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. But they need better QB play before you can fully buy in. The hope is either Drew Lock takes a step forward or veteran Teddy Bridgewater can at least provide a steady hand until they find their QB of the future.
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's got 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. That makes it tough to trust the Broncos bevy of young, skilled playmakers.
The good news for all those playmakers is 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. In other words, he makes it less likely for things to go wrong. Either Lock takes a step forward or the team will move on to Bridgewater -- and that move may come as early as training camp if Lock doesn't show out. You can feel a lot more confident in this offense now than the last few years, at least, even if Bridgewater isn't a star.
And then, you know, there are those Aaron Rodgers rumors floating around ...
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||Drew Lock||PA: 580, YD: 4177, TD: 24, INT: 13; RUSH -- ATT: 37, YD: 149, TD: 1|
|RB||Melvin Gordon||CAR: 236, YD: 1039, TD: 7; TAR: 61, REC: 46, YD: 338, TD: 2|
|RB||Javonte Williams||CAR: 154, YD: 680, TD: 5; TAR: 48, REC: 35, YD: 239, TD: 1|
|WR||Courtland Sutton||TAR: 132, REC: 77, YD: 1150, TD: 6|
|WR||Jerry Jeudy||TAR: 114, REC: 68, YD: 959, TD: 5|
|WR||KJ Hamler||TAR: 76, REC: 52, YD: 572, TD: 3|
|TE||Noah Fant||TAR: 102, REC: 69, YD: 799, TD: 5|
Can Drew Lock be an NFL starter?
This time last year, the Broncos surely thought Lock could be their QB of the future. Now, it's not even clear if he'll be the starter for most of 2021. There's an impressive array of talented pass catchers surrounding him, and the presence of Bridgewater gives this whole offense a higher floor. However, if they're going to live up to the loftiest expectations placed on them, it's going to require Lock to tighten up his accuracy and decision making. I'm not counting on it.
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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 stretches with real issues catching the ball -- 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 is 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 a real difference maker. 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. 26 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.