The Broncos have played great over the last two seasons with Peyton Manning behind center. They have gone 26-6, but they didn’t deliver a Super Bowl win. Denver scored the most points in NFL history in 2013 (606 total- 37.9 per game). Even with an explosive offensive team, Denver couldn’t overcome their shortfalls on the defensive side of the ball. They allowed 110 more points in 2013 than 2012, which resulted in them dropping to 22nd in the league in points allowed. Their weakness was exposed in the second half of the Super Bowl when the Seahawks outscore them 35 to 10. This year’s team will have a totally different identity, making the road to the Super Bowl even harder for John Fox and Peyton Manning. Fox returns for his third season as the head coach for Denver. He has made the playoffs in three straight seasons (34-14). In his career, Fox is 107-85 with two Super Bowl appearances. Adam Gase is also returning for his second season as the offensive coordinator. He’ll have his hands full attempting to repeating his rookie success. Jack Del Rio must rekindle the upside on the defensive side of ball in his third season. The Broncos finished 15th in the league in rushing yards (1873) while only gaining 4.1 yards per rush with 16 rushing TD’s. They had the best passing attack in NFL history. Denver averaged 340.2 passing yards per game with 55 TD’s and 10 Int’s. Peyton was also sacked a league low 20 times. Their pass defense finished 27th in the league in passing yards per game allowed (254.4). The Broncos allowed 29 passing TD’s with 41 sacks. The rushing defense was respectable (7th in the league – 1,626 yards), but they allowed too many rushing TD’s (15).
Peyton Manning (QB) – Manning continues to build on his Hall of Fame resume. He had an incredible 2013 where he set an NFL record for passing yards (5477) and passing TD’s (55). Peyton attempted a league high 659 passes (6th all-time) with a league high 450 completions (2nd all-time). For any quarterback in the NFL to have this type of success, they need five elite options in the passing game. Entering 2013, Manning appeared to have limited upside at the tight end position. Julius Thomas emerged as the difference maker option, which was the key player to push Peyton to the highest level of his career. Four players on the Broncos had 10 or more TD’s – Demaryius Thomas (14), Julius Thomas (12), Eric Decker (11), and Wes Welker (10). This year he lost two of his top five options in the passing attack. With the offensives changes, a fantasy player has to decide how high Manning’s upside will be again in 2014. His offensive line looks rock solid headed into this year. Peyton was sacked a league low 20 times with eight of those sacks allowed by a replacement left tackle due to an injury. I believe the addition of Emmanuel Sanders and rookie Cody Latimer will somewhat absorb the loss of Decker, but the Broncos will lose value at this position in TD production. I don’t see Montee Ball replacing Knowshon Moreno in the passing attack. His receptions will rise, but Manning will need to find a playmaking receiver out of the backfield. C.J. Anderson may have more upside than Ronnie Hillman. There’s a lot to like about Denver’s offense again this season. Manning has his eyes set on beating all of Brett Favre‘s passing records. Peyton’s high upside in 2013 was helped by the poor defensive play of the Broncos. There’s no doubt he will be the first quarterback taken in this year’s fantasy draft season with a very good chance of another 5,000 yards with 45+ TD’s. His downside would be an injury to one of his top receiving options.
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