TE Vernon Davis - Denver Broncos
|6-3, 253||Born: 1-31-1984||College: Maryland||Drafted: Round 1, pick 6|
Week 21: vs Carolina Panthers
Mark and Joe say: Tough matchup. According to Bucky Brooks at NFL.com, Peyton Manning targeted 62% of his passes within 10 yards of the line of scrimmage during the regular season, and he connected on 69.9% of those throws with four touchdowns and nine interceptions. During the playoffs, 63% of his throws are of the short variety, with 35% of his throws between 10 and 19 yards, which was up from 24% during the regular season. Manning has thrown 20 of his 24 pass attempts at intermediate range to the right or middle of the field during the playoffs. The takeaway here is that Manning has thrown 98% of his passes to short or intermediate range during the two full playoff games that he has played since returning to the starting role in Week 17 of regular season. Here's what he's done in the playoffs - vs. Pittsburgh, Manning compiled 21/37 for 222 yards passing, zero TDs or interceptions thrown, with one successful two point conversion thrown to Demaryius Thomas (eight for 4/40/0). Emmanuel Sanders led the team in receiving with eight targets for 5/85/0 receiving - nobody else on the Broncos had over 40 yards receiving in the Divisional Round. During the Conference Championship showdown with New England, Manning threw a 21-yard and 12-yard TD pass to Owen Daniels - 2/33/2 receiving total for Daniels - Daniels added several yards-after-catch to the actual tosses from Manning, and Manning wound up with 17/32 for 176 yards, two TDs and zero interceptions thrown. Demaryius Thomas was awful with seven targets for 2/12/0 receiving, while Emmanuel Sanders led the team with eight targets for 5/62/0 receiving. Nobody other than Daniels or Sanders went over 20 yards receiving during the contest. The Denver passing attack is anemic entering the Super Bowl, friends. As Manning himself noted on February 2: 'My arm is what it is. Honestly, my having a little time off to heal my foot helped some of the other parts... My arm feels OK. My arm has not been the same since I was injured four years ago... If I could throw left-handed it would be a lot easier... It's just different than it was... It's got a few yards on it, miles on it, however you want to say it.' The good news for Broncos' fans is that Manning has reined in the interceptions thrown (he hasn't thrown an interception since getting back in the game Week 17). The bad news is that, as Carolina showed against Arizona two weeks ago, the Panthers are a ball-hawking secondary and they have compiled six interceptions (most among playoff teams) and eight sacks (second-most among playoff teams) over their two playoff games, to go with their 24 interceptions (first in the NFL in this category during the season) and 44 sacks generated during regular season. Manning threw nine TDs and 17 interceptions during his time on the field during regular season. Carolina comes into this game with injuries to some key defensive players - defensive end Jared Allen is working hard to overcome his fractured foot and play in Super Bowl 50, but he simply may not be healthy enough to play on Sunday - outside linebacker Thomas Davis broke his arm in the NFC Championship game, had surgery to put a plate to strengthen the fracture, and will have to wear some combination of cast/soft-cast/brace if he is well enough to play in the contest against Denver. Davis said on Monday, February 1 that he could be limited in Super Bowl 50 against the Denver Broncos, but he has every intention of playing in the game. He returned to practice and used a cast Monday. The practice status of each defender warrants attention during the late-week practices leading up to the Super Bowl. The Panthers finished regular season ranked 11th in the NFL averaging 234.5 net passing yards allowed per game, but they had less TDs allowed (21) than interceptions generated (24) - in fact, the Panthers turnover ratio of +20 was first in the NFL by far, and they led the NFL in interceptions as noted above. Over the final four weeks of regular season, Carolina wound up averaging 19.6 fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks (in the middle of the NFL range at 17th); averaged 22.4 fantasy points per game allowed to opposing wide receivers (18th); but were seventh-least in fantasy points allowed to opposing tight ends (5.7 per game on average). So far during the playoffs the Panthers have averaged 276 yards passing allowed per game (but they have won by jumping out to big leads, winning 49-15 vs. Arizona and 31-24 vs. Seattle - both teams had to throw the ball a lot to try and compete with the Panthers), with four passing scores given out vs. six interceptions generated. Carson Palmer looked dreadful in Charlotte two weeks ago (23/40 for 227 net yards passing, one TD and four interceptions thrown, with three sacks taken for -8 yards). In the Divisional round, Russell Wilson finished with 31/48 for 325 net yards passing, three TDs and two interceptions, with five sacks taken for -41 yards. The Panthers have been hard on both quarterbacks they've seen during the playoffs. This looks like a very tough matchup for the aging Manning and his receiving corps.
Recent Stats and Projections
Recent Game Summaries
2015 Week 20 vs NE (1 / 0 / 0 / 0 rec)
For all the hype that accompanied the acquisition of Vernon Davis - and there was a lot - he has been a tremendous disappointment. Unable to create any separation or catch the ball when he does, Davis was on the field for just 10 of 68 offensive plays. He was targeted once in the first quarter on a tight end seam route but had the ball knocked away by safety Devin McCourty. Davis got involved hand fighting with McCourty and that delayed his chances to break away and allowed the safety to remain in good defensive position.
2015 Week 15 vs PIT (3 / 1 / 5 / 0 rec)
With only three targets, Vernon Davis saw little action as an outlet receiver against the Pittsburgh Steelers. His lone five-yard reception was of little note, and once again the defining image will likely be of Vernon Davis getting wide open on a desperation, late-game, long-yardage conversion only to drop what should be an easy reception; this time, a pass 20 yards downfield on 3rd-and-16 in a tied game with Denver backed up against their own goal line.
2015 Week 14 vs OAK (9 / 7 / 74 / 0 rec)
Clearly becoming more comfortable in his new home, Vernon Davis took over as one of Brock Osweiler's favorite targets against the Oakland Raiders. Davis was largely dependable, but had a few puzzling lapses in judgment, including back-to-back receptions in the first quarter where Vernon Davis ended his run by turning back towards the line of scrimmage and trying to reverse field, costing Denver several yards in the process. Aside from an apparent abundance of faith in his own athleticism, Davis was a consistent outlet for Osweiler. He also stretched the field vertically on occasion, drawing two rare deep targets; the first was a 23-yard gain to set Denver up in the red zone, and the second was a horrible, crushing drop deep down the field with no defenders in sight. The fact that the drop came on 4th-and-5, with Denver down by 3 and under 4 minutes remaining, only magnified the error.
2015 Week 13 vs SD (3 / 2 / 25 / 0 rec)
Vernon Davis saw a little bit of usage against the San Diego Chargers before suffering a concussion on the final play of the first half. Davis did not play after halftime, and Denver's running game seemed to decline without his steady blocking on the field.
2015 Week 12 vs NE (2 / 2 / 10 / 0 rec)
Continuing to play heavily in two-tight-end sets, new Bronco Vernon Davis was primarily used as a blocker against the New England Patriots. While his versatility ensures playing time, he is not a consistent weapon in the passing game.
2015 Week 11 vs CHI (6 / 6 / 68 / 0 rec)
The receiving and blocking flexibility of new Bronco Vernon Davis gave Denver the opportunity to run more 2- and 3-tight-end sets, helping get their running game going while still remaining a threat to pass. Indeed, Davis led the Broncos in receptions against the Chicago Bears, and finished one yard behind the team lead in receiving yards. A reliable target over the middle, Davis twice converted 3rd-and-4 plays for the Broncos. His longest gain of the day came on a really nicely designed screen where he slipped behind three onrushing defenders and then showcased his speed, outracing them for 18 yards.
2015 Week 9 vs IND (1 / 0 / 0 / 0 rec)
Less than a week after signing with the Broncos, Davis was hardly involved in the passing game plan, drawing just a single target and spending the bulk of his snaps blocking.
2015 Week 8 vs STL (8 / 6 / 24 / 0 rec)
Coaches featured Davis heavily in the game plan, ostensibly as a way to showcase him for potential trade partners. Four of his targets came on one drive, which ended with San Francisco scoring its final points of the day. The first target was a quick slant on third down. The second, which also gained a first down, was on a shallow crossing pattern. The last two came inside the Rams' 10-yard line, and both were clearly designed to get Davis the ball: a leak route and a shallow cross, both after a play-action fake.
2015 Week 7 vs SEA (6 / 4 / 61 / 0 rec)
After weeks of dealing with injury, losing playing time to Garrett Celek, and being the subject of trade rumors, Davis somehow re-emerged as a focal point of San Francisco's passing game. He gained almost all of his yardage on plays where he found supermassive green holes in Seattle's zone coverage. Indeed, on his 27-yard third quarter reception, he ran uncovered down the seam. Other receptions came on uncovered crossing routes and plays in which he sat down between two zone defenders in the middle of the field. Also of note: He didn't drop any passes!
2015 Week 6 vs BAL (1 / 0 / 0 / 0 rec)
Regarding the fact that Celek started over him, it's important to keep in mind that Davis is recovering from a knee injury, so it's possible that the 49ers wanted to ease him back onto the field -- especially with their bye coming up after Thursday night's game against Seattle. That said, Davis was virtually absent in the pass attack. And the one time Kaepernick did throw his way, he badly underthrew it his way.
2015 Week 3 vs ARI (2 / 0 / 0 / 0 rec)
Both of Davis' targets were intercepted; both were the result of underthrown passes. With the game completely out of reach after the second one, San Francisco decided to give Davis some much-needed rest. (He had played nearly every offensive snap the first two weeks.)
2015 Week 2 vs PIT (7 / 5 / 62 / 0 rec)
Once again Davis played nearly every snap of the game and was used primarily as a run blocker until the score became lopsided in Pittsburgh's favor: Six of his seven targets came with San Francisco losing 29-3 or worse. Davis' lone highlight of the game was a 43-yard reception at the end of the third quarter, but it was due to a blown coverage that left him wide open about 20 yards downfield along the right side line. He was so wide open that nearly all of his 24 yards after catch on the play came without a single Steelers defender in the screen with him. One of Davis' targets was on fourth-and-1 inside the red zone, and two more occurred inside Pittsburgh's 30-yard line. Finally, it's worth noting Davis did not drop any passes this week.
2015 Week 1 vs MIN (6 / 3 / 47 / 0 rec)
One one hand, Davis was the most-targeted and highest-yardage receiver for San Francisco. On the other, 6 targets for 3 receptions and 47 yards isn't go to make him the most-targeted or highest-yardage tight end in fantasy leagues. There were a few glimmers of hope, however. Davis' first target of the game came on the 49ers first play inside the red zone. He was open on an out route, but Kaepernick threw the ball just out of his reach. His second target was on a deep post route on the next drive. He beat double-coverage, but again Kaepernick threw the ball just out of his reach. Later on, he was targeted twice on San Francisco's final scoring drive of the night, accounting for about half the drive's yardage. And although Davis has a reputation for dropped passes, and did drop one of his targets, the second reception of that final drive was an over-the-shoulder catch with an intermediate degree of difficulty. One final positive sign worth mentioning is that Davis only missed one snap the entire game. So if the 49ers are going to have any semblance of a viable fantasy passing game this season, he's nearly guaranteed to be involved.
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