Fantasy Football in Denver starts and ends with the QB position. The value of every other position has a direct correlation to Peyton Manning’s health and performance. In this article we will analyze what Manning has done his first 2 seasons in Denver and what that means for the upcoming season, as well as what’s behind Manning, including his fantasy value.
In 2012, Manning threw for 4,659 yards and 37 TDs against only 11 INTs. Manning followed up his first campaign as a Bronco by breaking a number of regular season passing records, throwing for 5,477 yards, 55 TDs while adding another touchdown on the ground against 10 INTs. After two complete seasons in Denver, Manning now ranks second in all time touchdowns thrown by a Denver Bronco QB, pretty elite company as he is only bested by his boss, John Elway. It isn’t all sunflowers and daisies for Manning. He has lost more fumbles than any other player the past two seasons, an issue Manning needs to solve. It is also of note that Manning played the second half of the 2014 season with high sprains to both of his ankles.
Everything out of camp suggests that Manning’s arm strength has continued to gain strength, although it may never return to his pre surgery form. In a recent interview Manning said,
“I don’t make the same kind of throws I used to make, I try to use the cerebral part, use my experience.”
Manning has never been a gunslinger as a QB. He has always used timing and touch on his deep passes, as well as his intermediate ones.
During the off-season, the organization allowed Knowshon Moreno and Eric Decker to sign elsewhere, both of whom were key weapons for Manning. To replace them, the Broncos signed Emmanuel Sanders, drafted Cody Latimer and expect Montee Ball to step up as the lead back. They also return Ryan Clady at LT, while sliding Orlando Franklin to the LG position, with Chris Clark taking over at RT, which in theory, will give the team its strongest Offensive Line combination of the Manning era. On paper, Manning now has more weapons than at any other point during his career. Is it a stretch to say that Manning can improve on his 2013 numbers? I, for one, don’t think it is.
In terms of fantasy, the QB position is very deep with a caveat. It is Peyton Manning and then everyone else. Manning stands as the only QB worth a 1st round pick in every draft. This past season, Manning had a pedestrian 5 games with 30 points or more, with another 7 games of 20 points or more. In case you missed it, that was sarcasm. There is nothing pedestrian about what Manning does. I currently have Manning ranked as my top QB and 5th overall player in terms of fantasy value. If you have a chance to draft him in the bottom on the first round in a 8 or 10 team league, then you need to pounce.
Now for the scenario every Bronco fan fears. What if Peyton Manning is injured? In 2012, the Broncos drafted Brock Osweiler to be the Bronco QB of the future. Osweiler was drafted as an unfinished product with a high ceiling. Thus far, his career, as well as his play on the field, has been uninspiring , but that is the norm for Manning backups. Now, if Manning does go down, and you own him on your fantasy squad, then let this writer be the first to tell you that I would be fully comfortable using Brock as a replacement. Manning makes the entire offense around him better, but he is also surrounded by a ton of talent. We can argue day and night on the success the team would have if Osweiler were the team’s starter, but rest assured from a pure fantasy-value aspect, Brock would merit consideration to be in your lineup.
The Denver Broncos have solid value QB-wise in the fantasy world, regardless of who’s starting, but let’s hope that its Manning for the duration of the season. Next friday we will dive into the RB position.