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Fantasy spin: Peyton Manning

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Recent posts by William Del Pilar

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By William Del Pilar

Peyton Manning is going to the Broncos, who will now look to trade Tim Tebow. The team doesn't want the hoopla of Tebowmania to do anything to set Manning and the Broncos back.

The big question for fantasy owners is: Can the Broncos protect Manning? They can, with a young offensive line that can grow around him. The skill positions should make fantasy owners happy as well.

Manning has two solid weapons to throw to in WRs Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker and has a strong rushing attack led by veteran RB Willis McGahee. However, there also is great sleeper tight end in Julius Thomas who probably will be a well-known name come fantasy draft day provided the team doesn't add ex-Colt Dallas Clark, who might still have some gas in the tank.

The Broncos do lack skill-position depth after the aforementioned names but are not financially strapped with the cap. In addition to Clark, it won't be a surprise to see Denver bring in former Colts who are familiar with Manning and the offense to supplement depth and make the transition easier. Veteran C Jeff Saturday is another former Indianapolis star who is being attached to Denver now that Manning has made his choice.

There are some concerns with Manning, as he has yet to take a hit on his surgically repaired neck. Right now, we just have the word of his doctors, his college coach and Manning himself that he's set to play. Until he takes a hit there are legitimate questions with his health. That's one reason to be wary, as his rehabilitation is still ongoing.

He also has to develop chemistry with new players; something he hasn't done since his early seasons with Indianapolis more than a decade ago. It takes time to build chemistry and become familiar with a playbook. Thomas, for example, is not known as a player who was quick to pick up the offense upon entering the league.

In 2010, Manning completed 450-of-679 passes for 4,700 yards and 33 TDs with 17 interceptions in 16 games — an average of 293.75 yards and 2.1 TDs with 1.1 interceptions. Should you expect those numbers this season? No, and you should be sensible. Despite his potential as a No. 1 fantasy quarterback he's no longer in the class of elite quarterbacks such as Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, Tom Brady and Matthew Stafford.

Fantasy owners overvalue players every season, and this year it's Manning's turn to be overvalued. His average draft position (ADP) will dictate whether to target him or let someone else take the risk. Anything after Round Five in a 12-team league is satisfactory — but who expects him to last that long? Perception is truth and owners always want to draft the sexy pick.

There are too many questions for fantasy owners to assume that Manning's a lock to be a No. 1 fantasy QB in 2012. Remember, he's a 36-year old quarterback with four neck surgeries who hasn't taken a hit in more than a year, is on a new team with a new offense and must familiarize himself with unproven players. Owners will overvalue Manning and take him too early, so my recommendation is to pass on him and let someone else take the risk.

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