Denver is off to a surprising 4-1 start after losing a disastrous opener in Miami. The defense underwent a major reconstruction in the off-season, bringing in defensive linemen Gerard Warren, Courtney Brown, Michael Myers, and Ebenezer Ekuban from the Browns. Denver even snagged their defensive line coach, Andre Patterson, just for good measure. Other newcomers on the defense include speedy linebacker Ian Gold, returning after a one-year stint in Tampa; and rookie cornerbacks Darrent Williams and Dominique Foxworth, who have been pressed into action early due to injuries. You’d think with all these changes it would take some time for this group to mesh together and play well, but the impact has been immediate. A strong running game has allowed the Broncos to play with the lead, and their rebuilt defense has allowed them to keep it.
|Team Stats (numbers in parentheses are NFL Ranking)|
|Rushing Offense||148.4 (2)||5 (t7)|
|Passing Offense||164.4 (26)||5 (t21)|
|Rushing Defense||88.2 (5)||3 (t12)|
|Passing Defense||234.2 (25)||6 (t12)|
|11 takeaways (t6)
5 giveaways (t4)
+6 overall (5)
As always, the Broncos rank near the top in rushing offense and defense. Jake Plummer’s passing yards are down, but so are his turnovers. If Denver can bring their talented rookie corners along and continue to stay on the positive side of the turnover column, this team will be very tough to beat.
Average Opposing Defensive Ranking: 17.9
This is where Denver is going to have some problems. Although some of the numbers show a fairly low ranking, this schedule is brutal. It begins this week with the World Champs, followed by a cross-country trip to take on a hot Giants team with a potent passing attack. Then T.O. and the Eagles come to town. After the bye, it’s a rivalry game in the Black Hole, followed by a short week of preparation for a Thanksgiving Day game in Dallas. Next up – Arrowhead, then a Ravens team that always seems to give the Broncos trouble, and another long flight to Buffalo in mid-December. Most of these teams match up well with the Broncos, by having strong run defenses and dangerous passing offenses. If Denver can make it through this schedule and earn a playoff spot, they will certainly be battle-tested and ready for January.
Bradlee Van Pelt
Kyle Johnson (FB)
Plummer’s fantasy stats have been disappointing this year, although he has only turned over the ball 3 times in 5 games. Don’t expect things to improve with this group of receivers. Rod Smith is still a reliable target, but he can’t make the long TD play any more. Ashley Lelie is maddeningly inconsistent, making all the hard catches and dropping the easy ones. And while Charlie Adams and Darius Watts have shown promise at times, neither one is worth having on your roster. What’s that? You want to know who is starting at running back? Sure, so do I. But most of us have been playing fantasy football long enough to know that Mike Shanahan doesn’t reveal his starting RB plans from week to week. This is the first year I’ve seen Denver use a real RBBC, changing backs between series and sometimes even between plays. Expect it to continue for the rest of the season. Jeb Putzier is the best receiver in this crop of tight ends, but it’s hard to justify a roster spot for any of them when the passing game is so anemic. Denver’s defense has probably been scooped up off the waiver wire in most leagues by now, but they are a good play if you can get your hands on them. Darrent Williams is returning kicks and punts, and he has the speed and moves to break one as well.
Next Week… I’ll take a look at a suddenly hot New York Giants team.