Fantasy spin: Orton named starter in Denver

(Ed Andrieski / Associated Press)

Kyle Orton threw for 2,972 yards and 18 TDs last season with the Bears. (Ed Andrieski / Associated Press)

The name Kyle Orton has never been synonymous with the better quarterbacks in fantasy football.

But now that new Broncos coach Josh McDaniels has named Orton his starting quarterback for the 2009 season, Orton’s stock is on the rise.

“I’m obviously really excited,” said Orton, who has already beaten out fellow veteran Chris Simms. “It’s really just the beginning for me in this offense and hopefully I’ll continue to improve every day and get the offense where we need to be come the season.”

Orton might not have put up huge numbers last season, but he actually led all quarterbacks in fantasy points on for a five-week stretch from mid-September to mid-October in 2008. Overall, he would finish with career bests in passing yards (2,972) and total touchdowns (21) in a Bears offense that was based on Matt Forte and the run.

Now under McDaniels, Orton should have more opportunities to produce between the white lines. The offense will be a pass-laden attack, and Orton’s long list of weapons (Knowshon Moreno, Brandon Marshall, Eddie Royal, Tony Scheffler) only adds to his sleeper potential.

Orton also has the advantage of playing in a division that includes two teams (Chargers, Chiefs) that finished 28th or worse in pass defense last season. The Broncos could be playing from behind quite a bit if their defense doesn’t improve, so Orton should produce a new career-best in pass attempts (465 in 2008) as well.

While no one will mistake him for Drew Brees or Peyton Manning, Orton’s fantasy stock has never been higher. He could turn into a nice bargain in the middle to late rounds as a No. 2 fantasy quarterback and matchup-based starter.

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