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Broncos receivers

Patrick return clouds prospects

The Broncos have some talent at the receiver position, both wideout and tight end. Jerry Jeudy is a former first-round pick, Courtland Sutton an early second, and they've got last year's third-rounder Greg Dulcich. I'm intrigued -- but concerned that crowding will be an issue.

That concern is only heightened by the news that Tim Patrick (pictured) is practicing fully. Even if we accept the idea that Sean Payton is going to fix Russell Wilson and ramp up this passing game in 2023, it will be difficult (impossible?) for all these players to hit, if they all stay healthy.

Last year Patrick tore his ACL and missed the season. The year before that, Jeudy missed 7 games. And in 2020, it was Sutton who played in only one game. That's helped the healthy ones to deliver good numbers in other contests. How have things been with all three wideouts available?

The past three years, there have been exactly 10 games (all from 2021) when all three of Jeudy, Sutton and Patrick have been healthy. Here are their numbers for those contests, sorted by PPR points.

BRONCOS TOP 3 WRS, MUTUAL GAMES (2021)
PlayerOppTgtNoRecTDFF
Patrickat Dall.5485118.5
PatrickK.C.10695015.5
Patrickat NYG4439113.9
Jeudyat NYG7672013.2
PatrickCin.5342113.2
Jeudyat Dall.8669012.9
Jeudyat K.C.6477011.7
JeudyPhil.9648010.8
JeudyDet654709.7
PatrickWash.336409.4
Jeudyat L.V.436009.0
JeudyWash.443907.9
Suttonat L.V.543307.3
SuttonWash.424006.0
JeudyK.C.523005.0
SuttonPhil.322904.9
PatrickLAC322604.6
JeudyLAC322504.5
PatrickPhil.631404.4
PatrickDet522104.1
Patrickat L.V.421803.8
SuttonLAC321703.7
Suttonat K.C.621503.5
SuttonCin.721203.2
Suttonat NYG311402.4
SuttonK.C.311302.3
Patrickat K.C.51901.9
Suttonat Dall.21901.9
SuttonDet21901.9
JeudyCin.40000.0

Some takeaways from the table. First, the three best games (and four of the top 5) were by Patrick. Not only has he held his own when all three are healthy, he's definitely been one of the top 2 targets. The trio combined to catch only 3 touchdowns in those games -- all by Patrick.

Second, in those 30 combined games, there were just eight total where any one of the three had double-digit fantasy points -- four by Patrick, four by Jeudy. It's a little clearer now why Denver was reportedly shopping Sutton in the offseason.

In 2021, of course, Sutton was working his way back from 2020's torn ACL. That might have been a factor in his lesser performance, and it's a limitation that could apply to Patrick this year. And the other key difference is that the Broncos had Teddy Bridgewater at quarterback that season. Russell Wilson comes off a poor season, but he's definitely better than Bridgewater, and with Payton at the controls, the entire passing offense should be better.

But if all three wideouts are available, it will be tougher for more than one of them to put up strong numbers; almost certainly not all three. And with Dulcich and former Saint Adam Trautman in the mix, plus second-rounder Marvin Mims, there are a lot of mouths to feed.

It's a new offense and a better quarterback (at his best) at the helm. But crowding might be an issue. An injury (or perhaps Sutton somehow being dealt) would benefit the others in the mix.

--Andy Richardson

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