2020 Preview: Denver Broncos


Broncos Fantasy Football Preview: Jerry Jeudy's arrival eases ...

The 2020 NFL Season is nearly upon us, and in anticipation of the new season we’ll be previewing the action team-by-team, using the draft order from last season. The previews will kick off with the Bengals and run right through the reigning champion Chiefs. Come back each day to check out your favorite team. All ADP and Rankings reflect PPR scoring. 2020 Projections are based on a 12-team league (i.e. WR1 (Top 12), WR2 (13-24), WR3 (25-36)).

            The Broncos made a splash in the 2019 off-season when they traded for former Super Bowl MVP Joe Flacco. Flacco, along with new head coach Vic Fangio, were supposed to be the Broncos’ ticket back to the post-season. The team loaded up in the draft, too, snagging tight end Noah Fant and possible quarterback of the future in Drew Lock. But the Broncos started 0-4 and went 2-6 with Flacco in the starting lineup.

            Flacco was lost for the season and a funny thing happened—the Broncos started to win. And they got even better in December as Lock got a chance to start and went 4-1. The team finished 7-9 and climbed up to second place in the AFC West. The team missed the playoffs for the fourth straight season after Peyton Manning retired, but they ended with promise that fans hope will be realized more fully in 2020.

Off-Season Changes

            The Broncos saw enough to commit to Lock as the quarterback of the future and spent the off-season building around him. That mean snagging veteran Pat Shurmur—formerly the head coach of the New York Giants—to serve as Offensive Coordinator and shipping Flacco out. Flacco landed as a backup for the Jets and veteran running back Devontae Booker moved on to the Raiders. But the Broncos added veteran Jeff Driskel to serve as backup quarterback and signed Melvin Gordon—who played for the division rival Chargers—to bolster the backfield. In five years with the Chargers Gordon rushed for 4,240 yards and 36 TDs. He figures to be a weapon in Shurmur’s scheme.

            The Broncos also spent the draft bolstering their receiving corps. They used the No. 15 pick to snag receiver Jerry Jeudy. The Alabama star was touted as the top route runner in the class, and caught 159 passes for 2,742 yards and 26 TDs in three seasons. He figures to be WR2 for Denver. The Broncos also grabbed Penn State speedster KJ Hamler in the second round. Hamler caught 56 passes for 904 yards and eight TDs in 2019. The Broncos beefed up their TE group by drafting Lock’s former Missouri teammate Albert Okwuebunam and signing free agent Nick Vannett. The team also invested draft capital and free agent dollars on beefing up the offensive line, all of which gives Lock a chance to succeed.

Fantasy Impact

            The Broncos will go as far as Lock can take them. He only started five games in 2019, but threw for 1,020 yards and seven TDs against three INTs. I like the system and the moves made to support Lock. He’s solidly in the QB2 category and I think he could have QB1 upside. In the backfield, Gordon is the big addition but third year back Phillip Lindsay has been the man for Denver the past two seasons. Lindsay rushed for more than 1,000 yards each season and was named to a Pro Bowl in 2018. The question is how much—if at all—the players split. I think Lindsay is the more talented player and the split will be close. I have both Lindsay and Gordon as low-end RB2s in 2020. If you think Gordon will dominate touches, he could break into RB1 territory. Either way, former Third Round pick Royce Freeman figures to be little more than depth in 2020 barring an injury.

            Among receivers, the Broncos are led by Courtland Sutton. In his second year in 2019, he caught 72 passes for 1,112 yards and six TDs. That was good enough to be WR19 for the season. The Broncos invested in other receivers, but I expect the veteran Sutton to be the leader and I think he will be a low-end WR1 this season, outplaying his ADP. I like Jeudy and Hamler for potential, but I don’t think either rookie or veterans DaeSean Hamilton and Tim Patrick will rise higher than WR4/5 territory for the season. The other receiver I like for the Broncos is tight end Noah Fant. As a rookie, Fant was TE16 and seemed to have a good connection with Lock. I think he’ll be the second option in this pass offense, and I like him to make the leap to the TE1 range in 2020.

Prediction

            The Broncos ended 2019 with a flourish as Lock looked like the real deal. The Broncos’ front office went all in on Lock this off-season expecting to see that flourish continue in 2020. I think it will. The Chiefs are still the class of the AFC West, but the Broncos could have won nine games and made a playoff push a year ago with some better luck. With a strong defense and a more consistent offense, I think they’re in the nine to 10-win range in 2020 and earn a Wild Card slot.

Matthew Fox is a graduate of the Radio, Television and Film program at Biola University, and a giant nerd. He spends his free time watching movies, TV, and obsessing about football. You can find him @knighthawk7734 on Twitter and as co-host of the Fantasy Football Roundtable Podcast, a proud member of the Drive-In Podcast Network.

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