Spotlight: Peyton Manning

posted by Jason Wood on Jul 31st

Jason Wood's thoughts

Peyton Manning isn't exactly someone people have many question marks about, so I'm guessing you don't need this spotlight to make the case he's worth owning. The simple fact is Manning has long since established himself as one of the best ever at his position. The only real debate at this juncture is where Manning ranks in that pantheon of all-time greats.

Through 12 seasons, no one has ever been as productive in NFL history:

Passes Completed

Rank First Last From To Comps
1 Peyton Manning 1998 2009 4232
2 Brett Favre 1991 2002 3652
3 Dan Marino* 1983 1994 3604
4 Drew Bledsoe 1993 2004 3449
5 Warren Moon* 1984 1995 3380

Passing Yards

Rank First Last From To Yards
1 Peyton Manning 1998 2009 50128
2 Dan Marino* 1983 1994 45173
3 Brett Favre 1991 2002 42285
4 Warren Moon* 1984 1995 42177
5 Drew Bledsoe 1993 2004 39808

Passing TDs

Rank First Last From To TDs
1 Peyton Manning 1998 2009 366
2 Dan Marino* 1983 1994 328
3 Brett Favre 1991 2002 314
4 Johnny Unitas* 1956 1967 252
5 Warren Moon* 1984 1995 247

Passer Rating

Rank First Last From To Rating
1 Steve Young* 1985 1996 96.2
2 Peyton Manning 1998 2009 95.2
3 Kurt Warner 1998 2009 93.7
4 Joe Montana* 1979 1990 93.4
5 Tom Brady 2000 2009 93.3

The simple truth is Manning need only stay healthy to re-write the record books. As fantasy owners, what those phenomenal 12-year totals tell us is that Manning has been -- year in, year out -- a fantasy star.

Year Comps Atts Yds YPA TDs INTs FPTs FantRank
1998 326 575 3739 6.5 26 28 267 9
1999 331 533 4135 7.8 26 15 326 3
2000 357 571 4413 7.7 33 15 373 3
2001 343 547 4131 7.6 26 23 330 5
2002 392 591 4200 7.1 27 19 334 4
2003 379 566 4267 7.5 29 10 341 2
2004 336 497 4557 9.2 49 10 457 2
2005 305 453 3747 8.3 28 10 312 3
2006 362 557 4397 7.9 31 9 384 1
2007 337 515 4040 7.8 31 14 347 3
2008 371 555 4002 7.2 27 12 319 6
2009 393 571 4500 7.9 33 16 357 5

One of the reasons the Colts are successful is the way they've fostered a sense of continuity throughout Manning's career. Even last year, as Tony Dungy called it a career, assistant-turned-head coach Jim Caldwell maintained what came before. The result? A 14-2 record and a trip to the Super Bowl. This year there's another change to the coaching ranks, as long-time coordinator Tom Moore has retired. When a QB loses the only OC they've ever had, it might usually be cause for concern. But not this time. Clyde Christensen has been an assistant on the staff for a long time and has been actively groomed for the role. Wisely, Christensen won't tweak much. He understands that things are just fine the way they are.

The receiving corps is daunting...for opposing defenses. You've got Reggie Wayne still at his peak, Dallas Clark is one of the league's top tight ends, and then there are a cadre of younger receivers battling for time. Last season the Colts shrugged off Anthony Gonzalez's injury and Pierre Garcon and rookie Austin Collie stepped in without a bump in the road. This year, Gonzalez has designs on reclaiming his role and obviously Garcon and Collie are a year older, with experience under their wings, and ready to contribute.

As if you needed any more reason to draft Manning, consider that this year, he's got one of the according to Clayton Gray's Ultimate Strength of Schedule.


  • Manning is shattering the record books, and is unquestionably one of the very best to ever play the position
  • Manning is as close to a lock to not miss a game as anyone other than Brett Favre. In 12 seasons Manning has yet to miss a game, which is part a testament to his quick release and smart decision-making, and also a tribute to the consistent excellence of his offensive line
  • His cadre of receiving threats is deeper than at any point in his career


  • The Colts are transitioning to a new offensive coordinator, Clyde Christensen. While we don't expect that to be a hurdle, you can never completely discount the loss of the only play-caller Manning has had in his illustrious career
  • Manning will cost you a 2nd round pick in most leagues, so you have to make sure you're comfortable with a draft strategy that allows for a QB early
  • The offensive line has undergone is greater than the sum of its parts. LT Charlie Johnson, for example, doesn't grade out as an above average player at his position and the fact he's starting argues that Colts might be in trouble if they ever suffer a streak of injury issues on the front five; because the depth isn't there

Final thoughts

There's really no case to be made for not drafting Peyton Manning other than if you don't usually want to grab a starting QB early and prefer to find your QBs in the mid rounds. But in terms of true value-based drafting, Manning deserves early consideration yet again this year. I always laugh when people discount someone like Manning because there's no "upside." When your baseline is Top 3 production at your position, you don't NEED upside. Meanwhile, if you really think about it, he has tremendous upside. While you pencil in 4,000 yards and 28+ TDs every year, he could (and already has) push into the 40-50 TD range if things break right.

Quotations from the message board thread

To view the entire Player Spotlight thread (there's a ton of fantastic commentary in there), click

bigmiiiiike said:

Easiest guy in the world to project: 4,200 yards and 30 TDs.

Iwannabeacowboybaby! said:

One of the top 2 greatest regular season QBs in NFL history between him and Dan Marino. He plays 16 games, manages the game like no other and plays big with under 2 mins in a game. His game shows cracks in the playoffs that can't be argued but fortunately for all fantasy owners, the money is already paid out in fantasy leagues before those games even happen.

Raiderfan32904 said:

Yes, it's true that Peyton will give you stellar stats. But I always hated having to plan to make a deal for a lesser QB or draft a good one, knowing what it cost to get Peyton, so I could compete in the FF playoffs. Taking Peyton at his ADP is a risk/reward. Not saying that he won't lead you to the championship. But the heartburn of relying on him when the division is wrapped up by Week 13 is what I'd like to avoid.

I try to avoid him at his ADP, but obviously if he slips, I am all over him and then I try to snag a decent complementary QB in the later rounds.

Routilla said:

If Garcon starts opposite Wayne I like PM for about 5 TDs more than if anyone else starts opposite Wayne. That being said, 37 TDs and 4200 yds.

Peyton Manning projections

Jason Wood37456042653212301
Message board consensus35055041753315301