Broncos fantasy football outlook for Week 12 against the Chargers
The Denver Broncos are coming off their bye, and they want to get back on the winning track. With five of six divisional games coming up in the final seven games of the season, the Broncos still have an outside chance of making a playoff push.
After such a disappointing loss to the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 10, what changes did they make during their bye? The Los Angeles Chargers are coming to Denver this week, and they are out to prove they’re the team to beat in the AFC West. This is no easy foe for the Broncos, but there are opportunities there from a fantasy perspective.
Here is advice for fantasy general managers considering starting Broncos players in Week 12.
Teddy Bridgewater – QB2
The Chargers defense can get after the quarterback. Even though they don’t have many sacks as a team (20), the Chargers do have a pressure percentage that ranks near the Broncos. They are the no.12 defense in the league with a pressure percentage of 25.5 percent. They have the no.7 defense in terms of quarterback hurry percentage at 11.6 percent.
While they are weak against the run, opponents don’t have to go to the air against them. If they do have to defend the pass, the Chargers have good pressure and good coverage on the back end.
This isn’t the week to start Bridgewater. Fantasy GMs don’t get excited about him on a weekly basis anyway, but Bridgewater is not even a consideration as a streaming quarterback in deeper leagues. So long as this game doesn’t get out of hand (Chargers get a big lead), Denver should be running the ball early and often.
Melvin Gordon – RB2/Flex | Javonte Williams – RB2/Flex
If Pat Shurmur sticks with the ground game, the Broncos could have great success with both Melvin Gordon and Javonte Williams. The Chargers are not good at stopping the run. In fact, they’re the worst rush defense in the NFL, ranking No. 32 in the league with a whopping 1,451 yards allowed on the ground in 2021.
I think coming out of the bye the Broncos need an improved commitment to the rushing attack. In fact, I think Williams should be the starter and the lead back. Forget any sort of committee, just feed the rookie and let him wear down the defense. The Chargers have missed more tackles this year (78) than all but three other teams in the NFL. It’s a perfect week to let Williams run wild as the lead back.
That’s unlikely to happen as this staff seems stubborn when it comes to the usage of Williams and Gordon.
The matchup is great, but the uncertainty of the staff makes these backs more RB2/flex plays for fantasy GMs. However, if one (or both?) finish as top-12 fantasy backs in Week 12 I would not be surprised. I’d be surprised Shurmur stuck with the run, but there is no doubting the talent, the skill and the poor Chargers defense.
Jerry Jeudy – Low-end WR2 | Courtland Sutton – WR4/Deep-flex | Tim Patrick – WR4/Deep-flex
Now that Courtland Sutton and Tim Patrick have been paid, the question remains if the team is going to start using them more. This is not the matchup to use the passing game, unless the Broncos fall behind and abandon the run. Heck, with Shurmur running the offense we could see them get down by a field goal and go away from the rushing attack.
With the broken tackles the Chargers allow, both Sutton and Patrick could have large gains after the catch. The Chargers are the No. 4 pass defense in the league, having allowed only 2,099 passing yards in 2021. However, over half of those yards have come after the catch (1,078). If the Broncos keep Bridgewater away from pressure, Sutton and Patrick can turn short passes into long gains.
So, what is left for Jerry Jeudy? Not much if it’s a week for Sutton and/or Patrick. The Broncos can’t feed three wide receivers and make them fantasy relevant. This is a changing situation from week-to-week, and it may be a time when Jeudy is more of a deep flex play than a WR2 like he has the potential to be every week.
Noah Fant – High-end TE2
Fantasy GMs probably have better choices at tight end than Noah Fant. He’s not a good blocker, and when Fant is on the field it’s a “tell” for defenses as to what is coming; pass or run.
As a receiver, Fant has speed and can get open underneath. However, he does not have the run-after-the-catch ability like Albert Okwuegbunam does.
Fant is a good-not-great player. From a fantasy perspective, he’s more of a high-end TE2 in this matchup against the Chargers.
Broncos Defense – Low-end D2/Bench
This is not the week to start the Broncos defense. Sure, they could have some success against the Chargers but I’m not expecting it.
The Chargers simply have too many weapons to slow down – don’t even say they can “stop” them because they can’t. Quarterback Justin Herbert may be the best in the AFC, not just the AFC West. Herbert is dangerous with his arm, patience and toughness when dropping back to pass. He’s also a scrambler who can hurt you with his legs if the play breaks down.
The Broncos will need a ton of discipline facing Herbert and the weapons in the passing game. Keenan Allen is the most underrated receiver in the league. Mike Williams has a rare size/speed combination and great chemistry with Herbert. They have two tight ends, Jared Cook and Donald Parham, who can create mismatches against linebackers.
Oh yeah, don’t forget out running back Austin Ekeler who is coming off a four-touchdown game last week. Ekeler is a compact back who can rip off a big play at any time. He’s also a great receiving option out of the backfield.
Vic Fangio is proud of his defensive scheme, and he could have something for the young Chargers quarterback. I’m not going to “bet” on it from a fantasy perspective.
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