By Adam McGill
Of all the places for the four-time MVP, Peyton Manning to end up this year, the Denver Broncos had to be one the last team’s that anyone expected to see #18 suit up for. Firstly, Denver is a completely different climate. Manning will now have to play four to five games in the frigid Mile-High climate, as opposed to playing in the nice, room temperature confines of the Lucas Oil Stadium. Manning has thrived on a nice comfy turf, but he will quickly see how different it can be when he is throwing in a couple inches of snow. The question is not whether Manning will be able to produce at a high level in Denver, but rather if he will remain as the fantasy football cornerstone that he once was.
Additionally, Denver has a very limited core of receivers with Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker providing the most experience at the position with four years combined of NFL experience. Thomas showed last postseason that he is a number one receiver and will instantly become Manning’s new favorite fantasy weapon. The team also brought in Andre Caldwell from the Cincinnati Bengals to fight for a starting spot, giving Manning another tall weapon to utilize. Manning will have to quickly form a chemistry with his new teammates, but any doubters should look at the significant improvements that Austin Collie or Brandon Stokley made under Manning’s tutelage. The team will try to bring in at least one more experienced wideout to get the most out of Manning, but regardless their new franchise quarterback knows how to make the most out of nothing.
No quarterback studies his playbook more than Manning and he gives the term “student of the game” new meaning, as the former first round pick has completely changed the way the position looks at the game. He throws picture perfect passes each time he releases the ball, but more importantly is that he throws it where his receiver can make a play on it. He has made a habit of working tirelessly with his receivers to build the perfect rapport, a dedication that allowed him and Marvin Harrison to connect for an NFL record 112 touchdown passes.
Manning will also benefit from playing an abysmal Raiders’ secondary twice each year, as they allowed 251 yards per game through the air. The possibility of Manning torching one of the worst sets of two times a year is too good to pass up, as he could easily combine for 700 yards and 6 touchdowns in the two game division rivalry. The bottom line is that regardless of where Manning plays he will find a way to throw touchdown passes. He may not have thrown as many touchdowns if he would had gone to San Francisco or Miami, but he still remains the “Cerebral Assassin” and knows how to dissect the inexperienced defenses in the league.
Manning is a great second round pick heading into this fantasy season, especially with the current fantasy slide that he is on. Many fantasy owners think that he is coming back just to have another average campaign, but they will be quickly lamenting their decision to pass on him once the season begins. Manning is still a top five option at the position and has moved past Drew Brees as a result of the Saints’ recent coaching staff quandaries. Fantasy owners should make sure Manning does not fall too far because he will easily eclipse the 4,000-yard and 25-touchdown plateau.