Peyton Manning: Projecting Broncos QB's Fantasy Value for Rest of Season

Tim KeeneyContributor IOctober 9, 2012

FOXBORO, MA - OCTOBER 7:   Peyton Manning #18 of the Denver Broncos reacts after his team fumbled in the fourth quarter against the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium on October 7, 2012 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
Jim Rogash/Getty Images

Peyton Manning is partying like it's 2004.

The legendary quarterback may not surpass his best fantasy season ever—4,557 yards and 49 touchdowns in '04—but second best isn't too shabby in this case.

Vewy, vewy, quietly, Manning, who has completed 66 percent of his passes for 1,507 yards, 11 touchdowns and three interceptions through five games, is on pace for 4,822 yards, 35 touchdowns and 10 interceptions.

Those numbers would give him his most yards ever in a season, his second-most touchdowns and his second-lowest total of interceptions, further proving that a year off for neck surgery is obviously always a good thing.

OK, I might have made that last thing up, but the fact that Manning has returned to this rare form after nearly having to end his career is truly a remarkable feat.

If you can find a fantasy owner still nervous about his health, now is the time to pounce, because Manning is currently the most underrated fantasy quarterback with top-three potential in the history of fantasy football. 

Coming into Week 5, Manning ranked seventh among quarterbacks in standard ESPN fantasy leagues. Not only that, but his projected stats would have ranked him sixth during the quarterback frenzy of 2011.

These are jaw-dropping numbers that Manning is putting up, yet, for whatever reason, he's not being talked about much.

Maybe it's the health thing.

Maybe it's the one bad quarter he had against Atlanta. Take away those three first-quarter interceptions from the Week 2 battle against the Falcons, and Manning's stats are even more gaudy.

Maybe it's the fact that he doesn't run the ball.

Maybe it's the fact that everyone is expecting a downhill slide at some point.

Or, you know, maybe everyone is just overlooking a future Hall of Famer having one of his best-ever seasons. 

Not only is Manning in the absolute zone, but he is in the perfect fantasy situation.

The Broncos have thrown the ball nearly 40 times per game (ninth most in the league), they protect the QB very well (ninth in sack percentage), Manning has talented receivers that he is already very comfortable with, and the defense isn't so dominant (19th in the NFL in points allowed) to avoid shootouts. 

Peyton Manning is going to finish the season as a top-three fantasy quarterback, and for whatever reason, the bandwagon is completely empty.

I'm finally jumping on, and I suggest you do the same. Choo-choo!