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The Denver Broncos won a Super Bowl with a weak quarterback performance last year. Yes they had Peyton Manning but his physical skills had eroded to the point where he was only a caretaker. His 9 touchdowns against 17 interceptions displayed his career was winding down and going out with a Super Bowl despite mediocre play was a blessing for one of the best to ever play the game. Everyone thought that Brock Osweiler would take the reins in Denver but he fled in free agency to Houston Texans and the Broncos have been left scrambling all off-season.
The Broncos did sign Mark Sanchez this offseason and while still looking at other options, Sanchez is as good in my opinion as both quarterbacks were for Denver last year. Sanchez has been average throughout his seven-year career but Denver represents his best chance to elevate his game thanks to a strong receiving core. He won't be a fantasy starter but if he has to start at quarterback for Denver, he will be solid enough to help the team led by a ferocious defense win more games than they lose.
The Broncos added 6'7 quarterback from Memphis, Paxton Lynch with their first round pick and the talented rookie will be given every opportunity to win this job. He has climbed to 244 pounds and he is a gifted runner as well as an improving passer. He has to improve some things including consistently throwing the ball down the field with power and learning how to take the ball under center, etc. but the skill is there to be a good starting quarterback right out of the gate. If he takes to coaching, I would not be surprised to see him in week one.
Juwan Thompson, Kapri Bibbs
C.J. Anderson, a 224-pound power back undrafted from Cal emerged as a legitimate threat for the Broncos in 2014 but struggled to regain that form last year. He finished the 2015 campaign with only 720 rushing yards on 152 carries and scored just 5 times. Just like 2014 though, he had a much better 2nd half of the season, averaging 6.3 yards per carry and scoring 4 times and the Broncos paid him a lot of money to stay after the Miami Dolphins made him a large qualifying offer. I expect him to elevate his play this season, finishing with at least 1100 rushing yards and 8 touchdowns.
Ronnie Hillman is a veteran scatback who has 1842 career rushing yards, including a career high 863 rushing yards last year. He has 13 career touchdowns and has proved a capable option when he gets his chance.
The Broncos drafted a very interesting prospect at the running back position in Devontae Booker of Utah. He has good size and great patience when the ball is in his hands. He sets up his blocks well and gets through the hole and up the field. He isn't blessed with top end speed but that is not one of the first things to help a running back succeed. His leg drive, shiftiness and ability to break through tackles will all result in him getting some playing time. How much work he gets this season depends on how hard he works on the practice field and film study.
Demaryius Thomas struggled throughout the entire 2015 season which is humorous to type when you realize he finished with 105 receptions on the season. However he was plagued by drops, only averaged 12.5 yards per reception and caught only 6 touchdowns. You know you are an elite receiver when you put up those kinds of numbers but it felt like a letdown year but Thomas is legitimately that good of a player. At times last year, catching passes from Peyton Manning must have felt like a baseball catcher trying to catch a knuckleball is the ball came out weird, slow and not like a typical crisp, hard NFL pass. Perhaps that played some havoc for Thomas but he is a legitimate fantasy monster and I expect a big season from him this year whoever is throwing him the ball. He has great size at 6'3 and 224 pounds, surprising quickness and strong hands.
Emmanuel Sanders in many ways fared better than Thomas last year although his reception numbers dropped from 101 to 76. His yards per receptions jumped up and he still looked dangerous and capable throughout the year. He is undersized at only 5'11 and 180 pounds but has great quickness, runs good routes and is the perfect second receiver to Demaryius Thomas. Expect a similar season to last year.
Both Cody Latimer and Bennie Fowler are young, athletic receivers with some size that have not accomplished much yet at the NFL level. Both have the ability to become good pros though so keep an eye on them and perhaps stash them away in Dynasty leagues with deep rosters.
The Broncos lost Owen Daniels this offseason, paving the way for young Jeff Heuerman to win the starting job. The Broncos were extremely impressed with the rookie tight end a year ago before he suffered a preseason knee injury, ending his rookie campaign before it began. However it sounds like he is fully recovered and the Broncos have big plans for him in 2016. Perhaps a sleeper, tight end, he could be available late and put up top-12 fantasy tight end stats.
Virgil Green is a veteran tight end who could perhaps surprise if Heuerman fails to grab the reins. Green looks best suited to provide depth though as his talent level is nowhere near the gifted Heuerman. The Broncos also brought in experienced tight end Garrett Graham who will provide some depth and is familiar with Gary Kubiak's system having played with him in Houston.
Projected Starters: LT Russell Okung, LG Connor McGovern (rookie), C Matt Paradis, RG Max Garcia, RT Donald Stephenson
Key Backups: Ty Sambrailo, James Ferentz, Michael Schofield
There is not much to get excited about here honestly. Russell Okung's career has been derailed by injuries and the Broncos are praying he can find a way to stay healthy after picking him up from Seattle. Matt Paradis is alright at center and the same can be said for Max Garcia. Both are young enough to still improve but neither look to have exceptional abilities. Donald Stephenson was picked up from Kansas City and he will likely to start at right tackle. He only has 27 career starts though and is only an average talent in my opinion. I put rookie Connor McGovern in as a starter as the Broncos seem to be high on the kid but looking at this starting five would make my stomach a little queasy if I was Paxton Lynch learning how to play under center.
McManus had a huge first season with the team, kicking 30 of 35 field goals on the season.