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Reports of Peyton Manning’s Death Are Greatly Exaggerated

Last season ended p0orly for Peyton Manning, culminating in a blowout playoff loss to the Colts. It may have been even worse for fantasy owners. They started Manning every week on their way to the playoffs, and once he got there Manning was an albatross on their team.

I couldn’t be happier about that. Last season Manning was consistently being drafted in the 1st or 2nd round, too rich for my blood. I had zero exposure to Manning last season. But that’s all going to change this season. Here are three reasons why I’m drafting Peyton Manning in 2015:

1) He Was Better Than You Remember

From the Game Splits App:

ManningSplit

First, let’s talk about just how great those first 12 games were. Manning was passing for an astounding 28.85 fantasy points per game. To put that in context, Andrew Luck was the QB1 last season and he scored “only” 27.6 FPPG. For the first 12 games Manning was exactly what drafters expected to him be.

Let’s talk about those last four games. They were terrible. In fact, they were too terrible. Prorated over the season, Manning would have only thrown 12 touchdowns and twice as many interceptions. How many QBs are actually that bad in a given season? Maybe two? Peyton Manning isn’t that guy. And his yards per attempt was excellent, at 8.69. And as we now know, Manning was playing through a torn quadriceps at the time. Focus on the large sample where he was healthy, not the small sample where he was hurt.

2) He’s Going To Be Good Again

We at RotoViz have recently started compiling composite projections. We currently have Manning projected to score 353.4 fantasy points, good for a QB3 finish behind only Andrew Luck and Aaron Rodgers. That works out to 22.1 FPPG.

That projection may be overly conservative. That would have only been a QB8 finish last year. So it’s not likely Manning scores 22.1 FPPG and is the QB3. In his worst season in Denver, Manning scored 23.9 FPPG. In his best, 31.0 FPPG. I would expect something in between those two totals. I would place more emphasis on the projected QB3 finish than the projected 22.1 FPPG.

We’re not worried about Gary Kubiak either, as we have Manning projected for 597 pass attempts. If that seems high given Kubiak’s presence, keep in mind that Matt Schaub had seasons with 574 and 583 pass attempts, and another season with 573 prorated attempts. Joe Flacco had 554 attempts last season, the second-highest total of his career. While it’s true that Kubiak likes to run the ball a lot, it’s also true that he likes to pass the ball a lot. He’s shown a willingness to go pass-heavy in the past, I would expect him to do with the greatest QB he’s ever had to work with.

3) The Price is Right

As I said earlier, Manning was consistently being drafted in the 1st and 2nd rounds last season. According to the Best Ball ADP App, he’s currently being drafted in the early 7th round.

This makes Manning a relative bargain compared to other top QBs. Russell Wilson is being drafted ahead of Manning even though we have him projected to score fewer points. Aaron Rodgers’ ADP is 44 picks ahead of Manning’s, but he’s only projected to outscore Manning by 12.4 points. Andrew Luck’s ADP is 51 picks ahead of Manning but he’s only projected to outscore him by 22.3 points. Of the top four QBs by ADP, Manning is far and away the best value.

Manning’s price is recency bias at its finest. The last time we saw Peyton Manning play it really seemed like it might be the last time he ever played. The last time he played for fantasy teams he likely cost them a championship. But if you draft him in 2015? He may just bring that championship home for you.

 

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