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.