Championship Round team fantasy preview: Broncos
Here is a breakdown of the Broncos from a fantasy perspective heading into their AFC Championship matchup with the Patriots.
Wes Welker returned last weekend after a three-game absence and fell right back into the fold with six catches and a touchdown. So, the Broncos head into this championship game with their receiving corps fully stocked. In terms of fantasy value, the leader remains Demaryius Thomas. He leads the group in targets, yards, catches, and touchdowns. He scored on the Patriots back in Week 12 and has averaged 112 yards in three games against them.
Eric Decker's week-to-week numbers have been inconsistent, but he's liable to go off at any moment and become this offense's most dangerous weapon – just ask the Chiefs. Welker hasn't topped 75 yards in a game since Week 8, but he has scored 11 times in 14 games. Julius Thomas has pitched in another 12 touchdowns and was the third-most productive tight end in fantasy. These guys seem to make the most of their opportunities, and Peyton Manning's presence has turned all of them into elite fantasy options every week.
As good as Denver's passing attack has been, it's running back Knowshon Moreno who has forced opposing defenses to pick their poison. Moreno had a career year in 2013 as he compiled 13 touchdowns and more than 1,500 total yards. In fantasy, he was a preseason waiver-wire add in many leagues and turned into a top-five RB. His best performance came against the Patriots as he churned out 224 yards on 37 carries.
Moreno came out of that game hobbled, so the Broncos needed another runner to ease the burden on him. Enter rookie Montee Ball. Ball has solved his early fumbling woes – he has lost the ball just once since September – and has been rewarded with more carries in the second half of the season. He's handled double-digit touches in four of his past six games and averaged about 65 yards per. Moreno is the smarter fantasy start, but Ball is contributing significantly. Keep in mind that Ball's 2014 value could go through the roof if Moreno signs elsewhere as a free agent this offseason.