2017 IDP Projections: Denver Broncos

Tom Kislingbury

I believe that to properly analyze the 2017 IDPs you need to have an idea of how they’ll ALL perform so you can benchmark and compare them effectively.  So I built a model using past performance, efficiency, scheme information and coaching tendencies to predict what will happen in 2017.  I’ve applied that to my best estimates for how teams will use players this year which gives a projection and ranking for all IDPs. You can read more about what I did and how here

Notes

It seems like longer than two years ago that the Broncos won the Super Bowl on an all-conquering defense doesn’t it?  A lot of the players and coaches from that run are still in place but with the retirement/departure of Gary Kubiak and his staff the team is a bit of an unknown. Given the sheer talent available at the premier positions of pass-rusher and cornerback, I can’t wait to see what they look like. 

We’ve only seen one season of Vance Joseph as a coordinator but I thought it was a pretty good unit last year in Miami.  He clearly managed to coax the best out of the defensive line as well as a talent-poor group of corners.  I hope he’ll be able to do the same in Denver this coming season.

Stars

Surprisingly none.  This doesn’t mean for a heartbeat I don’t respect the talent they have – just that it’s concentrated in IDP positions that are simply not as valuable as they are in real life.

Starters

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Derek Wolfe, DE

I can see Wolfe having a similar season to Akiem Hicks last season.  He’s a run-stopper first who contributes in the passing game when his primary role is fulfilled but we know that with enough volume those players can put up decent numbers in terms of pressure too.  I have him down to stay on the field a lot (see Joseph relying on Cam Wake and Ndamokung Suh last year) so he should have that opportunity.  I think he’ll finish as the #15 end.

Key stats: 818 snaps, 37 solo tackles, 13 assists, six sacks, six passes defended.

Brandon Marshall, LB

Marshall has only started 30 NFL games.  I find this shocking.  He’s still just 27 and squarely in his prime as the top linebacker on a good unit.  I think he’ll be a rock-solid performer at linebacker #16.  There’s no point trading him as the value won’t be there but he’s plenty good enough to be one of the better LB2s each and every week for you.

Key stats: 858 snaps, 85 solo tackles, 35 assists, two sacks, seven passes defended, one INT.

Chris Harris, CB

In my system, Harris is defined as a slot corner but his role is fascinating because he plays outside in base (or at least has historically).  What it means is that he has a lot of opportunities to be around the action considering he’s one of the very best cover corners in the NFL.  Picking famous cornerbacks is a major IDP mistake normally but here it’s a pretty good choice.  I think he’ll be the #11 corner in 2017.

Key stats: 1,047 snaps, 55 solo tackles, seven assists, twelve passes defended, two interceptions.

TJ Ward, S

If you listen to the man himself he’ll tell you he’s the best safety in the league.  I don’t think that’s true but he’s certainly a stereotypical strong safety and has the opportunity to put up excellent numbers opposite a true deep safety in Darian Stewart.  I have Ward as the #24 safety but it’s extremely possible he finishes a fair bit further up.

Key stats: 878 snaps, 62 solo tackles, 15 assists, one sacks, eight passes defended, two INTs.

Useful

Domata Peko, DT

Frankly I think he’s one of the least exciting players in the NFL.  Bill Latin will probably immediately perk up at this and try buying him up but I can’t get behind him.  He offers little pass rush (he’s managed about one sack every ten games started over his career) and there are a lot of players competing for tackles in this team.  He’s the #40 tackle in my system and not worth owning.

Key stats: 574 snaps, 21 solo tackles, 12 assists, two sacks, two passes defended.

Jared Crick / Adam Gotsis, DE

This is more interesting.  Crick was relevant last season simply because of the amazing volume of snaps he received – only four ends played more than him.  I think that’s very unlikely to happen again – especially with the young Aussie Adam Gotsis breathing down his neck.  It’s a good battle to watch in camp as I expect the winner to be the #27 end and borderline startable.

Key stats: 656 snaps, 32 solo tackles, 11 assists, four sacks, three passes defended.

Von Miller, LB

Miller is a top five pass rusher in the league but as we all know; unless you’re in a sack-heavy league he’s just not a great IDP asset.  Having said that, if you are going to own an outside linebacker, he’s the one to grab and in deeper leagues he’s absolutely a good pick for a high-ceiling LB4.  I think he’ll finish 47th in linebacker ranks.

Key stats: 804 snaps, 42 solo tackles, 17 assists, 11 sacks, two passes defended.

Todd Davis, LB

Davis was a really popular pickup last season as the starter out of nowhere and it was a great story – but the truth is he just wasn’t that impressive.  There’s also a very real chance that Joseph doesn’t start him.  He’s not a player I want to own as the #75 linebacker in my system.

Key stats: 609 snaps, 48 solo tackles, 19 assists, three passes defended, one INT.

Aqib Talib, CB

It’s just unfair that the Broncos get to start Chris Harris and Talib.  Talib had his best season as a pro last year, and he’s an effective IDP too given his ability to get hands on the ball and his physicality (especially given his build).  I think he’ll be the #32 corner and useful in deep leagues.

Key stats: 885 snaps, 41 solo tackles, eight assists, 16 passes defended, three INTs.

Summary

I feel a bit guilty here.  I’d love to call out some players as being stars.  Chris Harris, Aqib Talib and Von Miller make this team a delight to watch but I just can’t say they’re going to be fantasy difference-makers.  Useful building blocks yes – just not incendiary stars.

Those are my predictions as of right now.  Obviously things will change as we get a better idea of who will play and how going towards the season.  If you disagree with any assertions here feel free to leave a comment or contact me on Twitter (@TomDegenerate) and I’ll be happy to discuss.

Thanks for reading.

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tom kislingbury