What Denver’s Mark Sanchez trade means for Thomas, Sanders

Scott Barrett examines the fantasy implications of Mark Sanchez getting traded to the Broncos.

| 7 months ago
(AP Photo/Brad Penner)

(AP Photo/Brad Penner)

What Denver’s Mark Sanchez trade means for Thomas, Sanders


Former Eagles quarterback, Mark Sanchez, was traded to the Denver Broncos for a conditional 2017 draft pick.

In a tweet, Broncos GM John Elway confirmed Sanchez was brought on “to compete,” but also added that this would be the “first move” in a process, perhaps implying they will add another player at the position.

If the Broncos roll with Sanchez and are able to retain C.J. Anderson — or land a running back in the draft — it’s highly likely the 2016 version of the Broncos becomes a ground-and-pound team. From a real football perspective, it makes sense (their defense essentially single-handedly won them a Super Bowl last season), but from a fantasy perspective, it leaves plenty to be desired.

Sanchez has struggled badly throughout the entirety of his career. Looking back at every quarterback with at least 1,500 career attempts over the past 20 seasons, Sanchez’s career quarterback rating (74.3) ranks second-worst among all 39 qualifying quarterbacks. He also has the third-highest ratio of turnovers per games played (1.28) among this group.

He played three games last season, posting the highest accuracy percentage (72.4) of his career, and grading out positively for the first time — but only just barely. Among qualifying passers, He graded out 15th-worst in 2014 and third-worst in both 2013 and 2011.

From a fantasy perspective, Sanchez will see his value jump, going from a likely third-string benchwarmer to actually having a legitimate chance of seeing the field. The few Sanchez owners in deep dynasty leagues may be happy to see their shares grow in value, while owners of Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders are likely drifting between a state of disgust and/or panic.

Still, as crazy as it seems, Sanchez might not be that significant of a drop off from the quarterback play we saw in Denver last season. The Broncos had a combined quarterback rating that ranked eighth-worst in the league last season, and they managed to win a Super Bowl with a quarterback who posted a 1-to-1.9 TD-to-INT ratio during the regular season.

Out of 37 eligible passers, Brock Osweiler finished the regular season as our No. 20-graded passer, and Peyton Manning finished No. 29. Despite dealing with bad-to-mediocre quarterback play last season, Thomas and Sanders both finished out the season as top-20 fantasy wideouts. However, that represented a significant drop, as they finished among the top five in 2014.

Their ability to transcend poor quarterback play in fantasy is important given Sanchez’s lackluster career. Although Sanchez was unable to generate a fantasy-relevant wide receiver last season — the most fantasy points an Eagles wide receiver registered in a game Sanchez played was 15 (30th-most that week) by Jordan Matthews in Week 12 — he had eight wide receivers finish among the top-15 at the position in the nine games he played in 2014.

It’s reasonable to think Thomas and Sanders will both be at least WR2 material again in 2016, but their days of fantasy dominance are over.

Sanchez, himself, has never done much for fantasy owners who may have drafted him. He finished as the QB16 in 2014 and as the QB11 in 2011 in terms of fantasy points per game, but outside of those two seasons, he’s never finished better than QB25 in his career.

There’s a good chance the Broncos sign another quarterback to compete for the starting job, but the fact that Sanchez is in the conversation means he’s at least worthy of consideration in 2QB, Superflex, and very deep leagues — though he’s nothing to get excited about.

  • crosseyedlemon

    Sanchez? I guess that’s better than bringing back Tebow. Gotta wonder if the sportsbooks will even bother offering an “over” option on Bronco games next year.

  • LostAlone

    Honestly I’m cautiously optimistic about this move. Sanchez has never been a fantasy machine but when he is backed by a strong D and a running game he’s proven himself a good role player. It’s all been forgotten because of how he left the Jets but their 2010 season and playoff run is pretty much a blueprint for what the Broncos want to do so it feels a good fit.

    The question is, in short, can Sanchez be as good as Manning was last year? And the answer I think is yes. He’s not who you trust in a tight spot, but to stay on schedule and let the D do it’s work? Sure, why not. He’s not some huge acquisition by any means but on a purely objective level I don’t see him making their team worse and that’s all they need.

    • McGeorge

      >>The question is, in short, can Sanchez be as good as Manning was last year?

      Sanchez can easily do what Peyton Manning did last year, throw 4 picks in a game. He’s done that many times. I’ve witnessed it in person :-(

      Seriously, he’s a baaaad QB. No reason to have him as a back up. If he starts several games, you are screwed.

      • LostAlone

        Sure, but so was Manning last year. That’s my point. Denver are keeping their D together and getting ready for another monster run; if their O can be just as crappy as last year then they will stay successful.

        • McGeorge

          Denver lost a few players, so outside of QB I’d expect the team to be a little weaker. And if Denver had played Manning all season, I don’t think they’d have made it.

          No way the team gets to the playoffs with Mark Sanchez as a 16 game starter.

    • Alejandro12many

      Sanchez has actually been a pretty good fantasy option. See 3rd year with Jets (26 TD Passes / 6 Rushing) and his first year with the Eagles.

  • LostAlone

    Honestly I’m cautiously optimistic about this move. Sanchez has never been a fantasy machine but when he is backed by a strong D and a running game he’s proven himself a good role player. It’s all been forgotten because of how he left the Jets but their 2010 season and playoff run is pretty much a blueprint for what the Broncos want to do so it feels a good fit.

    The question is, in short, can Sanchez be as good as Manning was last year? And the answer I think is yes. He’s not who you trust in a tight spot, but to stay on schedule and let the D do it’s work? Sure, why not. He’s not some huge acquisition by any means but on a purely objective level I don’t see him making their team worse and that’s all they need.

  • RockKicker

    The butt fumble………………….HAHHAAHAHAHAHAHAAHAHAHAHA!

  • phil

    If Sanchez is starting for Denver then the Broncos win 5-7 games next year max IMO.

    • McGeorge

      Sounds about right. I would say 6-10 or 7-9. The Broncos have enough talent that I wouldn’t go as low as 5-11. And if the Broncos have an insanely good draft (3 starters) its possible they go 8-8.

    • LH Almeida

      Because the QB play last year was so amazing, right?

      • phil

        Had a HOF QB playing for them so… yeah wasnt to shabby.

        • LH Almeida

          Manning sure is a HOF QB, but last year he was a far cry from HOF play.

        • T. Kothe

          HOF QB? Yes. But HOF QB in the worst season of his career, being the worst starting QB in the NFL last year, and nearly leading the league in interceptions for the year even after missing 7 games. That’s terrible by any standard.

          To look at his entire career and think that his excellence then made his play in this single season not too shabby is just…wow, that’s in defiance of anything approaching logic. It won’t really impact his legacy, but neither does it retroactively make his bad play good.

  • Relatively True

    Denver is seriously broke … too broke for Brock. So I think Elway will manipulate the cap by:
    3) cutting Clady and rolling with Stephenson/Ty Sambailo/etc as the tackles… saves about 5 million to swap Stephenson for Clady (with associated downgrade in play of course)
    2) Trade for or sign one of the decent/serviceable available QBs (Fitz/RGIII/Kap/etc)
    3) Finagle the cap… restructure to push the hit back a few years for a few players.

    So it came down to:
    option A — a great LT and a terrible QB
    option B — a serviceable LT and a serviceable QB.
    With this salary cap situation and a loaded defense, I think option B was the right call. They might only need about 17 points per game.

    • McGeorge

      Too broke for Brock Osweiler?
      Or too smart to pay him what the Texan over paid him.
      I think Elway was correct.

      Maybe they’ll get Fitzpatrick, if his demands come down.

      • Relatively True

        Good point …and Brock’s ceiling is TBD … maybe maxes out as average, or maybe becomes a top-10 QB. Either way, 18M per year is the right ballpark these days (as crazy as that is).

        • T. Kothe

          It’s #1. If it came right down to it, he could have cut Clady on the spot and opened up enough cap room to re-sign Brock at $18 million. Add in a typical contract structure with the first year being a smaller cap hit than the others (Well, typical for the league. Not so much for Elway.) and he could have made those two moves and still had approximately $5-6 million in cap space. Right or wrong, he didn’t think Oz was worth it.

  • McGeorge

    It means nothing, since Sanchez wont be the starter.
    It’s as meaning fun as if I was signed as the #3 QB – he’ll never start a game,a nd if he does, they are screwed regardless of who the #2 is.

    • Relatively True

      Elway said his plan is for Sanchez to have competition, but there is a real possibility that Fitz signs with the Jets, Kap goes to the Browns or isn’t traded at all, and RGIII isn’t really a fit. That leaves Manziel and host other also-rans to compete with Sanchez … starting to look pretty bad…

      • matt

        They will draft a guy in the later rounds like they did 4 years ago with Brock to compete as well. Might not start but at least you would have young talent.

        • McGeorge

          It would suck for Denver if they draft a QB in the later rounds and he has to compete with Sanchez.
          I’d expect Sanchez to start for at least a year in that case.
          Resulting in a 6-10 season for Denver. (Maybe worse? Sanchez is pretty bad.)

      • McGeorge

        I’m not so sure Elway would want Manziel.
        He is an anti-Peyton Manning, and not a good choice to be a team leader.
        “Why study film when I can get drunk?” is his motto.