Denver Broncos

AFC West

2017 Schedule

  • Week 1

    LAC @ DEN


    9:15 pm

PYRO Fantasy Depth Chart

The PYRO Fantasy Football Depth Chart is a rundown of where Team PYRO projects the fantasy production for each team at each position. It is NOT an attempt to inform you of the current starters for each team. For example, we are well aware that Brandon Manumaleuna is currently the starting TE for the Chicago Bears, but if you look at the Bears Team Page, we have Greg Olsen listed at TE. Why? We’re projecting that Greg Olsen will be the most Fantasy Football relevant TE for the Bears this season. Since Olsen will be the Bears leading FF point scorer at TE, it’s his name at the top of the TE column on our PYRO Fantasy Depth Chart.

Denver Broncos - 2014 Preseason #FF Preview





After an outstanding season that led up to an ultimate Super Bowl defeat, many of the Broncos felt that horrific feeling only reserved to the unlucky few. Many who have made it that far, but do not bask in the ultimate glory describe it like a death. With such macabre momentum, they were thrust into a long, cold summer. Well, here are some things to do in Denver when you are dead. First, take a listen to some Warren Zevon.




Perhaps, take in a nice Andy Garcia flick.



As far as talent, Denver has it in spades. In fact, if you look at the top 60 fantasy performers, the Denver Broncos have 5 players that made the list. That is more than any other team.


Pyro pioneered Power Rankings. This is a fantastic tool that will help you set your line-up week in and week out. Essentially, it tells you how a team ranks at each position. In 2013, the Denver Broncos ranked 1st at the QB position for fantasy points scored. The running backs came in at the #3 spot. The wide receivers finished 1st, the tight ends finished 2nd. Heck, ever their kicker was ranked 2nd.  Finally, the defense came in at #16.


Having one of the best play callers and pass tossers to ever suit up on an NFL field must certainly give the Denver Broncos a resounding boost of confidence. Despite his recent… display?



Alright, so Peyton is no Chili Palmer from “Pulp Fiction”.




But on the grid iron, now that is a different story. The stats from last year are amazing: 659 attempts and 450 completions that totaled 5,477 yards and 55 touchdowns. What is really phenomenal, is that despite having the second most attempts for his career, he threw only 10 INTs. He is well balanced, out of 410 fantasy points, 53.4% came from yardage, and 53.7% came from TDs. I know, it amounts to over 100, but you have to factor in negative points for sacks and INTs. He outscored the next highest quarterback in fantasy by 52.1 total points. He outscored #3 by 112.1 points. That is a huge advantage. To exemplify this, the difference between the #4 fantasy quarterback and the #12 fantasy quarterback is a mere 32.2 points. This is clearly why that top tier for quarterbacks is two, maybe three guys. Personally, I do not think you can trust ADPs when it comes to quarterbacks. As of early August, 12 team league mock drafts have him going in the 2nd round. I would be amazed if he is still around by pick #9 in most leagues. My suggestion, run some mock drafts of your own, see how your team looks when you start by drafting a quarter back. Just keep this in mind, you are drafting for 2014, the year ahead, not the year behind. Last year, the Broncos enjoyed the best schedule for the QB position. This year, Denver has the 24th best strength of schedule for the quarter back position (#27 in the fantasy playoffs). It is highly unlikely Peyton will put up those numbers again, the question you have to answer: How much of a drop off will he endure?


In the backfield, Montee Ball enters his second season in the NFL. In 2014, he will be the lead back for Denver. He should be a top 10 back, with potential to land in the top 5. The biggest asset he has is indeed Peyton Manning. Statistically, running backs behind Peyton always perform. The fact is, defenses have to prioritize and Peyton is the number one threat. This often gives his backs room to run. Denver gets plenty of chances to score. In fact, in the red zone last year, they were #1. They scored a touchdown 72.73% of the time. Those duties should fall to Ball this year. Last year, he averaged 4.7 yards per carry, and all of his scores came in the red zone. In the last six games of the regular season, he averaged 5.78 yards per carry. It gets even better. Ball does his best against his own division, the AFC West. Last year, he averaged 5.88 yards per rush against AFC West opponents. His average here is higher than his averages against any other division. Last year, he was behind Moreno and so he just did not have the attempts needed for fantasy domination. This year, he is the clear starter. He has worked on his pass blocking, something that should keep him in the game longer, as well as his hands. He suffered three costly turnovers last year during the regular season. The one bit of concern, Ball went under the knife for an appendectomy on August 4th. While he is expected to recover fully in time for the regular season opener, it may open the door to something of a time split if Hillman makes the most of this opportunity. Before the surgery, Ball’s ADP showed him going as the 10th pick in the first round in 12 team leagues. In just a few days, Ball’s ADP has dropped, he is now going as the last pick of the first round. Personally, the farther he falls, the better the value. He has the club all to himself in mile high. Speaking of which, Houdini stands alone in his own little version of the mile-high club…And that’s just the way he likes it!


Back on terra firma, Ronnie Hillman steps in to play with the ones for now, as Ball is recovering from surgery. C.J Anderson has also seen some increased action, but Hillman is the one to watch. Anderson may get some play up the middle during preseason, while Hillman will get the majority of the work. Hillman was actually slated as the number one spot on the roster at this time last year. As Moreno showed his skills, and Hillman developed a case of the drops, he was quick to be passed over. This is his third year in the system. He had a lot of promise coming out of college. It is a long shot for him to make the most of this opportunity. Chances are, he may be a change of pace back during the year, but the job should go back to Ball when he returns.


As far as receivers go, Demaryius Thomas is a tier I player. Last year, if he would have had 5 more yards, he would have been the highest scoring fantasy wide receiver. Demaryius finished with 227 fantasy points and Josh Gordan had 227.4. Calvin was #3. That is not the only way that Thomas looks better than Calvin on paper. Demaryius caught 65.2% of his passes. Calvin Johnson had a 54.2% catch rate. Demaryius had 14 touchdowns, 2 more than Calvin. Demaryius had 92 receptions to Calvin Johnson’s 84. Demaryius is a deep threat that has explosive potential. Demaryius was targeted 10.14 yards from the line of scrimmage on pass plays, Johnson was targeted 9.61 yards downfield on average. In fact, looking at the 50 most targeted receivers in 2013, only 3 guys were targeted farther downfield. Now that Decker is gone, Thomas should have a larger piece of the offensive pie. The one place Calvin seems to be leading Demaryius is in ADP. As of early August, Johnson is going approximately 5th and DT is going two picks later at the #7 spot. Mmmmm? Thomas should come out strong this season. This happens to be a contract year for him. Statistically, players up their performance during contract years. It does not take a rocket scientist to figure out why. But, all it takes to figure out which guys are starting a contract year is to purchase the latest version of the Pyro draft kit. One of the new wrinkles in version 3 allows you to see who is playing in a contract year.


Wes Welker, the “slot machine”, is back again. In 12 team leagues, he is currently going in the middle of the 4th round as of early August. Welker should easily land in the top 20 this year for fantasy wide receivers. He has a chance to land inside the top 15. Similar to DT, Welker is also playing in a contract year. Plus, the sting from losing the Super Bowl should provide extra incentive. This could be Manning’s best chance to win another one, the team is fully aware of this. They need to strike this year. Welker had 10 TDs last season, the most of his career, despite missing three games. You can never seem to count him out. He always manages consistent fantasy production. Last year, he still managed 111 receptions in just 13 games. The guy is money in PPR. That said, you need to be cautious when drafting him so high. Welker is entering his 10th season. Age could be catching up to him. Last year, he missed 3 games due to injury. He totaled 778 yards, his lowest total since he left Miami in 2006. He tends to drop big passes. In 2013, he had a 9% drop rate. He seemed to slow down towards the end of the season. He only crossed the end zone once in his last five games. Welker finished without a 100 yard performance what so ever. The biggest thing for me is watching preseason and training camp. Does new edition Emmanuel Sanders seem to have chemistry with Peyton? If not, Welker could easily have a bounce back year.


Well, Emmanuel Sanders had no sooner got off the bus in Denver before he threw his old quarterback under it. Sanders recently commented on the stark difference between Peyton Manning’s preparation versus the lack there of when it came to Ben Accosthisfurberger. Sanders came into the league riding a huge hype train. Many analysts felt he was the most NFL ready for a receiver at that time. Well, it has never really panned out. Last year was his most productive: 112 targets, 67 receptions, 740 yards, and  6TDs (that is more scoring than he did in his first three years combined). Although he replaces Eric Decker, Sanders will not have the same amount of impact on the offense. For me, he is a wide receiver #4 at best, even then I’m not too happy. The games he will be worth the start will be few and far between, and good luck knowing when which Sundays those will be.


Finally, the Broncos drafted a rookie wide receiver from Indiana named Cody Latimer. In his last year for the Hoosiers, he caught 72 passes for 1,096 yards, and 9 TDs. He broke 100 yards in five different games. He scored a touchdown in 7 games. As of early August, he stands at number 4 on the depth chart. If Sanders flakes out, he could move up. But in all likely hood, only an injury to one of the starting receivers would put him on the fantasy map, outside of dynasty leagues that is.





As far as tight ends go in the world of fantasy, the position is deep, however, there are two top tiers of guys, and then the rest. Orange Julius Thomas can be a top tier II tight end. Low and behold, he too is playing for a contract. Damn the Bronco boys are going to be laying it on the line this year. Gottsa ta get those ends. If Thomas continues to trend upwards and improve upon last season, he could end up in the top 3 for fantasy tight ends this year. This year will be his 4th in the league. In 2013 he played 14 games. He amassed 65 receptions for 788 yards, and 12 touchdowns. The guy crossed the goal line in 10 of 14 games last season.  He is a go to guy for Manning in the red zone. We already established that Denver was the most successful team in the red zone in 2013. Well, Julius Thomas scored 8 of his 12 TDs inside the red zone. He is a huge target that draws Manning’s attention and holds his confidence. While he has the toughest schedule on paper for a tight end (last year, Denver had the 8th best schedule at the position), it is doubtful other teams will be able to keep him out of the end zone.


By Mo 

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Terrell Davis and The Best 3 Years Ever

terrell davis, the best 3 years ever



Terrell Davis or TD, as he is affectionately known in Denver, had what can be argued as the best 3-year stretch for a running back with the numbers he put up.  It all started with being drafted in the 6th round as the 21st running back off the board in 1995.

Davis would earn the starting job in pre-season and had a stellar rookie season rushing for 1,117 yards and 7 TD.  Davis became the lowest drafted player to ever rush for at least 1,000 yards.  Davis would then take the NFL and Fantasy leagues by storm over the next 3 seasons. 

In his second season in the league, Davis built on his rookie campaign and showed he was a force to be dealt with.  Davis rushed for 1,538 yards and 13 TD and added 310 receiving yards and another 2 TD and was named the AP Offensive Player of the Year. There were many who projected that Davis would fall short in his second season and even fewer who believed he would accomplish what he did.  For Davis, though, this was only the beginning and he would crush the NFL and Fantasy over the next 2 seasons. 

Davis was coming off a monster second season and was being taken seriously by every defense in the league going into his 3rd season.  Even with the added attention from opposing defenses and pressure from Broncos fans, Davis was able to overcome and overachieve.  Davis rushed for 1,750 yards and 15 TD, while adding another 287 yards receiving and totaling 2,037 yards from scrimmage.  This was an amazing regular season, but Davis would take it to another level that year in the post-season. 

Davis opened the Playoffs in 1997 with 184 yards rushing and 2 TD against the Jacksonville Jaguars in a game the Broncos won 42-17.  The following week Davis would face the Kansas City Chiefs and their tough defense and ran for 101 yards and 2 TD in a 14-10 win.  In the AFC Championship game the Broncos traveled to Pittsburgh and faced another tough defense.  Davis was not fazed, rushing for 139 yards and TD in the 24-21 victory.  Davis would really stand out in the Super Bowl.

The Broncos were a heavy underdog to the Green Bay Packers in Super Bowl XXXII and John Elway was trying to get his first win in the big game, and he would do it, thanks to Davis.  Davis was an absolute beast in this game, rushing for 157 yards and 3 TD, including the final score of the game, giving the Broncos their first Super Bowl title with a 31-24 victory.  Davis was also named Super Bowl MVP.  Davis now had huge expectations heading into 1998, and this was going to be a real tough act to follow. 

Davis headed into the 1998 season very confident and started the season hot with 5 TD in his first 2 games.  Starting in week 2, Davis rushed for 100 yards in 7 straight games and scored 12 TD.  Davis finished the season with 2,008 yards, becoming the 4th player to rush for 2,000 yards, and added 21 rushing TD.  Davis finished with 2,225 yards from scrimmage and 23 TD.  Davis was named the NFL MVP and earned his 2nd AP Offensive Player of the year award.  Davis then had the Playoffs to make his final impression. 

In their first Playoff game the Broncos hosted the Miami Dolphins and Davis ran through them like they were a pop warner team, rushing for 199 yards and 2 TD on 21 carries, averaging 9.5 yards per carry.  The Broncos crushed the Dolphins 38-3.  In the AFC Championship game the Broncos hosted the NY Jets and Davis once again was the workhorse rushing for 167 yards and a TD in a 23-10 victory.  In Super Bowl XXXIII, against the Atlanta Falcons, Davis would take a backseat to John Elway, as this game became the stamp on the great career of the Denver quarterback.  Davis would still rush for 102 yards and added another 50 yards receiving on 2 catches.  The Broncos would defeat the Falcons 34-19.  Davis would find his career cut short due to injuries averaging only 5 games played over the next 3 seasons, the last of his short but glorious career. 

This 3-year run was amazing.  The final playoff stats that Davis put up may be the most staggering.  Davis played in 8 playoff games and had seven 100-yard games and is the only player to have 7 straight 100-yard games in the Playoffs. Davis finished his playoff career with 1,140 yards, 12 TD with 5.6 yards per carry average.  Davis was amazing and was the best player in Fantasy Football in 1997 and 1998, and even though his career was short, like Gale Sayers, it was an amazing sight to be seen. 


Terrell Davis career stats


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BY HOUDINI (email me)


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Steve Atwater Destroys Christian Okoye

The time in my life when I really began watching football was in the mid 1980’s, and at that time the best safety in the game was Ronnie Lott.  He was extremely physical and made bone crunching hits.  Then Steve Atwater came into the league in 1989 and I had a new favorite safety, no disrespect to Mr. Lott.  It was all due to one play that has gone down in infamy, Atwater’s hit on Christian Okoye. 

It was a Monday Night Football game on September 18th, 1990 and the Broncos were hosting their hated rivals, the Kansas City Chiefs.  It was the perfect match-up for Monday Night Football, with two bitter division rivals and a game that figured to be a hard hitting game all around. 

The Chiefs were led by their bruising running back Christian Okoye, The Nigerian Nightmare.  Okoye was 6’1” and weighed 253 pounds and was coming off a dominant season where he rushed for 1,480 yards and scored 12 TD.  This was the second game of the season and Okoye opened the season with 92 yards and a TD against the Vikings.  Okoye was the biggest running back in the game, bigger than most linebackers and was always the one who was delivering the punishment when he was tackled.  On the other side of the coin was Steve Atwater.  Atwater had an outstanding rookie season and would have been the Defensive Rookie of the Year except for Derrick Thomas coming out in the same draft class.  Atwater gained the reputation as a hard hitter as soon as he arrived on the scene for the Broncos.  When asked about his defensive preferences Atwater responded “I don’t have a preference - run or pass, but when the running back gets the ball, all bets are off. I play in an aggressive manner.”  He gave the Denver defense the sting that they were lacking.

Prior to the game Atwater was fitted with a microphone so they could play the sound bites of his hits during the broadcast.  This would wind up being the reason why this hit is remembered so much.  Okoye took a handoff around the Broncos 25 yard line and he began to make his way through a hole and all of a sudden Steve Atwater exploded into Okoye and straight up knocked him off his feet and back 2 yards.  John Elway said, “It’s the first time that I’ve probably ever seen a 260 pound back run into a free safety and go flat on his back”.  The hit was replayed over and over during the broadcast and made Atwater an instant star. 

Atwater was not all about that play, in fact in the game he finished with 11 solo tackles, and most of those were in stopping the run game.  Atwater also knocked a Chiefs player out of the game on a hit, one week after knocking Marcus Allen out of the opener.  Atwater would played for 10 seasons, but he was perhaps the most dominant safety in the game between 1989 and 1993 when he averaged 149 tackles, 1 sack and 3 interceptions a season. Atwater manned up with his hit on Okoye, and Okoye was never the same player.  Atwater stole his mojo on that hit and will be remembered as the man who gave The Nigerian Nightmare Nightmares.  



By Houdini

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The Three Amigos

The 2013 Denver Broncos were comprised of three great receivers, but they are not the three receivers that captured the hearts and minds of Denver Broncos’ fans in the late 1980’s. That honor belongs to Vance Johnson, Mark Jackson and Ricky Nattiel who were known as the Three Amigos. The story of how the Amigos came to be is not well known, until now.

The Broncos selected the Amigos in three consecutive drafts: Vance Johnson in 1985, Mark Jackson in 1986, and Ricky Nattiel in 1987. None of these players were your prototypical outside receiver, as Vance Johnson was 5’11” and Jackson and Nattiel both stood at 5’9”. These three receivers had one of the games greatest quarterbacks in John Elway to spread the ball around, although the competition was fierce between the three of them.

"We were all young, but when Ricky got there, none of us liked each other," Johnson recalled, "We were three receivers, but there was one quarterback and one football. One night, Mark and I being roommates, we weren't talking with each other. We rented the movie 'Three Amigos!' with Martin Short, Steve Martin and Chevy Chase. I watched it, he was asleep, and I woke Mark up.

"I said: 'Mark, I have a great idea! If they think three white guys can be Three Amigos, there's no way three black guys can't be Three Amigos!' "

Johnson recalled that the next day at practice, he announced, "Elway called us the Three Amigos." John Elway good-naturedly denied it later, but it was a good story building momentum.

The breakthrough came in a "Monday Night Football" game Nov. 16, 1987. The Chicago Bears came to Mile High Stadium to face the Broncos, the reigning AFC champions. Taking advantage of a game-changing William "Refrigerator" Perry fumble on the goal line, the Broncos beat the Bears 31-29. Elway threw touchdown passes of 22 yards to Johnson, 22 yards to Jackson and ultimately 35 yards to the rookie, Nattiel.

Again, trying to help the story along, Johnson told the media that Elway had declared, "I couldn't have done it without my Three Amigos."

Johnson was doing a great job as the promoter for the group, and the nickname did start to catch on. The first published reference to their new nickname seems to have been in a story by Rick Morrissey in the Nov. 19 Rocky Mountain News. The Broncos' next home game was against New England on Dec. 6.

"We get to the games a lot earlier than anyone else, of course," recalled Jackson, "There usually were a couple of scalpers there when you get off at 17th Avenue, and then a bunch of guys buying and selling as you went toward the locker room. So that morning, I saw a bunch of guys selling sombreros. I didn't make the connection.

"When we warmed up, there weren't many people there, but when we came back out for the game, there's 76,000, and you look into the stands and there's all these sombreros, and I went, 'Holy smokes!' That was Three Amigos-mania."

The Amigos had a few nice seasons, but none of these receivers were all that great by themselves. Johnson and Jackson finished their careers with over 5,500 receiving yards and Ricky Nattiel had just less than 2,000 receiving yards. As of this moment none of them have been inducted to the Broncos Ring of Fame, but there is always hope for the Amigos.

"I told Mark and Ricky that we were never going to get up on the Ring of Fame individually, but the three of us, they had to put us up there as a group," Johnson said. Then he laughed and added, "I don't know about now, because they have the new Three Amigos."

They may have the new Three Amigos, but real fans of the NFL and the Broncos will never forget the original Three Amigos.




By Houdini

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