On a veteran team with a 38-year old quarterback that is fresh off a trip to the Super Bowl, is there any room for a rookie player to make a legit impact. This post comes from Justin Becker of FantasyFootballOverdose.com. You can follow him on Twitter @NFLRankings or the Fantasy Football Overdose Google+ Page, and for more 2014 Fantasy Football Projections visit Fantasy Football Overdose, a fantasy football blog.
The Denver Broncos were fiends in fantasy football in 2013. If you faced Peyton Manning or any of his Denver friends, you hated it and probably shed a tear or three. If you owned those same Broncos, you just might have won a fantasy title last season.
Not much will change in that regard in 2014, as Manning is still guiding the Broncos forward and Denver has done a solid job replacing departing talent in free agency. Furthermore, they’ve even done a great job adding solid talent in the 2014 NFL Draft.
on the fantasy scene?
At first glance, that’s a pure toss up. However, in a system as explosive as Denver’s, it’s certainly worth taking a look at all avenues for potential success in fantasy football. Let’s break down Denver’s main offensive rookies and see who will provide an instant impact in 2014:
Cody Latimer, WR, Indiana (Round 2 – Pick 56)
The Denver Broncos might have a problem on their hands come next year, when Wes Welker, Demaryius Thomas and Julius Thomas all hit free agency. Considering the last time two big name offensive weapons (Eric Decker and Knowshon Moreno) tried to get paid the team let them walk, Broncos fans might be wondering if the same might happen again.
Obviously Demaryius Thomas is the best talent of the three and needs to be the first one signed to a long-term deal. As a true star number one wide receiver, Thomas is obviously going to command a massive contract, which could force the Broncos to part with either or both Welker and the other Thomas. Since Welker will be going on age 34 when his contract expires, he’s clearly the more unlikely passing weapon to return of the two, thanks to age and price.
Julius Thomas sticking around is another mouth to feed in the passing game, but the point is about Latimer’s Dynasty appeal. With Welker out of the picture and the two Thomas’ locked up to long-term deals, Denver’s passing attack remains potent. Emmanuel Sanders may or may not work out, too, which could push Latimer’s long-term value up even more in Dynasty fantasy football leagues. If Sanders doesn’t pan out, Latimer could be operating as Denver’s second true wide receiver as soon as 2015.
But what if he gets there even sooner? That’s where re-draft fantasy owners need to start considering Latimer’s talent meshing with Peyton Manning and the potent passing attack in Denver. If the Broncos can be even remotely close to as good as they were in the air a year ago, the rookie out of Indiana could be in for quite the NFL debut season.
Thomas is option A with Welker right behind him, and then at least for the moment Julius Thomas and Sanders would pick up the remaining pieces in the passing game. However, if Sanders’ checkered injury history and general inconsistency show up in his first season as a Bronco, Latimer could be looking at serious playing time.
Even better than all of these “what if’s”? Reports have surfaced already that Latimer could have a realistic shot at starting right away as a rookie. It’s being mostly shrugged off as coach speak and media hype at the moment, but it’s certainly worth paying attention to considering all of the pieces involved and how good Denver’s offense can be.
Eric Decker had to share the rock with three other very good options in Denver’s passing attack a year ago, yet he still turned in over 80 receptions, 1,000+ yards and 10 touchdowns. In fact, he did it the year prior, as well. Julius Thomas missed two games and dealt with a bum ankle for several others, yet he almost had over 70 receptions and scored 12 touchdowns, as well. Welker was right there with both of these guys, too, hauling in over 70 passes and scoring 10 touchdowns for the first time in his career, all while missing three games.
Decker leaving for the New York Jets is the clear change here, as he opens the door for a new wide receiver to make a serious imprint in Denver’s offense. Who that ends up being likely comes down to Sanders or Latimer, both of which from a physical standpoint have what it takes to get the job done just as good – if not better – that Decker did the past two seasons.
In fact, the aging Welker could suddenly drop off in play or get nicked up more in 2014 than we’re used to, which could open the door for both of these young, explosive receivers.
As it stands, Latimer is the rookie and even is still recovering from a foot injury. Unless he has a mammoth camp and kills it in the preseason, he’ll probably begin the year as Denver’s fourth best option. That likely won’t even get him weekly WR3 or Flex value, but it doesn’t mean he can be ignored by a long shot.
Considering Latimer is an elite talent with terrific burst and long speed, he could actually fare much better than last year’s fourth receiver, Andre Caldwell. Despite being a much inferior talent than Latimer, Caldwell still scored in week one last year and even had a nice six-catch, two touchdown game in week 15 as he filled in for an injured Welker.
Needless to say, Latimer could have some random success as the team’s fourth option, and the minute he sees an increased role due to injury or for any other reason, he’ll need to be owned. As a matter of fact, he’s the kind of high upside talent you may want to stash at the end of your roster, regardless of his role entering the new season.
Michael Schofield, OT, Michigan (Round 3 – Pick 95)
Is Schofield going to earn you fantasy points? Of course not. As an offensive lineman, we’ll probably forget about him in two seconds. However, perhaps we shouldn’t. After all, Denver bid farewell to Zane Beadles during free agency and needed to grab some o-line help heading into this year’s draft. Schofield constitutes as such.
Blessed with great size and length, Schofield is best suited on the outside, most likely at right tackle. If Schofield can earn a spot in the rotation, he should be able to help Denver’s run-blocking, which in turn should have a positive impact for new starter, Montee Ball. Schofield also offers some versatility with some experience at guard, which should offer up some nice depth for Denver’s o-line, regardless if he can lock down a starting gig as a rookie. Denver also added center Matthew Paradis in the sixth round, but he’s not likely to be an impact player and has longer odds at making the final roster.