Posted Tue Jun 12th by Jon Heath
Denver’s acquisition of quarterback Peyton Manning earlier in the offseason will affect much more than the win and loss column next to the Broncos’ 2012 season schedule. It will also affect all of us at home sitting on our buns watching games while following our respective fantasy football teams on Sunday afternoons this fall.
Due in large part to Manning’s presence — and his past history of producing high numbers in fantasy football — several Broncos players, including two receivers, have seen their fantasy stock take a huge jump this offseason. In 2011, neither Demaryius Thomas or Eric Decker were ranked among NFL.com‘s top 80 fantasy receivers. This offseason, they’re both ranked in the top 23.
Of course, Thomas jumping to 14th and Decker jumping to 23rd isn’t solely due to Manning’s arrival, despite the fact that he scored 288 fantasy points in 2010 (the last season he played). Heading into last season, few people outside of Denver expected Thomas or Decker to show flashes of brilliance in their sophomore seasons.
Only those who closely observed Thomas and Decker’s respective rookie campaigns could have predicted the receivers going on to have such successful seasons — at one point in the season, each receiver scored 23 points in a single game, on different occasions. (OK, all of us homers could have predicted it, too.)
“I think our passing game is way further along now than when it was at this time a year ago,” Head Coach John Fox told media members last Monday. As Manning develops good rhythm with his receivers early in the offseason, it’s logical to expect Thomas and Decker to build on last season.
This year, Thomas and Decker have received a little more respect from fantasy “experts”, but one of their up-and-coming teammates is flying under the radar. Just like nobody foresaw Thomas and Decker emerging as starting fantasy receivers in 2011, everyone is now overlooking tight end Joel Dreessen. As he was last season, Dreessen is unranked on NFL.com‘s top 24 fantasy tight ends of 2012 list.
Dreessen’s positive scouting reports from OTAs coupled with the fact that Denver will likely run a lot of two-tight end formations this season suggests good fantasy numbers for the 6-foot, four-inch tall tight end this season. While filling in for an injured Owen Daniels over the past two seasons in Houston, Dreessen caught 64 passes for 872 yards and 10 touchdowns. Image what his numbers could look like with Manning slinging the old pigskin around.
Dreessen’s partner in crime, Jacob Tamme (unranked in 2011), is ranked 9th in NFL.com‘s top 24 tight ends of 2012. This high ranking is linked to Tamme’s history with Manning (he is entering his fifth season after spending the previous four years in Indianapolis with Peyton). During Peyton’s final season starting as a Colt, Tamme caught 67 passes for 631 yards and four scores while seeing limited playing time.
Other Broncos ranked on NFL.com included running back Willis McGahee (27, unranked in 2011), kicker Matt Prater (7th, unranked) and Denver’s defense (18th, unranked). Manning himself, ranked 5th in 2011, dropped three spots to 8th after missing all of last season with a neck injury.
Fantasy football can be a crap shoot (I drafted Cam Newton in the last round of last year’s draft), but it’s enjoyable, nonetheless. Manning’s presence will raise the fantasy stock of his teammates, and will hopefully add W’s to Denver’s win column, as well. Keep this in mind during your draft this year, just don’t be too big of a homer and draft Tamme in the second round.