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'We're expecting big things from Noah Fant': ESPN's Matthew Berry evaluates Broncos' fantasy football options

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — As the Broncos' 2020 season inches closer, so too does your fantasy football draft.

And with a revamped offense expected in Denver when the season opens, there are plenty of Broncos to potentially add to your squad.

Drew Lock, Melvin Gordon, Courtland Sutton, Jerry Jeudy and Noah Fant all appear to be strong additions to a team — but we wanted to hear from an expert.

ESPN senior writer and fantasy football expert Matthew Berry spoke with about each of the above players to offer his opinions.

Read on for insight and Berry's advice on which player could provide the best value in your upcoming fantasy draft.

Note: All rankings reflect the player's standing among his respective position group for PPR leagues.


Berry's ranking: 18 | ESPN's average ranking: 20

"You add somebody like Jerry Jeudy, who is fantastic," Berry said. "[There's] the emergence of Noah Fant. You've got the [Pro Bowler] in Courtland Sutton. You've got Melvin Gordon, who is a weapon out of the backfield, along with Phillip Lindsay. All of a sudden, the Denver Broncos have some nice pieces here for Drew Lock.

"You think about last year. [He] went 4-1 as a starter. If you take away the game against Kansas City in the snow — and that's tough for anyone to play, especially as a rookie coming in midseason as a starter — … here's a guy that had over 70 percent completion rate, had a 103.1 passer rating, a 3.5 touchdown-to-interception ratio.

"[The Broncos] have basically said, 'Hey, we're going to give this kid as much chance to succeed as we can. We're going to put as much around him as possible.' The only question becomes the offense. Will the offense become less conservative, more pass friendly? That remains to be seen. Certainly the talent around him and his skill set, he could easily be a top 12 guy — a fantasy starter — later in the season."


Berry's ranking: 17 | ESPN's average ranking: 17

"One of the things about Melvin Gordon is throughout his career, he's always relied on two things for fantasy superstardom: the touchdowns and volume," Berry said. "The touchdowns are going to come. This is a guy that has been just a rock star around the end zone for the majority of his career. He's the only running back in the NFL with eight or more rushing touchdowns each of the last four seasons. Obviously, he held out some of last year and yet still [had] eight rushing touchdowns last year. … He's going to get the touchdowns. My expectation is when the Broncos get in close — and I think it's actually a better offensive line for him in Denver than it was with the Chargers — when they get in close, they're going to give it to Melvin Gordon.

"But the concern here is about the volume. He's never been the most efficient running back in the NFL. He's averaged under 4 yards per carry four of his last five seasons. So he really needs volume. Does he get it with Phillip Lindsay there? Phillip Lindsay's a guy who had 15 or more touches in 11 of 16 games last year. Do I expect Melvin Gordon to lead the Broncos in rushing and rushing attempts? Of course, I do. And he's a nice pass catcher, so I don't think he necessarily comes off on third down. But it's hard for me to see Phillip Lindsay getting less than 10 touches a game. … It's hard for me to see [Gordon] getting the 20-plus touches we've seen in previous years. I think he's more a 15- to 17-touch guy, so I have him slightly lower than I would if Lindsay weren't there."


Berry's ranking: 23 | ESPN's average ranking: 16

"The concern here isn't his talent, right?" Berry said. "The concern here is just target share. A credit to the Denver Broncos for adding a lot more weapons around Courtland Sutton. … He was wide receiver [No.] 19 last year, and he was sixth in the NFL in total target share [with] 26 percent of the targets. In the five games he played with Drew Lock last year, [he had] 26.1 percent target share. That would've ranked sixth-highest for a full season. And then you think about that: Even with that insane target share, he had only three games with more than five catches all season. He has a 55 percent career catch rate, which, you know, how much of that is on him vs. the quarterback play? The addition of Jerry Jeudy, the addition of KJ Hamler, you expect DaeSean Hamilton to take another step. Melvin Gordon [is] a nice pass-catching running back out of the backfield. We expect Noah Fant to be heavily involved in this offense.

"… I think [Sutton] is a very talented player, but I don't see him having an insane 26 percent target share again because of the additional weapons Denver has added this year."


Berry's ranking: 57 | ESPN's average ranking: 44

"I have him more as a later-round flier, because again you've got Courtland Sutton there," Berry said. "At the moment it's scheduled to be a run-first offense. Make no mistake about it: In dynasty, in deeper leagues, in real-life NFL, Jerry Jeudy's a stud. This is a guy that I think Denver will be able to use in a variety of ways. He was the only player in FBS last year ranked in the top 30 in receiving yards on all of the following routes: out routes, dig routes, post routes and screens. They used him so many different ways [at] Alabama. He's so talented. [He had] 1,000 receiving yards and 10 receiving touchdowns each of the last two years. [He's a] big play waiting to happen. Forty-four different receptions of at least 20 yards the last two years — that's the second-most in FBS. I think Jeudy just adds such a dynamic play-making ability to this team immediately. It's a challenge given everything that's going on with COVID-19 and teams not being able to get together and practice just yet. There will be a bit of a learning curve, which is why for re-draft leagues I have him as just a late-round flier. I think he improves the offense.

"He certainly will demand defensive attention immediately. He'll make Drew Lock better. Eventually, he's going to be a fantasy superstar."


Berry's ranking: 16 | ESPN's average ranking: 13

"The tight end position is actually deeper than normal, but here's a guy who last year [had] 8.3 yards after catch per reception," Berry said. "That led all tight ends. He was second among tight ends in yards per reception. He was top seven in the NFL among tight ends in end-zone targets. He was a guy that really came on. There's a reason he was a first-round pick a year ago.

"We always see the biggest jump in an NFL player's performance from Year 1 to Year 2, so entering his second season, we're expecting big things from Noah Fant. He's one of my favorite tight end sleepers this year.

"… I think Noah Fant is the best value pick [among Broncos players] in terms of where you can get him in drafts and what he'll produce."

To see where more of your favorite Broncos rank among this year's fantasy football options, click here.

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