Fantasy Football Truths
What backup plan? Peyton Manning is out and that leaves all the IndianapolisColts in a world of pain
It’s practically inconceivable to think of a fantasy football season without Peyton Manning. He rose to prominence as a quarterback just as fantasy football itself did as a pastime, and he has been one of the all-time scorers all along.
While his injury, for however long it might linger (the Colts have already officially announced that Manning is out for Sunday's opener against the Houston Texans), will obviously impact his owners, the tangential damage his absence will do to his fellow Colts should be of great concern to anybody with an Indy skill player on his or her roster. While it’s hard to gauge what Manning being out will do, since it’s never happened before, here are my best guesses on how some of the Colts' supporting will cast will fare with somebody other than No. 18 (in this case, Kerry Collins) under center.
REGGIE WAYNE: Wayne has been Manning’s No. 1 target ever since the decline of Marvin Harrison began in 2007. In the four seasons since ‘07, Wayne has averaged 99 catches. But he's averaged barely 12 yards per catch the last two seasons, meaning that he has needed the great volume of receptions to get to his yardage numbers.
With Collins under center, it’s hard to imagine Wayne getting anything near the amount of catches he needs to be WR1 caliber. If you’ve got him on your roster, you still probably have to start him, but don’t expect anything like what you’ve seen in the past.
PIERRE GARCON: Here is one guy who might just get by without too much damage. First of all, he’s, at best, a low-end WR2 option, so expectations are much lower to start. The other thing that Garcon has going for him is that one of the strong points of Manning’s replacement, Kerry Collins, is that he can throw a good deep ball.
I think that Garcon can still grab a few bombs here and there to justify where he was drafted, although he’ll obviously get a boost whenever Manning comes back healthy.
DALLAS CLARK: I’m assuming that Clark was one of the top tight ends in most fantasy drafts, even coming off an injury-shortened 2010. Well, he’s not going to perform at that level with Manning out, simply because the touchdowns won’t be there, but I still think that, if you drafted him, you should start him. Chances are your backup tight end isn’t anything too hot, and Clark should still be a nice safety outlet for Collins while he’s getting up to speed on the offense.
Don’t panic here, and you should be rewarded with a decent performance, albeit not what you might have hoped.
AUSTIN COLLIE: Collie would have been a borderline start to begin the season anyway with his injury woes. He is a mighty productive receiver when he plays, and he is points-per-catch league superstar at his best. But, with a new quarterback and the injury issues, I would give him a wide berth to start the season.
JOSEPH ADDAI: The knee-jerk reaction might be to think that the Colts will try to run the ball without Manning to control the offense, thereby raising Addai’s value. But this is not a team that is built to run the ball, especially as it has just one starting offensive lineman returning to the same position he was in a year ago. Addai has lost a lot of steam since his prime years, and, even then, he was at his best as a change-of-pace to Manning’s throws.
He is not a 25-carries-a-game type at this stage in his career. The guy to watch actually is rookie Delone Carter, who might be worth a roster stash now. I think he’ll get significant playing time at some point as Addai inevitably wears down. If that playing time coincides with Manning’s return, Carter could be a surprising point producer.
For all of Peyton’s fantasy fans, let’s hope that return comes sooner rather than later.