Fantasy football drafts are in full swing, so here’s some thoughts on the Broncos’ skill position players:
Quarterback Jay Cutler: Cutler’s rookie numbers look good when you project them over a season, and he has enough talent around him to have a good season, but there are probably safer picks for your starting quarterback. The Broncos will run the ball a lot, and Cutler is still inexperienced and will have some mediocre games. As a backup he does have some upside. I’d take him over a guy like Carolina’s Jake Delhomme, who’s ranked in the same area.
Running back Travis Henry: I’d want a late-round first-round pick just to have a shot at Henry, who I think is a bit undervalued. Assuming Henry is fine, and the Broncos have no worries he’ll be back for the season opener, he will carry the ball all the time. Mike Bell and Cecil Sapp won’t get a lot of time until Henry gets banged up. And based on his workload and tough running style, I’d assume Henry will miss a game or two this year. But I still think he’ll be in the 1,500-yard range with a lot of touchdowns. He could be a top 5 back who you can get at the end of the first round.
Wide receiver Javon Walker: I don’t really think he’s a good or bad value, he’s a borderline top 10 wide receiver who is a borderline top 10 pick. He’ll have some big games and make some big plays. If you’re optimistic, you think he’ll have a big year because he has a better quarterback. If you're pessimistic you might think he’ll have some low-scoring games because the Broncos are going to run the ball more. Either way, he should be a safe pick as a No. 1 receiver if you can’t grab a Chad Johnson or Terrell Owens.
Wide receiver Brandon Marshall: Take advantage of the bad publicity Marshall got early in training camp as he was nursing a quadriceps injury. The best thing that could happen if you want Marshall is for him to have a relatively quiet remainder of the preseason. Then pounce on him as a good value pick late in the draft when others are snatching up Kevin Curtis, Joe Horn and Derrick Mason. Marshall might be a year away from his breakout season, but he’s worth a shot. He’s looked good since returning to practice and didn’t look rusty against Dallas.
Tight end Daniel Graham: Tight end is such a deep position, there’s not much reason to select Graham unless the Broncos look his way often early in the season. After Graham caught a lot of passes the first few days, the Broncos didn't pass his way that much the rest of camp. He might be a good bye week fill-in at tight end. For a very deep sleeper keep an eye on Nate Jackson early in the season. He had a fantastic camp and could get some playing time early in the year as Tony Scheffler gets back into the groove.
Kicker Jason Elam: Draft him and you’ll be safe for a 100-point season. He made almost all of his field-goal attempts last year and he’ll be solid again this year.
Team defense: If your league gives points for sacks and interceptions, I don’t think the Broncos have great value. They weren’t great rushing the passer last year and are banged up on defense. Interceptions should increase a bit though, with Dre Bly alongside Champ Bailey. Fantasy-wise the Broncos’ defense should be taken somewhere in the middle of the pack.