During “Dress Rehearsal Week” versus the Redskins, Broncos WR Emmanuel Sanders continued proving he’ll be Case Keenum’s “Target Hog” in 2018. The talented WR again led the team with up a 8 looks, 4 catches, and 61 yards, while adding a 27 yard TD run in which he broke roughly 1,000 tackles. In fact, Sanders accounted for 75 straight yards on said drive, and appears to be the passing-game engine of this offense.
Moreover, Sanders’ slot usage continues growing. Last night, he ran 74% of his routes out of the slot, raising his rate to 64%, as compared to 28% last season. This is HUGE, as Case Keenum LOVED peppering Adam Thielen out of the slot last year, especially on third-downs. Here, Thielen trailed only Keenan Allen and tied DeAndre Hopkins with 32% of his team’s targets. Thus far, Sanders has accounted for 6 of Keenum’s 10 third down targets (60%), and 15 of 34 total throws (44%) — both tops among any WRs this preseason by a mile. Considering Thielen’s massive 91 catch, 1,276 yard breakout, Sanders’ upside is enormous.
In general, Sanders is an underrated “Individual Talented” who’s being grossly overlooked because an ankle-injury sapped him last year. Nevermind the “Surrounding Talent” upgrade. Not only is Keenum a slot-lover, he’s just a much better overall QB than anything the Broncos trotted out last year. In fact, Keenum’s QB Rating on throws to wide receivers was 95.4 (11th-best of 36). Trevor Siemian’s was 59.2 (second-worst). Between the newfound slot role, the increased usage that’ll come from this, and the enormous QB-gain, Sanders could genuinely blow-up in 2018 (and is just a season removed from three-straight 1,000 yard seasons). The fact he goes after Demaryius Thomas at all, nevermind almost 50 picks later, is mind-boggling. Scoop up Sanders everywhere at his 91 ADP — this “Unsexy Upside” is real, and enormous.