After narrowly defeating the Baltimore Ravens in Week 1, the Denver Broncos‘ stymied offense arrived at Arrowhead Stadium, trying to get some of Peyton Manning‘s biggest offensive weapons, including Emmanuel Sanders and Demaryius Thomas, going against the Kansas City Chiefs.
Their lack of production last week might have panicked some fantasy football owners, and the beginning of Thursday night’s game probably did not do much to settle those feelings, either.
But the Denver offense is slowly turning things around. Let’s take a look at how Manning, Sanders and Thomas are performing:
After a week of criticism, with fans and analysts alike questioning whether the end is near, a tough start that saw Manning throw a pick-six didn’t help his case to stay in fantasy lineups.
It wasn’t an ideal start for Manning, as ESPN Stats & Info pointed out that he has started the year off unusually slow:
A lot of it has had to do with the opposing pass rush. The Chiefs defense sacked Manning twice in the first half and put him under a lot of pressure throughout the night.
But once Manning got comfortable, he found a groove, firing a pair of touchdown passes to bring Denver back into the game. His first touchdown pass to Sanders was vintage Manning, as the NFL showed:
Fantasy owners should ride out the rough patches. You still have one of the greatest quarterbacks to ever play the game on your roster. It might not be an enormous year that lives up to the numbers from earlier in Manning’s career, but it’s nearly impossible to have him sitting on your bench every week.
Roll with him, and more likely than not, he will reward you.
Once Manning settled in, Sanders was one of the first to benefit.
Sanders has the versatility to be a slot receiver and can catch the quick five-yard passes while posing as a deep threat as well. Manning seems to look his way often, with nine targets through the first two-and-a-half quarters.
It seems to be paying off for fantasy owners, as ESPN Fantasy Sports pointed out:
Sanders is also becoming one of Manning’s favorite targets on third down, as the quarterback hit him three times for conversions Thursday.
Sanders isn’t necessarily an elite WR1, but after two games, there’s no reason not to think he will be one of the most consistent receivers on your roster.
Thomas, like Sanders, began to see a spike in his numbers when Manning got rolling Thursday night.
He is getting an equal amount of looks and has been performing just as well.
Thomas did put up slightly more yards per reception but did not receive many looks inside the red zone through the first three quarters.
However, his ability to gain yards after the catch is always a great sight for fantasy owners, as a short pass can evolve into much more. Former head coach and current NFL Network analyst Brian Billick knows how dangerous Thomas can be:
Thomas is capable of putting up big numbers, especially with Manning as his quarterback. The more the season progresses and they get into a groove, the more likely fantasy owners will be to reap the rewards. If Thomas starts getting the ball in the red zone, watch out.
The touchdowns will come. He had 11 last year and 14 the year before. Keep starting him as your WR1, and wait for the numbers to start piling up.
Stats courtesy of ESPN.com.
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