds of your draft in 2014. Oftentimes when guys move to new teams, you have these dreams of fantasy grandeur only to be disappointed. Not this time. Trust your gut, folks. Sanders will prove to be a major fantasy sleeper in 2014.

Jim Heath is a writer for Follow him on Twitter @jim_heath, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google

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