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How the Manning effect can help Emmanuel Sanders

Sanders said he feels like he's landed in "wide receiver heaven" in Denver.

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Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Emmanuel Sanders left the Pittsburgh Steelers to sign with the Denver Broncos in March, and four months later it appears as though he's no less excited to be joining the league's most prolific passing offense.

"I feel like I just made it into wide receiver heaven," Sanders told Sirius XM Radio.

With Peyton Manning under center, Denver is about as close to heaven as it can get for wide receivers. According to Football Outsiders, the Broncos had the most efficient offense, the most efficient quarterback — and it wasn't close for either — and two of the four most efficient wide receivers. Moreover, Denver threw the ball more than anyone but Cleveland (and did it a lot better than Cleveland) in 2013.

Sanders had a good quarterback in Ben Roethlisberger last season and he had what amounted to a breakout year, catching 67 passes for 740 yards and 6 touchdowns. However, he could see a dramatic rise in production as a member of the Broncos, all thanks to the Peyton Manning effect.

Earlier this week, took a look at what receivers (ranked by their fantasy value) receive the biggest boost from their quarterbacks over the past three seasons. Sanders didn't make the cut of the top 50 receivers — ranked by average fantasy points — but not surprisingly, three Broncos players made the top 11 and all of them have seen their stats inflated by great quarterback play.

Rank Player Rec Yds TD









Adj. Fantasy






4 Wes Welker 104 1234 8 278 87 961 5 215 -23% 13
8 Demaryius Thomas 73 1138 9 243 63 955 7 201 -17% 21
11 Eric Decker 72 988 11 235 64 846 9 204 -13% 20

Welker's inclusion is no surprise, since he's played with two of the league's best quarterbacks — Manning and Tom Brady — in the past three years. And while all three players are certainly top-quality receivers in their own right, Manning makes them look even better.

This is why Sanders should be excited to play in Denver. Ben Roethlisberger has a good Pass EPA (the stat used to develop the QB-weighted rankings) but Manning's is far better. Sanders has started coming into his own, and Manning offers him the chance to jump start his career, leading to better offers and more money down the road.

Combine year-over-year improvement with the Denver offense, and Sanders has a chance to become a (non-weighted) statistics star.