Loaded with offensive talent, the Broncos are Super Bowl favorites in the AFC this season.
The addition of Peyton Manning last season catapulted the Denver Broncos to elite team status. Their offense, which had finished 23rd in total offense in 2011, ranked fourth in 2012, averaging over 80 yards and 10 points more per contest than in the previous year. The switch from Tim Tebow to Peyton Manning allowed the Broncos passing attack to go from next to last in the league to fifth. They averaged 130 passing yards and a full passing touchdown more per game last year. They continued to add to it this offseason with signing WR Wes Welker in free agency and drafted rookie running back Montee Ball. If both can play up to their potential, the Broncos’ offense could be unstoppable in 2013.
While Manning should be Manning, if I wanted to split hairs, I could point out that Manning’s production dropped noticeably after years in which he averaged 18+ fantasy points per game. According to Rotoworld, in 2001, No.18 followed up his rookie season in which he accounted for 290 fantasy points with a 12% dip in production. In 2005, his production dropped by 33%. In addition, after the 2006 season, he experienced a 12% drop in production the following year. If Manning’s production also drops by roughly twelve percent in 2013, he’d finished with around 270 fantasy points, which would have placed him eleventh overall last year.
That may not happen due to his wide receiving corp. Wes Welker, Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker all finished in the top 12 last season in standard scoring leagues and in PPR-formats, none of them ranked worse than eighth at the position. The problem may end up being not enough balls to go around, so watch for trends to start the season.
After the release of Willis McGahee, second year man Ronnie Hillman and rookie Montee Ball are competing for the starting job in camp. Whichever player wins the job, he is likely to be a top-notch fantasy back in 2013. Ball was drafted due to concerns about Hillman’s ability to become an every down back. Hillman’s rushing average last year was not very exciting at 3.9 yards-per-carry and only once did he break 4.0 yards-per-carry in the five games, in which he saw 10+ rushing attempts and Pro Football Focus graded him for those five games a disappointing -1.6.
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Denver was third in passing defense (199.6 yards per game) and third against the run (91.1 yards per game) and surprise-surprise ranked third in fantasy scoring with 172 points. However, Elvis Dumervil is a Raven and Von Miller could possibly be suspended the first four games of 2013. Those two combined for 29.5 sacks, which is 57 percent of the Broncos’ total. Kicker Matt Prater ranked ninth in scoring among kickers in 2012 with 144 points. In 2011, before Manning arrived, he was 29th in fantasy points by a kicker. The offense makes all the difference. Prater is draft-worthy.
The Broncos’ 2013 schedule includes five games against teams that had double-digit wins last year and seven games against teams that had double-digit losses. The winning percentage of this year’s opponents based on their 2012 record is .457 or the third easiest schedule in 2013. Five teams in the NFL won four games or less last year and Denver plays four of these teams in 2013 and plays two of them twice. They have the second easiest schedule for fantasy QB’s and WR’s in the league and fourth easiest for the RB’s.