Peyton Manning, Denver Broncos Might Surprise People in 2012

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Peyton Manning knows what he likes in his offensive weapons. It’s why players like Austin Collie and Jacob Tamme were able to step right in and be big-time producers. If you run the routes, and do what Peyton asks when he’s yelling gibberish at the line of scrimmage, then he’s going to get the ball to you, and more often than not it’s going to be exactly where you need it.

Now Peyton has a new team, a new offense and new weapons, but the general idea will be the same. He’ll throw to players that he’s already seen before whether he knows it or not. Before Austin Collie there was Anthony Gonzalez, and before that Brandon Stokley roamed the slot. Each time someone new stepped in, Manning didn’t miss a beat.

The same thing will happen in Denver. Peyton Manning will mold each player in to a clone of every receiver he’s ever had. It’s what Peyton Manning does and it’s why I think the Broncos will be a fantasy football haven.

Demaryius Thomas

He will be playing the role of Reggie Wayne this season. Only Reggie Wayne was never this big, and he never had hands the size of small TV’s. Maybe he was as fast as Thomas is (it’s hard to remember because at that point in Wayne’s career he was still getting Marvin Harrison’s scraps) but he wasn’t as strong. There’s a reason everyone is salivating over this kid – he’s the real deal.

Hampered by injuries his first two seasons, by the time he saw the field, Tim Tebow was the quarterback and any semblance of offensive consistency was thrown out the door. Still, there were glimpses last season. The catch against Pittsburgh (where he won the game in overtime by catching the ball and simply running by everyone) wasn’t nearly as impressive to me as half of the catches on this video, yet it was still sort of a coming out party for Thomas.

Obviously Sportscenter has to make some kind of comparison for Thomas so they can fill 10 minutes with Stephen A. Smith yelling about who he thinks is better.

I refused to unmute the TV so I’ll have to admit I didn’t hear what they said. Sportscenter is so bad now that I can’t even have it on when I’m writing. I just mute it and occasionally stare blankly at Mike Yam and wonder if he’s in fact an alien.

In typical ESPN fashion, leaving no room for a learning curve or any kind of adjustment period, they went with Calvin Johnson as the comparison. But as absurd as most Sportscenter posed questions or comparisons can be, this one actually has some merit.

All the talent and physical gifts are there and the reports are that Thomas has bought in and is working on his route running and learning the playbook. Out of the entire Broncos offense (including Peyton Manning) this kid has the most upside.

Eric Decker

Peyton is going to use Decker like Pierre Garcon and Marvin Harrison – speed routes. Utilizing his speed, and one-on-one matchups he should get from the extra attention Thomas will be receiving, Decker will be able to put together some monster games. The consistency may not be there but he’ll be a good player to have ready come bye weeks.

There’s also some added sleeper potential here. It’s not a complete guarantee that Peyton and Thomas are going to mesh – a young receiver with considerable talent who doesn’t put in the work it takes to reach his full potential. Stop me if you’ve heard this before.

If Thomas decides that he’s going to go the way of Bethel Johnson and Chad Jackson, then Decker will step in as the de-facto No. 1 receiver and be Peyton’s goldenboy. Some people are saying that he’s going to be favorite target regardless, but I’m not one of those people. I see where they are coming from. It’s just that I’m just so in love with Demaryius Thomas it borders on mania.

Jacob Tamme – Look, he’s not Dallas Clark in his prime. But when Clark missed time in 2010, Tamme stepped in and in 10 games had 67 receptions for 631 yards and four touchdowns. Last season was a complete wash for anybody on the Colts offense so we won’t even look at those numbers.

Besides, the most important part is that he’s reunited with Manning again. He’s also now the unquestioned starter and in my mind is poised for a breakout season. Don’t waste your early round picks on a tight end. You can get quality value later on with Tamme. Just make sure you don’t wait too long.

Ed. Note: This article previously mentioned Eddie Royal as a potential target. It might be tough for Manning to hit Royal with consistency, though, seeing as Royal is now a San Diego Charger.

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