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Fantasy Football Team Preview: Denver Broncos — Breakouts, Busts and Sleepers

Nov 8, 2020; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Denver Broncos wide receiver Jerry Jeudy (10) catches a long pass behind Atlanta Falcons cornerback Kendall Sheffield (20) during the second half at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

The Denver Broncos boast a top-10 supporting cast of offensive skill players and have the most favorable strength of schedule at the quarterback position. That makes the summer training camp battle between incumbent Drew Lock and newcomer Teddy Bridgewater one to watch closely — the winner has the chance to shock the fantasy world. 

The cakewalk matchups foreshadow a hot start, with the third-easiest schedule over the first five weeks, and could also offer a strong finish with the second-easiest schedule from Weeks 14-17. 

Editor's Note: PFF's 2021 Fantasy Football Draft Guide and 2021 Fantasy Football Cheat Sheets are LIVE!

The quarterback competition is crucial for the Broncos' 2021 offense. Lock last year finished 31st in PFF passing grade (55.9) and completion percentage (57%). If he can't show improvement in Year 3 and support his playmakers sooner than later, Bridgewater has proven to be able to do so.

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2021 Team Preview

Lock ranked 31st in uncatchable pass rate and first in interceptions in 2020, so it was no surprise when Denver's new general manager, George Paton, traded a sixth-round pick for Bridgewater during the offseason.

His acquisition all but guarantees Denver will see more competent quarterback play. In Carolina last year, Bridgewater earned the league’s third-highest adjusted completion percentage (80%) and was one of just two quarterbacks to support three top-25 fantasy wide receivers: Curtis Samuel, D.J. Moore and Robby Anderson

Teddy B knows how to distribute the ball effectively, and that translates to fantasy points for his receivers. His more conservative nature also makes him the better bet to win games opposite one of the game's best defenses. 

Bridgewater should operate as more than just a game manager in Denver with uber-aggressive offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur calling the shots. Shurmur’s offense ranked first in aDOT (9.9) last year and second in pass attempts over 20 air yards. In 2019, Shurmur oversaw a New York Giants offense that saw rookie quarterback Daniel Jones finish top-10 in pass attempts of 20-plus air yards. 

Bridgewater should air the ball out more than ever in 2021, which is exactly what we want for fantasy football. Not to mention, Bridgewater is more than capable of engineering an efficient downfield passing attack; he has just never been tasked to do so.

Since 2019, Bridgewater ranks first in yards per attempt (18.7), first in completion percentage (47%) and third in passer rating (121.5) on pass attempts with 25-plus air yards. Lock’s numbers aren’t even on the same planet. He has four more attempts (51 vs. 47) and nine fewer completions.

The numbers suggest Bridgewater not only represents a greater floor for the entire Broncos offense (a commonly accepted opinion) but also a heightened ceiling. Bridgewater finished as a top-15 fantasy quarterback in nearly half of his games in 2020. Lock had just four such finishes. There’s no debate as to who should be under center come Sept. 12. 

Teddy Bridgewater and Drew Lock passing splits on passes 25-plus air yards since 2019
Name PFF Passing Grade Attempts Completions Yards Big-Time Throw % TurnoverWorthy Play % YPA Completion % Passer Rating
Teddy Bridgewater 89.8 47 22 878 28% 9% 18.68 47% 121.5
Drew Lock 61.5 51 13 480 27% 14% 9.41 25% 53.2

Not all hope is lost of Lock ends up as the starter. If the Mizzou product beats out Bridgewater in training camp, then chances are he has improved. His 2020 PFF grade from a clean pocket (87.5, 15th) and big-time throw rate (6.4%, seventh) suggest untapped potential. It’s just a matter of cleaning up the poor decision-making. 

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