By John Evans
Editor’s Note: Originally published at ChiefsSpin.com, republished here with permission.
It’s been a helluva ride, but fantasy owners whose teams have enjoyed the presence of Peyton Manning would be wise to secure a quality backup. Peyton’s 37-year-old body is taking a pounding behind an offensive line that has suffered several significant injuries since training camp and can fairly be referred to as “cobbled together” at this point. While word is that Peyton will be “fine” for Sunday evening’s home tilt with the Kansas City Chiefs, will he be fine AFTER his date with vicious pass-rushers Justin Houston, Tamba Hali and Dontari Poe?
With his quick release and brilliant manipulation of pre-snap pass-protection, Peyton Manning has never been a quarterback who takes a ton of hits. But the erosion of Denver’s blockers has exposed the veteran to quite a bit of punishment this season, most notably in the Broncos’ Week 7 loss to the Colts. Peyton went into the Week 9 bye nursing TWO ankle sprains (one believed to be the dreaded “high ankle” variety) and left Week 10’s clash with the Chargers on a gimpy knee as well.
While Denver cannot afford to “rest” Peyton with Kansas City a game ahead of them in the standings and New England a game behind, the Broncos may not have a choice if Peyton takes a couple of wicked shots to his ailing lower body. He’s a tough customer who has never missed a game — not once, in 15 seasons – but did I mention that he’s 37 years old? Don’t risk his absence, however brief, derailing your fantasy season. It’s time to carry a backup and hopefully a reliable starter.
With all the quarterback injuries there has been a lot of turnover at the position. You should be able to find an NFL starter on waivers, but is it a guy whose job is secure? Regardless, my first choice would be to trade for a QB ranked in the top 15 every week. The byes are mostly over and many fantasy teams are hurting at RB, WR or TE. Quarterbacks tend to be the cheapest position to upgrade via trade because outside of two-QB leagues, there are almost always decent options available on waivers. If you have depth at other positions or can afford to downgrade slightly, offer someone with value to an owner who already has two top-15 quarterbacks. Chances are the other owner would love to turn the QB on the bench into a better starter. No need for a top 5 guy like Matthew Stafford and don’t empty your cupboard at RB or something, but it shouldn’t take much to buy some good Peyton insurance.
And what about Peyton’s backup, Brock Osweiler? Well, he’s a fine dynasty stash and an adequate worst-case-scenario play, but don’t think he’d pick up where Peyton left off. You can pencil him in for 50% of Peyton’s production from a game-plan perspective alone — Denver would run the ball more with Osweiler at the controls. You want a quarterback who can give you 75% of Peyton’s numbers so your team will keep winning when it really counts.
But whatever route you decide to take, act now! If Peyton were to go down, you can’t expect your league-mates to help you, inspired by the goodness of their hearts. Chances are that with Peyton you’ve been pummeling them on almost weekly basis… They will gleefully watch you twist in the wind if “The Sheriff” misses time. Send out those trade offers before Peyton faces the Chiefs’ diabolical defense twice in three weeks!
On Sunday night, the Dallas Cowboys’ run defense made the New Orleans Saints tailbacks look like the second coming of your favorite retired running back (just fill in the blank, it probably works). Even the previously lethargic Mark Ingram was ripping off big runs. Pierre Thomas and Darren Sproles had monster games.
It was obviously complete dominance by the Saints’ run-blocking more than fancy moves by the backs (though Pierre Thomas has solidified his reputation as “sneaky good” and greatly underrated in the fantasy community). The absence of linebackers Sean Lee, the heart and soul of this defense, as well as Lee’s understudy Justin Durant left the Dallas front seven decimated. A hobbled DeMarcus Ware didn’t help, either. This is a team in dire need of a bye and they’ll get one this week, but it looks like Lee will then miss two or three games — at least. Circle your matchups with Dallas, underline them several times and put a gold star on it too, just to make sure you don’t forget to start your running backs against the Cowboys.
After writing light-hearted sports columns in college, John Evans covered a variety of sports for The Olympian, a daily newspaper. While chasing Hollywood dreams for most of the last decade, he discovered that the entertainment industry loves fantasy football! For three seasons and counting, John has co-hosted The Xs & Ys Podcast with The Fantasy Football Girl and he now writes for ChiefsSpin.com.