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Last year's Broncos were a total mess. The offense cratered. They finished last in penalty yards. And they were 31st in injury games missed. The good news is coach Sean Payton will correct the obvious mishaps and has prioritized better blocking. Denver was 30th in adjusted sack rate and 31st in short-yardage rushing. Expect Payton to build a balanced offense that will try to improve in the trenches. In fact, his offenses have ranked 5th, 17th, 5th, and 4th in carries and 14th, 28th, 23rd, and 13th in neutral pace while working with a declining or replaced Drew Brees.
3-WR Sets (23rd in snaps, 56% of snaps)
WR: Courtland Sutton --> Marquez Callaway
WR: Tim Patrick --> KJ Hamler
SLOT: Jerry Jeudy --> Marvin Mims (R)
TE: Greg Dulcich --> Chris Manhertz
2-WR Sets (6th in snaps, 34% of snaps)
WR: Jerry Jeudy --> Marvin Mims (R)
WR: Courtland Sutton --> Tim Patrick
SLOT TE: Greg Dulcich --> Albert Okwuegbunam
INLINE TE: Chris Manhertz --> Adam Trautman
RB Usage (15th in expected half PPR)
GOAL LINE: Javonte Williams --> Samaje Perine
PASSING DOWN: Samaje Perine --> Javonte Williams
Offensive Line (fine with new pieces)
LT: Garett Bowles (solid returning starter)
LG: Ben Powers ($27M guaranteed signee)
C: Lloyd Cushenberry (mid returning starter)
RG: Quinn Meinerz (average returning starter)
RT: Mike McGlinchey ($35M guaranteed signee)
Russell Wilson should have better luck and a better offensive design around him this year, but he's averaging just 228 passing yards since 2021 on a 24-10 TD-INT pace. His athleticism just isn't the same, and a lot of his success stemmed from buying time in the pocket or scrambling. He set a career low with 55 sacks and a brutal 27% pressure-to-sack rate. His yards after contact were also the worst since 2016 per PFF. When he'd try to run last year, Russ would get hawked. I don't think scheme fixes that issue, so while Payton and a decent projected OL are reasons for bounce back appeal, Russ (ironically) just may be cooked in his age-34 season. He's been the QB15 and QB17 per game in fantasy points over replacement per game over the last two years and should settle in as a fantasy QB2 moving forward. Jarrett Stidham will back him up on a $3M guaranteed contract.
Jerry Jeudy quietly finished as the WR20 and 46th overall player in fantasy points over expected per game. He averaged 5.5-80-0.5 in his 11 healthy games with four (4) games of 100+ yards. Jeudy's too flashy as a route runner and has historically been very bad versus zone (read Reception Perception), but Payton's focus is to hone in his craft and I thought there was some more control in his game last year. His 2.2 yards per route run are in line with other fantasy WR2s... Courtland Sutton has been the 111th and 125th overall players the last two years. On tape, I don't think he's fully recovered from his 2020 ACL tear. His yards after the catch per reception was 4.5 yards pre-injury to just 2.3 yards since, resulting in a mediocre 1.5 yards per route run. There's some risk of Tim Patrick ($11M cap hit) and/or 2nd-round rookie Marvin Mims rotating in. Sutton, who has no connection to Payton, has been in trade talks all offseason.... Patrick has a career 1.5 YPRR but missed all of 2022 with a torn ACL. He should be near full speed by training camp.... Our video on Mims is here. In short, there are tools to work with, but he's a developmental prospect who was used in the slot and heavily on option routes that don't necessarily translate cleanly to the NFL. His lack of size and his youth could make him a 2024 breakout candidate. 56% of his yards and 100% of his touchdowns came on targets 20+ air yards downfield, as most of his routes are of the deep variety. I'd be surprised if Mims played in many 2-WR sets as a rookie.
Greg Dulcich is a former Bruin who actually is decent at football. Rare. A fun seam-stretching receiving prospect, Dulcich ran 32 routes per game with a super high 12.7 average depth of target as a rookie. He only blocked on 4% of his passing snaps, but that's because he's a below-average blocker. That's the concern. Payton may want a more traditional TE in this run-heavy offense. In fact, he immediately signed elite blocker Chris Manhertz in free agency and then traded for Adam Trautman, who Payton drafted while in New Orleans. There's a path to fun, especially after Payton called him a "Joker", but Dulcich easily could be relegated to fewer 1-TE sets than we'd like. He's a boom-bust TE2 with some upside. Dulcich was the TE20 as a rookie, showcasing a decent 1.3 yards per route run.
Javonte Williams is attempting to return from a very serious multiple-ligament knee tear, similar to what J.K. Dobbins deals with. Pre-injury, Williams had above average forced missed tackle rates and had a potential three-down skillset (5'10/220), but the Broncos are incentivized to play the long game now that he has a nice complement in Samaje Perine, who Payton sold on coming to Denver because of a path to playing time in addition to getting a 2-year, $7.5M contract. Perine is an innings eater who featured on passing downs, plus can mix in at the goal line at 5'11/235. According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, the Broncos have been in the mix for Dalvin Cook, which could be viewed as a slight on Williams' rehab. For reference, Latavius Murray was the RB34 per game as Russ's top option.
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WR22 Jerry Jeudy (41.6 overall) --> Buying
RB29 Javonte Williams (93.0) --> Fading
WR48 Courtland Sutton (94.5) --> Fading
RB34 Samaje Perine (107.1) --> Mixing in
QB18 Russell Wilson (132.6) --> Mixing in
TE15 Greg Dulcich (142.7) --> Mixing in
WR73 Marvin Mims (161.6) --> Fading
WR88 Tim Patrick (207.1) --> Mixing in