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News-Herald Assistant Sports Editor Kevin Kleps doesn’t just write headlines and stories. He also checks on his fantasy sports teams. A lot. See if the moves and news from the world of sports affect your fantasy teams.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Fantasy football: Peyton Manning's impact

Peyton Manning supplanting Tim Tebow as the Broncos' starting quarterback is the type of story that is made for Twitter.

The jokes. The arguments. The nastiness.

It's all there.

Manning over Tebow is also very interesting from a fantasy perspective, as the QB who, prior to missing all of last season with the Colts, had never thrown for fewer than 3,739 yards and 26 touchdowns in a season is taking over for a QB who was frequently ripped by scouts and analysts, yet was a sneaky-good play in fantasy because of his rushing ability.

Depending on where Tebow lands in a trade, both could be fantasy options in 2012, but it's Manning who will be one of the most intriguing storylines of the season.

From 2006 to 2010, Eli's older, less-clutch brother averaged 4,328 yards and 31 touchdown passes per season.

Coming off four neck surgeries, how much faith will you have that Manning will be able to come anything close to those figures this season?

Until we see how Manning performs in the preseason and read the reports from Denver's training camp, we obviously will have no idea.

Just for fun, let's guess that Manning will be about 75 to 80 percent as good as the old Manning -- the one who had Reggie Wayne, Dallas Clark, Pierce Garcon and Austin Collie as options. In Denver, he'll have Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker and maybe Clark, should the tight end sign with the Broncos, as many expect.

Is 80 percent of the old Peyton better than the likes of Eli Manning, Michael Vick, Ben Roethlisberger and Matt Ryan? For fantasy purposes, maybe.

That would put Manning in the Nos. 8 to 12 range at QB -- a low-end starter in a 10- or 12-team league.

There are three tiers at the top of the fantasy QB ranks. The first has Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, Cam Newton, Tom Brady and Matthew Stafford. The second has Tony Romo, Philip Rivers (assuming San Diego gives him enough weapons to make up for the loss of Vincent Jackson) and possibly the Manning brothers. The third has Vick, Roethlisberger and Ryan.

Manning, even at 80 percent, makes a much more defined impact on Denver's top two receivers -- Thomas and Decker.

With Peyton at QB, both should be fantasy starters in 2012.

Decker was the Bronco most hurt by Tebow's rise to the starting role. The second-year receiver had 45 receptions and eight TDs on the season, but he caught seven passes for 85 yards and zero TDs in the Broncos' last five regular-season games.

Thomas, meanwhile, was fantastic during the same stretch in which Decker disappeared. Thomas had 25 receptions for 448 yards and three TDs in the last five regular-season games, and had 10 catches for 297 yards and a touchdown -- that memorable 80-yard overtime score against the Steelers in the playoffs, a game in which Tebow almost single-handedly blew up Twitter -- in Denver's two postseason games.

If we're assuming Manning will be a productive fantasy QB, we'd have to believe Thomas will be a No. 2 fantasy receiver and Decker a decent No. 3 -- especially in point-per-reception formats in which he could fill the role of the pre-injury Collie of 2010 or 2004 Brandon Stokley.

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April 24, 2012 at 12:46 AM 

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