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WR Emmanuel Sanders - Denver Broncos

5-11, 180Born: 3-16-1987College: Southern MethodistDrafted: Round 3

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Week 21: vs Carolina Panthers

All WR vs CAR

Mark and Joe say: Tough matchup. According to Bucky Brooks at, 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

17 vs SD 55 0 0 0 8 5 99 0 1 8.9
19 vs PIT 0 0 0 0 8 5 85 0 0 8.5
20 vs NE 56 0 0 0 8 5 62 0 0 6.2
21 vs CAR 0 0 0 0 8 6 83 0 0 8.3
21 vs CAR PROJ-Dodds * 0 * * 6 * * * *
21 vs CAR PROJ-Tremblay * 0 * * 5 * * * *
21 vs CAR PROJ-Bloom * 0 * * 7 * * * *

Recent Game Summaries

2015 Week 20 vs NE (8 / 5 / 62 / 0 rec)

It's a good thing Sanders has been so reliable this season as Demaryius Thomas has been a hot mess. Sanders became someone Peyton Manning could rely on, and this game was no different. Sanders was the most targeted receiver, caught the most passes and was a huge factor in converting third downs. In fact, Sanders' best play was a leaping catch for a 34-yard first down which took place on a 3rd and long. On the play, Sanders ran down the left sideline and Manning threw the ball in the air. It fell a bit short, which forced Sanders to slow down and make a leaping attempt to wrest the ball away from cornerback Malcolm Butler. It was a pretty poor throw, but Sanders' size, leaping ability and competitiveness allowed him to win the battle and bail his quarterback out.

2015 Week 19 vs PIT (8 / 5 / 85 / 0 rec)

Sanders was the lone receiver to catch a deep pass against the Pittsburgh Steelers, but his biggest gain of the day came on a short pass that he ran for 34 yards. Overall, Denver's leading receiver on the afternoon had a solid performance, catching everything that was in his area. The one play he might want back was a pass on 4th-and-3 that hit him between the numbers, but which he was unable to hold on to as an oncoming defender hit him with a crushing hit.

2015 Week 17 vs SD (8 / 5 / 99 / 0 rec)

Typically known for his consistency and reliability over the last two years, Emmanuel Sanders got into the action in Denver's 5-turnover performance against the San Diego Chargers early. On his first target of the game, Sanders caught a pass deep down the left sideline, raced away from the defense to get the ball inside the 10 yard line, only for it to get punched out and recovered by San Diego at the 5. Early miscue aside, Sanders immediately showed his rapport with Peyton Manning when the latter returned in the third quarter; Sanders was the target of 3 of Manning's 4 intermediate-to-deep passes, catching one, having no shot on another, and missing out on a third after Manning threw it well wide of him when he was open.

2015 Week 16 vs CIN (5 / 4 / 67 / 1 rec)

While he didn't repeat his target outburst from last week, Emmanuel Sanders played well once again in primetime against the Cincinnati Bengals. Sanders was Osweiler's deep and intermediate target of choice, and got a dozen yards behind the defense at one point, only for Osweiler's ball to hang up in the air forever and turn what should have been an easy 54-yard touchdown into a 35-yard reception.

2015 Week 15 vs PIT (16 / 10 / 181 / 1 rec, 1 / 24 / 0 rush)

While Sanders has been very quiet since Brock Osweiler took over as starting quarterback for the Denver Broncos, he brought his best game of the season against his former team, the Pittsburgh Steelers. The bulk of his production came on a 61-yard touchdown against a terribly blown coverage; Sanders was ten yards behind the nearest defender by the time the ball was released, and easily coasted to the end zone from there. But in addition, Sanders was all over the field, making contested catches, converted third downs, and generally being the deadly reliable option we all saw all season in 2014, but slightly less often in 2015.

2015 Week 14 vs OAK (6 / 2 / 17 / 0 rec)

For the second consecutive week, (and the third time in four games), Sanders and Brock Osweiler simply could not get on the same page, in large part because Osweiler is most comfortable on passes within 10 yards of the line of scrimmage and Sanders is at his best running more difficult intermediate routes. With little chemistry in the passing game, Sanders' two most impactful plays came on returns; Sanders had a dazzling 29-yard punt return in the first half that was called back due to an incidental running-into-the-kicker penalty, and Sanders muffed a punt at the 11-yard line to set up Oakland's game-winning field goal.

2015 Week 13 vs SD (8 / 3 / 19 / 0 rec, 1 / 5 / 0 rush)

Sanders actually led the Broncos in targets against the San Diego Chargers, but his day mostly consisted of he and quarterback Brock Osweiler struggling to get on the same page deep down the field. Sanders was the intended target on nearly every one of Osweiler's deep throws, including an underthrown 30-yard pass where Sanders failed to separate and the ball was intercepted in the end zone. While the commitment was a positive sign, Sanders has to hope that the accuracy will be there, too, in future weeks.

2015 Week 12 vs NE (9 / 6 / 113 / 0 rec)

After being limited by injuries in recent weeks, a full-strength Emmanuel Sanders returned vs. the New England Patriots and quickly reminded everyone of his importance to the team. While he was not Denver's most-targeted receiver, he was by far its most productive, making contested catches downfield and keeping the chains moving. Five of Sanders' six catches netted a new set of downs, and his 39-yard reception at the end of the 4th quarter set Denver up with 1st-and-goal on their go-ahead touchdown drive.

2015 Week 10 vs KC (4 / 0 / 0 / 0 rec)

Entering the day questionable to play, Sanders managed to work his way onto the field against the Kansas City Chiefs, but not into the stat sheet. Seemingly still hampered by his injury, Sanders had a target on 3rd-and-8 thrown slightly behind him, and he was unable to adjust for a stellar catch. Sanders was also targeted on one of Manning's interceptions, but a Chiefs defender surreptitiously pushed off as he was coming out of his break, causing Sanders to lose his footing and leaving the defender open for an uncontested interception. Sanders finally seemed to have a highlight play on his final target of the game, hauling in a great catch on the sidelines, but an oncoming defender hit him in the helmet, causing Sanders to lose the football, and perhaps even consciousness; Sanders was evaluated for a concussion afterwards and never returned to the game.

2015 Week 9 vs IND (11 / 6 / 90 / 1 rec)

After a week in which he saw little usage, Denver's gameplan against the Indianapolis Colts called for a heavy dose of Emmanuel Sanders. Unfortunately, his performance fell short of his usual standards. Sanders was injured on Denver's first play of the game, and it seemed to affect him the rest of the game as he dropped a trio of tough catches that he's made a name for himself by making. He did make a tough catch at the sideline to convert a 3rd-and-long, and managed to race away from the defense after another 3rd-and-long crossing route for a 64-yard touchdown. Despite the raw totals, though, good plays were sparser than usual for the man who has been the most consistent Bronco since joining the team in 2014.

2015 Week 8 vs GB (5 / 2 / 22 / 0 rec)

With a gameplan that called for a heavy dose of runs and crossing routes by Demaryius Thomas, Emmanuel Sanders received just five targets against the Green Bay Packers and was only a marginal part of the game plan. Sanders caught two of the targets for 22 yards, and was largely unnoticed. Better matchups loom, and better days are certainly in Sanders' future.

2015 Week 6 vs CLE (12 / 4 / 109 / 1 rec)

Emmanuel Sanders remains one of Peyton Manning's favorite and most-targeted players, but hasn't been able to recapture his magic from 2014 when he hauled in seemingly every possible pass. Against the Cleveland Browns, he had several chances to make a highlight-reel play that came up just short, such as a deep end-zone shot on 3rd-and-2 from the 21 that Sanders lunged for, bobbled, and couldn't bring in. The biggest play, though, came with regulation expiring. With Denver driving for the game-winning field goal, Manning hit Sanders deep down the sidelines to get the Broncos into field goal range. Sanders may or may not have been touched down by a defender, but rather than giving up and taking the field goal, Sanders ran towards the end zone as the clock expired. Initially ruled down by contact, on review the play was overturned and ruled incomplete, saving Sanders from potential goat status. Mixed in among the almosts and not-quites, though, Sanders did produce perhaps the lone bright spot of the afternoon for Denver's offense, beating his defender down the sideline, catching a 20-yard pass as the defender went for the ball, then accelerating away for a 75-yard touchdown-- Denver's lone offensive score of the day.

2015 Week 5 vs OAK (12 / 9 / 111 / 0 rec)

Emmanuel Sanders had a busy afternoon against the Raiders, leading the Broncos in targets, receptions, and offensive yards. Sanders caught 9 of his 11 targets, and one of the incompletions was nearly a highlight-reel catch as Sanders laid out for a deep bomb and had it glance off his hands. Oddly, after being the biggest piece of Denver's offense through the first three quarters, Sanders was not targeted in the fourth. Still, this seems to be an aberration and the lone blemish on an otherwise productive day.

2015 Week 4 vs MIN (6 / 3 / 68 / 0 rec)

In an uncommon turn of events, Denver's passing offense barely looked Emmanuel Sanders' way in the first half against the Vikings as he failed to gain a single yard. He got his hands on the ball just five times in the half-- three times fair-catching punts, once on a 3rd-and-4 conversion that was called back due to an illegal formation, and once on a deep pass that he couldn't come down with; at full extension, it would have been a difficult catch, but we've certainly seen him make tougher. Denver and Sanders seemed intent on remedying that lack quickly in the second half, as Sanders hauled in a deep pass down the left sideline and raced for 43 yards before getting dragged down, setting Denver up with first-and-goal. Other than yet another 3rd-down conversion, (this time an 8-yard gain on 3rd-and-2), that was pretty much Sanders' day. The lack of targets was likely just a fluke; bigger games remain clearly in his future.

2015 Week 3 vs DET (9 / 6 / 87 / 0 rec)

Emmanuel Sanders was once again Mr. Consistency for Peyton Manning and the Broncos against the Detroit Lions. He converted yet another third down for the team with a 16-yard grab on 3rd-and-13, and would have followed that shortly after with another 3rd-down conversion had another Denver receiver not stepped in front of him and impeded his path to the ball. Sanders also matched Thomas' phenomenal 4th-and-1 catch with a key grab of his own, stealing a 34-yard pass out of the hands of a waiting defender to put Denver in the red zone on their final drive as they tacked another touchdown onto their lead.

2015 Week 2 vs KC (14 / 8 / 87 / 2 rec, 1 / 0 / 0 rush)

For the second consecutive week, Emmanuel Sanders was the best offensive player on the field for the Denver Broncos. He continues to be a one-man drive-sustainer; Denver converted six 3rd-down attempts against Kansas City, and Sanders accounted for five of them, including both of his touchdowns. In fact, until a Demaryius Thomas catch with a minute and a half left, Sanders was the only Bronco to extend a drive on 3rd down. For the season, Denver has converted fifteen times on 3rd down, and Sanders has been responsible for eleven of them, (compared to three for Demaryius Thomas and one for C.J. Anderson). Whenever Manning has needed someone to make a play, he has looked Sanders' way. To his credit, Sanders has usually delivered; his numbers would look even better still were it not for several more overthrows on plays where Sanders had his man beat deep.

2015 Week 1 vs BAL (12 / 8 / 65 / 0 rec)

Emmanuel Sanders might have missed the preseason with a lingering hamstring injury, but he was perhaps the only offensive player for Denver who did not look rusty against the Ravens. Picking up where he left off after a phenomenal 2014, Sanders was virtually uncoverable and was clearly Manning's go-to in high leverage situation. For the game, Sanders was responsible for six of Denver's nine third-down conversions, (five via reception, one via defensive holding penalty). He could have had an even better game, as he had beat his defender and was open deep three times only to see Manning overthrow him.


Latest News

Broncos | Emmanuel Sanders not worried about deal (Mon Apr 18, 10:30 PM) - Denver Broncos WR Emmanuel Sanders is set to make $5.6 million in 2016, the final year of his contract. He said Monday, April 18, that he isn't worried about his contract and is focused on winning championships. 'I mean this sincerely: The city of Denver has been really good to me,' Sanders said. 'I want to be a Bronco. I want to be a Bronco for a long time. I want to retire a Bronco. Hopefully everything works out. I'm sure both sides will come to something. We're going to see how it goes, but right now it's not about me. It's about this team and about winning championships, and that's what I'm focused on.'

Our View: Sanders is only making $5 million in average annual salary. That ranks 26th in the league, and it's a number that is way too low. He's not going to hold out, and Sanders should post strong numbers once again this season. Set to hit the free agent market in 2017, the Broncos would be wise to wrap up Sanders with a new long-term deal during the season.
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