When you go about drafting your imaginary teams in the coming weeks, the opponents of the players selected is a passing worry for the very best in the early rounds, and it advances to only a moderate concern later even in the final rounds. From the elite picks early to the lottery tickets late, your aim is to get good value with each roster spot, and more simply, to draft good football players. A crazy idea, I know.
But if you’re faced with a difficult decision between two players at any point (like, say, any of those featured in our “Who Ya Got?” series), a players’ schedule can act as one of many tie breakers, with the easier of the two getting the nod. Right now, any player at any position who gets to run, pass, or catch against the Broncos sometime over the first six (or maybe eight) weeks of the season is a player you’ll enjoy.
I examined the severe impact of Von Miller’s suspension when word first surfaced of an impending four-game absence late last month. But now that his suspension is set to possibly be doubled with two games added at minimum, it needs to be revisited.
We still don’t know definitively what Miller did (Molly poppin’?), but we can make the sort of safe assumption that he’s been guilty of multiple NFL policy violations. Or maybe this latest violation combined with a previous positive test for marijuana and amphetamines as a rookie has led to the longer penalty. We’ll know soon enough, but right now all that matters is this: a fast, and stupid strong pass rusher who had 18.5 sacks last year and 30 over just two seasons could miss up to half the year, and he plays on the same team that just lost Elvis Dumervil in free agency.
Oh and hey, Derek Wolfe left Denver’s preseason loss to Seattle on a stretcher. He thankfully dodged serious injury, but it clearly still wasn’t a good look for a tackle who had six sacks in 2012, and is expected to fill the hole left by Miller.
Oh and hey, there’s this too…
When Von Miller was on the field last season, Broncos opponents gained 4.5 yards per play. When he was not, opponents gained 5.1 yards/play
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) August 19, 2013
That hole isn’t really a hole at all. It’s a crater, as Dumervil and Miller combined for 56.7 percent of Denver’s 52 sacks last year. Throw in the likely early-season absence of Champ Bailey with a foot injury that’s a “serious sprain” with nothing torn, and there’s the makings for some fun fantasy long toss.
In addition to the opponents previously overviewed in the first quarter of the season Miller was initially expected to miss, now we can add the Cowboys and Jaguars in weeks five and six, and possibly also the Colts and Redskins in Weeks seven and eight.
Among those who pass and catch footballs, here’s what we have on those offenses:
- A wide receiver who finished eighth among his peers in yardage with 1,382 during the 2012 season, and third in touchdowns with 12 (Dez Bryant)
- A tight end who led his position in yardage with 1,039, and catches with 110. (Jason Witten)
- A wide receiver with explosive ability in the open field who had five catches for 40 yards or more, despite finishing with just 55 receptions in total. A.J. Green led the league in +40 yarders with seven, but needed 42 more catches to get there. (Cecil Shorts)
- A quarterback who can easily escape containment of the outside rushers who are key in defending the read-option, and he led his position in rushing yards with 815 despite suffering a serious injury. He also averaged 6.8 yards per carry, while rushing for a first down on 33.3 percent of his attempts. (Robert Griffin III)
- That quarterback may have much more time to find his favorite target, a wide receiver who had 80 yards or more in half of his games last year despite being limited by an injury of his own, and he recorded catches of 59 and 88 yards. (Pierre Garcon)
- A wide wide receiver who’s scored in both games during his limited preseason time, while averaging 19.5 yards per catch. (T.Y. hilton)
Our deepest apologies to Broncos fans, but that looks mighty tasty.