The 2022 NFL Season is nearly upon us. As part of the run up to the season, we’re preview all the teams, culminating with our picks for who makes the playoffs and who wins the awards this season. Check back each day through September 5. Let’s get ready for some football!
The Broncos’ started their 2021 season with three straight wins behind veteran quarterback Teddy Bridgewater. But the hot start didn’t translate into overall success. The Broncos only won four of their last 13 games, slumping to 7-10 and last place in the AFC West. The lack of success led to sweeping changes this off-season, but will it be enough to get the Broncos back to the post-season for the first time since winning Super Bowl 50?
The Broncos began by firing Head Coach Vic Fangio, who failed to climb above .500 in any of his three seasons. In his place, the team hired Nathaniel Hackett, who spent the past three seasons as the Offensive Coordinator in Green Bay. The next domino was quarterback, as the Broncos traded Drew Lock, Noah Fant, Shelby Harris and a bunch of draft picks for Russell Wilson.
Wilson has been a top quarterback since entering the league. In his 10 seasons in the NFL—all with the Seahawks—he has made the Pro Bowl nine times, appearing in two Super Bowls and winning one. He’s thrown for 37,059 yards and 292 touchdowns. He gives the Broncos the best signal caller the team has had since Peyton Manning led them to the Super Bowl title.
The Broncos also re-loaded at tight end after shipping Fant to the Seahawks. The team grabbed Greg Dulcich out of UCLA in the Third Round. He caught 42 passes for 725 yards and five touchdowns in 2021, and figures to be part of the attack at the position. The Broncos also bolstered their pass rush, drafting Nik Bonitto out of Oklahoma with the team’s first pick of the draft, and signed former Cowboys’ pass rusher Randy Gregory. The Broncos also added D.L. Jones to the defensive line and K’Waun Williams as slot corner, both from the 49ers. Then the team welcomed back guard/tackle Billy Turner, who spent last season in Green Bay.
Wilson finished as QB16 in 2021 despite missing three games and most of a fourth. He’s typically been a Top 10 option at the position, and I think he’ll be that again. He’s also got a great pair of backs behind him in second-year man Javonte Williams and veteran Melvin Gordon. Williams was RB17 as a rookie, while Gordon finished as RB21. I think Williams takes on more of the work in 2022, moving into low-end RB1 territory while Gordon ends up returning RB3 value.
Despite the unfortunate injury to Tim Patrick, the passing game brings plenty of excitement as the Broncos’ receivers—Courtland Sutton, Jerry Jeudy and K.J. Hamler—all figure to benefit from a better passer and more up-tempo scheme. I like Sutton this year and think he can out-produce his ADP of WR25. I see him as a WR2. Many are optimistic that Jeudy will break out big, which makes sense given his WR27 ADP. I suspect we’ll see him take a step forward, particularly with Patrick now out for the year. He’s a WR3 for me. Hamler, meanwhile, remains a mystery. He has talent and big play ability if he can stay healthy, and should now have a big opportunity with Patrick out. I think he’s worth a late-round pick. There’s also space for another receiver to contribute and it’s possible that Travis Fulgham gets a bigger role now.
At tight end, Dulcich joins a group that includes free agent Eric Tomlinson and third-year man Albert Okwuegbunam. Albert O., who’s shown flashes his first two seasons, is going as TE19. That feels about right, though I think he can outproduce that some. I think he’ll contribute but there are a lot of options in Denver, and Dulcich will see some targets, too. Dulcich is the better value in dynasty.
I like the acquisition of Wilson and what it means for Denver, a team that’s had a post-season roster apart from the quarterback for a couple seasons. Hackett has his work cut out for him in a crowded AFC West landscape, but I think the Broncos win 10 or 11 games and make the playoff field for the first time in years.
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. He is a member of the FSWA. You can find him @knighthawk7734 on Twitter and as co-host of the Fantasy Football Roundtable Podcast.