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Paul Klee: Denver Broncos still champs, just not in fantasy football

By: Paul Klee
August 27, 2016 Updated: August 28, 2016 at 2:02 am
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Denver Broncos defensive back Ryan Murphy (36) takes the field prior to an NFL preseason football game against the Los Angeles RamsSaturday, Aug. 27, 2016, in Denver. (AP Photo/Joe Mahoney)

DENVER — What's your fantasy?

It shouldn't be the Broncos. That's what the expert tells me. He lives here, too.

"If the NFL was broken into three tiers in terms of fantasy (prospects)," Yahoo! Sports fantasy guru and local resident Brad Evans said Saturday, "the Broncos are in the bottom third."

I heard a groan Saturday night at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Six, actually. The Broncos opened a preseason game against the Los Angeles Rams with six snaps — and six running plays. The Broncos' defense is the "No Fly Zone." So is the offense, so far.

Don't fault Gary Kubiak's conservatism. Ol' Kubes knows what's up: If the Broncos are to win another Super Bowl, this time in Houston, it's behind an all-time defense and bor-ing offense. In order to A) understand why the world is denouncing the world champs as frauds, despite a crazy-deep roster B) give fantasy enthusiasts something to read on their biggest draft weekend of the season, I picked the fantasy expert's brain, and his Big Board.

The best fantasy "teams," in terms of individuals who will win your league: New Orleans, Green Bay and Cleveland. They will score you braggin' rights. The worst fantasy teams, in terms of draft-somebody-else: Los Angeles, Baltimore and San Francisco. And the Broncos?

With a doffed cap toward Trevor Siemian, whom I believe will be just fine as the starting quarterback around these hills, the Broncos show a foursome of viable fantasy prospects: wideouts Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders, tailback C.J. Anderson and tight end/Hulk action figure Virgil Green. That's the top four. There are others.

On Thomas, Evans says: "Right now he's a middling WR2 in most fantasy drafts. The question mark is 'will he reel in those touchdown passes like we saw two years ago and before that?'"

On Sanders: "Middle-of-the-road WR3. That totally stems from the quarterback situation."

On Anderson: "As dire as the quarterback situation is, C.J. Anderson is grossly undervalued. He's getting the Eddie Lacy treatment because so many people got burned last year.

On Green: "He's this year's Gary Barnidge (the breakout tight end from the Browns)."

So, there you go. If winning football floats your boat, watch the Broncos. If poor fantasy stats sink your ship, click elsewhere. Evans says there now are more fantasy enthusiasts than golfers in our fine country, where we should stand for the flag. They will be fore another team.

The estimate is that 55 million folks play fantasy football. That blew my mind. (And you guys need hobbies.) The Broncos aren't expected to blow anyone's mind in fantasy football.

NFL players swear by fantasy football when they are scoring points, swear at fantasy football when they're not. It's how the rest of us feel about golf.

Barring a sinkhole below his south Denver residence, Siemian will be the starting quarterback on Sept. 8 against the Panthers. In the Broncos quarterback pool, if you had the NFL MVP, Cam Newton, against a guy who hasn't throw an NFL pass, cash in.

Siemian will be just fine. I'm serious. In the first half Saturday, he went 10-for-17 for 122 yards, one touchdown (to Green, the tight end) and one interception (to the Rams, of Los Angeles). Those aren't winning fantasy numbers, but they are winning football numbers. Siemian's Broncos led, 10-9. They later won, 17-9, the kind of score they usually will win by.

Paxton Lynch looms large as a fantasy tycoon, not now but later. What's to stop the November Broncos from swapping their under-center offense for a shotgun offense with Lynch? Ol' Kubes digs the switcheroo.

In 2013 — with Peyton Manning, Julius Thomas, Eric Decker, Knowshon Moreno, DT and oh my, those were wild Sundays — the Broncos fielded the greatest outfit in fantasy history, however far back that goes.

Now they are champions on the field, but not on your laptop.

"It's all about the quarterback situation," Evans said.

So we've heard.

Twitter: @bypaulklee

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