2014 Outlook: The reigning fantasy points champion lost Eric Decker, arguably the Broncos' most productive wideout, to free agency. But don't shed a tear for Manning, who still has two dominant receivers in Demaryius Thomas and Wes Welker, an impact tight end in Julius Thomas and another superb dink-and-dunk receiver in free agent acquisition Emmanuel Sanders. Don't expect him to repeat last year's record-breaking season, especially since he is 38 and has four matchups against the tough NFC West. But even if Manning takes a step back, he has a very good shot at defending his fantasy points title.
2014 Outlook: His vertical game gets a lot of pub -- and for good reason. Thomas netted 96 fantasy points off vertical throws in 2013, 10th most among WRs. But he isn't a one-trick Bronco: His strongest suit is actually turning short passes into long gains. In his two seasons playing with Peyton Manning, he's compiled 1,225 yards after the catch, tops in the league. And last season he racked up an NFL-best 115 fantasy points -- and scored 9 of his 14 TDs -- on dink-and-dunk throws. Expect more of the same in Manning's quick-hitting offense.
2014 Outlook: Let's be clear: Ball didn't do enough in his rookie season to prove he's worth ranking among the top 20 running backs. In fact, he blew a golden depth-chart opportunity, allowing Knowshon Moreno to swoop in and become the No. 5 fantasy RB. The main culprit was his inadequate pass blocking, a big no-no in Peyton Manning's offense. But now that Moreno is gone, Ball will get first crack to inherit a workload that includes tons of catches, goal-line carries and garbage-time touches. He's a talented all-around player with size and short-area burst, and he should be a breakout star -- if he can learn to block for Mr. Manning.
2014 Outlook: In his first year as a starter, Thomas established himself as a red zone freak -- 8 of his 12 TDs came inside an opponent's 20 -- and a trusted safety valve. Part of what makes Thomas tick as a fantasy option is the talent around him. Demaryius Thomas, Wes Welker and Emmanuel Sanders should ensure that Julius will regularly see singled-up looks, and Peyton Manning trusts him to take advantage. The bottom line: The Broncos' offense is a machine, and Julius Thomas is an essential cog. He missed a couple of games with a knee injury in 2013, but he should be all systems go this season.
2014 Outlook: Through Week 8, Welker had the fourth-best fantasy total among WRs, scoring 103 points on 50 catches, 555 yards and 9 TDs. But he sputtered to the finish line, putting up only 27 points the rest of the season as he missed three games with yet another concussion. All in all, last season was only the second since 2006 that Welker failed to eclipse 100 catches and 1,000 yards. Even if his age is beginning to be a concern, it's hard to rank Welker any lower, especially with Peyton Manning throwing him the football.
2014 Outlook: Those looking for some positives in Sanders' metrics can point to his career highs in receptions (67), yards (740), targets (112) and TDs (6) last season. Those fishing for negatives can point to his 11 yards per reception, a mark that ranked him 32nd out of 34 wide receivers with 100 or more targets. Teaming up with Peyton Manning should lead to more of the positives, but competing with Demaryius Thomas, Wes Welker and Julius Thomas for targets could stall some of Sanders' statistical momentum.
2014 Outlook: At this point, Anderson is still all about potential. But he's worth keeping an eye on. The Broncos' backfield is paper-thin all of a sudden. With Knowshon Moreno gone and Ronnie Hillman still haunted by fumbles, it's pretty much a two-man show with Montee Ball and Anderson. A 5-foot-8, 224-pound bowling ball, Anderson has dimensions that remind us of other short/strong guys like Frank Gore and Zac Stacy. He has only seven career carries, but Anderson has spent a year learning the ins and outs of Peyton's program. That'll make him a valuable fantasy commodity if Ball doesn't pan out.
2014 Outlook: The Broncos are going for it: They paid $60 million guaranteed to DeMarcus Ware, T.J. Ward and Aqib Talib over the winter and drafted Bradley Roby. Meanwhile, Champ Bailey, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Shaun Phillips and Robert Ayers are gone. That sounds like a net win, but there are two wild cards. First, the health of OLB Von Miller (35 sacks in 40 career games) and nickel CB Chris Harris (3 INTs in 2013) remains an unknown. Both are still on the mend from late-season ACL tears. And Denver's revolving door at MLB looks like it'll continue for another year, with Nate Irving penciled in as the starter. Still, if everyone is healthy, this looks like a dangerous group.
2014 Outlook: What makes Prater the No. 1 fantasy kicker? Start with a Broncos offense that scored 10 points per game more than the next-best team. The seven-year pro finished with an NFL-record 75 PATs, 23 more than second-place finishers Ryan Succop and Mike Nugent racked up last season. It's worth considering that the Broncos will play the NFC West in 2014, which means Peyton Manning & Co. will face three of the top seven scoring defenses from a year ago. But also take into account that if some of those extra points turn into field goal tries, Prater is a guy who converted a league-best 96.2 percent of his three-point tries in 2013. His upside makes him No. 1.
2014 Outlook: Osweiler showed off his cannon arm at Arizona State, where he threw 57 completions of 20-plus yards in 2011 (sixth most in the FBS). The question is whether he'll ever get a chance to do the same before Peyton Manning retires. Manning's career-long durability has been incredible; outside of missing the entire 2011 season, he has started every game since 1998. But if he were to go down, we think this offense would have enough talent to operate at a B-level with Osweiler under center. He's a solid option in dynasty leagues.