QB Case Keenum – Over his first 26 games in the NFL, Keenum had a 9-15 record with 5,224 passing yards, 24 TDs, and 20 Ints. He gained only 6.7 yards per pass attempts. An injury to Sam Bradford led to Case earning the starting job in Week 3. Keenum went 11-3 with a spike in his completion rate (67.6). He finished 3,547 passing yards with 22 TDs and seven Ints. Keenum passed for over 300 yards in two games while delivering more than two TDs in three contests. Over his starts, Case attempts more than 33 passes in four games. Last year the Broncos’ QBs passed for 3,668 yards on 566 attempts with 19 TDs. Denver signed him to a two-year contract in March for $36 million. Keenum expects to be the starting QB for the Broncos while being asked to be a game manager. He’ll have two strong veteran WRs with a high upside rookie WR (Courtland Sutton), which gives Case playable value in some games. Only a backup Fantasy QB with a chance at 3,500+ yards with only league average TDs.
QB Paxton Lynch – Over three seasons at Memphis, Lynch threw for 8,865 yards with 59 TDs and 23 Ints. He improved in each season with growth in every part of his game. Paxton threw for 3,778 yards in his last year in college with 28 passing TDs and only four Ints. He did a nice job in 2014 when he ran in 13 TDs, but Lynch only gained 2.8 yards per rushing attempt. In 2015, Paxton had similar success rushing the ball (2.7 yards per rush) with a shape decline in rushing TDs (2). Lynch needs to improve his accuracy while proving he can handle the responsibility of reading NFL defense. Over five games over two seasons, Lynch passed for 792 yards with four TDs and four Ints. His best game came in Week 16 (254 yards and two TDs) in 2017. His development was limited last year due to a sprained right shoulder late in August. Paxton is a former first-round draft pick (2016) who has the talent to emerge as the starting QB at some point in 2018.
RB Royce Freeman – In his four seasons at Oregon, Freeman rushed for 5,621 yards with 60 TDs while adding 79 catches for 814 yards and four TDs. He runs with vision and enough lateral quickness to create winning plays over any part of the line of scrimmage. Freeman runs with power and follow-through at the second level of the defense. His speed (4.54) is about NFL average while lacking home run ability. In 2017, the Broncos’ RB rushed for 1,631 yards on 407 carries with only six rushing TDs. Their RBs caught 87 of 112 targets for 699 yards and two TDs. Freeman is going to be the early-down back in this offense with a chance to 300+ touches for 1,400+ yards. I expect about 25 catches in the passing game with a team-high in rushing TDs. He projects as a better version of C.J. Anderson who finished 273 touches in 2017 for 1,231 yards with four TDs and 28 catches. His style and opportunity have similarities to Jordan Howard while playing for a team that has a chance to play from the lead in many more games.
RB Devontae Booker – Over 23 games at Utah, Booker gained 3,395 yards with 23 TDs and 80 catches. His missed the end of 2015 due to a torn meniscus in his left knee. Devontae has upside in vision and quickness with questionable top end speed. Booker has some ability in the open field while owning an edge in strength. Over 29 games and six starts in his two years in the NFL, Booker has 1,551 combined yards with six TDs and 61 catches on 314 touches. Devante gained only 3.6 yards per rush in his NFL career. At this point of his career, Booker will only offer complementary value on early downs. He should finish as the top receiving option at RB for Denver. Possible 125 touches for 650+ yards and low value in TDs, but I sense that De’Angelo Henderson outplays him in 2018.
RB De’Angelo Henderson – De’Angelo is a small (5’7” and 208 Lbs.), one cut runner with questionable value running between the tackles. His protection skills have risk while his game projects well in the passing game. Henderson needs to develop better patience in play development with better vision. Over four seasons at Coastal Carolina, De’Angelo rushed for 4,635 yards and 58 rushing TDs while flashing value in the passing game as well (97/921/6). Interesting change of pace RB with upside in the passing game with growth in his ability to pick up the blitz. If shopping for the top passing catching back in Denver, I would lead toward Henderson while expecting him to be discounted on draft day.
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WR Demaryius Thomas – Age and QB play led to fade in decline in the stats of Thomas over the last two seasons. In 2017, he finished with 83 catches for 949 yards and five TDs on 140 targets. After scoring 35 TDs from 2012 to 2014 with Peyton Manning behind center, Demaryius only has 16 TDs over his last 48 games. He saw his string of five straight seasons with over 1,000 receiving end last year. His yards per catch (11.4) was career low with four seasons of fade (15.5, 14.6, 12.4, 12.0, and 11.4). Over the last six seasons, Thomas has a minimum of 140 targets per season while never missing a game. In 2017, Demaryius had only one game with over 100 yards receiving (10/133). He had five catches or more in 12 contests, which sets a high floor in most weeks. With better QB play, Thomas will regain some of his lost value in 2018. I’ll set his bar at 90+ catches for 1,100+ yards and about seven TDs.
WR Emmanuel Sanders – After three strong seasons for the Broncos (101/1404/9, 76/1135/6, and 79/1032/5), Sanders had a huge step back in production in 2017 (47/555/2). His catch rate (51.1) was well below his previous success in Denver while losing his scoring value (two TDs). Emmanuel battled an ankle injury last year leading to a drop in his explosiveness. I expect a rebound in 2018, but Sander will see more competition for targets if rookie Courtland Sutton hits the ground running. I’d lower my outlook on his to 60 catches for 800+ yards with about five TDs while understanding he may offer more upside with better QB play and a step forward the Broncos’ passing attack.
WR Courtland Sutton – There is no doubt Denver was looking to find another big bodied WR to replace Demaryius Thomas in the starting lineup down the road with the selection of Sutton in the second round of the 2018 NFL Draft. Over the last two seasons at SMU, Courtland caught 144 passes for 2,331 yards and 22 TDs on 262 targets. Sutton is going to a problem for defenses in his rookie season. He’ll win many jump balls due to his edge in size (6’3” and 218 Lbs.), which gives him fade scoring value in 2018. Courtland has quickness and a second gear to create yards after the catch. He’ll test a defense in the deep passing game while also being a threat to break a short pass into a long TD. At this point of his career, his route running over the first ten yards of the field isn’t where it needs to be to turn into a 100+ catch receiver, but it will come with experience and hard work. His next challenge in the NFL will be beating double teams, but that won’t happen as much in 2018 with a healthy Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders on the field. There’s a lot to like here, and I see no reason why he couldn’t fill the shoes of Thomas in the Broncos starting lineup early in his career. Possible 65+ catches for 900+ yards and mid-tier value in TDs while being a value in the early draft season.
TE Jake Butt – Over four seasons at Michigan, Butt caught 138 passes for 1,646 yards and 11 TDs with his best success coming in his junior year in 2015 (51/654/3). He suffered a torn ACL in his bowl game in 2017 leading to him sliding in this season draft (fifth round). Jake has plus hands with questionable separation skills off the line of scrimmage. He missed all of last year due to a slow recovery from his knee injury. In 2017, the Broncos’ TEs caught 50 passes for 657 yards and four TDs on 79 targets. With Denver added a third strong WR in this year’s draft, the TE position offers no real upside in the Fantasy market from week-to-week.
TE Jeff Heuerman – Denver was hoping third-round pick TE Jeff Heuerman would help lessen the blow for the loss of TE Julius Thomas in 2015, but he tore his ACL in practice in May after being drafted. Heuerman has plus strength with solid value as a blocker. His resume is short in the passing game (52/792 and seven TDs) with questions about his route running ability. Jeff has some upside, but he looks like a TE2 at best at the next level with his best value coming on first and second down. In his career, he caught 18 of his 35 targets for 283 yards and two TDs.
2018 Fantasy Football: Positional Team OutlooksFantasy Football Rainman Shawn Childs, a six-figure high-stakes career earner and one of the most accurate rankers in the industry, previews the most relevant players at each skill position on all 32 NFL teams! Use these team previews to DOMINATE your competition as we approach the 2018 Fantasy Football season!