Fantasy Football: Forecasting The Value Of Quarterback Eli Manning

Chris DiLeoCorrespondent IJuly 21, 2010

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - DECEMBER 27:  Eli Manning #10 of the New York Giants against the Carolina Panthers at Giants Stadium on December 27, 2009 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)
Nick Laham/Getty Images

Coming off a season where he posted career bests in passing yards (4,021), touchdown passes (27), and completion percentage (62.3 percent), Eli Manning enters 2010 with many analysts wondering if he can display the consistency to build upon that performance.

Manning has faced criticism ever since being the first overall pick of the 2004 NFL Draft, whether it was his leadership abilities, his decision making, or lapses in his mechanics which led to poor throws at inopportune times.

Although not a fiery leader on the field, Manning proved that his “lead by example” and quiet confidence in the huddle was an effective tactic in motivating his team when he led the Giants to a huge upset victory over the then-undefeated New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLII.

He exhibited great poise in engineering an 83-yard touchdown drive in the fourth quarter to take the lead for good, and his efforts earned him a Super Bowl MVP trophy.

The following season (2008), however, he took a step back and posted career lows (aside from his rookie season where he played only nine games) in passing yards (3,238) and touchdowns (21).

He struggled badly with his accuracy at times, and did not look like the player that led his team to a championship the year before.

In fantasy terms, it was the only season aside from his rookie year where he did not finish as at least a borderline No. 1 quarterback, as he finished the year ranked  No. 15 among players at his position.

Perhaps the biggest reason for Manning’s poor 2008 season was that he lost his go-to receiver, Plaxico Burress, who shot himself in the leg during the week following the Giants’ Week-10 game.

That was Burress’ last game as a member of the Giants, and it clearly had a huge negative impact on Manning’s performance for the remainder of the season.

The Giants organization immediately realized they needed to replace Burress, and they drafted wide receiver Hakeem Nicks in the first round of 2009 NFL Draft.

Nicks’ stellar play as a rookie, along with the development of third-year receiver Steve Smith, second-year receiver Mario Manningham, and tight end Kevin Boss, were very instrumental in Manning having a solid bounce back year in 2009.

Manning enters the upcoming season with all of these young receivers in place and he has the opportunity to continue building chemistry with this talented group during training camp and the preseason.

He also has a new quarterback coach in Mike Sullivan (previously the wide receivers coach) whose focus is helping Manning with his consistency.

Sullivan recently told the NY Daily News :

“My role is to make sure that, from a consistency standpoint, those great performances we've seen him have in the past, that we stay out of those valleys and keep that performance consistently at a higher level."

Manning has proved to be a durable quarterback, and hasn’t missed a game since taking over (roughly) midway through his rookie year in 2004.

He played much of last season with a plantar fascia injury, which is a very painful inflammation of tissue on the bottom of the foot.

Playing through the pain exhibited toughness on his part, and it is a good sign that the injury did not require surgery during the offseason.

With the return of his receiving weapons and the same offensive system, Manning shouldn’t have a problem approaching the passing numbers he set in 2009.

Last season he threw at least one touchdown in 14 games, multiple touchdowns in nine contests, and he posted three 300+ passing yard games.

On the other hand, he never threw for more than three touchdowns in a game, and also had four games with less than 180 yards passing.

There is the risk that he may continue to suffer consistency issues, but for the most part he should continue to give fantasy owners solid but unspectacular production, worthy of being a low-end fantasy No. 1 quarterback.

With his career bests from last season, Manning finished as the  No. 10 ranked fantasy quarterback.

Current mock drafts in standard scoring leagues have him being selected as the No. 11 quarterback taken, with an ADP of 91.

As an eighth-round selection, he does not present anything in terms of value, but he is a solid choice for those who choose to avoid quarterbacks early by stockpiling plenty of depth at running back and wide receiver in the early rounds, while possibly taking an elite tight end as well. 

At the very least, what is gained by having a solid foundation at those positions will make up for what is lost by taking Manning, instead of one of the top-tier quarterbacks.

With Manning in his prime years at age 29, and three very young and talented receivers along with a solid tight end at his disposal, he does have upside in keeper/dynasty leagues.

With improved consistency he may be able to work his way up towards the top-tier quarterbacks over the next several years, but he still has a lot to prove before being considered in that category.

For more in-depth fantasy football analysis visit Fantasy Football Trader.


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