Receiver Roundup: Denver Broncos
By: Cody Smith
For our first team outside the NFC West in the Receiver Roundup, I’ve decided to go with the Denver Broncos.
Denver is an intriguing team this season with a plethora of young talent waiting to burst onto the scene.
Some of that was seen last year when a rookie trio of Courtland Sutton, Tim Patrick and DaeSean Hamilton all saw significant time on the field for Denver. The trio racked up a combined 95 receptions for 1,262 yards and seven touchdowns while catching passes from Case Keenum.
Keenum is gone to Washington D.C. and the Broncos have brought in veteran quarterback Joe Flacco to run the offense in 2019. Flacco comes off of a season where he was replaced by Lamar Jackson in Baltimore after just nine games.
Flacco certainly has something to prove, and if he finds success, he wouldn’t be the first former Super Bowl winning quarterback in Denver to do so.
Along with all of the young talent to the Denver roster, there is one veteran receiver in Emmanuel Sanders that should play a big role in the offense. Sanders’ 2018 season ended early when he suffered an Achilles injury in the 12th game of the season. To that point Sanders led all Denver receivers with 71 receptions for 868 yards and four touchdowns.
The biggest question for Sanders is how he recovers from his injury. Earlier in June Sanders posted a video of himself running routes on Instagram and reports from the team have stated that he is expected to be ready to join the team in training camp.
Sanders is expected to sit out the preseason and is targeting a Week 1 return. With this obviously comes some fantasy risk. This risk has dropped Sanders’ draft stock down to a current ADP of 131 which is an early 11th round pick in a 12-team league.
I certainly think Sanders is worth a pick in this area, but he comes with a ton of injury history. Sanders has only played all 16 games once in the last four seasons and has now posted back-to-back seasons of sub-1,000 receiving yards.
I wouldn’t bank on a huge season from the 32-year old receiver, but he certainly doesn’t make a bad bench option with an 11th round pick.
This should be the season that Sanders is replaced as the true No. 1 receiver for the Broncos, and the man in the best position to do that in my opinion is Courtland Sutton.
Sutton played in all 16 games as a rookie in 2018, drawing nine starts in the second half of the season.
Sutton compiled 42 receptions for 702 yards and four touchdowns. Some of Sutton’s better fantasy performances came in the fantasy playoffs last season, including a week 15 performance where Sutton caught a season-high six balls for 65 yards and a score for 18.5 fantasy points in PPR scoring.
The Denver coaching staff has recently expressed praise for Sutton. According to Nicki Jhabvala (Denver Broncos beat writer on The Athletic) coach Vic Fagnano has stated the Broncos are “expecting big things” from Sutton in 2019 after spending the off-season working on his route-running with former NFL wide-out Anquan Boldin.
Sutton is currently the first Denver wide-out coming off the board with an ADP of 117.
I believe this is great value for Sutton. Should anything slow Sanders’ return to the field, Sutton will open the 2019 season as the clear No.1 receiver for Denver. A pick in the mid-10th round for a potential No. 1 receiver is a certain draft-day bargain.
The next receiver off the fantasy draft board for Denver is DaeSean Hamilton. The second-year receiver out of Penn State came on strong toward the end of last season, getting a bigger role once Sanders went down with his Achilles injury.
From Week 13 through Week 16, Hamilton caught 25 passes for 282 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Hamilton’s fantasy points through those four weeks were 17.7, 11.6, 16.0 and 9.9. Certainly not terrible numbers for a team in need of a flex option late in the season.
Hamilton stated that during this span, a knee injury was slowing the receiver down. Hamilton certainly had a good rapport with Case Keenum during the week 13-16 span. Should Hamilton be able to recreate this with Flacco, he could be in for a breakout season.
With a current ADP of 145, I believe Hamilton is definitely worth a pick should Sanders struggle with his Achilles rehab. If Sanders is ready to go week 1, Hamilton’s stock takes a hit, but he may be worth a stash, especially in deeper leagues.
Another deep-league option to think about stashing for later is Tim Patrick. Patrick may struggle to find the field as Denver’s No.4 option, but he put up nice numbers in his role last season.
Patrick caught 23 balls for 315 yards and one touchdown, playing in all 16 games, but starting just four. Patrick’s biggest fantasy week came in week 13 where he caught seven balls on 10 targets for 85 yards against San Francisco.
Patrick should only be drafted in the deepest of leagues as he carries next to no value, especially if Sanders is ready to go Week 1.
Denver added one wide receiver in the draft, picking up Juwann Winfree in the sixth round. Winfree doesn’t carry much value, though he should make the 53-man roster.
Winfree played his college ball his junior and senior season at Colorado where injuries caused him to compile less than stellar numbers (28 catches for 324 yards and two touchdowns as a senior.)
Winfree does not need to be drafted in any fantasy leagues, including dynasty, where he is at best a late-round flyer.
Denver will fill out the receiving corps with whichever of the following players make the 53-man roster.
Current remaining receivers: Kelvin McKnight, Brendan Langley, Romell Guerrier, River Cracraft, Aaron Burbridge, Fred Brown, Trinity Benson.
The next Receiver Round-up will stay in conference and will be on the Los Angeles Chargers.