We’re traveling to Colorado Rocky Mountain High for our next team preview with Fantasy Six Pack’s coverage of the upcoming NFL season with the 2023 Denver Broncos Fantasy Football Preview!
What a roller coaster 2021 was for Broncos fans and the rest of the AFC West alike. First, they get Nathaniel Hackett as head coach. Rumors swirl that Aaron Rodgers will be a Bronco only for Russell Wilson to be the next franchise QB in a blockbuster trade that the Seahawks definitely won in the short term. Who knew Geno Smith would light it up, right?
Expectations were high—some would say they were a mile high. Ok, ok—that was lame, but it was right there. Anyway, Denver failed to deliver in a fantastic fashion. Tim Patrick was hurt in the off-season. Rookie tight end Greg Dulcich didn’t play till mid-season. Javonte Williams got injured. Russell Wilson became backup-worthy. And that's just at a player level.
The coaching staff was over their heads and ill-prepared to lead the team to any sort of victory. The defense was among the best in the league, but the offense never got anything, and I mean anything, going. Had they scored just 18 points a game, they would have been 8-9 instead of 5-12. Not playoff worthy but not as laughable as reality.
So what should we expect in year two of Russ? What about year one of Sean Peyton? What of the new additions in the offense? We’re going to dive into all of that right now!
2023 Denver Broncos Fantasy Football Preview
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Wilson looks noticeably leaner than last season. pic.twitter.com/6P673gh8CI
— Dov Kleiman (@NFL_DovKleiman) June 17, 2023
Can Russ get to cooking again with the new head chef, I mean head coach, Sean Peyton calling the shots? Peyton has led productive offenses in the past, but they were led by an all-time great in Drew Brees. Wilson is likely a HOF quarterback when he retires, so I'm not questioning his career greatness. I want to know how he'll perform now.
That's a difficult question to answer. 2022 was basically a wasted season where it was hard to gather much of anything from Wilson. Nathaniel Hackett clearly didn't have what it takes to be a head coach, but at some point, before he was fired, Wilson found some semblance of rhythm to his game. From weeks 14-17, Russ was the QB10 in points per game. If you go until Week 18,when most of us weren't playing fantasy football, that rises to QB4 in points per game. So something, somewhere, somehow, clicked for him.
I wish I knew what it was. Because, frankly, I don't. But I have an inclination as to what it could be. In 2021 he was coming back from a hand injury very quickly, struggled his first few games back, and then eventually the last five weeks of the season, took off. According to Draft Sharks, Wilson injured his shoulder against the Raiders in Week 4, then he tore his hamstring against the Chargers. Could the first few weeks be the result of a new coaching staff and the rest be as simple as just getting over injuries?
Time will tell, but I'm cautiously optimistic about the Broncos. Much less than I was a year ago, still,when I thought they'd be among the best in the nation. Whoops.
Anyway, Wilson is still in QB2 range for me. I'm not willing to move him up to where he historically produces, as I need to see a little more from him to put him back up in the upper echelon of quarterbacks.
Javonte Williams suffered an unfortunate ACL tear in Week 4 against the Raiders, the same week Russ hurt his shoulder. Talk about a double-whammy. Javonte is one of the young exciting talents to come out of the 2021 class of running backs which included Travis Etienne, Najee Harris, Rhamondre Stevenson, and Elijah Mitchell, among others.
Javonte's never truly been able to showcase what he can do with a workhorse role aside from his lone start in 2021. Against the Chiefs, Javonte rumbled for 102 yards on 23 carries and caught 6 passes for 76 yards and a score.
The problem isn't and never has been, the talent. When healthy, he's arguably the best back of the class of 2021. It's the opportunity. And 2022 doesn't look like it will get any easier.
Samaje Perine is a talented back himself. He's not at Williams's level, but that doesn't mean he's bad. Williams's injury was pretty severe, so there's no timetable for his return, however, reports have been encouraging.
In the meantime, Perine is a capable back. In two starts filling in for Joe Mixon and a third game where Mixon left early, Perine was the overall RB2, averaging 23.7 PPR points per game in that stretch. He's a great handcuff should Javonte miss time and should be targeted in drafts as such. Much like how we approached Dalvin Cook/Alexander Mattison or Ezekiel Elliot/Tony Pollard handcuff in the recent past.
Jerry Jeudy week 18 vs Chargers
— Michael ?? (@RespectMyCos) June 15, 2023
Coming off of career highs in receptions, yards, touchdowns, and yards per target, Jeudy is ready to finally take the next step as a pro, provided Wilson can support him. The Alabama product is going into his fourth year in the NFL, and he has yet to make a 1000-yard season, though he came close in 2022 with 972 yards. His yards per route run was the 16th best in the NFL. His fantasy points per target were tied for 10th best in the NFL with Tyreek Hill. Those two stats don't mean everything, but Jeudy could be on the verge of a breakout.
Sutton is an interesting player to evaluate. He's never recaptured the magic from his second season where he went for over 1100 yards and six scores. Last season he was second to Jeudy in receptions, yards, and touchdowns. It's quite possible we're seeing a changing of the guard in Denver, with Sutton now operating as the No. 2 option.
That can still be a good spot to be in, I mean he garnered 109 targets last season, the most on the team. If he maintains a similar workload, he should have a fine fantasy season. There are just a couple of problems.
First, the Broncos drafted Marvin Mims. Second, Tim Patrick is back. Patrick is the kind of receiver nobody really talks about by is just a solid week-in-week-out contributor. But, he is older and recovering from a major injury (ACL) so it wouldn't surprise me if he starts off slow. Being a rookie, I could see a similar storyline for Mims, starting off slow but picking it up as the season goes along.
I'm not really into KJ Hamler. I've seen that ride before and it's especially not one I'm wanting to get on now.
The majority of TEs don’t have this kind of quickness out of breaks, he sells the seam route to open up the corner with a quick twitch
Greg Dulcich has shown great route running for a rookie and has a good athletic profile w a fairly open receiver room
The sky is the limit pic.twitter.com/2CjTwslTlH
— sfDynastyFF (Rob) (@Quintorris_) January 7, 2023
One of my favorite things about the 2021 offseason was how everyone was going nuts for Albert O, only to have Greg Dulcich show up. Albert became Woody in the Toy Story "I don't wanna play with you anymore" meme. For the record: I was never on the Albert O hype train, for whatever that’s worth.
But Dulcich? The rookie exploded onto the scene with three straight performances of more than 11 PPR points. He cooled off a bit after that but still put up solid performances from time to time. Big D had the highest ADOT of any tight end in 2022 per FantasyData. Despite dealing with injuries and only playing for a ten game stretch, was the overall TE10 from weeks 6-16, as a rookie!
Russ has supported relevant fantasy tight ends before, Jimmy Graham being the main name but also Gerald Everett and Will Dissly for stretches. I’m confident he’ll put up better and more consistent numbers in his second season.
The Broncos are a tough team to predict with so many unknowns. Javontes injury, Wilson’s disappointing 2021 season, new coaching staff. But someone will emerge from this offense. Of the pass catchers, Jeudy and Dulcich are my favorites to target.
That's all I have for today! But if you can't get enough fantasy football with quarterbacks looking for a bounce-back season, here's my take on the Cleveland Browns' 2023 fantasy football outlook.