Broncos Sign Emmanuel Sanders

Emmanuel Sanders is now a Denver Bronco, and that means good things for his fantasy value moving forward. Gary Althiser takes a look at how Sanders will try to fill ...

| 3 years ago

Broncos Sign Emmanuel Sanders

Emmanuel+Sanders+Pittsburgh+Steelers+v+Cleveland+YY2bMjASfb4lThe Broncos are hoping Emmanuel Sanders can help fill the void left by the departed Eric Decker as they signed the former Steeler to a contract yesterday. Sanders’ agent didn’t make any friends while negotiating the contract, but there couldn’t have been a better spot for the Southern Methodist alum to land. Details on the contract have yet to be released.

Sanders left a lot to be desired in his time with Pittsburgh, and he didn’t live up to the potential they thought he would considering they matched the $2.5 million offer the Patriots gave him in 2013 to keep him around. Known more for untimely dropped passes and boneheaded plays, Sanders does have the potential to be a play maker and has shown flashes of talent that no doubt led to the Broncos’ decision. Peyton Manning is the perfect quarterback to help him live up to that potential.

Sanders had the best year of his career in 2013, finishing the season with 67 catches for 740 yards and six touchdowns as Ben Roethlisberger’s No. 2 receiver. The problem was that he dropped five catchable passes, and the amount of touchdowns he caught were almost equal to the amount of interceptions Roethlisberger threw when Sanders was targeted – five. His drop rate of 6.94 percent is pretty average, but the timing of those drops is what hurt the Steelers most.

Sanders did finish the year in the positive with a +1.5 Pro Football Focus grade overall, and he did finish in the positive in three of the four graded categories. In fantasy, Sanders ranked just about average in all of PFF’s meaningful categories: catch percentage, total points, and points per opportunity in both standard and point per reception (PPR) leagues. The good news is he did start finding the end zone at the end of the season when the Steelers needed him most. In the last six games of the season, Sanders totaled 25 receptions for 231 yards and four touchdowns.

Sanders collected 108 pass targets on the year, while Decker saw 135. It’s no guarantee that all of Decker’s targets will go to him, but someone will have to fill that void, which included 11 touchdowns. Decker is a bigger target – 6’3″ – than Sanders – 5’11” – but that shouldn’t matter much as the Broncos offense scores much more than the Steelers did, and Manning will probably still be throwing a ton of touchdowns – even if he does regress some.

The Broncos also re-signed little used Andre Caldwell, who should also be in the mix to help fill the void left by Decker, so don’t expect Sanders to amass the 135 targets, 87 catches, 1,288 yards, and 11 touchdowns Decker did. But, it is reasonable to expect that Sanders can repeat the amount of targets he saw in Pittsburgh in 2013, with a possible uptick in catches and touchdowns.

Demaryius Thomas is the No. 1 wide receiver in Denver and that’s not changing. Julius Thomas and Wes Welker aren’t going anywhere either, but with Manning behind center there should be plenty of balls to go around, and Sanders could add nice depth to your fantasy roster.

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