For years the deal was this: Tom Brady is the winning quarterback. Peyton Manning is the statistical supernatural being. Last year things changed when Manning and his Colts churned out a large second half against the Patriots in the playoffs and went on to win the Super Bowl. This season, it’s anyone’s guess which of these two quarterbacks will hoist the Lombardi Trophy (it’s nearly a given it will be one of them), but some surprising statistics from Brady have turned the fantasy tables.
The impact of acquiring actual receivers in free agency has shown us just what can happen when a good quarterback gets matched with top-of-the-line talent. The posse power of Randy Moss, Wes Welker and Donte’ Stallworth is astounding. Lots of fantasy owners saw this perfect storm percolating, but many others felt Moss would be average and Stallworth would pull his hamstring act again. It goes to show how much a positive addition can make to a pro squad, and to your fantasy team. After taking a statistical look at the two quarterbacks in question so far this season, we’ll see where additions and subtractions throughout the league could impact fantasy owners moving forward this season.
Here is how Brady and Manning match up so far this season:
So, what have we here? Well, the quarterback some fantasy owners spent a first-round pick on in drafts this year is behind in every statistical category that is beneficial, and ahead in two that don’t say much for his standing.
Brady is completing over 70% of his passes this season. Manning attempts exactly one more pass per game than Brady, but has done a lot less with it. After six weeks (Brady does have one more game in the books) Manning is 547 passing yards behind Brady. He has 16 fewer touchdowns (his own brother is once again beating him in the early going – Eli Manning has two more throwing touchdowns than Peyton so far), sports one more interception and has a QB rating that is 34.4 points below Brady’s, though both register above 100 on the year.
I guess this is the difference real receivers make to a standout quarterback. Peyton Manning has played with Marvin Harrison (a future hall of famer) his entire career. He has enjoyed the benefit of having star wideout Reggie Wayne on the other side of the field since 2001, when Brady first made his historic entrance into the starting lineup for New England. In Manning’s record-breaking season of 2004, he had Brandon Stokley as the slot receiver, who many consider one of the best slot receivers to ever play the game.
During that same time frame, Brady has played with no star wideouts, a few decent players, (Troy Brown, Terry Glenn and Deion Branch), some failed experiments (Chad Jackson, Bethel Johnson, J.J. Stokes, Bert Emmanuel), and a ton of journeyman types (Reche Caldwell, David Patten, Jabar Gaffney, Andre Davis, Tim Dwight, David Givens, Dedric Ward, Charles Johnson). Can you imagine what Brady could have been accomplishing with Marvin Harrison and Reggie Wayne behind that always-impressive Colts offensive line? Or what he could now do moving forward if his own receivers stay healthy?
Perhaps Peyton is not as special as he has always been touted to be. Or perhaps his success simply underscores the importance of surrounding talent. With personnel changes occurring in the NFL right now more often than Devin Hester takes it to the house, here is a look at the fallout from some other recent additions and subtractions. Use the information to create trades and position yourself for a playoff push.
Colts – The success that Kenton Keith had while Joseph Addai was out has taken some of the carries away from Addai. It looks suspiciously like the tandem look Indy used to get through the playoffs last year. Keith got the score instead of Addai last week.
Giants – The return of Brandon Jacobs has been huge all around. Jacobs in churning out yardage, and this is helping to get players like Amani Toomer involved. Ironically this may pull down the production of Plaxico Burress some, since he is not needed as the only weapon now.
Rams – The return of Steven Jackson can’t hurt the production of Marc Bulger and Torry Holt. Now while they are down is a good time to get them if you think the line can pull it together.
Bears – The switch to Brian Griese makes Bernard Berrian a more valuable fantasy receiver, and will keep Desmond Clark a tight end that someone in fantasy football should be starting each week.
Chargers – The addition of Chris Chambers means that Phillip Rivers should improve statistically over the second half of the season.
Lions – The full return of Kevin Jones and Calvin Johnson is good for the Lions, and should be beneficial to Jon Kitna soon. But, it is taking away the need to rely on Roy Williams, who suddenly is not very involved.
Saints – The loss of Deuce McAllister is starting to settle in. Reggie Bush is coming on now and will be a good back in the season’s second half, like last year. Trade for him now before he fully realizes his production.
Broncos – The loss of Javon Walker means more for three people. Brandon Marshall and Brandon Stokley will get a lot of work as wideouts, but Tony Scheffler is also getting looks at tight end. All three of these guys had five or more catches for 50 or more yards last week against Pittsburgh, and both Stokley and Scheffler scored.
Dolphins – Ronnie Brown gone for the year, Chris Chambers traded. Perhaps Jesse Chatman and Ted Ginn will pick up the slack. We’ll see.