The Broncos have made plenty of noise this offseason about their desire to bring in some competition for third-year QB Drew Lock, and they did so on the eve of the draft Wednesday, acquiring Teddy Bridgewater from the Panthers for a sixth-round pick. Does this move change the outlook for the Broncos much from a Fantasy perspective?
Not really. Bridgewater is likely better than Lock at this point in their careers, and it wouldn't be a huge shock if Bridgewater ended up starting for the Broncos in Week 1. He's been the better QB since Lock entered the NFL in 2019, as the numbers pretty clearly show:
- Bridgewater: 9-11, 68.8%, 7.4 Y/A, 3.5% TD rate, 1.9% INT rate, 94.1 passer rating
- Lock: 8-10, 59.1%, 6.6 Y/A, 3.9% TD rate, 3.0% INT rate, 79.1 passer rating
Bridgewater has been about an average NFL QB over the past two seasons, combining a high completion percentage with a knack for taking care of the ball, while Lock has struggled with turnovers and overall efficiency, simply missing on too many passes to date. And given that this Broncos offense has no shortage of playmakers, we should be hoping Bridgewater starts at QB for the sake of Jerry Jeudy, Courtland Sutton and Noah Fant, right?
That, I'm less sure of. Bridgewater gives the Broncos a higher floor at the QB position, providing a steady presence if he starts or if Lock falters. And, it's not like he was bad news for the Panthers pass catchers last season; D.J. Moore, Robby Anderson and Curtis Samuel all ranked in the top 25 among WR in Fantasy points, despite scoring only 10 touchdowns between them.
But, that's the problem, you see. Bridgewater is a solid QB, but his career touchdown rate is just 3.4%, a really low number. Maybe there's some bad luck or bad supporting casts to blame there -- he did have a 4.6% rate in five starts for the Saints in 2019 -- but it's probably a style of play thing. Bridgewater has historically been a pretty conservative QB, which helps him avoid mistakes, but also limits the number of big plays he hits.
- We break down Antonio Brown's return to Tampa and Teddy Bridgewater's move to Denver on the Fantasy Football Today podcast. Listen below and follow at Apple, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts:
Bridgewater's average depth of target was just 7.1 yards downfield in 2020, and he threw 20-plus yards down the field on just 11.2% of his attempts, ranking 25th in the league, despite playing with multiple viable downfield targets. You have to take chances to score. "No risk it, no biscuit," as Bruce Arians says. Though in Bridgewater's case, it's not like good things happened when he did go downfield -- PFF graded him 27th on deep passes, and he had just three touchdowns to four interceptions on such attempts.
One thing you can say about Lock, at least, is that he certainly isn't hesitant to pull the trigger. He was second in the league in deep pass attempt rate, despite seven interceptions to just three touchdowns. On Wednesday's episode of the Fantasy Football Today podcast, I compared him to a less talented Jameis Winston, which … is not a particularly flattering comp, I know.
But that style of play brings with it plenty of upside. We saw that with Winston in Tampa, even as he was tossing tons of interceptions. And with the kind of talent the Broncos have at the skill positions, having a QB who is willing to take those risks is what I'd prefer to see -- at least to start the season.
The Broncos should give Lock a chance to prove he's improved, and if he's still making bad mistakes, then go ahead and swap Bridgewater in. And I suspect that is what they'll do -- Lock will start after a competition, but he won't have much margin for error on a team that expects to take a step forward on offense.
The good news is, this definitely makes the Broncos offense more reliable. Either Lock plays better and Sutton, Jeudy, Fant and Melvin Gordon reap the benefits or Bridgewater takes over and at least provides a steady hand on the wheel. This isn't a trade that moves the needle for Fantasy, but it should make you more confident that the needle won't swing too wildly.
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