First off, let’s talk about who Peyton Manning replaced and where it leaves Tim Tebow, who was one of fantasy football’s surprises in 2011, at least to most that is. I really like Tim Tebow especially in the fantasy world. I love guys that have heart, and Tebow has plenty of it. Now if he could ever learn how to throw the football, the kid would be great. Fact of the matter is, he is now sitting behind Mark Sanchez, while coach Rex Ryan is licking his chops to get Tebow involved in the offense. Yeah, Ryan isn’t just licking his chops because he shed a few pounds in the offseason. I truly believe there was no better place for Tebow to land really. In Ryan, you have a defensive-minded head coach who loves the ground-and-pound game on the other side of the football. I’ve never been a believer in Mark Sanchez and I believe it’s only a matter of time before Tebow takes over in New York. Now, with all that said, in regular fantasy football formats I think Tebow is only a late round flyer at best. On the other hand, if you have him in a dynasty league, you are definitely holding strong and waiting patiently for his emergence with the Jets.
Alright, I had to talk about Tebow for a second, but let’s get to the obvious candidates who Peyton Manning brings value to on the Denver Broncos of 2012. Two young, athletically gifted wide receivers on each side – Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker. While I think that both of these guys are going to have a solid fantasy year, I believe there’s a clear cut choice between the two, but most would see it otherwise. Eric Decker will prevail. Since the day Peyton Manning was signed he started a relationship with Decker. Decker was one of the first new teammates who contacted Manning. Decker was a man of action. It’s not Thomas who has been staying late after practice to help get that timing down between quarterback and wide receiver. This is what Manning has been doing with his newest young pupils for years. And in Manning we trust.
Last year was Eric Decker’s third season in the NFL, which I like to call “The Year of Enlightenment” for a wide receiver. Last year, with the likes of Kyle Orton he burst onto the fantasy scene and was a Top 5 wide receiver for the first five weeks in most fantasy formats. Then came Tim Tebow, a wide receiver’s nightmare. Just imagine what both of these wide receivers are going to be able to do with Manning as their new offensive signal caller. And, oh yeah, there’s also a new tight end in Denver, a guy who Peyton Manning is very familiar with, Jacob Tamme. This is a guy who two years ago stepped in for Dallas Clark with the offense never skipping a beat. He’s a guy who Manning already trusts and should be on your radar. Oh, and there is a running game in Denver. Listen, I know that Willis McGahee is getting old and old is not good when it comes to a running back. But, McGahee has virtually been on standby the last few years sitting behind Ray Rice and Knowshon Moreno until last year when he got his chance to shine after some injuries. Is McGahee a risk? Absolutely. But this is a guy who I believe is worth a little bit of risk with a lot more reward for where you will be able to get him in your draft. I think he has one solid year left in him if he can stay healthy. This is a guy you can pick up in the later rounds that could end up being a solid RB2. Just remember, with every old running back there’s always a young backup looking to get his chance. So make sure to handcuff him with Ronnie Hillman, not Knowshon Moreno, who is coming back from ACL surgery and has yet to prove he can even stay on the field, let alone hold on to the football!
Now that we’ve covered the Denver offensive players whose values have definitely increased since the signing of Manning, let’s talk about the other side of the football for those of you that are in Individual Defensive Player (IDP) leagues. You may be asking yourself how can a quarterback effect the value of a defensive player? I’ll tell you how, but let me ask you this – what has Peyton Manning done for his defenses over the years? Yes, that is correct sir. He gives them the lead. That will allow Von Miller and Elvis Dumervil to attack the quarterback more often and more frequently. Dwight Freeney and Rashean Mathis have been doing it for years in Indianapolis, and things will not change in Denver.
Alright, so we’ve talked about all the players in Denver that are going to be affected by the addition of Manning, but how does it affect other players within this division? Oh, Philip Rivers how you disappointed so many fantasy owners last season. I think this year he will get back to his normal self with an extra chip on his shoulder, that chip being Peyton Manning coming to his division. It’s time get your game on tight and get it on right. Peyton Manning is very familiar with the San Diego Chargers and not necessarily in a good way. The Chargers have kind of been that thorn in the side of the Indianapolis Colts over the last few years. And I guarantee you that Philip Rivers isn’t sitting back conceding the division to the almighty Manning. He’s upset and he knows he didn’t play to his capabilities last year. Simply put, he’s an elite quarterback ready to bounce back and prove that just because Denver has Manning doesn’t mean you should sleep on the Chargers. Look for Rivers to have a comeback year along with his favorite target, Antonio Gates. A healthy Antonio Gates equals fantasy production. Don’t sleep on him if you’re not able to pick up Rob Gronkowski or Jimmy Graham. Let’s go back to this division for a second. I think having Manning coming to town elevates the games of all specialties players within this division. You’ll need more offense and better defense to stop Manning. I don’t think there’s a team in this division that’s just going to allow Manning to mosey on in to town and dominate. But what that does mean, is that all of these teams need to elevate their game. I think the Kansas City Chiefs have a ton of talent, and watch out for Jamaal Charles and Peyton Hillis to have comeback years in a run-first offense. Keep Manning off the field is what teams try to do but are rarely successful. The Chiefs are a team built for that.
So go back to this time last year. Are you there? Did you think that Peyton Manning would have such a great effect on a team in his absence? Yeah me either, but just imagine what will happen when he’s actually on the field!