Tuesday - Apr 23, 2019

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Fools Gold?

Everyone was salivating at the match-up. Two great quarterbacks. Two soft defenses. That’s a recipe for fantasy gold, right?

Well, the teams combined for 871 yards of total offense, so I guess that’s an accurate description.

Unfortunately, the production was not what it could have been.

This had nothing to do with the Saints; these guys went into Denver and picked the Broncos apart. Drew Brees was the picture of efficiency, completing 39 of 48 passes for 421 yards and a touchdown. Reggie Bush was phenomenal. He had 148 total yards and two TD’s. Jeremy Shockey had a big day, and wideouts Robert Meachem and Lance Moore each had more than 75 receiving yards. Even Pierre Thomas chipped in with two rushing TD’s.

When the prognosticators said, “start all your Saints”, they weren’t kiddin’. Rarely do you see a team spread production around like New Orleans did yesterday. I guess when there’s 502 yards and four touchdowns to work with, it makes it easier to doll out pieces of the pie.

Denver’s offensive output was less spectacular; at least it was less diversified. Jay Cutler had a good day, completing 21 of 34 passes for 264 yards and two TD’s. Brandon Marshal did his thing, catching 6 passes for 155 yards and a score. But Eddie Royal had only four catches for 11 yards. Tony Scheffler had four catches for 32 yards. He finished the game as the 2nd best Bronco receiver (there were six Saints that had more receiving yards than he did).

How about that Denver backfield? Well, the three-headed monster of Andre Hall, Selvin Young and Michael Pittman combined for 107 yards and a TD.

So basically, the only Bronco players that had an impact were Cutler and Marshall. I know I haven’t told you anything that you couldn’t have gathered from perusing the box scores, but I think there may be something deeper here.

Denver has been heralded as

the offense of 2008. So how is it that they looked flat when a terrible defense came to town? How good

, really, is this Bronco unit?

I know, I know. It’s just one game. Cutler is an elite talent and he’s going to have a big season. But maybe –

maybe – we’ve all jumped on the Denver bandwagon a little too quickly. Perhaps Tony Scheffler isn’t one of better tight ends in fantasy football. Perhaps Eddie Royal, whose fantasy value is certainly linked to the Denver hype, isn’t what everyone had hoped. Straight up: it’s possible that we were sold so easily on this offense because we

expected Cutler to take the next step in 2008. Once we saw signs that the prophecy was being fulfilled, we bit. Suddenly, by virtue of playing on Shanahan’s squad, Bronco pass-catchers became gold.

Remember, this all happened after two games – two games in which Denver was matched up against sub-par defenses.

Hey, I’m as guilty as the next guy. I’ve been hooked in as well. Last week, in an article I wrote about Eddie Royal, I raved about the Broncos offense. I called them prolific and explosive. Let me tell you, yesterday in Denver, these words could have been used… but not to describe the home-town boys.

Actually, I think the word ‘prolific’ sort of pinpoints a minor problem here. Denver may not have the capacity to spread production around as other juggernaut offenses do. At least not on a consistent basis.

Think about the Indianapolis Colts. Outside of Peyton Manning, there are a number of major contributors (well, there have been in the past): Marvin Harrison, Reggie Wayne, Joseph Addai and Dallas Clark. These guys are among the best in the league.

How about the Dallas Cowboys? Aside from Tony Romo, you have Terrell Owens, Jason Witten and Marion Barber. In terms of fantasy impact, these three players could very well finish the 2008 season at the top of their respective positions.

These are two dominant squads. I’m not talking about the past few weeks; I’m saying that when these teams are firing on all cylinders, there are big numbers all around. I don’t think that Denver deserves to join this party quite yet. There hasn’t been enough of a sampling (really, only two games that qualify).

Let’s not forget: the Broncos have a

very young offense. Cutler has just one year as a full-time starter under his belt. Brandon Marshall and Tony Scheffler are in their third year. Selvin Young and Andre Hall are in their second. Eddie Royal is a rookie.

With a unit like this, you should probably expect some ups and downs.

Of course, Cutler is going to be one of the better quaterbacks of 2008; maybe even the best. Marshall is arguably the most talented receiver in the game. But these two players do not a dominant offense make. I have no doubt that this will become an elite group, but the real fruit may be a year away.

At the very least, we should wait until we see Denver play a solid defense before we lump them in with the other perennial powerhouses.

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