Going Deep: Packers, Broncos WRs are fantasy gold

You and me, we're not so different. We like football. We like fantasy football. And we like food. Especially good food.

That's not to say fast food can't be good. But how much better is it to have a well-seasoned burger made from top quality beef, topped with great cheese and maybe a little something extra added -- like a nice slice of pastrami? Mmmmm ... pastrami.

Sorry. Just lost my train of thought.

The point is, you can take your chances on things done quickly and still have quality results. But building piece by piece with quality ingredients and a meticulous process more often ensures that you'll get what you're looking for.

It works with burgers, and it works with offensive football teams. Case in point, the Green Bay Packers' and Denver Broncos' pass-catching units. In a fantasy world where receivers are interchangeable and tight ends come and go, those two groups have become about as plug-and-play as you can get.

There's little doubt that it starts with the two men behind the wheel. Peyton Manning and Aaron Rodgers are undoubtedly the engines that make the Broncos' and Packers' offenses go. As such, it's not shocking that those two squads put the ball in the air quite a bit.

What might surprise you is that they don't put it up as often as you'd expect. The Packers throw the ball 64 percent of the time -- fewer than 11 other teams. The Broncos throw it even less often, just 58 percent of the time. Part of their success comes from the efficiency of their respective passers.

But it also comes from a gaggle of targets who are equally as good at their jobs. Check out the numbers below. It's a list of the top eight pass-catchers from Denver and Green Bay ranked according to air yards per reception. In short, it's the number of yards the ball travels in the air on each connection from the quarterback.

The chart is color-coded. The lightest yellow encompasses guys who have been mostly short-yardage guys -- anywhere from zero to five yards downfield. The next is mid-range (6-10 yards) and finally the "deep" threats (11 yards and above).

Nelson is the only guy who falls into that category and compared to the rest of the NFL, he's sixth in air yards per reception -- the only one on this list in the top 10. The next closest, Eric Decker, is 33rd. By the time you get to Jermichael Finley, you're at No. 111. That's a lot more angus burger than Big Mac. By the way, that isn't a typo for Finley's air yards -- he's been nearly all YAC this season.

Which is the next thing you'll notice about this group. They tend to do a lot of damage after the catch. Seven of those eight players rank in the top 50 in total yards after the catch. Nelson (71st) is the only one outside of that group this season. And that might not be completely fair since the Packers have played one fewer game than just about everyone else. Then again, it makes his teammates' numbers more impressive.

Like hitting in baseball, YAC seems to be contagious. Take a look at the top five NFL teams in yards after catch average so far this season.

Detroit Lions - 187.0 yds
Denver Broncos - 187.0 yds
Atlanta Falcons - 177.3 yds
Green Bay Packers - 173.7 yds
New Orleans Saints - 170.5

How does this happen? Let me count the ways. Certainly good downfield blocking helps. All these teams have talented receivers. And they all have tight ends who draw the defense's attention in the middle of the field. Because all these teams have a plethora of targets, it's hard to double-team any one guy. If a receiver can make one guy miss, there's usually plenty of real estate before the next defender arrives.

Still, there's something pretty special going on in Denver and Green Bay. Look at the rest of the teams on that list. After Calvin Johnson, is there a consistent fantasy pass-catcher in Detroit? Roddy White's lingering ankle injury has made him a non-factor for the Falcons and for fantasy owners. And the Saints have played a neverending game of Receiver Roulette for years. Beyond Jimmy Graham and Marques Colston, there isn't another wideout in New Orleans you can trust on a weekly basis.

Meanwhile, if you ran into a Bronco or Packer in your fantasy draft, you're sitting on a gold mine. It's that perfect combination of flavors that ends up being the centerpiece of any nutritious, delicious fantasy meal.

Now you'll have to excuse me. All this food talk is making me hungry.

Marcas Grant is a fantasy editor for NFL.com and a guy who refers to bacon as "meat candy". Follow him on Twitter.

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