Should you take a stab at Nick Foles? Will the king of garbage time Rod Smith reign supreme one more time? Did Tyrell Williams finally have the light bulb turn on? I’m desperate at Tight End, will Adam Shaheen save my season? All of these are fair questions and this article will not address any of them. I’m a firm believer in relying on what got you there than let the cards fall as they may. If you’re considering any of them then it’s because the guys that got you to this point are injured. Don’t get cute with your lineup now; if you’re wrong with your December waiver play you’ll be a lot harder on yourself than if you just started Mike Evans again.
Now that we have that out of the way, this article is geared towards the 2018 planner. Whether you’re still in the hunt or your season is long over, there’s always room to speculate on some futures. There are several different methods one can take to uncover one, but a tried and true one is combing through injured reserve. Identifying young players teams have stashed away in the hopes that they develop into their core in short order. Many names come to mind, but specifically Victor Cruz, Danario Alexander, and Miles Austin stick out. All were protected by their respective teams then seemingly broke out of nowhere the following season. Shrewd owners already had them on their rosters though. There are some out there right now, so it’s just a matter of taking the best gambles possible.
Look no further than the Denver Broncos. In case you slept through the season, their offense has been a mess this year. After bursting out of the gates hot they have eclipsed 20 points just two times since Week 3. Their future at Quarterback has not played a snap as a Bronco this season, their two best wide receivers will be on the wrong side of 30 come opening day 2018, their best Tight End has just 224 yards on the season, and C.J. Anderson has faded below 4 yards per carry. Insert your choice cliché here (Rome wasn’t built in a day, it’s a marathon not a sprint, etc.), but there will be major changes to this group over the next couple of seasons. That said, two of their solutions may already be on their roster.
While the Broncos knew when they drafted him that Jake Butt may not play in 2017 they did not expect the same from 3rd round pick Carlos Henderson – he was injured in the preseason. Both are currently on season ending injured reserve, but both have a very strong chance of starting as soon as next season. The Tight End market leaves plenty to be desired and relying on rookies at this position in particular usually nets poor results, so Butt will be given every opportunity to start. While the Broncos deny it, there were rumors they were trying to trade Demaryius Thomas this past October. Additionally, both Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders have outs in their contract after the 2018 season, so the Broncos will be looking to replace them. Butt and Henderson may not be as attractive of candidates if the Broncos didn’t also have so many other holes to fill before next season — but they do. Their resources will first be directed at Quarterback. Next will be upgrading their leaky offensive line. While the defense is still the strength of the team, ignoring it wouldn’t be prudent. And finally this year’s Running Back class is being talked about in the same breath as last year’s outstanding class. There are only so many deficiencies that can be addressed, so it leaves me believing these two will get legitimate opportunities to breakout on a retooled offense in 2018.
The multi-million dollar question, will they be successful? In Henderson’s case, for not being all that big a 35.3% red zone conversion percentage in college is outstanding. Like your typical slot receiver, he is excellent after the catch with the ball in his hands; not just making guys miss but running through and out of tackles too. Unlike your typical short area/intermediate slot receiver, he makes plays all over the field, makes contested catches, and is effective in jump ball situations. As for Butt, while it’s debated whether he was a 1st round talent before his January 2017 ACL injury, his play making ability can’t be debated. Does he have the athleticism to be a star? At this point we don’t know, but given his production he presents a great floor in the event that he is not. While he’s not the greatest blocker (but he’s a willing one) he is adept at fighting off defenders than finding open space, the outlet option quarterbacks love relying on when in a jam – especially on 3rd down. He also makes contested catches, which makes him an effective red zone option. This is especially important because he doesn’t have the ability to make plays in the open field. If he’s going to be a plus option in our game then he needs to be a double digit touchdown threat. Plus he signed a marketing deal with Charmin. How can you not love that?
This Week’s Flavors of the Week are: Chili With Beans and Chili Without Beans
Which one is better depends on the pallet and what part of the country you currently reside, but with the proper amount of time to let the flavors develop let’s be honest – they’re both great. You may prefer one or the other, but in the end you really want both of them.