Denver Broncos Wes Welker is the 17th ranked wide receiver in this year’s 2013 fantasy draft standings. With an Average Draft Position (ADP) of 46, he’s likely to be taken sometime in the fourth round of most fantasy drafts.
In his final season with the Patriots, Welker recorded 118 receptions for 1,354 yards and 6 touchdowns. It was the 5th time in the last 6 seasons that Welker got over 110 receptions, and was also the 3rd time in the last 4 seasons that he recorded more than 1,300 receiving yards.
Welker will be joining a prolific passing offense in Denver that put up enormous numbers last season. Lead by Peyton Manning, the team recorded 4,671 yards and 37 touchdowns through the air. The team’s star wide outs, Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker, combined for 2,498 yards and 23 touchdowns.
With two powerhouse receivers already on the team, it’s tough to imagine that Welker can even come close to last season’s 174 targets. As he takes over the role of Brandon Stokley as Denver’s slot receiver, he will only be inheriting his 58 targets from last season. Receiver-heavy sets will also allow Welker to steal targets from the team’s tight ends, who were targeted a total of 149 times last season.
He should eat into Decker and Thomas’ total a bit as well, but it’s important to remember that these two receivers are more likely to be targeted down field than in close yardage situations like Welker. Regardless, it’s tough to imagine Welker getting much more than 140 targets among a crowded receiving core next season in Denver.
With less targets, Welker should still be able to reach 1,000 yards, but probably not 1,300 like he did last year. Another 6 or 7 touchdowns this season is probably a reasonable guess as well, if you consider that Brandon Stokley scored 5 touchdowns on top of only 45 receptions last season. Welker should still be very solid in PPR leagues with at least 85 receptions, but likely won’t be the 120-reception stud that he was in the past.
Welker should still be a top-20 option next season at wide receiver. The mystery is whether he can remain a number 1 option in fantasy with more competition on his own team. It’s probably a good idea to find a reliable top-10 receiver to go along with Welker if you draft him.