… Eli will be the better Manning to draft in 2015

Call me Crazy but … Eli will be the better Manning to Draft in 2015
Eli; he’s the Manning you want on your fantasy squad this year. A lot of people out there playing fantasy football use name recognition to select some of their squad; we all know a guy like this. Someone who will take Peyton way too early this year because “Peyton’s still Peyton,” or “Well he threw for 55 touchdowns a few years ago and he should be healthier this year than last.” I’m all for having respect and enjoying watching greats like Peyton play the game, honestly he may be my favorite QB I’ve been able to watch from the start to (whenever) the end of his career (is). However when it comes to playing fantasy football names need to go out the window. Every player hits a decline, even the greats like Peyton. This year if you’re not going to grab a stud quarterback early, and that short list includes just Aaron Rodgers and Andrew Luck, than Eli is the Manning to target if you feel so inclined to have a Manning on your roster. Let’s look at both brothers and I’ll show you why I think you and your fantasy team will be much better off waiting for Eli rather than jumping on the Peyton train in 2015.

THE PEYTON SIDE:
I know Peyton is one of the best of all-time at quarterback (especially during the regular season, and that’s all we care about as fantasy players), but he’s definitely on the decline. Sure he has a great offense around him. Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders form one of the best 1-2 punches at the wide receiver position. CJ Anderson emerged at running back and Denver still has two talented guys behind him in Montee Ball and Ronnie Hillman should Anderson go down or slow down like he did towards the end of last season. As far as tight ends, Owen Daniels isn’t on the same talent level as the departed Julius Thomas, but he has had his best seasons under new head coach Gary Kubiak. Not to mention an older Peyton is still the best QB Daniels will be playing with in his career. But with an ADP of 4.01 Peyton Manning is being overvalued in my opinion. Let’s look at what he’s done since his arrival in Denver:

YEAR COMPLETION % YARDS TOUCHDOWNS INTERCEPTIONS
2012 68.6 4659 37 11
2013 68.3 5477 55 10
2014 66.2 4727 39 15

Over the final 5 games last year Peyton had a 5:6 TD:INT ratio including 2 games with 0 TD passes. His worst since he went 8:9 over 5 games in 2007 but he threw 6 picks in 1 game over that stretch and still had at least 1TD each of those 5 games. The only other time in his 17-year career he had more interceptions than touchdowns was his first 5 games his rookie season when threw 12 picks to a lowly 4 scores. Also note that Peyton had back-to-back games with under 200 passing yards in weeks 12 and 13 last year. The only other time he had two straight games with 199 or fewer pass yards when playing in full games? 1998; rookie year; weeks 2 and 3. Looking at little things like that says to me that Peyton is on his way out. He has tremendous talent around him but he is not the same Manning we’re used to seeing in the fantasy world, and to be drafted as the … QB off the board in 2015 is just insane.

Gary Kubiak also has to factor in. He is a guy who likes to work his running backs as well as tight ends. In Houston Kubiak helped Arian Foster reach career highs in carries, yards, and TDs over his 4 seasons he was in the backfield. In fact Foster has had 3 seasons with 275+ carries; all under Kubiak, 4 seasons of 1200+ rush yards; 3 of 4 under Kubiak, and 3 seasons with 10+ rushing TDs; again all under GK. What about last season when Kubiak was the OC in Baltimore? Enter Justin Forsett. Another back who didn’t get much use in his first 8 years in the NFL. Forsett combined for 1692 rush yards and 8TDs before playing under Kubiak last year. In 2014 Forsett posted 1266 yards and 8TDs. Hell even Ron Dayne (773 yards in 2007) and Steve Slaton (1282 rush yards with 9TDs in 2008; 417 receiving yards and 4TDs in 2009) posted career numbers under Kubiak! The Broncos CJ Anderson showed promise last year and if he can maintain a better weight and conditioning in 2015 don’t be shocked if he is the next RB to post 1000+ yards and 8+ TDs with Kubiak running the show.
Kubiak also has a lot of love for his tight ends; especially ones he knows a la Owen Daniels.

Daniels has played under Kubiak every single season he’s been in the NFL since 2006. Daniels has averaged 48-571-4 over his career all while averaging playing 12 games per season (he’s only played all 16 twice). Looking back at all the numbers Daniels has gone over 500 yards or for 5+ TDs (or both) in 7 of 9 seasons. The 2 years he missed those numbers were injury-shortened but he was on pace for 730+ yards and 5+ TDs both times. Kubiak is familiar with Daniels, there isn’t competition behind him, and Denver needs to break in a new WR with Wes Welker gone. All signs point to more running to keep the team balanced and help keep Peyton healthy for as long as possible.

Speaking of Peyton’s health he’s going into 2015 at age 39. Not like 39 is ancient but it is in terms of athletes. How many quarterbacks have had the pleasure of playing at age 39 or older? 16. Of those 16 just 5 have done it since the year 2000. Of those 5 just 2 started 8+ games in their season of 39+; Warren Moon and Brett Favre. Moon played until 44 and after hitting 39 he had 4 seasons with 8+ starts. He averaged 2787 yards with 19 touchdowns and 12 picks. What about the “ageless” Brett Favre? After hitting 39 he played 3 seasons. Just once did he have more than 3500 yards (he hit over 3500 in 13 of the previous 16 seasons as a starter). He lead the league in picks in 1 of those 3 years, and his 11 touchdown passes in his final year at age 41 were the fewest of his career, while the 22 he tossed at age 39 were the 5th fewest he tossed in his 20 NFL seasons. Between Moon and Favre they had a completion percentage over 65 just once in their 9 combined seasons at age 39+.

PLAYER HIGH YARDS LOW YARDS HIGH TDS LOW TDS HIGH INTS LOW INTS
WARREN MOON 4228 1632 33 7 16 8
BRETT FAVRE 4202 2509 33 11 22 7

Peyton may have a better football I.Q. than Favre and better weapons around him than Moon, but one fact remains: you can’t out think or out perform father time. Peyton’s age has begun to show and odds are, that other than an anomaly of a season, it won’t be getting better from here.
THE ELI SIDE:
Eli is always getting thrown into that “streaming” or “bye week filler” quarterback. Maybe it’s because of his interceptions; he averages 18 picks per season and since becoming the full time starter has had just one season with 10 or fewer throws to opposing jerseys. Maybe it’s because until ODB burst onto the scene last year most people never saw Eli have a true dominate NFL wide out (we’ve seen some WRs have good to great years: Steve Smith, Hakeem Nicks, and Victor Cruz but nothing like what Beckham did in 2014). Maybe it’s because when you hear “Manning” you automatically think of Peyton not, as Rodney Ruxin put is so eloquently on The League, “Eli that goddamn mouth-breathing dummy.” Lots of valid concerns, but as Peyton is trending slightly downward I believe Eli is heading the opposite way.
Let’s explore Eli’s passing. Ben McADoo came in last year as the Giants new offensive coordinator and said it would take a full season until Eli fully grasped the new offense. Everyone at Giants OTAs and mini camp has already been giving Eli rave reviews on how much better he’s already looked compared to last season at this same time. If we break 2014 into halves we can see how much Eli improved as the year progressed.

FIRST 8 GAMES SECOND 8 GAMES
GAMES W/ 3+ TD PASSES 2 3
GAMES W/ MULTIPLE INTS 2 1
250 YARD GAMES 3 7

Manning increased his games with 3+ passing scores and games in which he threw for 250+ yards from half one to half two of 2014, not to mention his games with multiple picks dropped. And while he still had 14 total INTs last year, that was his lowest number since the 2009 season (in which he had 14 as well). Eli has already come out and said his main goal is to decrease his turnovers, so if he can do that this year while still keeping in that 4200 yard and 30TD range, he is in for another top 10 finish in 2015.
We have to mention his yardage and touchdowns as well. Eli’s 4410 passing yards last season were the 2nd most in one season in his 11 year career, he had 4933 in 2011. While his 30 passing scores last season also ranked as 2nd best of his career behind his 31 in 2010.
How about Eli’s best weapon, Odell Beckham Jr.? ODB was beyond out standing last year no one who plays fantasy football can argue that. 2015 he has the opportunity to take another step towards fantasy immortality. ODB posted 1305 yards and 12 scores on 91 catches. He’s just one of two rookie wide outs to ever post 1300+ yards and 10+ TDs in their first season since the AFL/NFL merger, the other was back in 1998 by a guy named Randy Moss (69-1313-17).
Beckham is the type of target any quarterback drools over to have to throw to, and Eli has him. ODB was so dominate in the fantasy world in 2014 let’s see how he compares to other top tier WRs (PPR scoring) from last season as far as fantasy points per game is concerned:

PLAYER GAMES WITH 10 OR FEWER FANTASY POINTS GAMES 11-15 FANTASY POINTS GAMES WITH 30 OR MORE FANTASY POINTS GAMES PLAYED
Antonio Brown 0 2 4 16
Demaryius Thomas 3 0 3 16
Jordy Nelson 3 4 4 16
Dez Bryant 3 4 2 16
Emmanuel Sanders 3 3 1 16
Julio Jones 4 2 3 15
Odell Beckham Jr. 1 2 5 12
Randall Cobb 3 2 1 16
Jeremy Maclin 4 5 2 16
Alshon Jeffery 2 4 1 16

Beckham was the only player besides Antonio Brown to not have multiple games with 10 or fewer fantasy points. ODB was also 2nd best to Demaryius in games of 11-15 fantasy points (just 2), and no WR on the list had more games of 30+ points than ODB. All this while Beckham played just 12 games. Everyone else played a full slate of games, other than Julio who played in 15.
In the end, more points for Beckham means more points for the guy throwing to him … Elisha Nelson Manning.
CONCLUSION:
In the end Eli is on an upswing while Peyton has seen his best years behind him. While Peyton’s current ADP of 4.01 is much lower than we’ve seen him go other than his first season with Denver coming off major neck surgery, you can’t argue with value for his name. However Eli is going more than 5 rounds LATER than big brother Peyton! Eli’s ADP of 9.04 is just too sweet to pass up! You can fill out your entire roster of backs, receivers, and end(s) and a few bench spots depending on the size of your league and still snag Eli who will be worth every 9th round penny you will spend on him. Trust me, pass on Peyton and wait for Eli. It may seem crazy but you will stay a lot more sane if you go with the Manning in Blue and White in 2015.

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