The Denver Broncos have evolved into a defensive juggernaut, and that’s not about to change any time soon.

Yes, Malik Jackson is now in Jacksonville and Danny Trevathan joined Foxy up in Chicago, but I’ll take Derek Wolfe and Brandon Marshall over those guys every day of the week — so will John Elway, apparently. It’s not easy to keep a dominant unit together year after year, especially when you’re coming off a Super Bowl victory, but the Broncos are returning nine of 11 starters on the league’s best defense; that’s impressive.

On paper, this group is better than ever, and it’s thanks to guys like Shane Ray, Shaq Barrett and Bradley Roby, all of which look primed for breakout campaigns. If they can reach their full potential, there’s no reason they can’t be perennial Pro Bowlers, and that’s a scary thing to think about when this unit already has six or seven of those running out onto the field every day.

Plus, the whole group is entering into their second season under defensive coordinator Wade Phillips, which shouldn’t be glossed over.

For the majority of last season, Phillips and The No Fly Zone played almost exclusively in man-to-man coverage, and, obviously, it worked. But down the homestretch of the regular season, Denver began to institute more zone coverage — zone coverage they’d need against Tom Brady in the playoffs — and it didn’t go smoothly. There were blown assignments, long touchdowns and general confusion.

That won’t be the case this year.

When it comes to fantasy, though, what can you expect from the Broncos defense? Let’s break it down:

Upside: Greatest defense of all time

This sounds like hyperbole, but it’s not as if it wasn’t in the cards last season.

Again, this defense is going to be great. Whether they can be historically great, that’s another story, but it’s not out of the question.

If Denver’s young stars take All-Pro leaps, if Wade Phillips gets the whole group playing on autopilot, if Von Miller channels his playoff run into an entire regular season, we might need a space shuttle to find their ceiling.

Downside: They’re great, not lucky

Here’s the thing with the 2015 Denver Broncos: They were lucky.

That’s not to say that they didn’t deserve everything they accomplished — every champion needs a little bit of luck — but if Jamaal Charles‘ fumble doesn’t bounce directly into Bradley Roby’s hands, if Tom Brady doesn’t miss Rob Gronkowski wide open in the end zone, if both of Cam Newton‘s fumbles don’t tumble into Denver’s arms, they don’t win the Super Bowl.

There are a lot of 50-50 situations in football, and they all seemed to go Denver’s way last season. If the odds even out, maybe the numbers don’t look as historic.

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