We've been comparing the Manning brothers for years, so why not keep doing it? Peyton has a new team, Eli just won his second Super Bowl and they have the two toughest schedules in the league next season, based on 2011 winning percentages of 2012 opponents.
Before last season, this was not an argument. The elder Manning was the obvious choice of who to draft first. But after Eli's career year and Peyton's hiatus and new team, now is the perfect time to start the debate.
The Case for Peyton
2010 stats: 450-of-679, 4,700 YDS, 33 TD
He's had 11 seasons of 4,000 passing yards and has thrown at least 26 TD in all 13 seasons of his career. That being said, he hadn't missed a game in his career before sitting the entire 2011 season while recovering from multiple neck surgeries. Peyton hasn't been in a situation like this. He hasn't played football in a year and he's on a new team.
The bottom line, however, is that Peyton Manning is Peyton Manning. He still has five months to recover and build a rapport with his new teammates and coaching staff. He has plenty of new weapons in his arsenal including young receivers Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker and newly acquired tight ends Joel Dreesen and former teammate Jacob Tamme.
Additionally, he'll be protected by one of the best offensive lines in football- the only offensive line in the NFL that played the whole season together in 2012, anchored by Pro-Bowl left tackle Ryan Clady.
The one big problem I have with Peyton's fantasy value going into next season is that they have the second-toughest schedule in the NFL. Non-divisional opponents include the Steelers, Ravens, Falcons, Saints, Patriots, Bengals and Texans. All of those teams made the playoffs last season.
I don't think Peyton will be wavered, though. During his press conference he said he could play right now. Teams he worked out for said he looked comfortable and like the Peyton of old. He's seen plenty of tough schedules throughout his career and hasn't had a problem.
Peyton is still a top-10 fantasy quarterback in my book and worthy of a fifth- or sixth-round draft pick.
The Case for Eli
2011 stats: 359-of-589, 4,933 YDS, 29 TD
Eli had a coming-out party of sorts last season en route to a career high in completions and passing yards and the second-most touchdowns of his relatively underachieving career.
The younger Manning has always been in the shadow of older brother Peyton, but now he has one thing that Peyton doesn't: good health (oh, and two Super Bowl victories).
Eli will be getting most of his offense back from last season's Super Bowl campaign, except for the big omission of Super Bowl hero receiver Mario Manningham, who apparently left his heart in San Francisco.
Which Manning would you want on your fantasy team in 2012?
Again, the biggest problem I have with Eli's fantasy value next season is the schedule. The Giants will face off against division opponents Dallas and Philadelphia and non-divisional opponents Pittsburgh, New Orleans, Green Bay, San Francisco, Atlanta, Baltimore and Cincinnati. I think Eli's schedule will affect Eli more than Peyton's schedule will affect Peyton.
Despite last season's numbers, I still don't completely trust Eli. He's shown throughout his career that he is an inconsistent quarterback. He's only thrown for 30-plus touchdowns one time in his career (31 in 2010). He plays in a tough division while Peyton plays in arguably the weakest division in the NFL.
Eli is a top-10 fantasy quarterback in my book too, but I still wouldn't take him ahead of Peyton.