Fantasy football owners have surely not considered using a Buffalo Bills quarterback in recent weeks, with Thad Lewis and Jeff Tuel making starts since EJ Manuel went down with a right knee injury in Week 5. Manuel was cleared to practice on Monday, which points to a return to action soon and possibly in Week 10 against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Should fantasy owners consider adding the rookie signal caller?
Manuel had 985 passing yards with five touchdowns and three interceptions prior to being injured, highlighted by an efficient performance against the New England Patriots in his NFL debut (18-for-27 for 150 yards and two touchdowns) and 296 passing yards in Week 2 against the Carolina Panthers. But he showed signs of regression by completing less than 50 percent of his passes in each of the next two full games after that, and his injury occurred at a possible early turning point in terms of his fantasy value this year.
Manuel was expected to miss 6-8 weeks following his injury, so he was widely dropped in fantasy leagues with bye weeks starting to get going. It’s possible he is held out of action for another week and starts against the New York Jets in Week 11, which would fit the six-week timetable for his return, but if he looks good in practice this week Manuel is an upgrade over Lewis and Tuel and head coach Doug Marrone may choose to start him against Pittsburgh.
I don’t consider Manuel a must-add at this point due to the uncertainty of his status and Buffalo having a bye in Week 12, but if he remains on track to return he has favorable matchups coming in some important weeks for fantasy owners. In Week 13-Week 15, the Bills face three teams (Atlanta Falcons, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Jacksonville Jaguars) that enter Week 10 in the bottom 10 of the league against opposing quarterbacks (ESPN scoring). So there’s a chance Manuel can be a viable high-end QB2 in 12 and 14-team leagues during that stretch, and those that have the roster depth to do so could consider adding and stashing him this week.
Brad Berreman is a contributing writer at Rant Sports.com. Follow him on Twitter @bradberreman24.