In a move that really isn’t that surprising given recent events, E.J. Manuel was named the Buffalo Bills‘ starting QB for week one. For the New England Patriots this just means having to actually game plan for the impact of the QB position, but for fantasy football players the impact of Manuel being back is much greater.
If you play with a lot of teams or in a two-quarterback format, chances are somebody in your league took a chance on Manuel. If it was you, great. Even if Manuel were to miss a few weeks, his upside is as a top-15 QB, and in deep leagues, you can’t beat having him as your backup. If it was someone else, well, just look out because by the time your league playoffs start, Manuel could be primed to have his best games.
But maybe your league isn’t that deep and maybe Manuel fell through the cracks. If that is the case, why are you still reading this article? All of your fantasy compadres are soon going to become aware that Manuel is the Week 1 starter and they will have the same information and possible foresight you now have. So minimize this window, open up your fantasy football page and drop whoever you need to in order to add Manuel. It’s not a joke to say that come playoff time you won’t regret this.
Have you added Manuel yet? Good. But if you’re not quite sold, let me offer a push in the right direction.
Manuel is a dual threat QB that can and will hurt you with his arm and his legs. In two full seasons as the Florida State starter, Manuel scored 41 touchdowns through the air and added another eight on the ground. To put that into context, Russell Wilson, a running QB similar to Manuel, finished his college career with 61 touchdowns in the air and 15 on the ground in his final two seasons.
Wilson’s stats are better, but that isn’t the point. The point is that these are two similar quarterbacks and Wilson already has shown that he can be successful in the NFL as he threw for 26 touchdowns and 3,118 yards last season. Don’t expect Manuel to duplicate Wilson’s season but do expect him to run that offense with a good deal of success.
And if you are thinking that CJ Spiller makes Manuel useless on the ground, that would be wrong. Both of these players being on the field actually increases the others value. Defenses will no longer be able to stack the box against Spiller because they will have to worry about Manuel running and vice versa. Spiller will take some of the attention off him in the same way Marshawn Lynch did for Wilson last year.
Manuel is not going to wow you early on, but as the season continues you can expect good things from him. He just needs a chance to get back into football and back into the fast paced game. It might not happen Week 1 or even Week 6, but by the time Week 12, 13, rolls around, Manuel is going to peak. Fortunately enough, he’ll be doing so right in time for the fantasy playoffs.
So if your QB depth is weak or if you have a player just taking up roster space, consider picking up Manuel. Hold him for the first weeks and see how it plays out. But you can’t wait until the playoffs to make that leap as now that he is back, Manuel is probably going to start getting picked up in more and more leagues.
Don’t let your competitors beat you to the punch. Be the one at the end of the season that hoists the metaphorical trophy being able to do so because you thought ahead and picked up a player with tremendous upside when nobody else gave it a second thought. Or they did, but you were just the first one smart enough to see the diamond in the rough.