Broncos fantasy football outlook for Week 5 against the Steelers
The Broncos got punched in the mouth last week and are looking to bounce back. They’re back on the road, this time traveling to play the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday. It will be interesting to see how they respond to the beating they took last week at home.
Fantasy general managers were burned by most Broncos players last week against the Baltimore Ravens. While the Steelers aren’t what they used to be, starting the 2021 season with a 1-3 record, they are still a well-coached team with quality players on both sides of the ball.
Here is advice for Fantasy GMs considering starting Broncos players in Week 5.
Teddy Bridgewater or Drew Lock – On Your Bench
As of this writing, we don’t know if the Broncos are going to start Teddy Bridgewater or Drew Lock on Sunday against the Steelers. Bridgewater was concussed in Week 4 and had to miss the second half against the Ravens. Lock replaced him after halftime but did not play well with his opportunity.
Bridgewater was limited in practice on Thursday, and he seems to be trending in the right direction. The team certainly would perform better if Bridgewater was in at quarterback, but they have to see if he suffers any setbacks from practicing. Lock has gotten more work with the first team in practice this week as Bridgewater was on the mend. Hopefully he would play better if forced into the lineup again.
The Steelers are not the defense you want either quarterback going up against. It matters for the rest of the skill position players, but it doesn’t matter for quarterback. Bridgewater or Lock should not be starting for your fantasy team in Week 5.
Melvin Gordon – RB2/flex / Javonte Williams – RB3/flex
Both Broncos running backs are running the ball well, but both are not being used as much as they should be. Melvin Gordon has looked good as a runner and receiver out of the backfield. Rookie Javonte Williams is still dragging tacklers every week as a runner, and he is a better receiver than some give him credit for.
The Broncos have a talented backfield, they just have an offensive coordinator who won’t commit to the run. Pat Shurmur told the media on Wednesday that he is committed to the ground game, but the data and film don’t lie – he abandons the run as soon as the opportunity presents itself.
I feel like Shurmur changes his mind about the running backs as soon as one running play doesn’t work. The team, both Shurmur and “head coach” Vic Fangio, blame the fact they don’t keep drives extended and that’s why they don’t run the ball more. That’s hogwash. The team should run the ball early and often for multiple reasons yet too often go 11 personnel (three wide receivers) and pass the ball.
This problem with the coaching staff means it’s difficult for Fantasy GMs to trust either Broncos back on a week-to-week basis. Gordon is more of a RB2/flex play against the Steelers, while Williams is more of a RB3/flex play. If used correctly, either Broncos back could blow up for a big week – but that would take Shurmur calling the right plays and sticking with the ground game.
Courtland Sutton – Deep flex / Tim Patrick – WR3/Flex
Without knowing who the quarterback is for the Broncos in Week 5, it’s difficult to predict how the wide receivers will do. Bridgewater is the better passer and a leader on the team. Lock is a wild-eyed passer who holds onto the ball too long and creates problems for himself by not staying on time and on rhythm as a passer.
The Steelers defense can get after the quarterback. They rush and cover well, and that presents problems for the Broncos passing game. The offensive line has been a problem for Denver this year, especially last week against the Ravens, and that could happen again this week against the Steelers.
Courtland Sutton has mostly been down this year in terms of production. Outside of one game, Fantasy GMs have largely been disappointed by Sutton. This makes him a deep flex play, and Sutton is almost a “what the heck” flex in Week 5. Tim Patrick comes through most weeks. He’s not posting spectacular numbers but there’s usually a touchdown for Patrick on a weekly basis. Even against a tough team like the Steelers, Patrick is worth considering as a WR3/flex play.
Noah Fant – TE1
We finally saw Fant get more involved in the Broncos offense last week. Going forward, this could be the plan for the talented young player.
He saw a season-high 10 targets in Week 4, and I’d like to see Fant get a similar target load against the Steelers. Fant is a mismatch every time he’s on the field. The Broncos need to make sure that Fant is a big part of their game plan.
Albert Okweugbunam suffered a hamstring injury on Wednesday, and his status for the game on Sunday is uncertain. That could just lead to more time for Fant. Tight end is a tough position most years in fantasy football, but Fant gives you TE1 production most weeks.
Broncos Defense – Could Be No. 1 Defense in Week 5
I believe that Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is done, and that means the Broncos defense should be able to tee off on the veteran passer. In fact, the Broncos defense could be the no.1 fantasy defense in Week 5.
They don’t need to blitz to get after Roethlisberger. The Broncos can get “home” with just four guys rushing the passer. They can get Roethlisberger off his spot and force him into bad throws on Sunday.
With the rush getting after Roethlisberger, the back end of the defense could thrive. They had communication breakdowns last week against the Ravens, but that should be fixed against a less talented passer in Week 5.
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