Broncos To Use RB Committee?
Mike Clay has taken to the airwaves to host a Pro Football Focus fantasy football show on Sirius XM Fantasy Sports Radio (10 a.m. ET weekdays – Sirius 210 & XM 87). In addition to his strategy and insight, Clay has had the opportunity to bring in beat writers around the nation to provide an insider fantasy spin on the teams they cover.
On Thursday, he spoke with Andrew Mason of DenverBroncos.com. Mason confirmed that we should expect more 12 personnel packages in 2015 – featuring less three-wide receiver sets – plus he talked about C.J. Anderson’s role and more. You can find Mason on Twitter @MaseDenver.
C.J. Anderson Will Be The 1A RB
Can fantasy owners trust Anderson to be a workhorse back worthy of a first-round draft pick? Mason shed some light on the situation.
“Anderson is the lead guy, but [head coach Gary] Kubiak indicated on Sunday it’s going to be more of a 1A and 1B type of situation,” Mason said. “I think you’re going to see a lot from the No. 2 running back. [Montee] Ball is the guy for now, but [Ronnie] Hillman has flashed. I think you’re going to see [Juwan] Thompson sometimes at the goal line. There’s some potential for him to be a vulture.”
The 1A-1B situation is probably not ideal for Anderson owners, but Mason’s nugget about Thompson at the end is very concerning for Anderson’s outlook.
A Buy-Low Opportunity
The last time fantasy football owners had an opportunity to buy low on Peyton Manning was before the 2012 season, in his first year with the Broncos. Manning responded by finishing as the QB6 with 4,659 passing yards and 37 touchdowns. The Broncos were No. 1 in the NFL in offensive touchdowns per game in 2014. Is Manning’s demise exaggerated?
“A little bit,” Mason said. “He’s getting older, but when I see Peyton Manning now, I don’t see a guy who’s about to hit the wall. Having quality targets certainly helps. I think we may not see the explosive 2013 numbers, but we may see something similar to 2014.”
Manning threw for 4,727 passing yards and 39 touchdowns in 2014, and he finished as the QB4. Manning is currently sliding down draft boards, and it appears that another opportunity to buy low is available.
More 12 Personnel, But Who Replaces The WR?
Kubiak is on board and the expectation is that the Broncos will run the ball more and utilize more 12 personnel sets with the extra tight end instead of a third wide receiver. Will that expectation become a reality?
“Definitely. I think they’ll settle in somewhere between six and tenth in rushing percentage,” Mason said. “I think you’re going to see more 12 packages. You’re going to see James Casey or Joe Don Duncan – a rookie that’s flashed – as an extra tight end and sometimes as a fullback. They want to see a little bit of Virgil Green.”
There is some buzz in the fantasy community over Green. The blocking specialist earned himself a multi-year extension this offseason and he showed the ability to contribute as a receiver at the college level. It’s very interesting to note that Mason mentioned him fourth in the pecking order after Casey and Duncan. Green is not a player who should be on your radar right now.
When Situation Trumps Talent
So is Cody Latimer going to struggle to get on the field?
“Especially early, you’re going to see more 12 packages to help out the young offensive line,” Mason said. “They’re going to find ways to get Latimer on the field from time to time. There was a goal line package where Latimer was the only receiver and he made a block on the outside to spring a TD run. Unless [Demaryius] Thomas or [Emmanuel] Sanders get hurt, I don’t know if he’s going to be consistent.”
Latimer has received praise out of training camp, but a consistent role in the offense is simply not there for him. Latimer is near the top of my “avoid list” in redraft leagues.
Reads More Like A WR2
Sanders saw one quarter of the team’s targets last year. Should we expect a drop off in 2015?
“I think more of what he gets is going to be shorter,” Mason said. “I can see a situation where his targets/receptions drop not by all that much, but his yardage drops. I would be surprised if he didn’t end up with 75 receptions and 1,000 yards.”
Our projections have Sanders finishing with 79 receptions for 1,098 yards.
Seven Or Eight TDs Wouldn’t Surprise Me
There hasn’t been much buzz surrounding tight end Owen Daniels this offseason, and maybe that’s a factor of his age or ability after the catch. Mason believes that he will be the unquestioned focal point at tight end.
“It’s definitely going to be Owen Daniels,” Mason said. “He knows Kubiak’s offense well. Manning already trusts Daniels in practice. He’s going to be the primary option. I don’t think he’ll put up Julius Thomas-type numbers, but it wouldn’t surprise me if he had seven or eight scores this year.”
Daniels is in a near-perfect situation from a fantasy standpoint. Only six tight ends had more than six touchdowns in 2014. If Daniels can match the touchdown production Mason thinks is possible, he will be a definite TE1.
Dan Schneier is a staff writer at PFF Fantasy and he covers the NFC East beat for FOX Sports. You can find him on Twitter @DanSchneierNFL. You can also add him to your network on Google+ to find all of his past material.