After watching the Monday Night Football game, I sat back for a few minutes and started to think about the quarterbacks we just watched compete and how they are moving in different directions here in their respective careers. Peyton Manning has weathered multiple neck surgeries in hope of prolonging, what everyone knows to be, a Hall of Fame career while Matt Ryan prepares himself for, what most expect to be, a breakout year here in his fifth professional season. While they seem to be on different trajectories both are players that, if I don’t already own them, are most definitely on my trade target list.
The beautiful part about Ryan is that, despite a ton of preseason hype, he is still fairly underrated. By the end of draft season, his ADP topped out at 55 which put him somewhere in the mid to late fourth/early fifth round, at best. Now I know that the quarterback position is rich with talent, but that ADP puts him on par with guys like Tony Romo and an injury prone Michael Vick. I’m not saying that Ryan should be ranked up there with Aaron Rodgers and Drew Bress, but he is most certainly a better and more reliable option than these two tomato cans with whom he’s ranked.
Ryan has some outstanding offensive weapons at his disposal and should turn in outstanding performances week in and week out. Julio Jones is clearly on the rise, and although he gave his owners squadoosh in Week 2, he’s going to finish the season with elite wide receiver status. Roddy White may be on the downside of his career, but he’s still got great hands and, as we saw this week, can post some outstanding fantasy stats. Sure, Michael Turner is getting a little long in the tooth, but with Jacquizz Rodgers and Chris Snelling lurking in the wings, the running game is more than covered. Want more? How about veteran tight end, Tony Gonzalez? He’s also getting ready for his Once-a-Day multi-vitamin, but he can still come down with the ball with the best of them. Don’t forget, this is the guy who helped pioneer the position, making it possible for guys like Antonio Gates and Jimmy Graham to be recognized for their talents. All of this, at Ryan’s fingertips, just waiting to be unleashed on poor, unsuspecting defenses.
In the 11 leagues in which I play (yes, I’m obviously a total loser), I own Ryan in six of them. All my eggs are in his basket. And in the leagues where I don’t own him, I am, most certainly, looking to acquire him in a trade. Offers are out and I’ve already received a few nibbles. In one league, I’m actually doing the unheard of – I’ve offered up Rodgers. No, not in a straight-up deal. That would be silly, regardless of how high I am on Ryan. What I did, though, was go to Ryan’s owner and told him that I was in need of some wide receiver help and was willing to “downgrade” at the quarterback position. The current offer on the table is Rodgers and Malcom Floyd for Ryan and Victor Cruz. The other owner seemed pretty keen on the idea until Cruz’ Week 2 breakout, but he just sent me an email asking for Reggie Wayne instead. Not a PPR league so, um, yeah!!
Peyton Manning requires just a bit more patience this season. Though I haven’t seen him take any kind of a vicious hit yet, I imagine that, health-wise, all is well with the neck. So when he goes tossing three interceptions in the first quarter of a nationally televised game, I’m thinking it’s more rust/comfort related than anything else. Let’s face it…he was out of football for all of last year and before that, he was working with the same offensive line and practically the same receivers throughout his tenure in Indianapolis. Those guys on the Colts knew everything about Manning – his tendencies, his snap counts, his audible style, you name it. And Peyton knew everything about them. Now with Denver, all has changed.
There’s no Reggie Wayne, no Dallas Clark, no Jeff Saturday, and no Tony Dungy over there in Mile High country. It’s a totally different group. OK, he’s got Jacob Tamme as his tight end which offers up a bit of familiarity and somehow he convinced the Broncos to bring in Brandon Stokely. But that’s pretty much it. He just needs a little more time with these guys.
Willis McGahee can offer something to Manning that he hasn’t seen since the likes of Edgerrin James, Demaryius Thomas can fill the Wayne void and Eric Decker is primed to be Manning’s top possession receiver. Throw in Tamme and Stokely and you’ve got Indy West here. With a few games under their belts, this group has the potential to jell and become an offensive force in the AFC West.
Next week poses a tough match-up against the Texans, but Manning is very familiar with them and their style of play. After that, it’s Oakland, New England, and San Diego. Certainly not a cakewalk, but definitely a stretch with some promise. Then they hit their bye week and when they come back – New Orleans, Cincinnati, and Carolina. Anyone else have that “How ya like me now?” song in their head?
Come Week 8, Manning should be right there in vintage Manning form. He’ll have fully adjusted to his new team and the rapport with his skilled support players should be top notch. If you’ve got Manning, continue to roll with him as things will definitely get better. If you have a significantly better QB on your roster, then maybe go with him if the match-up is right and stash Peyton. Either way, come Week 8, he’s going to be like Jack Nicholson in A Few Good Men – you want him on that wall, you need him on that wall!
Back during the week when it’s time to start looking at some Week 3 match-ups.
Howard Bender has been covering fantasy sports for over a decade on a variety of web sites. For questions, thoughts or comments you can find him on Twitter at @rotobuzzguy or you can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.