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WR Demaryius Thomas - Denver Broncos

6-3, 224Born: 12-25-1987College: Georgia TechDrafted: Round 1, pick 0

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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 54 0 0 0 9 5 117 1 0 17.7
19 vs PIT 0 0 0 0 8 4 40 0 0 4
20 vs NE 56 0 0 0 7 2 12 0 0 1.2
21 vs CAR 0 0 0 0 6 1 8 0 0 0.8
21 vs CAR PROJ-Dodds * 0 * * 6 * * * *
21 vs CAR PROJ-Tremblay * 0 * * 6 * * * *
21 vs CAR PROJ-Bloom * 0 * * 3 * * * *

Recent Game Summaries

2015 Week 20 vs NE (7 / 2 / 12 / 0 rec)

Thomas continues to have some very bad hand yips, as he is prone to dropping balls he shouldn't. That's been the case, unfortunately, all season and he's not really a factor in this offense. Nobody is intimidated by Thomas anymore, nor will they be if he can't turn it around for Super Bowl 50. Thomas is struggling with more than catching the ball though, as he isn't getting separation and is too easily handled by the secondary. The Patriots had no problems shutting him down on Sunday.

2015 Week 19 vs PIT (8 / 4 / 40 / 0 rec)

On a day when everyone was dropping everything, Demaryius Thomas got the action started with a bad drop on Denver's second offensive play. Despite the early miscue, however, Thomas bounced back with a solid, if not spectacular, outing. He had three deep targets from Manning that were off target, but otherwise caught everything else that came his way, mostly a series of short passes with a little bit of room for yards after the catch. Thomas also caught a key 2-point conversion after Denver's lone touchdown on a very well-designed play; Denver went with an empty backfield and threw a quick screen to Thomas in the slot, who was able to sneak into the end zone before Pittsburgh had time to react.

2015 Week 17 vs SD (9 / 5 / 117 / 1 rec)

Throughout his career, Demaryius Thomas has made a name for himself by taking short passes through the teeth of the defense for long touchdowns. Against the San Diego Chargers, Thomas added yet another such play to his career highlight reel, taking a quick sideline pass on Denver's second play, spinning out of the tackle attempt, outrunning two defenders while tight-roping the sideline, then cutting back to the middle of the field for a 72-yard score. The rest of his game couldn't match the excitement of that one play, but he was able to get wide open on an intermediate targets after Peyton Manning entered the game. Thomas also had a poorly-timed drop inside the 20-yard line with Denver trailing 20-17, on a drive where Denver had to settle for a field goal.

2015 Week 16 vs CIN (12 / 7 / 59 / 0 rec)

While he's struggled with drops in recent weeks, Demaryius Thomas made several phenomenal catches against the Cincinnati Bengals, including a dazzling 5-yard gain on 3rd-and-3 of Denver's eventual game-winning overtime drive; with his left arm pinned against his side by a defender, Thomas snatched the ball out of the air with his right and cradled it into his body as he went to the ground. While he was used almost exclusively in the short passing game, Thomas played well through contact and several times added extra yards at the end of his catches.

2015 Week 15 vs PIT (12 / 5 / 61 / 2 rec)

While Demaryius Thomas' play in recent weeks has been very up and down, against the Pittsburgh Steelers he showed slightly more up than down. After being used closer to the line of scrimmage, Demaryius had a chance to run some deeper, slower-developing routes, including an 18-yard touchdown on 3rd-and-10. Demaryius and Osweiler showed off better chemistry, especially when everything was clicking in the first half. Of course, it seemingly wouldn't be a game without Demaryius delivering a few poorly-timed drops, including an especially bad one shortly after Pittsburgh took the lead with Denver at midfield and hoping to tie it.

2015 Week 14 vs OAK (14 / 10 / 95 / 0 rec)

As has been his tendency his entire career, Demaryius Thomas combined flashes of excellence with moments of frustration against the Oakland Raiders. On the positive side of the ledger, Thomas had a physical catch-and-run at the end of the first half where he dragged three defenders down to the goal line, (and appeared to injure his shoulder on the play). He also had a great sideline catch with a defender draped all over him, and generally was the Bronco most consistently able to get open against the Raiders. At the same time, Thomas had a drop at the goal-line that forced Denver to settle for a field goal, a horrible lost fumble after initially converting 3rd-and-3, and a bad drop on 3rd-and-4 with Denver trying to drive for the tying field goal.

2015 Week 13 vs SD (6 / 6 / 61 / 1 rec)

What a difference a week makes. After catching virtually nothing against the New England Patriots, Demaryius Thomas hauled in all six of his targets against the San Diego Chargers, including an easy 3-yard touchdown on a shallow crossing route thrown right between the coverage. Thomas converted a pair of third-and-long situations with quick catch-and-run opportunities, and had a third such conversion called back when he was called for a (borderline) offensive pass interference penalty.

2015 Week 12 vs NE (13 / 1 / 36 / 0 rec)

Midway through the 4th quarter, Demaryius Thomas was on his way to securing a not-so-great place in NFL history; since targets have been tracked in 1992, only three receivers drew 10 targets without recording a single reception. While Thomas managed to avoid that ignominious list with a phenomenal leaping 36-yard reception on Denver's go-ahead drive in the 4th, that wound up being his lone reception to show for his 13 targets. Some were off-target, but far too many of them were dropped or poorly played on the receiver's end. Know through his career for stunning displays of inconsistency, Thomas had largely put that reputation behind him through 2015; with any luck, Sunday's performance will be a blip on his record rather than a sign of things to come.

2015 Week 11 vs CHI (8 / 3 / 59 / 1 rec)

With an offensive gameplan calling for plenty of 2- and 3-tight-end sets and no shots downfield, Demaryius Thomas saw little use against the Chicago Bears. He made his limited targets count, though, getting wide open on a slant on Denver's first drive, breaking multiple tackles, and tightroping the sideline for a 48-yard touchdown reception. That would account for the majority of his daily production, though, as Denver funneled its offense through its tight ends, instead.

2015 Week 10 vs KC (10 / 7 / 71 / 0 rec)

While he had a few momentary lapses, (including a well-thrown deep ball to open the second half that went through his hands), Demaryius Thomas was in many ways the lone bright spot on offense for Denver against Kansas City, such as it was. With Sanders hurt for much of the game, Thomas was the only receiver capable of gaining separation consistently, and was a favorite target for both Peyton Manning and Brock Osweiler.

2015 Week 9 vs IND (7 / 5 / 50 / 0 rec)

A week after Denver's gameplan called for a heavy dose of Demaryius Thomas, the star receiver saw more muted usage against the Indianapolis Colts. Among Thomas' five receptions were conversions on 3rd-and-6, 3rd-and-11, and 3rd-and-14. Among the two incomplete targets, however, was a 50/50 throw on a deep out where Thomas stumbled and was beaten to the ball by the Colts defender, leading to an interception.

2015 Week 8 vs GB (11 / 8 / 168 / 0 rec)

Denver obviously saw something in the film of Green Bay's defense that they wanted to exploit, because they went to Demaryius Thomas on intermediate crossing routes early and often. With the running game drawing defenders closer to the line of scrimmage, Thomas did not disappoint, taking advantage of the extra space to gain first down after first down and help the offense march down the field at will. Thomas had a few catches with huge yards-after-the-catch totals, and also hauled in a perfectly-thrown deep ball down the sidelines. The only thing lacking from his prodigious stat line was a touchdown, and Thomas was inches away from adding one of those, too-- after breaking a tackle in the red zone, Thomas ran the ball to the goal line and was tackled inches short.

2015 Week 6 vs CLE (17 / 10 / 111 / 0 rec)

Demaryius Thomas continued to be a target hog against the Cleveland Browns, and showed the same intermittent flashes of greatness and mental lapses that have defined his career so far. Thomas continues to be heavily targeted on wide receiver screens, but rarely was able to gain yards after the catch. An exception came on a rare 4th-and-4 attempt for Denver's offense where Thomas caught an immediate pass and broke the first tackle to lunge forward and convert. Thomas did most of his damage against Cleveland on intermediate-to-deep sideline passes, though, such as a deep out to convert on 3rd-and-7. Thomas did not end the game on a high note, however, with a pair of drops in the final two minutes with Denver attempting to win the game in regulation. One of the drops came on a 15-yard strike from Peyton Manning over the middle where Thomas had nothing but green grass around him and could have possibly had a huge gain to set up the game-winning field goal. Unfortunately, Thomas turned his head and started looking downfield before first securing the football, and Denver eventually had to earn the win in overtime.

2015 Week 5 vs OAK (8 / 5 / 55 / 0 rec)

Demaryius Thomas' afternoon featured a mix of the same things he's faced all season-- short passes with minimal yards after the catch, occasional intermediate successes, and deep targets that hung up forever and he had no chance at. Thomas did have a drop on 3rd-and-6, but he was two yards shy of the first down and draped with a defender, besides. Thomas also received his first red zone target of the season after leading the league in the category last year, but he could not haul it in. Thomas was also the target on Peyton Manning's second interception, but the ball was short and a defender was able to play it better.

2015 Week 4 vs MIN (12 / 9 / 93 / 0 rec)

It's been a long time since Demaryius Thomas was able to recapture the magic on receiver screens that he demonstrated in 2013. This week was no different, as more than half of his catches gained five or fewer yards, (none of them converting for a first down). Thomas was swarmed under immediately on all short receptions, and couldn't make anyone miss or break out of contact. On the other hand, his production on intermediate targets continued to be strong, with a pair of mid-range completions, one of which afforded Thomas enough room to make the first defender miss and pick up another fifteen yards after the catch.

2015 Week 3 vs DET (13 / 9 / 92 / 1 rec)

Demaryius Thomas had one of his all-too-common up-and-down games for the Broncos against Detroit, mixing sublime plays and frustrating plays in equal measure. On the good side of the ledger, Thomas deployed his huge size to good effect on several occasions to win contested catches, including on a deep touchdown on 4th-and-1 to end the first half that included his longest run after contact of the season. On the other hand, Thomas had a pair of ugly drops and a terrible fumble where he reached the ball out trying to convert on 3rd-and-5, only to lose hold of the football and give it away.

2015 Week 2 vs KC (14 / 8 / 116 / 0 rec)

If football games were 57 minutes long, Demaryius Thomas rate as little more than a footnote in Denver's loss to Kansas City. To that point, Thomas had five catches for 62 yards with just two first downs. Fortunately, games go for a full 60 minutes; in the final three minutes, with Denver down seven and needed a touchdown to tie, Thomas caught three balls for 54 more yards and three first downs, including perhaps the catch of the game where he elevated over traffic to snatch a laser from Manning. In addition, on a do-or-die 3rd-and-8, Thomas used his bulk to box out a smaller defender and convert for a new set of downs. While the lack of yards after the catch continue to be troubling from a receiver who for the past two years has done the majority of his damage with the ball in his hands, the final drive offered an enticing glimpse of the physical gifts that leave Thomas routinely mentioned among the best receivers in the NFL.

2015 Week 1 vs BAL (11 / 7 / 60 / 0 rec)

With Manning looking uncomfortable against Baltimore's defense, Demaryius Thomas was used as he often is, with Denver feeding him a steady diet of short manufactured touches and hoping he could make something happen with them. Only one of Thomas' eleven targets was more than 10 yards beyond the line of scrimmage. While the double-digit targets were a good sign after a rusty preseason, Thomas' long gain was just 11 yards as he was unable to break a long one.


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