The Broncos did a great job in winning Super Bowl 50 against the Panthers, but as we all know by now, the defense led the way in that victory while the offense did just enough to help out. That's not exactly encouraging for Fantasy owners heading into the 2016 season.
We're waiting to find out what will happen with Peyton Manning, but the popular thought is he will retire after winning the ultimate prize. At least that's what he should do since he just won his second Super Bowl and will be 40 in March, and his skills have diminished to where he finally looks his age.
With Manning likely gone, the Broncos have to make a decision on free-agent quarterback Brock Osweiler. He is expected to stay in Denver and become the starter, but the Broncos will still need to bring in some competition to test his skills.
And that brings us to the prominent players in Denver's offense, specifically Demaryius Thomas. Is he still an elite Fantasy receiver?
He had an inconsistent 2015 season as the Broncos used Manning and Osweiler because Manning dealt with a foot injury. Thomas was the No. 12 Fantasy receiver in standard leagues, but it didn't feel like he played at that level with 105 catches for 1,304 yards and six touchdowns, which snapped a three-year stretch of scoring at least 10 touchdowns. He had eight games with double digits in Fantasy points, which is a decline from 2014 when he did that 13 times and had 111 catches, 1,619 yards and 11 touchdowns.
In the playoffs, Thomas was practically non-existent in the box score with seven catches for 60 yards in three games. But despite what appears like a down season, we still expect Thomas to play at a high level again in 2016. He remains an elite talent, and his price tag should be cheaper this season compared to last year when he was a first-round pick at No. 12 overall based on the Average Draft Position on CBS Sports.
Now, Thomas won't fall much farther than that, but he could end up going in the third round if Fantasy owners are worried about his production slipping. Thomas played six full games with Osweiler in 2015, and he had no 100-yard games and four touchdowns. He averaged 9.3 Fantasy points with Osweiler, which doesn't inspire much confidence, even though it's a small sample size. By comparison, Antonio Brown averaged 15.5 Fantasy points a game in 2015, and he was the No. 1 receiver in standard leagues.
I have Thomas ranked No. 11 at receiver behind Brown, Odell Beckham, Julio Jones, DeAndre Hopkins, Dez Bryant, Jordy Nelson, Allen Robinson, A.J. Green, Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery. This was Thomas' worst season since he played with Tim Tebow in 2011, and I don't expect him to get worse -- remember, he still finished No. 12.
He should have a full offseason to work with Osweiler, and developing a solid rapport will be crucial. I don't expect Thomas to be a top-three receiver this season, but he could easily be a Top 10 option again.
He has four years in a row with a least 92 catches and 1,300 yards, and he if he can get back to double digits in touchdowns, he's a top-five receiver again. It will all come down to how he performs with Osweiler.
Thomas is no longer in the conversation of the best Fantasy receivers coming into the season, but he could get back there by the end of the year. And if you can get him late in Round 2 or the beginning of Round 3 then that's the type of player who could help you win a Fantasy title -- much like Thomas won the Super Bowl this past season.