Easily one of the biggest moves of the offseason was the Denver Broncos’ acquisition of quarterback Russell Wilson from the Seattle Seahawks. The move brings stability to a position that has been in a constant state of flux since Peyton Manning retired after the 2015 season. Wilson is an established upper-tier field general, and his deep ball, which was already regarded as one of the best in the NFL, should be even more lethal in the thin air of Denver.
Awaiting him is a talented receiving corps that features former first-round pick Jerry Jeudy (38-467-0 in 2021), former 1,000-yard receiver Courtland Sutton (58-776-2), and Tim Patrick (53-734-5), who has finished second on the club in receiving each of the past two seasons. While that trio has garnered the vast majority of the attention, there’s one other wideout on the depth chart that could contribute: former second-round pick KJ Hamler.
Hamler (knee) has played in 16 of 33 games since being selected 46th overall in 2020, and he ended each of his first two seasons on the Reserve/Injured list. Thirteen of those appearances came during his rookie year when hamstring issues and a concussion were to blame. Last year, Hamler suffered a torn ACL and dislocated hip on Sept. 26, which ended his sophomore season.
Despite being on the field for OTAs, he opened training camp on the Active/Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) List, per general manager George Paton. He can be activated at any time. With so much depth at the position, expect the Broncos to take a cautious approach with Hamler, who at 23 should still have a lot of football ahead of him.
At 5-foot-9, 178 pounds, Hamler is built differently than anyone else on the depth chart — both Sutton and Patrick stand 6-foot-4, and Jeudy checks in at 6-foot-1, 193 pounds. The Penn State product has the burst to separate quickly and the speed to take the top off coverage, skills that should pair well with Wilson’s arm strength. He’s a natural slot receiver in a way that Jeudy isn’t, though he’ll need to prove himself healthy and capable before the Broncos look to slide someone (most likely Patrick) out of a top-three role.
Fantasy football outlook
Expect Denver to play the long game with Hamler, bringing him along slowly until he’s ready to come off the PUP. Even after that happens, the third-year pro will likely be eased back into gameday usage in isolated personnel groupings and specific packages. Whatever his long-term future may be, Hamler appears to be a long shot to contribute much in 2022 barring injury to someone in the top three. At best, he’s a total flier in the waning rounds of deep best-ball formats.