Wes Welker's addition could mean even bigger things for Manning in 2013
We're thru two weeks of the NFL free agency period and there were some big signings. One in particular, Wes Welker signing with the Denver Broncos, is certain to have an impact on 2013 fantasy football rankings.
Now, I don't mean to say that Welker's fantasy stock raises any. After all, I cannot believe that with quality WR's like Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker already established as an excellent starting tandem for Denver that Welker is going to continue to flourish with 100+ receptions and 1,000+ yards like he has in New England the last several seasons. But his presence is certainly going to affect one (or both) of them and also have an impact on the guy whose job is to get these three WR's the football: Peyton Manning.
Manning experienced one of his best seasons in 2012, his first as the quarterback of the Denver Broncos. He finished with the second highest numbers in 3 distinguished categories: passing yards (4,659), TD passes (37), and completion percentage (68.6) of his illustrious career. Both Thomas and Decker finished with 85 or more receptions, both went over 1,000 receiving yards, and both had 10 or more TD's. What Manning lacked though was a truly dynamic 3rd option.
Brandon Stokley was the #3 WR but he only caught 45 passes for 544 yards and 5 TD's. TE's Jacob Tamme and Joel Dreessen combined for 93 catches for 911 yards, and 7 TD's. While combined these guys did a good job, none of them is the type of consistently reliable pass catching option Welker is.
Since 2007, when he was acquired by the Patriots, Welker has accounted for over 29% of all completions by New England quarterbacks and over 27% of all receiving yards. While Welker has never been a big TD producer, his presence between the 20's has been one of the reasons for the success the Patriots have had in their passing attack in that span. And now he'll do the same for Denver and Manning.
Welker is going to add a reliable 3rd receiving option for Manning. If any QB other than Tom Brady could establish a rapport quickly with an underneath threat like Welker, it would be Manning. And while it is unlikely that the Broncos are going to produce 3 WR's who all get 80+ receptions and 1,000+ yards, it's not out of the realm of possibility. Not with these weapons to throw to.
So while Manning checked in as my 8th highest ranked fantasy QB in my early top 10 fantasy quarterback rankings 2 months ago, the addition of Welker could easily make him ascend higher on the list. And when we get to our fantasy drafts in August, it will be interesting to see where Manning, Welker, Thomas, and Decker place on our fantasy football draft analyzer rankings.
Here's how I see each:
Peyton Manning: Legitimate fantasy QB1 for any fantasy roster.
Demaryius Thomas: Strong fantasy WR1, but comes with a bit of risk to be inconsistent on a weekly basis.
Eric Decker: Good fantasy WR2. The biggest negative fantasy impact of Welker's presence could come from Decker's stats, but he's still going to be in the WR2 range.
Wes Welker: Borderline fantasy WR2/3. Like he has been, Welker will likely be much more valuable in ppr scoring formats as he will continue to catch a good amount of passes, but the TD's aren't likely to be more than 7 with Thomas and Decker both possessing far superior size for red zone targets.