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Colts' Manning remains potent fantasy weapon

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Dan Arkush

darkush@pfwmedia.com
Executive editor

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Posted July 29, 2010 @ 12:24 p.m. ET
By Dan Arkush

This is the 23rd in a series of opinionated fantasy football columns that will be posted daily in July and August, providing fantasy owners with some insights to consider as they prepare for their drafts. You can get an in-depth preview of the upcoming fantasy football season with the purchase of the Yahoo! Sports / Pro Football Weekly Fantasy Football Guide 2010, available now in newsstands and bookstores, or online at PFWstore.com.

If you really want to waste some time, you can come up with a fair number of concerns about Peyton Manning heading into his 13th season.

At the end of the day, though, there doesn't figure to be any need to spend a lot of time worrying about the four-time league MVP's fantasy effectiveness moving forward.

Granted, serious discussions about the new deal Colts team owner Jimmy Irsay has promised to give Manning as he enters his contract year have not made much headway this offseason.

But unlike a lot of other fantasy studs such as Titans RB Chris Johnson and Texans WR Andre Johnson, Manning won't let his uncertain contract status get inside his head.

As is always the case, improving his game remains Manning's top priority, even though it's hard to imagine how he could get any better than he already is, coming off a 2009 campaign in which he registered a whopping 4,500 passing yards and 33 touchdowns — the second-highest totals in his career in both categories.

Manning remains a rare bird, obsessed with a commitment to excellence in excess. Instead of working overtime contemplating potential new contract numbers, he and Colts QB coach Frank Reich have been hunkered down in the film room this offseason, analyzing every single snap he took in '09.

Granted, Manning turned 34 in March, thus increasing the risk of a serious injury.

But this is a guy who has missed only one play in his entire career, a guy who has started 192 games in succession (210 counting playoffs), a guy who has gone out of his way to treat his body like a temple, always making sure he eats the right foods and gets enough rest.

Manning did undergo surgery in early March surgery to relieve pain in his neck caused by a pinched nerve, but he insisted he was fully recovered at the team's mandatory minicamp in June.

Granted, there have been some significant changes in the Colts' coaching staff, with Clyde Christensen replacing the venerable Tom Moore as the team's primary play-caller.

But Christensen, formerly the team's WR coach, has been in charge of third-down situations and red-zone plays in the Colts' system for a while now and has developed a working relationship with Manning that couldn't be stronger.

At the end of the day, here's all that you really need to know about Manning as you ponder his fantasy pluses and minuses entering the 2010 campaign: Manning is on record as saying the Colts' projected WR corps featuring Reggie Wayne, Pierre Garcon, Austin Collie and Anthony Gonzalez, who is back in business after going down for the count with a knee injury in Week One last season, is on par with the Colts' 2004 corps that featured Wayne, Marvin Harrison, Brandon Stokley and Troy Walters.

In case you forgot, 2004 was the year Manning managed a career-high 4,557 passing yards and 49 TDs with only 10 interceptions.

Which is why you should forget all those aforementioned concerns.

If anything, there's strong reason to believe Peyton Manning could be on the cusp of perhaps his best fantasy campaign ever.

 

For authoritative coverage and analysis of NFL news, free agency and fantasy football, visit ProFootballWeekly.com.

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