It is getting closer and closer to the beginning of the 2014 fantasy football season. There have been discussions about whether or not Calvin Johnson should be picked with one of the first two overall picks. Another non running back that is getting a lot of attention for first round selection is Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning. Manning had the greatest season by a quarterback ever last season with 5,477 passing yards and 55 touchdowns, which were both NFL records. The question that needs to be asked here is whether or not fantasy owners should be taking Manning in the first round of their draft this season coming off of last season’s performance.
There are two ways to look at this. There is the angle of wanting Manning because of his stats from the 2013 season and assuming that he is going to put up similar numbers this coming year. There is also the thought about what the fantasy playoffs have in store for the Broncos and Manning. Let’s examine both sides of the ledger.
If an owner wants to have Manning for the entire season strictly on last year’s performance, that is perfectly fine but expectations should be tempered some. Denver is facing six of the top 11 defenses from last season in 2014, which includes a Super Bowl rematch at Seattle. Manning is going to put up big numbers again and will likely be the top quarterback in fantasy football in 2014, but the defenses he will face are going to bring his numbers back down towards Earth. Here are his many touchdown passes from 2013.
There is no more Eric Decker. And while Emmanuel Sanders is a good wide receiver, who knows how he will do in a new system during his first season. It didn’t hurt Wes Welker an,y but Sanders is a different kind of receiver.
The other side of the argument is looking at Denver’s schedule in Weeks 14, 15 and 16 when the fantasy playoffs are usually set to begin. There is a home game against Buffalo in Week 14, who was 28th against the pass last season. But the next two weeks bring road games at San Diego and Cincinnati. The Chargers were fourth against the pass, while the Bengals ranked eighth in that department in 2013. This is where things get dicey. Obviously there are changes on defense for both teams, but they are still a good chance both teams will give Manning trouble.
This leads to whether or not Manning should be taken in the first round. There is a lot of depth at the quarterback position and players like Drew Brees, Matthew Stafford and Aaron Rodgers are going to get a lot of attention and throw for a ton of yards, but Manning is still worth taking in the first round. There will be some people who want to take Manning No. 1 overall, especially with a new running back in Montee Ball starting in Denver. The most logical place for a Manning selection would be around the ninth or tenth overall pick. Everyone has their own opinion on how high Manning should go, but late first round should be the right spot to select the Broncos quarterback this year. Defenses will play past their abilities against Denver. To some teams, this game is their Super Bowl. But Manning's talent and weapons trump the schedule the team faces this year.