Seemingly primed for a breakout, the Broncos instead finished 28th in the NFL in scoring for the second year in a row. There's plenty of potential here, especially at the skill positions, and this could be an excellent offense for Fantasy. The Broncos took a big risk in passing on a quarterback in the draft, and they'll turn to veteran game manager Teddy Bridgewater to try to take the next step.
Record: 5 - 11 (25)
PPG: 20.2 (28)
YPG: 335.6 (23)
Pass YPG: 215.7 (26)
Rush YPG: 119.9 (13)
PAPG: 34.8 (19)
RAPG: 27.6 (13)
2020 Fantasy finishes
Number to know: 22.9%
Lock had the worst bad-throw rate among all quarterbacks with at least 200 attempts, per Pro-Football-Reference.com, and he naturally also had the lowest on-target rate too. Lock isn't lacking in arm talent, and he has an admirable willingness to push the ball down the field and take chances that could lead to a lot of Fantasy points if he improves his decision making and accuracy, but he's got a lot of work to do to get there. And clearly, he didn't do enough to improve in that regard, because he lost the QB battle to Bridgewater in camp.
The good news for all those playmakers is that Bridgewater had the fourth-best on-target rate and the lowest bad-throw rate in the NFL last season. And he did that with the highest intended air-yards average of his career. His 7.1 yard average was still much lower than Lock's (8.8), and Bridgewater probably doesn't bring as much upside for the pass-catchers as a fully realized Lock would. What he does for this offense, however, is reduce the variance. He makes it less likely for things to go wrong, as they too often have with Lock under center.
Bridgewater isn't exciting, but he did support three top-30 wide receivers in Carolina last season. Maybe Jeudy and Sutton can't quite hit their maximum upside with Bridgewater, but they're both more likely to be reliable starting options with him, at least.
1. (9) Patrick Surtain II, CB
2. (35) Javonte Williams, RB
3. (98) Quinn Meinerz, C
3. (105) Baron Browning, LB
5. (152) Caden Sterns, S
5. (164) Jamar Johnson, S
6. (219) Seth Williams, WR
7. (237) Kary Vincent Jr., CB
7. (239) Jonathon Cooper, DE
7. (253) Marquiss Spencer, DE
118 carries, 14 RB targets, 6 WR targets, 7 TE targets
Chris Towers' projections
|QB||Teddy Bridgewater||PA: 579, YD: 4305, TD: 24, INT: 12; RUSH -- ATT 50, YD 248, TD: 3|
|RB||Melvin Gordon||CAR: 207, YD: 913, TD: 5; TAR: 52, REC: 40, YD: 293, TD: 1|
|RB||Javonte Williams||CAR: 193, YD: 853, TD: 6; TAR: 47, REC: 34, YD: 230, TD: 1|
|WR||Courtland Sutton||TAR: 122, REC: 70, YD: 967, TD: 6|
|WR||Jerry Jeudy||TAR: 122, REC: 77, YD: 1035, TD: 6|
|WR||KJ Hamler||TAR: 69, REC: 48, YD: 520, TD: 3|
|TE||Noah Fant||TAR: 99, REC: 65, YD: 812, TD: 5|
Can Teddy Bridgewater do enough to help everyone grow?
You don't turn to Bridgewater when you want to take a big swing. You turn to him when you need stability. And the Broncos definitely need that -- Lock's up-and-down play left points on the board and their defense in tough spots all season. This might be one of the best rosters in the NFL if you don't include the QB position, so the hope here is Bridgewater can do just enough to keep everything on track and help the playmakers thrive. There's risk in that as well -- for all of Bridgewater's steadiness, the Panthers actually finished 24th in scoring last season, exactly the same as they did with Kyle Allen and Will Grier starting 14 games the year before. Still, this suggests the Broncos are fairly confident in where they are headed and just want Bridgewater to steer the car. They'll let Jeudy and Sutton handle the acceleration.
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One sleeper, one breakout and one bust
With Sutton and Jeudy on the outside, Hamler could really benefit from having the middle of the field largely to himself. He'll have to contend with Tim Patrick for playing time and with Fant for those mid-field targets, but the No. 46 pick in last year's draft figures to play a bigger role in 2021, and if the QB play is better, as expected, Hamler will benefit from that, too. Hamler's chances of being a legitimate Fantasy contributor are probably tied to the chances of this offense as a whole taking that big step forward, but if it happens, he could emerge as a viable PPR option.
I tend to be the kind of analyst who tries to temper expectations with young players, but I'm finding it harder and harder to do that with Jeudy. He wasn't perfect as a rookie -- and he had a few rather ugly stretches -- but on the whole, I thought he looked every bit the part of a burgeoning superstar. He got open constantly and showed a knack for making plays on deep throws as well as with the ball in his hands -- a hallmark of elite wide receivers. Jeudy should benefit from the presence of a healthy Sutton and the expected improvements in QB play, and it wouldn't surprise me if we're talking about Jeudy as the Broncos No. 1 WR and a top-10 guy by this time next year.
The Broncos took Williams with the No. 35 pick, which is quite an investment for a player who has never had more than 166 carries in a season. They believe he can be a very good RB in this league, and I have no reason to doubt them, really. OK, that's not entirely true: His track record before 2020 was pretty middling, and he's never been a true No. 1 back -- he split touches almost entirely evenly with Michael Carter at UNC last season. Williams has the profile of a potential Fantasy difference maker, and he could grow up alongside the rest of this talented offense and become exactly that. But my assumption is he'll start out as more of a No. 2 behind Gordon than a 1b, and he's currently going ahead of Gordon as a fifth-round pick and the No. 22 RB off the board, on average. Maybe this offense takes that step forward and there's enough room for both to thrive, or maybe Williams will just be the lead back from Day 1. But I'd rather have Gordon to start the season, and it wouldn't surprise me if that remained true all season.
So which sleepers, breakouts and busts should you target and fade? And which QB shocks the NFL with a top-five performance? Visit SportsLine now to get Fantasy cheat sheets for every single position, all from the model that called Josh Allen's huge season, and find out.