In case you haven’t heard, Denver Broncos receiver Wes Welker has been suspended for the first four games of the season for violating the league’s substance abuse policy.
There’s no getting around the fact that Welker and all of these guys who get suspended are selfish and quite frankly, stupid.
However the suspension is a blessing for Welker and as for the Broncos, the offense won’t miss a beat.
Welker now gets five more weeks including the Broncos bye week to fully recover from the concussion he suffered two weeks ago versus the Houston Texans. When he returns versus the New York Jets in October, Welker should be healthy and ready to go.
Welker missed three games at the end of last season and the Broncos averaged more than 30 points in those games. You never want to say a team is not going to miss a player; especially a player like Welker but the Broncos will be fine.
Emmanuel Sanders was all ready going to be a huge part of the Broncos offense, and the Welker suspension does not change that obviously. What it might change is what the Broncos do with Sanders. With Welker in the lineup, Sanders would have spent a majority of his time on the outside.
Now, depending on the situation and personnel, the Broncos could move Sanders to the slot on some plays. He played there a lot with the Pittsburgh Steelers and will be fine if the Broncos decide to go that way.
Tight-end, Jacob Tamme played in the slot during Welker’s absence last season and will see some time there again. Tamme does not have Welker’s quickness but his size and speed for a man of his size can be a matchup nightmare of its own. Having Tamme in there with Julius Thomas also gives the Broncos a two tight end look that could help in the running game.
Wide receiver, Andre Caldwell also filled in nicely when Welker was down in 2013 and will see his share of time on the outside. Caldwell has the speed to get deep and has developed a rapport with Peyton Manning over the past two seasons. Caldwell figures to play a lot when the Broncos go three wide and move Sanders into the slot.
Tamme and Caldwell will do fine but the guy to watch over the next month is rookie, Cody Latimer. The Broncos moved up in the second round of last May’s draft to get Latimer and he’s had a terrific camp. The Broncos love this kid and he has the talent to contribute right away.
Don’t get me wrong; Caldwell and Tamme will play a lot more in the absence of Welker but the big plays might come from the rookie. Look for Latimer in the red zone because of his size and ability to go up and get the ball. Latimer could also be a threat on third down because as talented as he is, defenses are going to focus on the other receivers first.
In a matchup of Latimer versus a fourth cornerback, give me Latimer everyday of the week. Here’s a piece of free fantasy advice; if Latimer is available on waivers, grab him now. He may start slow as he develops rapport with Manning but he could be huge in the second half of the season.
I can hear the talking heads tomorrow; the Welker suspension will cost the Broncos a game or two. These are the same people who swore the Broncos would go 3-3 without Von Miller last season and then were nowhere to be found when they were 6-0.
I’ve asked the same question after every injury/suspension in the past two years. Is Manning healthy? If that answer continues to be yes, then the Broncos will remain a Super Bowl contender.