Peyton Manning: Projecting Denver Broncos QB's Fantasy Numbers vs. Texans

Jessica Marie@ItsMsJisnerCorrespondent IISeptember 23, 2012

ATLANTA, GA - SEPTEMBER 17:  Quarterback Peyton Manning #18 of the Denver Broncos looks on against the Atlanta Falcons during a game at the Georgia Dome on September 17, 2012 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

If Peyton Manning is your fantasy quarterback, Sunday could go either way for you.

Judging by Manning's track record against the Houston Texans, it could be an excellent day. Judging by his most recent performance, it could be anything but.  

For a third straight week, Manning and the Denver Broncos are facing one of the league's stronger defensive units—unless the first two weeks of the season have given us an unrealistic perspective of how good the Texans' D is in 2012. 

But perhaps Manning can do to this defense what he did to the Pittsburgh Steelers.

After a sterling Week 1 performance against Pittsburgh—253 yards, two touchdowns, 129.2 passer rating—Manning took a step back in Week 2 against the Falcons on Monday Night Football. He threw three picks and just one touchdown, and all three of those interceptions came in the first half.

Needless to say, if he gets through the first frame on Sunday without another total meltdown, things will be looking up. 

As it stands, though, the Texans have the league's most formidable defense, having allowed an average of 196.0 yards per game (124.0 in the air) and just 17 points over the first two weeks.

Manning, alternately, has averaged a decent enough 229 yards per game with three total touchdowns and three interceptions.

One thing you have to consider, though: the caliber of Houston's opponents thus far, which hasn't been stellar. The Texans faced Miami and Week 1—with their rookie QB making his first start—and Jacksonville in Week 2. Beating up on Ryan Tannehill and Blaine Gabbert is no way for a defense to prove itself. Currently, those offenses rank 12th and dead last in the league, respectively.

There's also the fact that Manning's history against the Texans is very, very good—excellent news for his fantasy owners. According to the Houston Chronicle's Randy Harvey, Manning has faced Houston 18 times in his career and owns a 16-2 mark, and he's never been beaten by the Texans on his home turf. 

Manning is playing with a new team now, so his history against the Texans as a member of the Indianapolis Colts isn't as relevant as it once was—but as someone who spent the first 13 years of his career in the AFC South, it's safe to say that he has a pretty good level of familiarity with this opponent.

And all indications are he's going to do just fine on Sunday, regardless of what last Monday's disaster told us.

Projection: 305 yards, two touchdowns