Wes Welker knows how to pick his Hall of Fame quarterbacks: the former New England Patriot cornerstone inked a 2-year deal with the Denver Broncos for $12 million yesterday. He gives the Broncos a much-needed slot receiver to complement young wideouts Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker, who both collected over 1,000 receiving yards this season. For his own part, Welker caught 118 passes for 1,354 yards and six touchdowns last season.
He has five 100-catch seasons in the last six years. Just assume Peyton Manning will throw for 350 yards pretty consistently and there will be enough to go around in that potent offense. Still, Welker could see his numbers dip a bit with two other outstanding WR targets working with him. Thomas’ upside and Decker’s size could demand the ball goes to other targets a bit more frequently than Welker was used to in New England. Still, the statistical hit should not be major, and he still figures to be a WR1 type in PPR leagues.
Welker was strangely quiet in the Patriots’ game plan early in the season, but eventually became a favorite target of Tom Brady’s once again. He and the Pats were unable to come to a contract agreement and in typical New England fashion, they were not afraid to part with a popular star.
The Broncos play at New England next season. As if that game wasn’t destined for prime time already.
Thomas should be least affected by the Welker acquisition, as his unique downfield playmaking skill set will be complemented well by possession man Welker and big target Decker. Thomas will face even more single coverage next season and the move bolsters his outlook as a Top 5 Fantasy WR. Decker should be able to carve out a true niche as a big target, and look for him to re-emerge as a TD force. His overall yardage production and total catches may take a hit, though, as will his overall reception numbers, so ideally you should look to draft him as a WR3.
The Patriots acted swiftly to respond, signing former Rams WR Danny Amendola in the same day, a move that was announced shortly after the Welker deal became official. Amendola can not only fit the Welker bill, he has more upside after the catch. Health has often been an issue for Amendola, though, and he is a WR2 at best until he can prove he can stay on the field consistently.
Another big name bolted from the AFC East when Reggie Bush signed a deal with the Detroit Lions. He inked a four-year deal worth $16.25 million. In addition, he earned a $4 million signing bonus.
Bush, 28, caught 88 passes as a rookie and has averaged 47 grabs a year since then. Over the last two seasons in Miami, he gained 2,072 yards with 12 touchdowns with an average of 4.6 yards per attempt. Perhaps more importantly, he missed only one game in those two years after gaining a reputation as a fragile back.
He will complement WR Calvin Johnson and provide quarterback Matthew Stafford another good option as well. He said on Wednesday that he’s eager to play defenses that focus on Megatron and open up the middle of the field. Bush should make the pass-happy Stafford and Johnson even better Fantasy options, although Johnson does not have much more of a ceiling at this point – he is already the top guy at his position.
Bush responds well when given the ball frequently – it seems to boost his confidence greatly, and he has an intangible knack for the end zone. The Lions desperately needed another pass-catching target, and Bush is unique as a RB in that respect. He will be a strong RB2 in PPR leagues, and should score enough to the point where Mikel Leshoure is not a major detriment to his TD production. Look for Leshoure to still operate as a “physical” alternative to Bush, and he will be a prime Fantasy handcuff to the newest Lions RB.
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