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A typical fantasy football league consists of 12 teams nine starters (QB, two RBs, three WRs, TE, K, D) and anywhere from five to seven bench players. If you go with the latter bench allotment, you’re looking at 16 roster spots or 192 draft picks. By that definition, any sleeper should have an average draft position about 180 or higher.

 

Denver Broncos WR Jabar Gaffney doesn’t quite reach the 180 threshold, checking in with a ADP of 170 (61st WR) according to Mock Draft Central. He is, however, undervalued as the Broncos’ number one receiver.

 

He will not confuse anyone for Brandon Marshall, and in some ways that’s a good thing. He quietly goes about his business. Last year he hauled in 54 passes for 732 yards and 2 TDs. Head Coach Josh McDaniels is comfortable with Gaffney, having brought him over from New England last year.

 

So far Gaffney has had a productive preseason. He caught two passes for 37 yards in the opener against the Bengals. He followed up with six catches for 98 yards in the second game against Detroit.

 

The Broncos have several talented young WRs, but they will have growing pains. Eddie Royal is in his third season, but was an utter disappointment last year when many were expecting him to put up Wes Welker numbers. The Broncos drafted rookies Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker, but both have battled foot injuries. Unfortunately Thomas’ injury was an aggravation of a previous foot injury and it is still lingering, while Decker battled multiple injuries in college.

 

Thomas is the most talented WR on the Broncos, and will eventually take over as the top receiver. I just don’t see that happening this season. When you are adding WR depth late in your draft, don’t be afraid to take an unsexy pick like Jabar Gaffney. You don’t have to be sexy, as long as you’re steady.

 

What are your thoughts on the Broncos’ WRs?

RP4
Written by
Eric Stashin the Rotoprofessor

Eddie Royal return
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In 2008, rookie Eddie Royal looked like a budding superstar.  He was the #2 wide receiver on his team, yet he was on the receiving end of 91 catches for 980 yards and 5 TD.  He was lucky enough to have a Pro Bowl quarterback at his disposal.  His reception total was the second most ever by a rookie (to Anquan Boldin’s 101).  Unfortunately, as we close in on the start of the 2009 season, everything has changed.

First of all, he’s now the main man on the outside for the Broncos, thanks to the antics of Brandon Marshall.  Will Marshall ultimately take the field this season as a member of the Broncos?  Unless something major changes, he certainly will, but in the his role could be limited thanks to his suspension during training camp and the wedge he’s driven between himself and the franchise.

Pro Bowl quarterback Jay Cutler also had a falling out with the organization, leading to his trade to the Chicago Bears.  That leaves Kyle Orton to lead the offense, a certain downgrade.

Last season Orton completed just 34 passes of 20 yards or more, compared to Cutler’s 55.  He had 3 completions of 40 yards or more, compared to Cutler’s 7.  We’ll find out soon enough if it is the system, conditions or supporting cast, but you would be hard pressed to find someone who would consider Orton even close to the QB Cutler is.  Cutler has emerged as one of the elite, while Orton is anything but.

Now that we’ve covered the obvious, where exactly does that leave Royal?  Last season the Broncos put the ball in the air 620 times, third most in the NFL.  That allowed Marshall & Royal to combine for 195 receptions, but it is highly unlikely that the trend continues. 

With Knowshown Moreno brought in to improve a rushing offense that saw its leader have 343 yards, there should be a renewed focus on a ground attack.  Coupled with the regression in QB play, the strategy shouldn’t be a surprise.

Thanks to Marshall’s indiscretions, there’s one less receiver to target.  That’s good, because his receptions are going to go to someone.  It’s bad, because it is one less star for defenses to focus.  In turn Royal could see some double coverage this season, especially early in the season if Marshall does not take the field

While he was a second round draft choice, you also have to consider that his college career numbers at Virginia Tech were nowhere close to his professional success.  For his four-year career, he had just 119 receptions and 12 TDs.  Obviously, there’s no correlation, but you have to wonder if he will be able to repeat last season’s success, especially if Marshall is not a main focus of the offense and with Cutler no longer on the roster.

Let’s take a look at what I’d expect from him this season:

Receiving – 87 catches, 1,010 yards, 6 TD

Everything appears to be stacked against him from taking a huge next step forward this season.  That doesn’t mean that I would expect him to completely disappear into football obscurity, however.  He showed too much last season and should be able to post at least similar statistics, making him a low-end WR #2, but more of a great WR #3 in my book.  He was initially ranked as the #25 WR on our Top 25 list (click here to view), further cementing my view on him. 

What do you think of Royal for next season?  Do you think he’ll take a step forward?  Regress?  Post similar numbers?

By Marc Mancuso

Either because they are coming off down years, inuries, or are simply overlooked on their own teams, these are players which can be had at a bargain this year and could produce excellent returns for the GM willing to take on some risk. Championships are won in the middle and late rounds of drafts so be sure not to overlook these guys.

All-Undervalued Team
QB: Matt Hasselbeck, SEA — A healthy back, and some WR’s this year (TJ Housmanzadeh, and the return of Nate Burleson) combined with a suspect running game means Hass will be putting the ball up a lot this year. In 2007, he was 4th in pass attempts with 562 with fewer weapons than he has now. Hasselbeck has been going very late in drafts (round 12 and beyond) but he has the potential to put up low end QB1 stats.

RB: Larry Johnson, KC – Yes he’s a knucklehead and has a lot of wear on his tires. But at 28 and looking very good in camp thus far, Johnson has plenty left in the tank to put in solid numbers in a contract year.

RB: Ryan Grant, GB — Grant was a first round pick in 2008 in most FFL drafts. After a holdout, minor injuries and a slow start, Grant came on in the second half of 08, still producting 1200+ yards on the ground. Despite this, many owners were scared off by his totals, and he is slipping to round 4 or 5 in many drafts now. Grant is healthy, in camp, and will rebound and should produce numbers which will equal low end #1 level stats.

WR: Chad Ochocinco, CIN — Ryan Fitzpatrick is no longer a Bengal. Carson Palmer is 100% healed from elbow problems. TJ Housyoumomma is in Seattle. To think that #85 will not rebound after an awful 2008 would be a mistake. He’s only 31 years old and capable of turning in monster games. Ochocinco has slipped as far as the 6th round in many drafts, and can be a sweet value pick as your #2 WR.

WR: Eddie Royal, DEN – I’m still seeing Eddie Royal going in round 7 of drafts. In an offense like Josh McDaniel’s which is dynamic and a QB (Kyle Orton) who is not a downfield passer, Royal seems like a lock to produce stats similar to Wes Welker. Coming off 91 receptions in his rookie year, Royal made a very quick transition to the pro game, and runs fantastic routes. He could easily emerge as a low end #1, Top End #2 just like Welker has been the past 2 seasons. Consistency is what wins championships.

WR: Torry Holt, JAX — Last year was dreadful if you owned Holt. This season, he gets a chance to revive his career with Jacksonville. I’m seeing Holt go as late as the 12th round in some drafts. This is a guy who before last year was a lock to produce 1200 yards and 8 TD’s every year. David Garrard has never had a viable WR (sorry Matt Jones) and this seems like an excellent value and 1000+ Yards + 6 TD’s seems very possible.

TE: Jeremy Shockey, NO — With another year of working in Sean Payton’s high powered offense, Shockey has the potential for a nice rebound year. He was becoming a regular target for Drew Brees in 2008 but injuries hampered his development. Fantasy owners have plenty of reasons to pass on Shockey, but in a deep crop of TE’s he represents high upside at a very low price (I have been in drafts where he wasn’t even drafted). If Brees can make Lance Moore, and Billy Miller valuable, imagine what he can do with a talent like Shockey? His biggest competition may be between his ears, but Shockey reportedly has looked great in camp thus far, so the potential to return to 800 yards and 6-7 TD’s makes him a nice late value pick.

Eddie Royal return

Eddie Royal made a smashing debut with 91 catches for 980 yards and 5 TDs.  Pro Bowl QB Jay Cutler has moved on to Chicago, but Eddie’s prospects remain high.  First of all, Kyle Orton doesn’t have the cannon that Cutler had.  The Broncos could rely more on dinks and dunks than the deep ball.  That plays right into Royal’s hand.  Plus, with new Coach Josh McDaniels coming over from New England, he has had plenty of Wes Welker comparisons.  His yardage wasn’t consistent, but he had his share of targets.  He had 11 games with 5+ receptions, including four with 9+ making him especially value in PPR leagues.  His TD total wasn’t great, but he did add an additional 109 rushing yards.  Royal is a real nice WR3 and possibly a WR2 if he can find the end zone more often.  His fantasy draft stock is rising, and he’s currently going in the fifth rounds of fantasy drafts.  He easily could challenge for the league lead in receptions.  I think he’ll have 105 for 1250 yards and 6 TDs.

Lance Moore catch
Lance Moore was one of the biggest fantasy football surprises in 2008 with 79 receptions for 928 yards and 10 TDs.  Moore was very inconsistent last year with eight games with fewer than 40 yards (he salvaged one of those with a TD) and eight games with 76+ yards.  It’s hard to imagine a player with nearly 1000 yards and 10 TDs taking a major step back in just his fourth year, but that’s what I see.  First of all, Marques Colston is healthy and should return to his role of teacher’s pet.  Second, Reggie Bush and Jeremy Shockey should have increased production provided they stay health.  Plus, Robert Meachem has looked good this preseason, and could finally show his potential, which would almost be the beginning of the end for Moore.  Finally, I don’t see Drew Brees throwing for nearly as many yards.  With Pierre Thomas entrenched in the starting tailback job, I expect a more balanced attack in 2009.  Moore is going in around the 7th round of fantasy drafts, which which leads me to believe he won’t live up to the expectations that come with a seventh round pick.  I surely wouldn’t trust him as a WR3.  He could possibly be a decent WR4, but I think consistency will be an issue for him once again.  Plus, I think he takes a step back with 55 catches for 650 yards and 5 TDs.

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