This week, we are going to switch up the format slightly to discuss the Fantasy-relevant football players on each of the Super Bowl teams. We will take a deep dive into both the Broncos’ and Panthers’ inventory, with an eye on the 2016 season and beyond. Denver is built to win now, and their championship window could be closing soon. They have been able to persevere despite average QB play because of quality receivers and an excellent defense. Their running game has been less than stellar as well, and should be addressed in the offseason along with the looming QB questions. Carolina, on the other hand, has a number of young pieces in place and could get even better in the next few seasons. Let’s take a look (and a listen).
We Fly High by Jim Jones
Cam Newton (QB, Panthers) – “We fly high, no lie, you know this (Ballin’!) Foreign rides, outside, its like showbiz (We in the building).” We all know that Newton has been the focal point of the Panthers’ meteoric rise, along with Luke Kuechly on the defensive side. Newton has been a dominant Fantasy force since Week 1 of his rookie year, but he took his game to new heights in 2015. The improvement in the passing game vaulted him into the top spot at the position overall. The scary part is, he could still get better. No QB has a higher ceiling, and now that Newton has proven to be lethal through the air, he does not have to rely solely on his legs. He is a Top 3 Dynasty QB any way you slice it and most will likely have him placed in the first spot. Perhaps his stats will fall off a bit in 2016, but the return of Kelvin Benjamin should only help sustain his elite play.
Is This The End by New Edition
Peyton Manning and Brock Osweiler (QB, Broncos) – “Is this the end? Are you my friend? It seems to me you ought to be free. You used to be mine when the chips were down.” Who will be under center for the Broncos next season? There is a good chance that Manning rides off into the sunset after Sunday’s game. Plus, Osweiler is a free agent. He was respectable in the first extended action of his career; enough to place the franchise in his hands moving forward? Not quite. The problem is that the QB market is not exactly brimming with enticing options. Osweiler may be afforded a short-term contract and one year to try and convince the organization that he is capable of being the man. He is not expected to attract too much “starter” attention on the open market, so this would be a marriage of two parties with limited options settling for each other. This situation is going to be a fun one to watch during the offseason.
You’re No Good by Linda Ronstadt
Ronnie Hillman and C.J. Anderson (RB, Broncos) – “Feelin’ better, now that we’re through. Feelin’ better, cause I’m over you. I’ve learned my lesson, it left a scar. Now I see how you really are.” Anderson was a first round pick in many leagues this year after a breakout nine game stretch in 2014. He ended up one of the biggest busts, due in part to injuries and then splitting time with Hillman. So, is Anderson actually good enough to be a RB2? Yes, he can put it all together next season depending on how the Broncos address the situation in the offseason. After the bye week, Anderson has been a better runner and is clearly outplaying his backfield counterpart. If he is the clear-cut starter next season, I could see Anderson as an excellent bounce back candidate. As for Hillman, he is a free agent and it will be interesting to see where he ends up. For an undersized back, he is solid between the tackles and could be an effective receiver. Do not expect him to go anywhere as a starter, but that does not mean he won’t have value. He’s a change of pace back and bench asset in dynasty formats.
The Way You Move by Outkast
Jonathan Stewart and Cameron Artis-Payne (RB, Panthers) – “I love the way you move I love the way, I love the way. Then the whole room fell silent. The girls all pause with glee, turning left turning right are they looking at me?” Stewart finally got his chance to shine without DeAngelo Williams, and he managed to stay relatively healthy with the largest workload of his career. He should remain a RB2 option next season, but his value after that depends on the development of Artis-Payne. The talented rookie runner could push Stewart for carries as soon as next season. There is a chance the Panthers could part ways with him after next year, but keep in mind he is signed affordably through 2018. In the meantime, Artis-Payne is a high upside handcuff and potential plug and play option if Stewart were to go down. He is must-own if you have Stewart and a decent stash if you don’t.
Still Loving You by Scorpions
Demaryius Thomas, Emmanuel Sanders and Cody Latimer (WR, Broncos) – “Time, it needs time. To win back your love again. I will be there; I will be there. Love, only love. Can bring back your love someday.” When 1,300 yards and six TDs is considered a down season, you know you’re really good at catching footballs. Though Demaryius Thomas grabbed 105 passes this year, he was inconsistent and plagued with drops, causing owners plenty of frustration. The 28-year-old is still very much an elite receiving option, but the Broncos QB situation puts a major question mark on his value. It is a great time to buy low based on perception and uncertainty at QB. Same goes for Sanders, who has been an ideal WR2 option since coming to Denver two years ago. He may have maxed out in 2014, but he can definitely be a starting WR for your Fantasy squad in 2016 and beyond. For what it is worth, he showed a solid rapport with Osweiler in their time together. The Cody Latimer hype train has been stuck at the station. He will need that light to go on this summer or risk falling into obscurity.
Getting Better by The Beatles
Ted Ginn, Kelvin Benjamin and Devin Funchess (WR, Panthers) “I’ve got to admit it’s getting better (Better). A little better all the time (It can’t get more worse). I have to admit it’s getting better (Better). It’s getting better since you’ve been mine.” Ginn is a nice deep threat playmaker that should be nowhere near the Fantasy asset next year. Benjamin, much maligned by many, should be back as a massive target for Newton, albeit with plenty of drops and miscues along the way. He will make his QB better, though, and give him one of the best red zone options in the NFL. Benjamin is basically a tight end sized wideout, and even coming off of an ACL tear, he makes an intriguing WR2 option. Funchess has many similarities to Benjamin, but he is still very raw. 2016 will be another developmental year, with possibly a big step forward coming in the second half. I am trying to buy him where I can in dynasty formats.
Good Ol’ Boys (Dukes of Hazzard Theme) by Waylon Jennings
Greg Olsen (TE, Panthers) – “Makin’ their way. The only way they know how. That’s just a little bit more. Than the law will allow.” Olsen, who turns 31 this offseason, is coming off of his best year and should have a couple more Top 10 finishes in him. He has been a very consistent Fantasy option, with the past two seasons being elite. There is no reason to think he cannot put up another 1,000-yard season or at the very least come close to it. A healthy Benjamin and emerging Funchess may slow him down a bit, but he is still a TE you can count on each week. Of course, you can maximize his value by shopping him around your league this offseason. This is as good as it is going to get and perhaps you can find an owner willing to overpay for his services. If not, enjoy the next few years but start to look at young TE options that you can stash and develop.
Hard Knock Life by Jay-Z
Vernon Davis, Owen Daniels and Virgil Green (TE, Broncos) – “It’s the hard knock life, for us It’s the hard knock life, for us!! Steada treated, we get tricked Steada kisses, we get kicked It’s the hard knock life!!” There is nothing here that you want to even consider for Fantasy purposes. Daniels and Davis were once Top 10 options, but now appear as shells of their former selves. Davis is a free agent, which I guess gives him a small amount of appeal. Daniels is under contract until 2018, but he could be a cap casualty this spring or next. If he stays with the team next year, expect him and Green to split time. Green entered the NFL as a project TE in the former basketball player mold that was all the rage. He has not amounted to anything just yet, but of the three, he is the one I’d want to roll the dice on. Expect the Broncos to address this situation, though, but possibly not until 2017.