As per last year, I’ll be sharing projections for every team in the NFL. I use past production in specific roles for each team’s scheme to work out realistic production profiles. You can see how accurate I was in 2017 in my IDP Projection Marking series.
The Broncos have been in a slump for a couple of years now – really ever since they won the Super Bowl over the Panthers. For the first time since then it seems like they’ve got a little bit of consistency and calm so hopefully we’ll see a much-improved team this year.
Defensively, they’re nowhere near the elite defense that took them to their most recent title although a handful of top players remain from that time.
The Broncos run a predominantly three-man front and therefore nose tackle is a generally unproductive spot for them. Domata Peko had an excellent season (pretty much out of nowhere) in 2017 but even so, it didn’t translate into IDP quality.
Peko has never reached 30 solo tackles in a season and has a combined ten sacks over the past five seasons. He’s not a fantasy factor you want to rely on.
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Derek Wolfe is a big name still from the Broncos title-winning defense but is not a statistic-bagger. He’s never managed six sacks in a season or forty solo tackles. As such, he’s quite far away from being a top 12 option at the position.
Adam Gotsis is under investigation for an alleged sexual assault. That may well mean he drops down from here but he’s innocent until proven guilty.
DeMarcus Walker was a fairly high pick in 2017 and will likely get his chance with expanded playing time at some point this year.
Brandon Marshall is the key player here. He’s highly valued and certainly a big name player but it’s worth noting he’s had one season in the last five years where he’s managed to eclipse 80 solos. 80 is an important number as that’s really the benchmark for an LB1 season. No doubt many will think a predicted rank of 25 is too low but he’s rarely been a top IDP.
Todd Davis will likely battle Josey Jewell for the starting LB spot behind Marshall. That sounds like a big deal but it’s important to note that given the Broncos’ proclivity for using big nickel sets, this is likely a part-time role. And that makes sense. Both Davis and Jewell are really too limited as athletes and on coverage to be a every-down players in the modern NFL. Whoever wins the job will still be relevant in deeper leagues but should not be relied on as an every-week starter.
Von Miller is one of the finest edge rushers in the NFL as his monstrous contract indicates. He has a low predicted ranking here but in leagues that reward OLBs commensurately he should be treated exactly the same as he has been over the last couple of seasons – as an automatic starter with huge weekly potential.
Bradley Chubb was drafted fourth overall as the bookend player opposite Miller and should have a good enough situation to develop nicely. Chubb is not the can’t-miss prospect he was painted as around the draft but he’s certainly talented enough to be valuable in his own right.
Behind those two, it’s hard to see a reliable role for Shaq Barrett or Shane Ray. The team clearly don’t see them as full-time players which makes them extremely risky starting prospects.
Chris Harris will likely continue to be one of the better corners in the NFL. He has a strange production profile due to the fact he splits time between the boundary (in two-receiver sets) and the slot (in nickel personnel) which distorts his value in IDP leagues.
Isaac Yiadom is slated to have a major role at the moment but how that shakes out between him and Bradley Roby will be a key camp battle given Roby is probably an obvious pick to step forward with Aqib Talib gone. If Yiadom (or someone else) wins a full-time role, there’s a clear opportunity to be an excellent IDP even though the numbers here look unimpressive. The departure of Talib will fundamentally change how this secondary plays.
The Broncos safeties are a bit disappointing. The reason is because no one really plays in a box role. Will Parks is closest but only got on the field as a nickel backer in 2017. He was coming on when Todd Davis was taken out of the lineup. Parks will also likely be battling Su’a Cravens for playing time this season so it’s tough to trust him.
Justin Simmons played full-time and he’s the most attractive player here but he’s not a true strong safety and therefore doesn’t have truly elite potential.
Lastly, Darian Stewart is the deep safety and as a result, the least likely to record significant personal statistics.
Von Miller. Obviously, he does not retain true stud value in leagues where OLBs are not effective but Miller is a great player and should be treated as such assuming scoring settings favour him.
Todd Davis. For some reason, Davis has some believers. He’s a very average player with a limited workload. It’s just unlikely he’s a useful player for you compared to a high chance of him being a roster clogger. Avoid him if you can.
Bradley Chubb. Being effective as a rookie is hard enough – let alone at a key position like edge rusher. We need to be sensible about his likely learning curve but Chubb was a top four pick for a reason. Expect flashes of his potential and class.
The Broncos won just four games in 2017 but averaged nine and a half over the previous four. Nothing is guaranteed in the NFL (least of all wins) but they are a stable and successful franchise that should improve in 2018. If they can be behind less, they’ll be able to bring their strength as a defense (excellent coverage combined with good edge pressure) to bear a little more in a virtuous circle of improvement. There are unlikely to be too many superstar IDPs on this team but they should certainly be less disappointing than 2017.
Thanks for reading.
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