Peyton Manning's Fantasy Value Won't Drop After Ryan Clady's Injury

Jesse Reed@@JesseReed78Correspondent ISeptember 20, 2013

DENVER, CO - SEPTEMBER 5: Peyton Manning #18 of the Denver Broncos calls out to his teammates behind center against the Baltimore Ravens in the first half during the game at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on September 5, 2013 in Denver Colorado. (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images)
Dustin Bradford/Getty Images

Peyton Manning will still put up jaw-dropping fantasy football numbers this season, despite the fact that the Denver Broncos lost Ryan Clady for the season. 

Clady was the team's starting left tackle before he was placed on season-ending IR with a foot injury, as noted by Mike Klis of the Denver Post:

DENVER, CO - DECEMBER 23:  Tackle Ryan Clady #78 and guard Zane Beadles #68 of the Denver Broncos block for their quarterback during a game against the Cleveland Browns at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on December 23, 2012 in Denver, Colorado. The B
Dustin Bradford/Getty Images

A three-time Pro Bowler and two-time first-team All-Pro, Clady had started 82 consecutive games since being drafted by the Broncos in 2008. He was a stalwart blind-side protector who anchored the league's second-ranked pass-protecting offensive line last season—a unit that allowed just 21 sacks all year long. 

In his place, the Broncos will trot out veteran Winston Justice or unheralded Chris Clark, who recently signed a two-year extension after making the team as an undrafted free agent in 2010. 

Neither player is anywhere close to being on Clady's level, but it won't matter on Sundays.

This is Manning we're talking about here. 

OAKLAND, CA - DECEMBER 26:  Peyton Manning #18 of the Indianapolis Colts looks on against the Oakland Raiders during an NFL game at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on December  26, 2010 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

Before missing the 2011 season while he recovered from multiple neck surgeries, Manning had led the Indianapolis Colts to nine straight playoff appearances.

He won 10 games with the Colts in 2010, losing to the New York Jets in the Wild Card Round. That season, Manning was sacked just 16 times while he passed for 4,700 yards with 33 touchdowns. 

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - NOVEMBER 6: Peyton Manning of the Indianapolis Colts talks with quarterback Curtis Painter #7 during the game against the Atlanta Falcons at Lucas Oil Stadium on November 6, 2011 in Indianapolis, Indiana. The Falcons defeated the Colts
Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Then, while he rocked a ball cap instead of a helmet on Indy's sideline in 2011, the Colts eked out just two wins and won the "Suck-for-Luck" campaign. 

Without Manning, Indianapolis' roster was exposed. 

The trio of Dan Orlovsky, Curtis Painter and Kerry Collins was sacked 35 times that year and threw just 14 touchdowns—playing with essentially the same players Manning did the year before. 

The Manning factor cannot be overstated.

He's going to find a way to make his offense run like clockwork in Denver this year without Clady—he's done it before and he'll do it again. Manning will get plays off quicker, get his passes out with more efficiency and attack secondaries with more ferocity.

Working with a group of receivers that tops anything he ever had in Indy, the future Hall of Famer will utilize his overwhelming knowledge to outsmart his opponents.

Wes Welker is dangerous in tight quarters, and his quickness will come in handy on hot routes when teams send more than four rushers.

Demaryius Thomas will continue stretching the field vertically on deep routes and horizontally on screens, and Eric Decker will continue making plays on the sidelines.

Tight end Julius Thomas is proving to be a worthy target in the middle of the field, too. In two games this year after catching just one pass in his previous two seasons, Thomas has three touchdowns and will continue seeing the ball come his way.

While most quarterbacks would be thwarted by the loss of a top offensive tackle, Manning will take the loss as a personal challenge to get better. 

Don't get me wrong, losing Clady won't be easy for Manning to overcome. 

But given the way he's done more with less throughout his entire career, nobody should expect Denver's superstar quarterback to suddenly start struggling without his blind-side protector. 

Fantasy owners won't regret drafting Manning this year. He's already put up staggering numbers in two weeks, and with the Oakland Raiders and Philadelphia Eagles on the schedule, he's going to continue doing so. 


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