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Player Outlooks (2023)
QB Russell Wilson: New Broncos head coach Sean Payton’s history of running successful offenses probably made him the best hire for Wilson’s fantasy outlook, and it will be up to the former Super Bowl champion quarterback to take advantage by simply playing better. Fortunately, Wilson has slimmed down this offseason, and he showed promising signs down the stretch last year (including by running more). We’re optimistic about Wilson returning to form as a highly competitive quarterback that will be in a proven system with strong weapons around him.
RB Javonte Williams: Williams coming off a very serious knee injury complicates his outlook, but Sean Payton said in the middle of last month that he might even be able to avoid the PUP list—which would be the best-case scenario. The North Carolina product is used to sharing the backfield after doing so with Melvin Gordon to begin his career, and in a system that often makes stars out of running backs, Williams can be an RB2 if healthy despite the presence of Samaje Perine.
RB Samaje Perine: With the Bengals, Perine was able to siphon off work in the passing game due to his stoutness in protection, and that led to more and more touches that he took advantage of—including in big games. Pierre Thomas was an extremely steady backup under Sean Payton in New Orleans with a 17- game pace of 1,029 total yards across eight seasons (including one where Payton was suspended for “Bountygate”) despite never being the lead back, and similar success is very attainable for Perine in 2023, so he should be a great FLEX target.
RB Tony Jones Jr.: The Broncos have been loosely connected to free agent runners, and it feels like they might eventually add to the group—even if it’s not a big-name option like Kareem Hunt. For now, Jones is the No. 3 back and knows Sean Payton well after starting his career in New Orleans, so he’s at least a name to keep in mind depending on the status of Javonte Williams.
WR Jerry Jeudy: Last year, the connection between Russell Wilson and Jeudy really started to round into form late in the season (check out the “stat to know” at the end of the article), so Jeudy investors will count on the production carrying over into 2023. On the other hand, it wouldn’t be surprising if the offense became too much of a spread-it-out attack or others become a priority, and Jeudy has been inconsistent with limited touchdown production (nine scores in 41 games) to begin his career.
WR Courtland Sutton: Sutton catching just four touchdowns over his past 37 games might be a symptom of not being in the right situation, so perhaps a scheme change is what was needed to unlock additional upside; and we did see him produce with Russell Wilson last season—particularly over the first five weeks with an average of 12.5 fantasy points per game. Still, we get the feeling others might be a priority for Denver this year, and Sutton could settle in as a frustrating WR4 with too many quiet weeks.
WR Tim Patrick: Patrick suffering a torn ACL in early August should have him ready to roll well in advance of the opener, and he shouldn’t be overlooked with back-to-back strong seasons with lines of 51/742/6 and 53/734/5 in 2021 and 2022, respectively. At six-foot-four and having the skillset to play the slot as a bigger player like Marques Colston did for the Saints from 2006 to 2015, Patrick—who notably joined his quarterback and head coach courtside at a Denver Nuggets playoff game—can be a terrific late-round value in redraft leagues.
WR Marvin Mims Jr.: Mims being the first selection made by Sean Payton in his first draft with the Broncos is worth pointing out, and the second-round rookie is the ideal situational deep threat to begin his career with the upside to turn into more. The route tree needs to be developed some after playing in a heavy spread attack at Oklahoma, but the smoothness, athleticism, and ball skills are all very good, and Mims can have “blowup” weeks in Year 1 with Russell Wilson’s affinity for uncorking the deep ball.
WR KJ Hamler: Injury issues have derailed Hamler’s career, and he’s now recovering from a torn pectoral that might put him on the clock to be ready for the opener. Either way, the speedster is missing valuable time under a new coaching staff, and he probably needs a change of scenery—now blocked by Marvin Mims Jr.—to reach his NFL potential.
WRs Marquez Callaway and Lil’Jordan Humphrey: Callaway and Humphrey both played under Sean Payton with the Saints, and they’ll be battling to make the roster as depth at wide receiver. Two seasons ago, Callaway had a 46/698/6 line, and Humphrey (who is still just 25) averaged 13.8 yards per target in limited action.
TE Greg Dulcich: A hamstring issue plagued Dulcich at the start (when he missed the first five games of the regular season) and end (missed the final two games) of his rookie campaign, so staying on the field is key for him enjoying a breakout. Sean Payton recently raved about the second-year weapon—and Dulcich has the ability to work the seams and come down with high-point grabs. The potential for favorable coverage and mismatches gives him tremendous upside for those who don’t get a top-tier tight end.
TE Albert Okwuegbunam: Okwuegbunam was a healthy scratch for much of last season, but he gets a chance to rebuild his value under a new coaching staff as a very athletic option with 4.49 speed. Although his chances of being the starter have evaporated (barring injury), Albert O can make plays if given enough snaps and might be worth adding if Dulcich were to ever miss time.
TE Adam Trautman: Trautman is another player with experience in Sean Payton’s offense, and he notably requested to be traded during the 2023 NFL Draft because of his role with the Saints. Of course, a path to expanded targets won’t be easy to come by in Denver, and his best shot will be overtaking Okwuegbunam for the backup job.
Best IDP value: CB Riley Moss
Patrick Surtain II is a lockdown-type cornerback that might not see many balls thrown his way, so Moss—taken in the third round of April’s draft—could get plenty of opportunities to make plays if he earns a starting job. At Iowa, the rookie showed he is very smooth and has an ability to not only take the ball away, but also come up and tackle.
Stat to know (via draft guide)
Over his final eight full games last season, Jerry Jeudy caught 50-of-63 targets for 682 yards and four touchdowns—giving him a 17-game pace of 106 receptions, 1,449 yards, and six touchdowns.