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2023 Player Outlooks: Denver Broncos

By HC Green | 6/21/23 |

Russell Wilson

QB Russell Wilson
(2022 QB Rank: No.22, 19.1 FPts/G)

When you consider expectations versus results, Wilson mightíve been the most disappointing player in the NFL last season. Acquired from Seattle and signed to a monster contract before taking a snap with Denver, the nine-time Pro Bowler was abysmal, never gelling with head coach Nathaniel Hackett, who was fired before his first season was complete, and struggling in every facet of the game.

There are plenty of statistical indicators that point to the depth of his issues, but perhaps none more effectively than the fact that he didnít throw his 10th touchdown pass until Dec. 11. His final numbers -- 3,524 yards passing, 277 yards rushing, 16 TD passes, and 11 INTs -- were poor, but itís hard to argue his performance wasnít even worse than that; he threw for 283 yards and 3 TDs in a Week 18 win over the Chargers in a game that held no meaning for them.

Desperate to salvage what currently looks like a terrible trade, the Broncos doubled down and shipped out more assets to lure longtime Saints head coach Sean Payton out of a brief retirement. Paytonís primary job will be to resurrect the 34-year-oldís career. He did yeomanís work finding ways to keep Drew Brees effective in his twilight years, so itíll be interesting to see if he can do it with Wilson, who is similarly undersized and has been safe with the football during his career.

While he has also battled injuries the past two seasons, missing five games, the veteran has generally been durable so thatís only a mild concern. Given Paytonís track record of success offensively, Wilson looks like a very interesting risk/reward QB2.

RB Javonte Williams
(2022 RB Rank: No.32, 11.0 FPts/G)

Coming off a rookie season in which he gained 1,219 total yards and scored seven times while splitting touches with Melvin Gordon, Williams appeared poised to overtake Gordon as the lead back and ascend to RB2 territory entering 2022. Instead, he averaged 84.3 yards per game through three weeks without a touchdown before suffering a torn ACL in Week 4. In terms of timing, that gives the third-year pro a little less than a year between the injury and the 2023 season opener.

Itís hard to gauge how quickly someone will bounce back from an injury of that type, and perhaps more crucially itís nearly impossible to determine when theyíll return to form. For example, Ravens RB J.K. Dobbins returned from his own torn ACL in Week 3 last year, lasted four games and then missed two additional months following a clean-up procedure. So, while the team has expressed optimism about Williamsí recovery, even going as far as saying he could be ready for camp, that very much belongs under the ďbelieve it when you see itĒ category.

Considering his solid but not elite production and health concerns, Williams belongs in that midrange or low-end RB3 category with the possibility for more.

RB Samaje Perine
(2022 RB Rank: No.47, 8.9 FPts/G)

Outside of a 175-carry, 603-yard effort as a rookie with Washington back in 2017, Perine had seen modest usage during his NFL career. With Joe Mixon banged up in Cincinnati last year, however, the former Sooner put together his best professional campaign: 681 total yards and 6 TDs. While those are modest numbers, it earned Perine a two-year, $7.5 million deal in Denver to come in and pair with Williams as Paytonís top-two runners.

Payton effectively deployed Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara as a one-two punch in New Orleans, though itís hard to view Perine as being on the same level as either of those backs in their prime. While Perine is entering his age-28 season, which is a bit long in the tooth for an NFL back, his mileage is low having played complementary roles throughout his career. An effective receiver out of the backfield, Perine is a quality RB4 that might overdeliver that valuation.

WR Jerry Jeudy
(2022 WR Rank: No.22, 13.6 FPts/G)

Heavily rumored to be available in trades leading up to the draft, Jeudy not only returns to Denver for his fourth season, but the team even picked up his fifth-year option. Coming off an injury-marred 2021, the Alabama alum put together his best all-around season in 2022, which could be considered a silver-ish lining in a mostly dismal campaign. He displayed the most chemistry with Wilson and showed he could work down the field, leading the team in receptions (67), receiving yards (972), yards per catch (14.5), and touchdowns (6).

Throughout much of the Payton-Brees era in NOLA, the Saints had a primary go-to receiver that got tons of targets, the most recent of which was Michael Thomas, who averaged 117.5 receptions per season over his first four years. While itíd take a leap of faith to think that Jeudy will slide right into Thomasí role in Denver, he has considerable talent, is still just 24 years old, and at least looks to be in the clubís long-term plans.

An ascending performer going into an offense that has created high-volume fantasy stars in the past, Jeudy is a strong WR3 that could absolutely push into the top-20.

WR Courtland Sutton
(2022 WR Rank: No.45, 10.6 FPts/G)

While the arrow on Jeudy appears to be pointing up, Suttonís career may have stalled out. He looked to be on the cusp of becoming a legit No. 1 receiver back in 2019 when he logged 1,112 yards and 6 TDs on 72 receptions with the likes of Joe Flacco, Drew Lock, and Brandon Allen throwing the ball. Sutton just hasnít looked the same since tearing his ACL/MCL early in 2020, averaging 61 catches, 803 yards, and a pair of touchdowns in two post-injury campaigns.

Like Jeudy, Sutton was mentioned in trade rumors, but the sixth-year wideout has a contract structure that suggests heíll be done in Denver after this season unless he has an absolutely monster year. Given how heís been trending, that seems unlikely, and with good depth behind him, Sutton doesnít appear to have a very high ceiling. If you get him on your roster as your fourth or fifth receiver he should provide quality depth, and maybe he even surprises by ascending to reliable WR3 territory.

WR Marvin Mims
(2022 WR Rank: N/A)

With apologies to Tim Patrick (knee), who totaled 104 catches, 1,476 yards, and 11 TDs in 2020-21 before tearing his ACL last August, Mims looks to be the more interesting player to watch behind Jeudy and Sutton. Patrick turns 30 in November, and itís always worrisome when fringe guys suffer serious injuries as there are times when, even if they only lose half a step, they didnít have half a step to lose. Like Sutton, Patrickís contract has an ďoutĒ after the season, so his long-term outlook in Denver is grim.

Circling back to Mims, heís undersized (5-foot-11, 183 pounds) but should be a nice fit in the slot where his quickness and burst could make him a weapon on quick hitters and deep balls, something Wilson has traditionally done well over his career. While not worth a draft pick, Mims could be added to your watch list, particularly in larger leagues.

TE Greg Dulcich
(2022 TE Rank: No.17, 8.6 FPts/G)

A year ago, Albert Okwuegbunam had some buzz entering 2022 as the heir apparent to Noah Fant, who’d been traded away in the Wilson deal. He opened with five catches in Week 1 but did little after that and ended up being a healthy scratch for much of the season. A tight end did start to emerge last year, however, and that was Dulcich, a third-round pick.

Despite appearing in just 10 games as a rookie, Dulcich managed to finish third on the team with 411 yards on 32 receptions and two touchdowns. On the downside, he bookended his first year on Injured Reserve, missing five games with a hamstring injury to open the season and then missing the final two with a similar issue.

After some initially cryptic remarks from Payton about Dulcich’s future in Denver, the new head coach seems to have warmed to the UCLA product, lauding his versatility in terms of what he can do and where he can line up. There’s a lot of intrigue with Dulcich, who could be targeted as a borderline TE1 with top-10 potential.

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