The Denver Broncos’ Demaryius Thomas, whose current ADP puts him at 30th overall and 15th among receivers, is one of the best values in the early rounds of the draft.
If the early rounds of this year’s draft were a used car lot, there would be plenty of flashy muscle cars which are sure to turn some heads, let’s call them Dez Bryant and Jordy Nelson; they may look good, but are prone to break down. The smart buyer looks for the vehicle that’s going to carry him the furthest. That’s right, Thomas is the Toyota Camry of this year’s fantasy football wide receivers. He is incredibly underrated and won’t let you down. Allow me to elaborate.
Thomas provides value every single week. He has averaged 1,447 yards and 10.25 touchdowns over the past four seasons. Despite his “subpar” performance last season, producing only 1,304 yards and six touchdowns, Thomas still ranked amongst the top 20 scoring WRs for 10 of 16 weeks (standard scoring), tied with Antonio Brown, Julio Jones, and Deandre Hopkins for the fifth most such weeks.
A Changing of the Guard
Of course, this season the Broncos bid adieu to Peyton Manning. After multiple seasons of watching Manning sling it to many a Broncos WR, Manning’s departure doesn’t look great. Compound that with the departure of Brock Osweiler and the return of C.J. Anderson, and the skeptics might seem justified in thinking that the Broncos aren’t looking to air it out too much.
Here’s the catch though, we all saw Manning play last season. Nobody thought he was the same legendary field general we’ve come to know and love. I’m not the only one who thinks that Mark Sanchez is a marked improvement from the Manning that we saw last season. Though Sanchez’s struggles with the Jets were well documented, he made significant improvements with the Eagles over the past 2 seasons. With them he completed 64 percent of his attempts, averaging 7.6 yards. Compare that with Manning’s 60 percent completions and 6.8 yards per attempt last season, and it starts to sound, well, not outrageous – Sanchez is an improvement at the QB position. Remember that Thomas accomplished this while catching passes from a broken-down Manning, Tim Tebow, Brock Osweiler, and Kyle Orton. Even if Paxton Lynch starts, it’s hard to see that limiting Thomas too much.
Help in the Trenches
Also improved is the Broncos’ offensive line. Despite what their Super Bowl trophy may suggest, the Broncos had one of the more turbulent, injury-riddled offensive lines in the league last season. This offseason, they’ve made a significant effort to rectify the issue, the highlight of which was the signing of Russell Okung, who Bleacher Report ranked as the No. 12 left tackle in the NFL in 2015, to replace Ryan Harris (ranked No. 34). Whoever is slinging the ball in Denver is likely going to be better protected.
The Gary Kubiak Effect
Many comparisons can be drawn between Gary Kubiak’s 2016 Broncos and the 2012 Texans. The 2012 Texans featured a less-than-elite Matt Schaub at QB and the No. 2 fantasy running back (Arian Foster), but still managed to get Andre Johnson 112 receptions, and a finish as the seventh-highest scoring WR in fantasy that year. These Broncos are likely to have an impressive rushing attack, but with a QB running Kubiak’s system, there’s reason to believe that Thomas is in for a lot of attention.
Quick recap: Thomas finished at No. 13 amongst WRs last season, is getting an improved, better-protected QB, is part of an offense with a long history of featuring No. 1 WRs, and he’s available as the 15th receiver? I don’t buy it, and you shouldn’t either.