2012 Team Outlook: Denver
QB Peyton Manning, DEN - Gamble (high risk)
The focus of Denver's offensive camp was pace and timing. The offensive needs to work like clockwork around the actions of Peyton Manning. Manning's play calling and audible skills will only be as good as his supporting cast. I think Manning has enough weapons that this Denver team will be one to watch. Bringing Manning to town was a great move for Denver. Manning will have his freedom and the support of ownership. The call to-date will be a hybrid offense that consists of some of what Peyton used in Indy and part of the effective Denver running game that was abadonned last season. I think Manning will be good to go.
Update 8/26/12: I am beiginning to think of Manning as less of a gamble. He looked close to the Manning of old against San Francisco and the offense seems to be coming together. We will still have to wait to see the real deal when we enter Weeks 1-3, but he might be a pleasant surprise for those of us who scored him very late in drafts.
QB Brock Osweiler, DEN - Dynasty Only
Brock Osweiler will serve as one of three back-up QBs. The thing to watch is Osweiler's ability to play Manning's schemes. If he shows that he has it, he might secure himself a starting gig down the road - two to three years. We'll get a look at Brock in pre-season. I think he will likely be better than Caleb Hanie.
QB Caleb Hanie, CLE - Deep-league Only
Hanie slots in at #3 on the depth chart for QBs in Denver, but could also be forseen as the #2 option given depth reports. I think Hanie will back-up Manning, but he should only be drafted in deep leagues and used if Manning has injury issues.
QB Adam Weber, TB - Not Draft Worthy
Osweiler and Hanie better watch it. Weber looked good against Chicago. Not that Weber is ready for your fantasy roster, but just something to note if we should see Manning injured and a battle ensues for Denver QB rights.
RB Willis McGahee, CLE - Quality Backup
McGahee will find himself at the top of a heap of Denver running backs this season - as long as the veteran remains healthy. If not, McGahee might be surpassed by some youger backs this season. Ronnie Hillman was drafted as pass-catching option and to provide McGahee relief. Knowshon Moreno, Lance Ball, Jerimiah Johnson, Mario Fannin and a few others are also in this mix. I would pick-up McGahee this season as the passing game will provide ample opportunity for timed rushing attacks and other backs can be used to bash against the defense.
RB Knowshon Moreno, DEN - Over the Hill (decreased production)
Update 8/26/12: Moreno is on the roster bubble at this point. He has failed to impress during preseason and the number of backs in Denver could push him out. We will see soon.
Moreno might have seen more work than anticipated in pre-season thus far. I was hopeful that we would see him spark something and gain some fantasy interest. I am not sold yet as to his cemented role in the offense, but I do like that he is seeing action and given the chance to prove himself. If Moreno can challenge McGahee, Ball and Hillman then I think he will get more chances then expected and provide some interesting fantasy value.
Moreno might find himself without much work this season. Willis McGahee will be coming back to start and Denver drafted Ronnie Hillman. Lance Ball and Jerimiah Johnson also exist on the Mile-Higher roster. Moreno has not been what Denver hoped for when they drafted him to take the lead rushing role and Hillman is projected to replace him. We will have to sit back and watch how this RBBC unfold.
RB Ronnie Hillman, DEN - Sleeper (undervalued)
Hillman is nursing a - what is called - non-significant hamstring injury. I suspect it is just that and we will see Hillman and the pre-season progresses.
Hillman was drafted to provide the passing game a pass-catching threat out of the backfield, replace Knowshon Moreno and help spell Willis McGahee. We will have to see how these three compete this season for carries and while they all have potential, McGahee has the early edge. Peyton Manning can make a back's job easy with play calls and should be a great teacher as Hillman gets with the program. The shifty rookie will get carries this season, but I think Denver will be a big RBBC approach until things shuffle out with roles. Hillman will be drafted in leagues, just how early is a good question.