“Changes aren’t permanent, but change is.” We recently lost Neil Peart, the man who wrote those words. No more appropriate words exist to describe the 2019 Denver Broncos. They changed quarterbacks twice, had a ceaseless running back mess, and traded their WR1 midseason. What about the Denver Broncos fantasy football options? Is there anything good to squeeze out of the 2019 campaign? What, if anything, should we remember about the 2019 Denver Broncos for our 2020 fantasy football campaigns?
What to Remember from the 2019 Denver Broncos Season
- Just before New Year’s Eve, John Elway crowned Drew Lock Denver’s 2020 starting quarterback. A sprained thumb cost him most of his 2019 season, but he started the last five games. The Broncos went 4-1 in these games, but how did Lock fare? He looked good, at times, but still had to sort out the speed of the NFL game. That should come, but he will need to increase his passing yardage and touchdown rate before we can consider him for 2020. We all remember him endearingly rapping at halftime on the sidelines, but a 3,264 yard, 22 touchdown, 10 interception pace on a 6.5 yards per attempt rate won’t cut it for fantasy football. If he shows improvement and a willingness to chuck it downfield more, there’s enough there to put him into sleeper consideration.
- The Broncos coaching staff gave Royce Freeman every opportunity to split touches with Phillip Lindsay, but ultimately, he failed to produce. Freeman had over 15 opportunities (rushes + targets) per game in the first eight games of the season. In the second half, that number dropped to 7.6 opportunities per game. In comparison, Lindsay averaged 17.6 opportunities in the first half of the season and 16.4 in the second half (functionally identical).
- Unfortunately for Phillip Lindsay, (and my Scott Fish Bowl team) staving off Royce Freeman did not equal extra production. In the first half of the season, Lindsay finished as top-24 running back thrice. In the second half of the season, he finished as a top-24 running back… three times. After his thrilling rookie campaign, Lindsay’s sophomore year busted hard for fantasy football. However, he did surpass 4.5 yards per carry, and John Elway expressed a desire to re-sign him to a new deal. Hopefully, he builds on his sophomore campaign in 2020.
- Much like Phillip Lindsay, the Broncos cleared the deck for Courtland Sutton partway through the season. They traded Emmanuel Sanders to the 49ers after the week seven loss to the Chiefs. Before this trade, Sutton averaged 5.1 catches, 5.1 catches, and 80.6 yards per game. He was on pace for seven touchdowns. After trading Sanders, Sutton struggled, dropping down to four catches for 60.9 yards per game, on a five touchdown pace. Now that he has WR1 reps under his belt, Sutton should take a big step forward, but if he doesn’t… don’t be surprised, he’s already struggled as the top wide receiver on a team.
- Noah Fant posted two 100+ yard, one touchdown games this season. This doesn’t seem like a lot, but it puts him in rarified air. Only six tight ends have had multiple 100+ receiving yard games in their careers. Only three have 100+ receiving yard games with a touchdown in the history in the NFL. He’s a special talent, who already posts rarified air statistics, despite his rookie year ups-and-downs.
Check out the rest of the What to Remember series as it develops!
(Header Image Source: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/d/d0/Phillip_Lindsay_2018.JPG under CC BY 4.0)