Broncos Preview Capsule
DENVER BRONCOS (5-11)
New faces: QB Case Keenum, RB Royce Freeman, RB Phillip Lindsay, WR Courtland Sutton, WR DaeSean Hamilton, RT Jared Veldheer, CB Adam “Pacman” Jones, DE Clinton McDonald, ILB Jose Jewell, OLB Bradley Chubb, ILB Alexander Johnson, CB Tramaine Brock, S Su’a Cravens, CB Isaac Yiadom, P Marquette King.
Key losses: CB Aqib Talib, QB Trevor Siemian, QB Brock Osweiler, RB C.J. Anderson, TE Virgil Green, WR Cody Latimer, OL Menelik Watson, S Jamal Carter, P Riley Dixon.
Strengths: Nobody in league has Denver’s pass rush prowess with No. 5 overall draft pick Bradley Chubb joining Von Miller, Shaq Barrett and Shane Ray. All but Barrett are first-rounders. Few teams have bolstered one position way Broncos beefed up receiving corps with additions of draft picks Sutton and Hamilton and emergence of Tim Patrick (undrafted, Utah 2017), another tall, thick receiver.
Weaknesses: “No Fly Zone” defense is down two founding members with Talib’s trade to Rams and T.J. Ward’s release last year. Lost Carter to season-ending hamstring injury in preseason. CB Bradley Roby now full-time starter next to Chris Harris Jr. But secondary banged up all summer, especially with Cravens (knee) out, crimping chemistry. With injuries to DBs, linebackers continued trend of allowing tight ends to make big plays in preseason.
Fantasy Players to Watch: WR Emmanuel Sanders has regained speed and enthusiasm after hobbling through 2017 with ankle injury. Sanders credits energy boost on Keenum’s arrival. He and Demaryius Thomas also pushed by rookies Sutton and Hamilton. Expect Freeman to get bulk of handoffs in backfield.
Vegas Says: Super Bowl 50-1. Over/under wins 7.5.
Expectations: Broncos are out to avoid first back-to-back losing seasons since 1971-72 and end two-year playoff drought. GM John Elway gave roster injection of talented, mature rookies as all 10 draft picks plus Lindsay spent four years in college and have been captains. That’s departure from previous classes long on athleticism but short on experience. Keenum will need season like last year’s in Minnesota and his O-line will have to keep him clean for team to get leads and allow Denver’s pass rushers to do their thing.