It’s amazing the difference and off-season can make. The Denver Broncos, pro football royalty as last year’s Super Bowl champs, are now walking into the 2016 NFL season with Trevor Siemian under center.

Bold Move

There was no denying the steep regression of Peyton Manning, how turnover-prone Mark Sanchez has been or how raw Paxton Lynch still seems to be. But Denver’s naming Siemian as the starting quarterback feels like the team isn’t even trying.

Of course, there’s also the possibility the Broncos know their limitations here and are playing the long con. They could see Sanchez, as experienced as he is, just wasn’t stable enough to get the job done. He takes bad sacks, isn’t very accurate and makes woeful decisions bad rookies wouldn’t make. He just wasn’t a realistic option if the Broncos wanted to seriously try to repeat.

Siemian doesn’t look to be on paper, either, but he’s far more conservative of a player (and talent) than Sanchez. With an entire year under his belt as the team’s third string passer, he also has the knowledge and time in Gary Kubiak’s system to potentially make just enough plays to keep Denver afloat.

That could make sense, too, seeing as Denver’s winning philosophy – much like it was in 2015 – is to run the ball and bank on an elite defense sucking the life out of the opposing offense. Both of those things might end up happening regardless of what Denver does at quarterback in 2016, but Sanchez was going to work directly against them and possibly negatively impact their effectiveness. Siemian, although seemingly bringing almost no upside to the table as a no-hype prospect out of Northwestern, figures to simply be the safe option.

The move distances the Broncos from Sanchez and puts the focus on developing Lynch and crossing their fingers than Siemian merely keeps this car moving forward. Whether Siemian falters or not isn’t even the issue. If he doesn’t, the Broncos stay the course like they have been and maybe find a diamond in the rough that can keep a talented team in line for another deep playoff run. If he can’t, he can at least buy Lynch some extra time to learn from the sidelines and mature enough to the point where he won’t embarrass himself once he finally takes over.

Denver Broncos Betting

This still doesn’t sound good for Denver on paper. It’s also worth noting that the Broncos don’t seem like they went hard after a quarterback this off-season. Guys like Josh McCown and Colin Kaepernick could have been had in trades and it’s arguable Denver would have been wise to pay Ryan Fitzpatrick while he was holding out from the New York Jets.

Then again, maybe Denver thought Sanchez would have performed better. Maybe they actually really like Siemian. And perhaps they love Lynch, provided he can learn with a clipboard in his hand for half the year.

Whatever the case may be, Trevor Siemian doesn’t promote a ton of confidence. Needless to say, it’s going to be difficult to love Denver’s chances to repeat as Super Bowl champions, even though Bovada currently has them in a favorable spot with solid +2000 odds. They’re not a strong bet, though, and it’s fair to say with the Kansas City Chiefs and Oakland Raiders looking as good as ever, they’re not even a lock to win the AFC West. Vegas still likes them there, too (+200), however.

Vegas can be wrong, though. Betting on Siemian keeping the Broncos afloat feels dicey and it may not even be a good idea to bet on the Broncos in the early portion of the 2016 regular season. At worst, we should toss some cursory bets against them early on and see what sticks. But if you’re betting in favor of Denver doing anything of real merit in 2016, it certainly does feel like a risk.

Trevor Siemian in Daily Fantasy Football

There is also the case of Siemian’s impact in the daily fantasy football game. Obviously this guy is going to be super cheap in DFS games to start the year and how he plays could dramatically impact all of Denver’s top offensive options. In fact, if starting him backfires and he drowns in a sea of turnovers, it’s not crazy to think Denver’s elite defense gets backed up into a wall and under-performs.

Due to the lack of trust, Siemian is at the very best a shaky option in DFS GPPs and overall just a bad play, otherwise. He might still be able to get the ball to Demaryius Thomas, Emmanuel Sanders and maybe even Virgil Green, but Denver has to move forward with a run-heavy game plan if they’re serious about winning with Siemian.

For now, we have to downgrade all of Denver’s top offensive weapons. C.J. Anderson could actually get a solid boost with the Broncos likely to run more than ever, but even he will be a dangerous play in all fantasy football leagues. It will be truly interesting to see if starting Siemian blows up in Denver’s face or this huge move makes them look like geniuses. It may not be the best practice to go heavy on the Broncos while the experiment gets tested, however.

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