Broncos fantasy football outlook for Week 7 against the Browns
The Denver Broncos are desperate for a win on Thursday night as they travel to play the Cleveland Browns in their only nationally televised game. It’s a game where the offense needs to score more points, and the defense must play better than they have in about a month.
Fantasy general managers have gotten some good performances on “Thursday Night Football” in 2021, but this is not the week to be looking for a jumpstart to your fantasy week. The Browns have been ravaged by injuries, more than the Broncos have, but they are a well-coached team with talent and depth.
Here is advice for fantasy GMs considering starting Broncos players in Week 7.
Teddy Bridgewater or Drew Lock – On Your Bench
The Broncos can’t let Teddy Bridgewater get hit as much as he did last week, or he won’t make it through the game against the Browns. Bridgewater was hit 17 times against the Raiders, and during this week of practice he had a noticeable limp as he deals with a foot injury.
On a short week, Bridgewater is going to be hard pressed to make it through the game against the Browns. He’s been posting decent numbers even as the Broncos have been losing, but those numbers have been hollow and coming mostly in garbage time. Those points count in fantasy football, but it’s difficult to bank on their being garbage time when the game is out of hand.
If Bridgewater is hurt against the Browns, then Drew Lock will come into the game. Lock has not gotten many reps this week in practice per head coach Vic Fangio. He’ll be underprepared if he plays against the Browns, and that’s not a good thing. Add in the enormous pressure the quarterback will be under, and you can see how Lock – one of the worst quarterbacks in the league under pressure – would not perform well. It’s best just to stay away from this quarterback situation in Week 7.
Melvin Gordon – RB2/flex | Javonte Williams – RB2/flex
It’s the same story every week with the running back situation. Melvin Gordon is playing good football for the Broncos. He’s running the ball with speed and can be effectively used in space as a receiver. Javonte Williams is standing out each week and will usually provide at least one run that makes a highlight reel as he runs over and through multiple defenders. He can also catch passes out of the backfield and pick up positive yards when given the chance.
Neither Gordon nor Williams is given much of a chance by offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur. They don’t run the ball enough, and they go away from the run at the drop of a hat. During this week, Shurmur basically told a tall tale when he said the team doesn’t have the opportunity to keep running the football. That’s bogus and incorrect.
The Broncos can run the ball with power and speed by their dynamic duo at the position. Shurmur needs to stick with the run, even when behind or even when a run or two gets stuffed for minimal gain. His job has to be on the line this week, so maybe he changes his philosophy – but I doubt it. That makes Gordon a RB2/flex play for your fantasy team and Williams is also a RB2/flex in Week 7.
Courtland Sutton – WR2 with upside | Tim Patrick – WR3/Flex
The quarterback situation will directly and perhaps negatively affect the top two wide receivers for the Broncos. With Bridgewater under fire all game long, short passes should be the order of the day. This keeps the Browns pass rush away from Bridgewater, and this gets the ball into the hands of the playmaking wide receivers so they can pick up yards after the catch.
Courtland Sutton has been quite productive over the last two weeks. He’s coming through as the top target for the offense while Jerry Jeudy is still on the mend. Jeudy is likely to come back in Week 8, so Sutton has one more week of performing like a WR2 with upside – even if the game plan is short passes instead of the long targets Sutton regularly gets.
Tim Patrick has been the most consistent receiver this year. Like Sutton, Patrick has thrived over the last two weeks but just at a different level. He can use his big frame to box out smaller defenders in the end zone and that benefits his fantasy value. Patrick is a flex play you can trust on a weekly basis.
Noah Fant – Low-Dnd TE1
If you bank on garbage time, then Fant can be a starter for you in Week 7. His blocking ability has been poor this season, but you don’t get fantasy points for blocking. Instead, you get points for receiving yards and Fant nearly had 100 yards against the Raiders last week.
The Broncos should use short passes to extend drives, and that means Fant could be in for a large target haul in Week 7. While he struggles as a blocker and he doesn’t pick up much after contact, Fant has the speed to rip off a big play here and there. He’s a low-end TE1 for fantasy GMs, but you may be considering a waiver wire tight end like Zach Ertz (Cardinals) or Ricky Seals-Jones (WFT) this week.
Broncos Defense – Low-End D1
Going up against former Broncos quarterback Case Keenum isn’t that much of an advantage for the Denver defense. Keenum isn’t that much of a downgrade from a banged-up Baker Mayfield. In fact, Keenum might be an upgrade with the way that Mayfield was struggling last week against the Cardinals.
Keenum knows the system, and the West Coast offense is a good fit for his skill set. We don’t know if Odell Beckham Jr or Jarvis Landry is going to play on Thursday night. We do know Donovan Peoples-Jones is emerging as their no.1 target. We also know that they have three tight ends (David Njoku, Harrison Bryant, Austin Hooper) that can attack the Broncos defense.
We should see Von Miller get at least a sack on Keenum. His pressure should help the back end of the defense, and they might be able to force Keenum into turning the ball over. The Broncos defense has not been as good as expected, but they can be trusted as a low-end D1. Part of that is the matchup against the Browns, and part of that ranking is the fact that six teams are on bye in Week 7.
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