The Yahoo Fantasy analysts will preview all 32 NFL teams between now and the eventual start of the 2020 draft season. Here, we’ll tackle pressing fantasy questions, #FantasyHotTaeks, and team win totals. Next up, the Denver Broncos.
There is a huge ADP disparity between Melvin Gordon (33.8) and Phillip Lindsay (115.3). Do you believe this is Gordon’s backfield to lose, or will we be seeing a 1A/1B situation in Denver, making them both valuable/usable in fantasy?
Dalton: I’m in on Gordon, as his contract suggests Denver is going to treat him as a workhorse. Lindsay is a fine runner but has an extremely low BMI and just finished 49th out of 50 backs in receiving DVOA, so Gordon should at minimum see all of the passing down and goal-line work. Gordon is coming off his worst season but dealt with a (poorly devised) holdout, led the NFL in broken tackles the previous two years, and is finally running behind an inside-zone scheme similar to the Wisconsin one in which he thrived during college. I’m not sold on Drew Lock, but having Courtland Sutton, Jerry Jeudy and Noah Fant as teammates should also help Gordon, whom I’ve been willing to draft aggressively this summer.
Liz: Lindsay has been a top-20 FF option in back-to-back seasons, showing off his 4.4 speed and explosiveness via double-digit breakaway runs over two consecutive efforts. Does that mean that the Broncos want to get all up in their feelings about a diminutively-sized underdog and make him their RB1? Apparently not. That’s why they added Gordon — a player who has averaged 3 red zone rushing attempts and over 4.5 targets per contest over three straight campaigns — and guaranteed the Chargers’ former bell cow $13.5 over two years.
Given Gordon’s three-down skill set, in tandem with the team’s reluctance to commit fully to Lindsay, their respective ADPs appear appropriate. Gordon is a top-20 option (ADP = RB17) while Lindsay offers FLEX appeal (ADP = RB39).
Andy: Lindsay has delivered back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons for Denver, running efficiently (4.9 YPC) and playing on a low-dollar deal. He’s given the team everything it could possibly want. So, naturally, the Broncos threw a buncha million bucks at a brand-name running back. Sure.
Gordon is obviously an excellent back and a capable receiver, plus he was paid like a featured runner. We have to assume he’s going to handle 65-70 percent of the backfield touches, with Lindsay in a rotational role. The ADPs of each player seem reasonable, given their likely roles. Lindsay is a very good back, but he’s hardly an ideal opening week fantasy starter.
Courtland Sutton broke out with his first 1,000-yard season last year finishing as WR19. What's the best-case scenario for him in 2020, and where should he be drafted?
Andy: Best-case? Well, it’s not crazy to hope for a small uptick in targets, perhaps to 140 or more. And if that happens, we could be looking at a 1,200-yard season with 8-10 touchdowns. Everyone likes Jerry Jeudy long term, but rookie skill players will face an unusually difficult transition this offseason. Sutton is the guy who already has a rapport with Drew Lock, which matters in a big way. Denver’s young quarterback was a late-season revelation in 2019 and the team surrounded him with weapons throughout the spring. I’m interested. If you’re targeting his primary receiving threat, you’ll need to draft Sutton as a WR2, inside the position’s top-24.
Liz: Sutton figures to suffer from a dilemma which the bros commonly refer to as “too many mouths to feed, man.” While he’s certainly a top-tier talent — posting 16 catches over 25 yards (WR2) — his top-eight (26.1%) target share figures to drop given the additions of route-technician Jerry Jeudy (No. 15), speedster KJ Hamler (No. 46), and pass-catching RB Melvin Gordon. From Weeks 13-17 with Drew Lock at the helm, Sutton averaged 4.4 catches and 56 yards per game. While those numbers should certainly improve given the familiarity the two already have with one another, it’s hard to imagine Sutton having the opportunity necessary to move inside of the top-15 producers at the position.
Dalton: He looked great his sophomore campaign, actually finishing top-five in WOPR, but his target share is almost certain to drop with the team spending a first-round pick on Jerry Jeudy, a second-round pick on KJ Hamler and Noah Fant continuing to develop (adding Melvin Gordon doesn’t help in the RZ either). With Drew Lock also a total question mark, I have Sutton in the 25ish range among wide receivers.
There are suddenly a ton of fantasy options on this team. Who is your favorite draft value among Lindsay (115.3 ADP), Drew Lock (128.6), Noah Fant (125.7), and Jerry Jeudy (114.6)?
Liz: My colleagues have both made cogent arguments on behalf of Fant. I don’t disagree in the slightest. However, for the sake of variety, I’ll stan for Lindsay. As previously discussed, he’s an intriguing talent, who has outshined and outproduced his previous backfield-mate, despite not having the same draft pedigree. Denver may not want to make Lindsay their workhorse but were Gordon (who has a history of knee issues) to get hurt, then the local kid would find himself ready for another #glowup moment. Given his 12th-round ADP, he’s worth considering (especially if managers are loaded on WR and satisfied waiting on TE) as a FLEX option at a scarce position … with an immediate uptick in touches were things to go sideways.
Dalton: I’ll take Fant, who has metrics in the 96th percentile or above in the 40, Speed Score, Burst Score, Agility Score, and Catch Radius while dominating in college and breaking out before age 20. He had the second-most yards per catch among tight ends last year when he also forced as many missed tackles as Zach Ertz on 48 fewer receptions while finishing with one of the five best yards per target marks by a rookie TE since 2007. Jeudy landed in a poor spot for his fantasy value.
Andy: It’s easy to make a case for Lock as a potential breakout player, but, even if he makes incredible progress, it’s difficult to imagine him actually finishing as a starting-quality fantasy QB in leagues of standard size. He’s just a superflex special. To me, Fant is the guy with the clearest path to finishing as a top-10 option at his position. As Dalton mentioned, Fant is basically a superhero-level athlete who dominated at the collegiate level. A few additional red-zone looks could easily make him an every-week fantasy play.
Andy: I’ll take Drew Lock to double-down on last season’s surprising effectiveness, finishing as a top-16 fantasy QB (and the second highest-scoring fantasy QB in his division). He was more accurate than advertised last year — check the highlights — and the team enhanced his supporting cast significantly. Lock is a decent bet to reach 4,000 yards and 25 or more TDs.
OVER/UNDER on 7.5 Win Total from BetMGM
Dalton: This number feels right and is a stay away for me, but if choosing I’d side with the OVER. Denver has an underrated defense and some highly intriguing skill position players, but getting average-type QB play will be huge. Facing the Chiefs twice is more than offset by getting the Chargers and Raiders for 25% of the Broncos’ schedule.
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