Where should you draft the Denver Broncos in fantasy football 2022?
It’s Labor Day weekend, and that means a lot of fantasy football drafts are happening across the country. This week, the 2022 NFL season begins on Thursday night with a matchup between the Buffalo Bills and the Los Angeles Rams at SoFi Stadium in California. That means fantasy GMs will need to draft their teams, and then they’ll be setting their starting lineups for the first time this year.
The Denver Broncos have a much more exciting offense this season. Many fantasy GMs are excited about the potential of the skill position players on this team. However, some of the summer hype might be out of control from a fantasy perspective.
So, where should you select your favorite Broncos players in your fantasy drafts? Let’s take a look.
Russell Wilson, Low End QB1 (ADP 7.09)
The potential is there for Broncos starting quarterback Russell Wilson to post career-best numbers in 2022. The only time he had more than 500 passing attempts in his pro career (2017), Wilson led the league in touchdown passes (34). Wilson was the no.1 fantasy quarterback that season, and in two of the past three seasons he’s been a top-6 player at his position. Last year battling through injury, Wilson was not able to post the numbers we’re accustomed to and in 14 games finished as the no.18 fantasy quarterback.
So, is he the player he used to be or is 2021 a sign of things to come? I’ll say Broncos head coach Nathaniel Hackett is going to craft a much more friendly offense for Wilson than Seahawks coach Pete Carroll did. That’s great news from a fantasy perspective, but I’m not going to get carried away early in the season. Wilson did not play in the preseason, so there is going to be some rust to shake off – especially as he hones his skill in this new system. Because of a potential delay in production, I’m drafting Wilson as a low-end QB1 in combination with another player going off the board around the same time (Kirk Cousins, Matthew Stafford, etc). That way I can start Wilson when the offense (and his production) heats up later in the season.
Javonte Williams, High End RB2 (ADP 2.09)
I love Broncos starting running back Javonte Williams. That being said, I can firmly say he’s getting drafted at his ceiling. Everyone is excited about Williams, and he certainly has the ability to be the bellcow back I envisioned when he came out of North Carolina last year. The problem is Hackett runs a system that will feature two running backs, so Williams will split time again with Melvin Gordon. Last year, the Broncos duo each had 203 carries and their all-purpose yardage was nearly identical as well. This year, Williams should be the starter after only starting one game as a rookie in 2021, and I feel he will get more carries than Gordon.
Williams is going off the board in the first round in some drafts, and that’s way too high. Even though he has the potential to pay off at that ADP (average draft position), it would take a Gordon injury for that to happen. Anything is possible, but projecting both backs to be healthy for most of the season means Williams will be more of a RB2 with upside than a RB1 top-5 stud. Again, I believe he can get there – but this isn’t the situation for that to happen.
Melvin Gordon, Flex With Upside (ADP 9.05)
This running back split is going to be monitored closely by all in the fantasy community. Those outside the world of fantasy football, especially those tasked with covering the team, will break their arm patting themselves on the back when it comes to projecting this split. The honest truth from someone who both covers this team and has analyzed fantasy football professionally for 17 years is that nobody can answer that question.
I said this could be a 70-30 split favoring Williams before the start of training camp. Early on, Gordon was getting third-team reps and very few if any first-team reps after skipping out on voluntary work during OTAs. It didn’t take long for Gordon to earn more work with the starters, and now 70-30 seems like a foolish prediction. Something more in line with a 60-40 split seems likely, and Gordon could get some of the high-value touches near the end zone. That means his current ADP in the ninth round could give fantasy GMs the value that picking Williams in the second round does not.
Courtland Sutton, WR2 (ADP 4.01)
I believe we have yet to see the best from wide receiver Courtland Sutton. I called him the ‘steal of the draft’ when the Broncos selected him in the second round of the 2018 NFL draft. Since then, Sutton has only one 1,000-yard season on his resume. That year, 2019, Sutton finished as the no.18 fantasy receiver with 1,112 receiving yards and six touchdowns. Those numbers, perhaps with a slight uptick in receiving yards, seem like a good place to start this year.
Sutton injured his knee in 2020, missing most of that season, and in 2021 he did not look like his old self. I can say with certainty that Sutton does look like himself this year in training camp. While he struggles to get open against Pat Surtain (everyone does), Sutton has looked like Wilson’s favorite target. I think Tim Patrick was Wilson’s ‘struggle target’ early in camp, but that role now goes to Sutton in addition to his duties as the no.1 receiver for this team. Again, the offense could struggle early as starters didn’t play in the preseason. Don’t get discouraged in Sutton, but instead make sure to have him at the ready as a steady WR2 for your fantasy team every week.
Jerry Jeudy, WR3/flex (ADP 5.11)
I’m not sure what the future holds for former first-round pick Jerry Jeudy. The talent has always been there with a player I considered the best wide receiver in the best wide receiver draft class in NFL history (2020). I’m sick of talking about his potential. It’s time to see production from Jeudy. He has failed to stay healthy, and he’s failed to impress for most of his two pro seasons. That has to change with Wilson under center.
Wilson talks up Jeudy a lot, and we’ll see if that translates to the football field. Unlike the other quarterbacks Jeudy has had with the Broncos, Wilson will give him a bit of extra time to get open. Jeudy is a great route runner, but he’s always doing too much dancing somewhere along his route tree. Other quarterbacks would come off him as he wasn’t yet open in the timing of the offense. Wilson will go through his progressions, but he’ll also know Jeudy might need a beat or two more to get wide open. I’m not going to risk an early pick on Jeudy’s potential. Instead, I see him as a WR3/flex play I can start based on matchups. He could outperform my expectations, but I need to see it to believe it.
Albert Okwuegbunam, TE2 (ADP 13.06)
This offense will feature two-TE sets early and often. That’s good news for starting tight end Albert Okwuegbunam. The bad news is he can’t block effectively. For this offense to work at the very best it can be, the tight ends need to be able to at least effort block. If Okwuegbunam can improve that part of his game, then the upside of an every week starter is there given his skill set and the nature of this offense.
I think he’s a mismatch every time he gets on the field. Okwuegbunam is too big for safeties or cornerbacks to cover, and he’s much too fast for linebackers to cover. He needs to grow in his confidence as a receiver because Wilson could be looking his way more than some think. He’s worth rostering as a TE2 with the upside to be more for your fantasy team in 2022.
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