Broncos Fantasy News
Broncos RB Montee Ball looking 'steady' catching the ball
Friday, July 25, 2014, 8:40pm
Montee Ball had just 59 receptions in his four seasons combined at Wisconsin and many in the league said working in the passing game would be the most difficult part of his transition to a potential No. 1 back. Last August he did miss a blitz pick-up in Seattle when Manning took a huge hit from Bobby Wagner, a hit that paved the way for Knowshon Moreno to work his way back up the depth chart last fall. But Ball has looked steady catching the ball thus far, including a nice back-shoulder grab in team drills Friday.
Ball had a higher YPC (4.7) than Moreno (4.3), but wasn’t quite the weapon in the passing game. Still, his catch percentage (receptions/targets = 74.1%) wasn’t bad for a running back. His play down the stretch (8.5 FP/game in final eight games) is encouraging. He’s locked in as the RB1 in a great offense, so 10+ touchdowns seems likely.
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Friday, July 25, 2014, 8:39pm
The Broncos are approaching a crossroads with tight end Julius Thomas, who is in the last season of his rookie deal. They’d like to sign him long term, but could also use the franchise player tag next season if they do not get a deal done. Either way, Thomas has done his part so far to build on his 65-catch, 12-touchdown season in 2013. Thomas has shown a comfort level in the offense, working on the line, out wide and in the slot. He also spent some time with Tony Gonzalez this past offseason for a little guidance as well. "For me, it was understanding how you continue to play at a high level," Thomas said. "What do you do to prepare for games? What do you do to get the most out of practice? Just some things that only a future Hall of Famer and a 17-year veteran would know."
It's great to hear that Thomas spent time picking the brain of Gonzalez, a sure-fire first ballot Hall of Famer. Thomas is a favorite target in the league’s most productive passing attack, and with Eric Decker no longer with the team, the fourth-year tight end could see an increase in targets as well. He scored 12 TDs in 14 games, but wasn’t simply a redzone threat — he also averaged 4.6 receptions per game, which was 6th among tight ends.
Previewing the Steelers' WR2 competition
Friday, July 25, 2014, 1:06pm
Steelers beat writer Scott Brown on the team's WR pecking order: (Lance Moore) looked really good during offseason practices, and he is such a solid player and one of those guys who just knows how to get open. I don’t see much of a difference between the No. 2 and No. 3 wide receivers since the Steelers will use a three-wideout formation frequently. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if Moore gets the majority of the snaps opposite Brown when the Steelers use only two wide receivers. Markus Wheaton will be given every opportunity to win a starting job in camp but it won’t be given to him. If he stays healthy I think he will emerge this season and become a big part of the passing game. Wheaton wants to be great and he has the physical talent to succeed at this level.
The Steelers play a lot of three-WR sets, so we’re expecting big snaps for Wheaton even if Lance Moore is on the field for two-WR sets. (Emmanuel Sanders played 76% of the snaps in 2013, while Jerricho Cotchery played 60%.) Wheaton was a 3rd round pick and is a terrific athlete. He’s not big (5’11”) but he fits the mold of a typical Steeler receiver. Despite a short resume, Wheaton is a breakout candidate if he sees big snaps in his second year. In the last four seasons, Hines Ward, Antonio Brown (x2) and Sanders have averaged 65-848-4.5 in the Steelers' WR2 role.
Jets WR Eric Decker looked 'terrific' on Thursday
Thursday, July 24, 2014, 8:01pm
Eric Decker looked terrific. The ex-Broncos wideout showed exactly why the Jets made him the first outside free agent they landed this offseason. Decker caught everything thrown his way and ran his routes routinely and with precision. He also made a tremendous catch over cornerback Dee Milliner on a deep ball. Vick may have explained it best: "You can just tell that him working with Peyton (Manning) over the last couple of years has helped him blossom as a receiver. He’s certainly being rewarded for that. I’m glad he’s on this team. He’s going to help Geno a lot."
Thursday, July 24, 2014, 4:10pm
The Giants don't have a definitive starter at tight end no matter what the depth chart says, and, as we wrote yesterday, that is not a problem right now.
In the meantime, Tom Coughlin said he's giving equal reps to each player in hopes that a few will separate from the pack and that all will be able to play in games.
In the short-term, it appears that Coughlin has no interest in making a snap decision. Injuries, inevitably, will also help him parse out the depth chart.
"Plenty of time for that," Coughlin said. "We don't have to rush into anythi
Thursday, July 24, 2014, 11:56am
Thomas has been excused from Broncos camp until Monday so that he can return to Georgia to attend funeral services for his grandmother.
Tuesday, July 22, 2014, 6:09pm
The organization announced on Tuesday that tight end Joel Dreessen has been cut with a released/failed physical designation, per the team's official website.
Friday, July 18, 2014, 1:32pm
The Broncos kept five at the running back spot as recently as 2012, but this position shapes up to be a quality camp battle and last year’s rookie to make it -- C.J. Anderson -- could certainly hold off this year’s crop. It would certainly be a rarity to have two undrafted rookie running backs make the final 53, but Brennan Clay’s pass-catching ability is intriguing and the 225-pound Juwan Thompson would give the Broncos a bigger back with an understanding of pass protections to go with some special teams ability.
Montee Ball has 'every-down potential' in Denver offense
Thursday, July 17, 2014, 12:33pm
If you’re looking for a player for whom the Broncos have cleared the way to shine most, it’s RB Montee Ball. Let’s be clear, though: Ball earned that optimism by how he played down the stretch last season. He was the most effective runner with the ball in his hands over the last six weeks of the season/postseason. He’s smart and has the requisite work ethic, and the Broncos have seen vast improvements in his work as both a receiver and blocker in the passing game. That gives him the gotta-have-it, every-down potential in their offense. The Broncos aren’t looking to run the ball significantly more than they did in ’13, but when they do, they want to move the chains more efficiently. And when it’s time to slam the door on somebody, they’d like Ball to be the guy to do it.
Ball had a higher YPC (4.7) than Knowshon Moreno (4.3), but wasn’t quite the weapon in the passing game. Still, his catch percentage (receptions/targets = 74.1%) wasn’t bad for a running back. His play down the stretch (8.5 FP/game in final eight games) is encouraging. He’s locked in as the RB1 in a great offense, so 10+ touchdowns seems likely.
Broncos have 'big plans' for WR Emmanuel Sanders
Wednesday, July 16, 2014, 12:19pm
One of the team's best free-agent signings might be Sanders.
The Broncos get a fast-twitch receiver who makes defenders miss once he has the ball. He can play outside or in the slot in a creative three-wide-receiver look. Sanders gets the opportunity to show what he can do in an offense that was the highest scoring in league history last season.
Broncos offensive coordinator Adam Gase has big plans for Sanders and there is plenty of draw-it-up potential to work the middle of the field with players like Sanders, Welker and tight end Julius Thomas working out of the slot. Sanders gets himself away from bump coverage well and the Broncos, after getting pushed around at times at the line of scrimmage last season by some of the more aggressive secondaries, want to make teams pay more for pressing the issue this time around.
Sanders was the #35 WR in 2013, when he saw WR2 targets (112) for the Steelers. Eric Decker (138) and Wes Welker (111) saw a combined 249 targets as Denver's WR2 and WR3. With Decker gone, Welker (and TE Julius Thomas) could see a bit more work, but Sanders should be stepping into a big role. As OC Adam Gase said, Sanders is a good fit for his system and is versatile to play both inside and outside. He is very quick and is adept at making people miss, so he should thrive in Denver’s screen game.
Tuesday, July 15, 2014, 10:06am
The bottom line is the Broncos, because of the way they play offense out of a three-wide receiver look much of the time, consistently see lighter formations with as few as six players in the box.
They didn’t always take advantage of that in the run game last season, especially in the red zone, and would like to this time around. That takes an offense that is already the highest scoring in league history and gives it an unnerving ability to close out games or score touchdowns when there isn’t much room for receivers to work.
Also, there is the matter of pass protection and the guy who shows he’s the most consistent will be the guy who gets the third-down snaps or the second-and-long plays as well.
That's how Knowshon Moreno got, and kept, the starting RB job last year for the Broncos. This year, that's expected to be Montee Ball. But the story also pointed to Ronnie Hillman, and the team feels he's the biggest home run threat at the position. Ball is looking like the guy to draft and presents a great value in the second round, but owners may want to make a roster spot for Hillman as well. It appears the Broncos want to take advantage of the running game more this season.
Wednesday, July 9, 2014, 12:19pm
Pro Bowl is the mandate. We’re not here just to play football. We’re here to dominate.
That’s the motto that floated off the lips of Tom Bender when speaking of his Atlanta-based program, which trains anywhere from 25-35 NFL players at a time during the offseason. It sounds a bit bold until you consider that his clientele includes the likes of Calvin Johnson, A.J. Green and Demaryius Thomas, arguably the top three receivers in the game.
"He's learning a lot, he's integrating well and we're cleaning up some of his college issues," said Bender with a laugh.
"That's for us to discuss. It's just a matter of getting him to move better, clean up his routes, just clean up all aspects of his game."
Matthews will likely see snaps in the slot (at least) this season. Jeremy Maclin is working his way back from an ACL injury and Riley Cooper is solid, but unspectacular. There is opportunity in this offense if Matthews has a great summer, and by most accounts he has. Rookie wideouts usually don’t live up to their ADP, but there is the occasional exception.
Wednesday, July 9, 2014, 12:13pm
“The thing that I like about the Broncos is there is really no number one guy,” he added. “Peyton always goes with the favorable matchup and that’s what I’m really liking about this offense. Any guy could go off for 180 yards or 100 yards with 10 catches any week based off of matchups.”
Sanders said last season was the first time he had been used as an outside receiver after many years playing primarily as a slot receiver. With Wes Welker entrenched in the slot for Denver, Sanders will likely continue to be used on the outside for the Broncos. Denver is looking to replace the production lost from the departure of Eric Decker to the New York Jets this offseason. Sanders and second-round pick Cody Lattimer will be called upon to replace the majority of that production for the Broncos this season.
Sanders was the #35 WR in 2013, when he saw WR2 targets (112) for the Steelers. Eric Decker (138) and Wes Welker (111) saw a combined 249 targets as Denver's WR2 and WR3. With Decker gone, Welker (and TE Julius Thomas) could see a bit more work, but Sanders should be stepping into a big role if he can beat out Andre Caldwell and hold off rookie Cody Latimer. As OC Adam Gase said, Sanders is a good fit for his system and is versatile to play both inside and outside. He is very quick and is adept at making people miss, so he should thrive in Denver’s screen game.
Broncos think offense can get better
Sunday, July 6, 2014, 11:09am
The one spot where there’s clear room for improvement on the Broncos offense would be in the running game, where they felt they underperformed last season even as Knowshon Moreno was running for more than 1,000 yards. The team ran for just more than four yards per carry.
Moreno wasn’t re-signed and the team is looking to Montee Ball to carry the load well enough to set up Peyton Manning’s play-action game, something that second-round pick Cody Latimer could also help after John Elway called him the best blocking wideout in this year’s draft. Whether that leads to a better Broncos offense is up in the air, but just repeating would likely be good enough to get Denver back to the top of the AFC.
The four yards per carry isn't all that impressive when you think about how defenses looked to stop the pass. The team has pretty much handed the job to Ball, and we're on board for now ranking him 5th among our RBs. We project him for more than 1,100 yards and nearly 11 TDs, most among RBs. With an ADP of the mid-second round, that could be a huge steal. There comes some risk, though, as Ball couldn't lock the job down last year, but the ball clearly in his court...
McCoy: Nick Foles 'playing lights-out' in camp
Thursday, July 3, 2014, 10:48am
"Nick, he wants to play, he wants to get better," McCoy said, via CSNPhilly.com. "He’s playing lights-out even in camp, but he still wants to be at a higher level. He’s at that peak where people know him like, ‘Man, this Foles, is he that good?’ Because you see the stats, you see the numbers. I think this is the year he blows ‘em out like, ‘Yeah, I’m Nick Foles. I’m Philadelphia’s quarterback. I’m the guy.’ And this is the year he blows it away."
Foles posted the #3 PPG in 2013 and in 11 starts (including the playoffs) he averaged 23.1 FP, which was second only to Peyton Manning. DeSean Jackson is gone, but the return of Jeremy Maclin, the arrival of Darren Sproles and Jordan Matthews and the likely emergence of Zach Ertz should offset that loss. The only other question mark is his limited body of work. Sometimes quarterbacks take a step back in their second year as a starter — it’s also Chip Kelly’s second year as head coach — though Foles played at such a high level that even with a step back, he should still be a solid QB1.