The biggest free agent of the offseason, and quite possibly the biggest free agent in the history of the league depending on how things go from here, has chosen the Denver as he upgrades his Colts to full-grown Broncos. The Broncos now appear primed to win the West once again in the AFC .
They won their division last year at 8-8 and then upset the Steelers in the Wild Card round of the playoffs. I think they’ll need more than 8-8 this year, but should be able to get to 10-12 wins if Manning is the Manning we’ve known for years in Indy. The Chiefs and Chargers will definitely challenge Denver, but the Manning-led Brocs will expect to return to the playoffs.
Our fellow FanSided site, Predominantly Orange had 2 great articles for a Bronco’s fan perspective. One on the Broncos offense with the addition of Manning by Zach Grove and one on how Elway’s legacy now intertwines with Manning’s. Good reads for the Broncos perspective on the add.
So what does it mean for Fantasy Football owners? Here’s some quick hits on who gets affected as a result of the Manning migration:
Tim Tebow: Obviously the first name on this list is Tebow, who now will most likely be dealt to a new team with a new situation and sooner rather than later. His effectiveness as an NFL quarterback can still be questioned by doubters/haters (yes, Merril Hoge we hear you). The one thing that isn’t in question is his ability to put up fantasy points in the right offense. His rushing ability and nose for the end zone could make him a QB1 again this year if he gets the starting role in Jacksonville. Stay tuned to see where he goes and how valuable he’ll be.
Demaryius Thomas: Thomas undoubtedly had a connection with Tebow, but the receiver enters his 3rd year in the NFL with his first “real” QB. He’s more of a YAC kinda guy, but his speed will surely make him one of Payton’s favorite targets. I think he’ll be the WR2 on this team, but still will be good for 100+ yards and a TD or 2 in several weeks in the coming year. Think Reggie Wayne when Marvin Harrison was still the Colts #1. I’d slot him in as a hi-end WR2 in most leagues with a little upgrade in PPR leagues, or leagues that reward long TDs. Drafting any Bronco is going to come with some risk. There’s a chance Peyton isn’t Peyton, or that he gets reinjured, or that he develops chemistry with the guy you didn’t take. It’s risky, but the reward could be Thomas as a WR1 by the end of the year.
Eric Decker: the reason I think Thomas is #2 on the team is that I see a huge year for Eric Decker. Decker has the same size of Thomas with slightly less speed but seems to have been more consistent/reliable until his foot and knee injuries slowed him at the end of the year. Decker is slightly less popular right now than Thomas so getting him as a WR2 is realistic. If Decker stays healthy, look for a moster year from the third-year receiver from Minnesota.
Tight End TBA: If the Broncos don’t make a move, athletic TE Julius Thomas has great sleeper potential. If the Broncos go out and try and get someone to play the Dallas-Clark-type roll in their offense, they may venture into the draft (Coby Fleener from Stanford?) or they may get Dallas Clark himself who is a free agent. Whoever the starting TE is, he’ll have value since Manning makes use of all his weapons and takes what the defense give him.
Willis McGahee-McGahee won’t be abandoned to be sure. In fact the more balance offense may help him stay healthier throughout the year. He’s got value as a RB2 if he can get the carries and receptions out of the backfield. It’s possible that Knowshon Moreno, Lance Ball, or a running back acquisitino cut into his time, but as of now I’d rank him between 15-20 in my RB ranks.
The Manning himself: Payton’s value is obviously one of the biggest question fo the coming fantasy football season. Whoever takes him in your draft, their season will be defined by his performance. In single QB leagues, He should be able to be a starter but get a good backup in case things go south. In 2 QB leagues, he’s even riskier since the QB depth is stretched that much further. With all the risk, it would be easy to just say stay away, but the reward could be a top 5 fantasy QB. With the weapons he has available, if he’s recovered, Manning could be right behind Brady, Brees, and Rodgers by the end of the year. It’s up to you at what point that reward is worth the risk of drafting a QB who hasn’t completed a pass since January 8, 2011.
The NFL and fantasy football season just got a lot more interesting to be sure, and I can’t wait for the draft, preseason, and the 2012 NFL Season.