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“James Addiction” 2016 Denver Broncos Preview

This season, the Denver Broncos look to do what only seven other teams have done in the history of the NFL, repeat as Super Bowl Champions. In fact, the Denver Broncos are one of the last teams to accomplish this feat with John Elway at QB in 1998 and 1999. If they are able to repeat this year,  they will join only the Pittsburgh Steelers as two time, back to back Super Bowl Champions.  Last season they were carried by their number one defense for the most part, and this season their defense will once again give them a good chance at the title.

2015 Record: 12-4  
Passing Offense (YPG): 14th (248.1) Passing Defense (YPG): 1st (199.6)
Rushing Offense (YPG): 17th (107.4) Rushing Defense (YPG): 3rd (83.6)
Total Offense (YPG): 16th (355.5) Total Defense (YPG): 1st (283.1)

 

Offseason

Denver experienced two big defensive losses and one offensive loss in the offseason (in addition to Peyton Manning’s retirement).  In March, Malik Jackson signed a huge contract with the Jacksonville Jaguars making him one of the highest paid defensive players in the league. A day after the Malik Jackson signing, ILB Danny Trevathan signed with the Chicago Bears. Trevathan was the Broncos’ best linebacker in coverage and against the run last season and will be missed. Four time Pro Bowl left tackle, Ryan Clady, was traded to the New York Jets along with a 7th round pick in return for a 5th round pick, prior to the draft. Though Clady has been one of the best left tackles in the league, he had missed 30 games over the last three seasons and the Broncos were ready to move on rather than extend him.

Plenty of new faces abound on the team this year. In free agency the Broncos brought in QB Mark Sanchez, after the retirement of HOF Peyton Manning and QB in waiting Brock Osweiler’s jump to the Houston Texans. There are two new tackles on the offensive line in Russell Okung and Donald Stephenson. After spending 4 years with the Texans, DE Jared Crick was signed to add depth to the defensive line rotation.   Garrett Graham, also from the Texans, will compete for snaps at TE.

In the draft, the Broncos moved up in the first round to select QB Paxton Lynch out of Memphis. Lynch was considered to be the third best QB available on most teams’ draft boards. His height (6’7”) and arm are reminiscent of recent Brock Osweiler. In the second round Denver selected DT Adam Gotsis from Georgia Tech. This pick was earlier than most experts expected after Gotsis suffered a knee injury last November. He was thought to be a mid to late round pick. In the third round they took safety Justin Simmons. Simmons is a tall, lanky safety with experience at corner. He is an above average tackler, but limited in size at just over 200 pounds. He should provide depth and possibly work into a starter’s roll in the coming seasons. Running Back Devontae Booker was the fourth round selection. Booker is quick and elusive, but lacks top end speed. He also has great hands in catching passes out of the backfield. He is a perfect fit for Coach Gary Kubiak’s and Offensive Coordinator Rick Dennison’s zone blocking system.

 

Offense

QuarterbackSanchez

The biggest question mark for the team has to be at the Quarterback position. Mark Sanchez is the most experienced QB on the team. The other two have zero experience. Trevor Siemian was a late round pick out of Northwestern in the 2015 draft, and Paxton Lynch was a first round pick this year. Thus far in the offseason, Sanchez and Siemian are running close for the starting job with Lynch a distant third. Sanchez did have success early in his career playing for the New York Jets, who were also led by their defense, but completed barely over 50% of his passes and always seemed to give up a big turnover with the game on the line. In Philadelphia over the last two seasons his completion percentage was up over 60% but the turnovers did not improve. I look for Sanchez to be named the starter, but if he can’t cut down on his turnovers the team will not hesitate to try one of the other options.

 

Running Back

At running back, the team returns their top two backs from a year ago. However this time around C.J. Anderson will be the starter heading into the season and Ronnie Hillman will be backing him up. Both players were re-signed during the offseason–but only because the Broncos matched an offer from the Miami Dolphins in order to keep Anderson. The two split carries for most of last season. But look for Anderson to take on a larger role this year as long as he can stay healthy. With the offensive line additions of Okung at LT and Stephenson at RT, as well as Ty Sambrailo moving to RG, the line should be improved. Kubiak’s teams have always been able to run the ball even with subpar QB play. Rookie Devontae Booker will see more time as the season progresses and could take over for Hillman, who was only re-signed for one year.

 

Wide Receiver

DthomasDemaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders will again be the top two wide receivers on the team. The duo is coming off consecutive seasons where both have gone over the 1,000 yard receiving plateau. I’d look for similar numbers this year  even with Sanchez at QB. Manning by no means lit it up last season and Sanchez possibly has a stronger arm. At the third receiver slot Bennie Fowler, the disappointing Cody Latimer and journeyman Jordan Norwood will compete to start. My guess is Bennie Fowler will win the job.

Tight End

At TE, 2015 third round draft pick, Jeff Heuerman is expected to start. Heuerman missed all of the 2015 season, but coming out of Ohio St. was thought to be a good vertical threat and an above average pass catcher. He could see a lot of passes thrown his way in this offense. Virgil Green is second on the depth chart. He has always looked the part of the athletic tight end, but it has yet to perform on game day. Third on the depth chart is Garrett Graham who has starter experience, but average athleticism. The opening day starter may not be named until the end of preseason.

 

Defense

Wolfe

Defensive Line

Coordinator Wade Phillips returns the number one defense in the NFL that was first against the pass and third against the run. In this 3-4 defense, former 1st round pick, Sylvester Williams will play in the middle at the NT position. Derek Wolfe and Vance Walker will start at the DE positions. Derek Wolfe was a priority re-signing prior to this season and is one of the best 3-4 defensive ends in the league.  Walker will fill the spot vacated by the departure of Malik Jackson, but he does have experience in this system. Jared Crick and rookie Adam Gotsis will provide depth at the position.

 

Linebackers

At outside linebacker, Super Bowl MVP, Von Miller and future HOF DeMarcus Ware will again start. Denver placed the franchise tag on Miller this offseason.  He has yet to sign, but I’d expect a deal to be worked out prior to or early in training camp. Shaq Barrett and last year’s first round pick Shane Ray will provide depth and see plenty of action as well in this defense. Both Miller and Ware, if healthy, should achieve double digit sacks. At inside linebacker, Brandon Marshall will lead the defense. He will see an increase in most of his defensive stats after the departure of Danny Trevathan to the Chicago Bears. The first shot at taking Trevathan’s spot goes to Todd Davis, a third year player out of Sacramento State who only has special team experience so far.

 

Secondary 

The best secondary in the league is formed by corners Chris Harris Jr., Aqib Talib and Bradley Roby, along with safeties T.J. Ward and Darian Stewart. Talib suffered a gunshot wound to his right leg this offseason and it is unclear if he will be available to start the season. If he should miss any time, Bradley Roby will slide into his position and Kayvon Webster or Lorenzo Doss will see extra time. If Talib is healthy, Roby will play both safety and corner with the intent to have him on the field as much as possible. Harris and Talib are exceptional cover corners who arestill in the prime of their careers. Safety T.J. Ward is one of the hardest hitters in the league.

 

Special Teams

Brandon McManus  greatly improved his accuracy in his first full season as K. He hit on 88% of his FG attempts, 30 of 35, and missed on only one Point after Attempt, hitting 35 of 36.

The Broncos used numerous players on Punt and Kickoff Returns throughout the year. Emmanuel Sanders, Jordan Norwood, Cody Latimer, etc. all returned kicks at times. Look for more of the same this season unless someone is able to stand out. If Devantae Booker earns time at RB look for Ronnie Hillman to be used on kickoff returns.

 

Fantasy Targets (ADP provided by myfantasyleague.com as of 7/12/2016)

C.J. Anderson – Current ADP of 56.61 and 15th RB off the board. Anderson has major upside if he can get the majority of the carries.

Demaryius Thomas – Current ADP of 30.03 and 16th WR taken. At this position Thomas has great value and should once again go over 1,000 yards.

Emmanuel Sanders – Current ADP of 73.01 and 35th WR taken. After a couple of years ranked inside the top 20 WR’s Sanders’ ADP has plummeted. This is mostly due to the QB situation, but Sanders should again excel in this offense and should be a steal at this position.

Jeff Heuerman – Current ADP of 243.51 and 33rd TE off the board. I’d wait for confirmation of playing time in pre-season games. Heuerman is at best a deep sleeper candidate at this point.

Derek Wolfe – Current ADP of 278.21 and 24th best DE. In a 3-4 defense the DE position does not get enough sacks to merit anything more than IDP depth on your team.

Von Miller – Current ADP of 163.77 and 22nd LB off the board. Miller would be best in sack heavy leagues and also leagues that start several LB’s.

Brandon Marshall – Current ADP of 190.23 and 28th LB off the board. Marshall is the player to target on this defense. After the departure of Danny Trevathan, Marshall should see a big jump in stats, and at this spot in the draft he is a great value.

Bradley Roby – No current ADP. Bradley is the sleeper of the group. If he gets substantial time at safety his numbers could warrant starter material.

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(Click the RED link below to listen)

Major League Fantasy Football Radio: Join Ej GarrCorey D Roberts, and Coach Jeff Nelson live Saturday July 16th from 1-2:30pm EST for episode #64 of Major League Fantasy Football Radio. This is a live broadcast and we take callers at 323-870-4395 press 1 to speak with the hosts. This week we will break down the NFC North from an NFL and fantasy perspective.

You can find our shows on I-Tunes. Just search for Major League Fantasy Sports in the podcasts section. For Android users go to “Podcast Republic,” then download that app, and search for “Major League Fantasy Sports Show”

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(Click the RED link to listen)

Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio: Join Corey D RobertsKyle Amore, and Coach Andy Macuga live on Sunday July 17th, 2016 from 8-10pm EST for episode #73 of Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio. We are a live broadcast that will take callers at 323-870-4395. Press 1 to speak with the host.

Kyle is a writer with majorleaguefantasysports.com. Andy is the Head Baseball Coach for Borrego Springs H.S. in Southern California as well as a 4 year veteran in MLFB leagues.

You can find our shows on I-Tunes. Just search for Major League Fantasy Sports in the podcasts section. For Android users go to “Podcast Republic,” then download that app, and search for “Major League Fantasy Sports Show”

I grew up a Dallas Cowboy's fan in Washington Redskins' country, but I currently reside in Florida. I have played fantasy sports over the last 15 years. I have a beautiful 7 year old daughter, and I know it's hard to believe, but that's my fiancee in the picture!

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