Broncos' new offence tough on their backs

Denver Broncos running back Willis McGahee is having success, even though he's playing through...

Denver Broncos running back Willis McGahee is having success, even though he's playing through pain. (US Presswire)

DAN BILICKI, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 4:09 PM ET

When we thought the Denver Broncos were going to be a run-heavy team and use the read option with Tim Tebow last week, we didn’t think it would be like this: Denver ran the ball 55 times compared to eight pass attempts.

On Thursday night against the Jets, they were a bit more balanced, running the ball on 34 of their 56 snaps

It’s no surprise that carrying this sort of load has left the backs a little banged-up. Willis McGahee, who already had a broken bone in his hand, injured his hamstring on Sunday, played on Thursday and had the most carries on the team with 12.

Hard-luck runner Knowshon Moreno is also done for the year after tearing his ACL.

That means that in the past five days, little-known Lance Ball has carried the ball 35 times for 114 yards. Sure, it’s a dismal per-carry number, but the volume is there should McGahee be forced to the sidelines again.

This change in the offence also has a highly detrimental effect on the Broncos receivers. Eric Decker, who is tied for fourth in the league in TDs, seems like the only ownable pass-catcher, but a borderline starter most weeks despite being shut out Thursday night. He’s Tebow’s favourite target and it’s not like there’s going to be many of them to go around.

-- It’s a good thing that the Texans are on a bye this week because it will give you a taste of what it’s like to be missing Matt Schaub from your lineup. The quarterback suffered a Lisfranc injury and will need surgery to insert pins in his foot. That means that former Heisman Trophy winner and Cardinals bust Matt Leinart will be starting in Week 12. He’s a check-down quarterback, so it’s a good thing he has Arian Foster in his backfield.

-- During Sunday’s gutting against Arizona, Michael Vick suffered two broken ribs, but played through the pain — in contrast to when he hurt his non-throwing hand earlier this season. Sources already are saying that he’ll be out this week, but wait until there is some official word before scratching him from your starting lineup.

-- If you are a DeSean Jackson owner who didn’t read the early news of his silly benching on Sunday, chances are you were quite upset to see that red ‘O’ beside his name and an automatic zero in the points column. To make matters worse for the Eagles, Jeremy Maclin went down in the game, leaving the Eagles woefully short on talent in receivers. Considering how Philly lost, it looks like Andy Reid’s rash decision on Jackson didn’t sink your hopes only.

-- As for Maclin’s status this week, Reid says that his shoulder injury is worse than this hamstring ailment. He missed practice on Thursday and is questionable to play against the Giants. It might be worth avoiding him this week considering the Eagles play the Sunday night game, limiting your replacement options should he sit.

-- Felix Jones will return to the Cowboys lineup on Sunday, but not to his starting RB role. In case you haven’t been watching, rookie DeMarco Murray quite literally ran away with it. This leaves Jones with only handcuff value, which actually isn’t too bad for him. Murray has gotten banged-up a little in recent games and had some durability issues coming out of college.

-- Let’s not go out and proclaim that Chris Johnson is back quite yet. First, we have to acknowledge who his opponent was last week: The Carolina Panthers. Yes, those same Panthers that are giving up the most fantasy points per game to running backs in the league. Even so, Johnson didn’t have a spectacular game against the Cats. His YPC was 4.8, which is only slightly higher than the 4.7 the Carolina defence had given up this season. So, for at least one week, we can say CJ-No-K was slightly better than an average running back.

STATS CORNERS

-- During Sunday’s game when he was 2-for-8 passing for 69 yards and a TD, Tim Tebow’s passer rating was 102.6. That’s 0.6 higher than Tom Brady’s rating this season.

--After catching 11 TDs in his rookie season, Tampa Bay wide receiver Mike Williams has only one this year — that coming in Week 1 — to go along with nine drops.

SIT OR START

Start: Carson Palmer, QB, OAK at MIN – He has been getting better by the week and faces a poor pass defence.

Sit: LeGarrette Blount, RB, TB at GB – The Bucs are likely going to fall behind early, limiting their chances to run the ball.

Start: Maurice Morris, RB, DET vs. CAR – The Panthers are allowing the most fantasy points per game to opposing running backs, even average ones.

Sit: Beanie Wells, RB, ARI at SF – He’ll be playing hurt and he’s facing the toughest rush defence in the league.

Start: Steve Smith, WR, PHI at NYG – Maclin is a game-time decision and the Giants haven’t done well against secondary receivers.

Sit: Ryan Mathews and/or Mike Tolbert, RB, SD at CHI – Both backs are in for a tough day against the mighty Bears.

Sit: Chris Johnson, RB, TEN at ATL – Just because he had one good game against a bad team doesn’t mean he’s back.

Start: Laurent Robinson, WR, DAL at WAS – You can’t argue with his production when he’s a member of the starting lineup.

Start: Ed Dickson, TE, BAL vs. CIN – He led the team in every receiving category last week, including targets.

VERSUS

Brandon Lloyd, WR, STL vs. SEA

The evidence

-- Has 21 catches, two TDs in four games as a Ram.

-- Has only half the number of receptions (40) that he has targets (80).

-- His receiving yardage per game is down since leaving the Broncos, which is surprising since he left a run-first team.

-- Seattle did a pretty good job containing the Ravens WRs last week, allowing five catches on 18 targets.

Jordy Nelson, WR, GB vs. TB

-- His two touchdowns last week put him into a tie for the team lead (7) with Greg Jennings.

-- Those two TDs also matched his season totals from both 2009 and ’10.

-- Tampa Bay is allowing the most passing yards per attempt in the league at 8.5.

-- Has broken the 100-yard mark in two of his past four games.

The Verdict

Until he gets some help around him in the Rams’ passing game, Lloyd will receive too much attention to count on.

 


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