Better 2009 NFL Quarterback: Tom Brady Or Peyton Manning?

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Better 2009 NFL Quarterback: Tom Brady Or Peyton Manning?
(Photo by Travis Lindquist/Getty Images)

Picture this: It's middle of the first round in your fantasy draft. You're up next. The guy in front of you just wasted his pick on Brian Westbrook for the fourth year in a row. Now you're up, and wanted a quarterback in the first round.

Surprisingly, Drew Brees is gone, but look who's on the board: Tom Brady and Peyton Manning. Who do you go for? And why?

It's no denying that both quarterbacks year-in and year-out dominate fantasy leagues with an array of touchdown passes. Despite Brady not playing last season after his injury, and Drew Brees lighting up scoreboards, Manning and Brady still are the NFL's most consistent scoring machines in the NFL. But who's better?

Let's start with Brady. When he went down in week one against the Chiefs, millions of fans and fantasy team owners alike gasped with horror that the NFL's golden boy would be gone for the season. But this season he returns with virtually the same arsenal he had in his record-setting 50 touchdown season in 2007 (minus Jabar Gaffney).

Randy Moss and Wes Welker return, which should make Brady's return nice and easy as those were his two biggest targets in 2007. He'll also have a beefed up offensive line that should keep his streak alive of least-sacked quarterback in the NFL.

As for Manning, he comes into this season without Head Coach Tony Dungy. But don't let that scare you, if there's any one player in the NFL that may know his playbook better than his head coach, it's going to be Peyton Manning.

Manning will also be without Marvin Harrison for the first time in his career, ending the Manning-Harrison touchdown combination that compiled 114 touchdowns between the two, an all-time NFL record.

However, he still has Reggie Wayne who, as of late, is Manning's main target in the end zone. Manning will also have wide receiver Anthony Gonzalez, who caught four touchdown passes last season, and tight end Dallas Clark who racked up 848 yards and six touchdowns last year.

Despite their proven excellence on the gridiron, both quarterbacks are going to have rough transitions into the 2009 season. Brady will be coming off knee surgery, and throughout the history of the NFL, players coming off surgery have a hard time re-adjusting.

Just look at Brady's first two preseason starts when he threw flat-footed and was afraid to step up in the pocket. It seems as if he may be afraid of re-injuring his knee, which could result in us seeing a much more conservative Tom Brady.

Harrison's absence could also be a huge difference for Manning in 2009 as Harrison caught five touchdowns for 636 yards last year. But the biggest difference for Manning will be the new head coach. Anytime a team gets a new coach, regardless of how well they know the playbook, it's a whole new period of learning.

In the end, I will have to say that Brady is the better pick for 2009. He will adjust and become a bigger presence in the pocket, and still find Moss and Welker deep down field for big aerial strikes. Manning will also have a great season, but nothing like what we're used to seeing without Marvin Harrison.

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