Emmanuel Sanders is coming off a torn Achilles, but he’ll likely be ready for opening day. He’ll be doing some work when the Broncos begin training camp on Thursday.
There was some worry that Sanders might begin on the PUP list. Achilles injuries tend to be more difficult to overcome than knee injuries. But he’s supposedly coming along nicely.
“He'll start practicing from Day 1,” GM John Elway says. https://sports.yahoo.com/broncos-kick-off-nfl-training-camps-sanders-board-210709228--nfl.html. “Obviously we're going to work him in slowly.”
If Sanders is right physically, I’m pretty confident he’ll be Denver’s most productive wide receiver. The 32-year-old has more experience and know-how than their other players at that position. Some are looking for a breakout year from Courtland Sutton, but he had only modest success as a rookie. And Sutton thus far has been used almost exclusively as a deep threat. With PPR scoring, it tends to favor players with larger workloads – you want receivers who can pile up a lot of shorter catches. With that in mind, I think DaeSean Hamilton is the third receiver who’s definitely in the mix on this roster. Working in the slot, Hamilton caught 25 passes in the final four games last year.
The Broncos have Joe Flacco at quarterback, and during his career, he’s tended to prefer working with more experienced wide receivers, and he’s tended in recent years to throw shorter passes. Flacco’s playing style doesn’t seem like a great fit with Sutton (though a reader in this space last month correctly pointed out that Flacco had some success on deep balls with John Brown last year).
Flacco in Baltimore had five 1,000-yard receivers. All but one of them were over 30 at the end of the year. In the last 10 years, all but three of his 10 most productive receivers (PPR scoring) were thirtysomethings. (In the chart below, I have them tagged with black dots.)
I’m not a big Sanders fan. I don’t expect I’ll draft him as one of my top 4 wide receivers in any league. But if I were in a draft today and forced to pick a Denver pass catcher, Sanders is the one I would chose.
|BALTIMORE RECEIVERS (last 10 years)|
|2014||• Steve Smith||35||79||1,065||6||221.5||18|
|2009||• Derrick Mason||35||73||1,028||7||218.0||17|
|2008||• Derrick Mason||34||80||1,037||5||216.0||20|
|2016||• Mike Wallace||30||72||1,017||4||202.8||23|
|2010||• Anquan Boldin||30||64||837||7||189.6||25|
|2016||• Steve Smith||37||70||799||5||183.9||37|
|2012||• Anquan Boldin||32||65||921||4||183.4||30|
|2010||• Derrick Mason||36||61||802||7||183.2||28|
|2011||• Anquan Boldin||31||57||887||3||163.7||35|
|2017||• Mike Wallace||31||52||748||4||151.2||38|
|2018||• Michael Crabtree||31||54||607||3||132.7||56|
|2015||• Steve Smith||36||46||670||3||131.0||53|