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Early DEN Fantasy Football Projections

July 5, 2007

With everyone getting ready for team camps coming up this month, I thought it would be great time to try out my fantasy football projection skills. I would NEVER claim to be an expert in fantasy football (although I’m very proud of the championship title I won in a co-worker’s league several years ago), so take these with at least one grain of salt. Also, I don’t see any point to projecting deep into the wide receiver or tight end positions right now because we have no real idea what the depth chart will look like in August. Therefore, I’ve limited my notes and predictions to the top player in each category. Here goes…

QB Jay Cutler: 3100 yrds passing, 130 yards rushing, 19 TDs, 11 int, 3 fumble

SUMMARY: The only way Jay finishes under 3000 yards passing would be if Denver is ahead every game at halftime and Travis Henry pounds out nearly 2000 yards on the ground (see 1998). With that not very likely, I’ll take 3100 yards for the season. I’ve seen very low projected numbers for Cutler’s rushing yards, and although I think Shanahan will try to keep The Kid safe, he’s more mobile than Griese and he still had between 100-130 yards each year. I’ll guess 18 TD’s as I believe many of Denver’s scores will be pushed in by Henry in short yardage situations. Several sites have Cutler’s INT numbers higher, but again I think the improved ground game puts less pressure on Jay therefore he keeps the picks low this year.

RB Travis Henry: 1450 yrds rushing, 200 yrds receiving, 12 TDs, 4 fumbles

SUMMARY: Unless he gets hurt, Travis Henry is putting up ~1500 yards rushing. That’s a flat out given. He will also increase his passing yardage over past years, as Denver uses it’s backs at checkdown receivers often. I have Henry down for 12 touchdowns because Shanahan likes to send his power-back in on goalline situations and Henry will get those calls. Henry only had 3 fumbles last year in 14 games, and with Denver’s RB guru Turner coaching Henry this off-season, that number will stay low.

WR Javon Walker: 1050 yrds receiving, 100 yrds rushing, 9 TDs.

SUMMARY: Many fantasy experts are citing Walker’s declined number after Cutler took over as a sign that Jay doesn’t look to Walker as much as Jake did. In reality, after Walker lite up the score board in the early part of the season, defenses started to view him as a serious threat and redoubled their coverage of him. I’m sure that will happen again this year; however, I also think we have enough other weapons that defenses will truly be forced to ‘pick their poison.’ My projections are lower than some because I see Denver having multiple quality targets for Cutler to throw to this year. And remember, with Shanahan’s system the ball will be spread around quite a bit.

TE Daniel Graham: 400 yrds receiving, 4 TDs

SUMMARY: Unlike New England, Graham will catch passes for the Broncos. In addition to that, he will be an endzone target (like many tightend before him). Shanahan likes to put his ‘blocking tightends’ into the endzone (see Carswell). So, I think Graham (who had great hands in college) will do well this year and will likely become an every down TE for the team.

K Jason Elam: 32 AFG, 28 MFG, 40 XPA, 40 XPM

SUMMARY: Jason’s career FG average is better than 80% and he’s coming off his best year in 2006 with 93% of his kicks going for points. Jason has placed in the top ten best kickers the last ten years with six top five placements. Kickers may not be the number one priority to Fantasy Football owners, but they play an important part in maximizing your weekly points. And in that area, Jason Elam is as solid as you can get.

TEAM Defense: 41 sacks, 17 INT, 13 FR, 3 TDs, 5000 yrds allowed, 290 pts allowed

SUMMARY: With Bates, Denver should increase their number of sacks considerably. With Champ AND Bly, our interceptions should be as good as last year’s and I even increased our defensive TD’s by one for 2007. Over all, Denver should have a solid team defense that will fall within the top 10 or 13 of the league. Again, this might be a great value pick after the top team defenses are taken.

Line Break

Projections and predictions aside, I hope everyone had a great 4th of July! My wife and I cooked out, had some friends over and watched the kids play with sparklers — good times. 🙂

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