When words like "neurological" and "damaged nerve" are tossed around, it's easy to see concern. Peyton Manning's offseason surgery hasn't been followed by enough rehab, causing him to miss his first game—and potentially more—in 13 seasons.
The start by Kerry Collins will also end Manning's consecutive games streak at 208. Brett Favre haters are surely aware of the unintended consequence of having to look to someone else to break that streak.
Yes, the Colts are starting someone new at QB for the first time in 13 years, but Colts fans shouldn't be concerned. Yet.
Manning's missing his first game as a professional, but that shouldn't be attributed to age or declining skills. In fact, Manning has somehow managed to average 4,400 yards, 31 TDs and 15 INTs over the last three seasons, alongside a 95.6 passer rating.
Those numbers certainly don't seem to indicate a quarterback with skills on the decline.
If anything, the biggest reason for Manning's setback in rehab had more to do with the lockout than his body breaking down. After getting surgery on his neck in May, he wasn't allowed to communicate with Colts team doctors due to the lockout.
Once the lockout was over, Manning was on his way, slated to start the first game of the season and keep his streak intact, but sadly, that's no longer the case.
Last season (in what could be considered a "bad" season for the Colts), the team still finished 10-6. Manning finished with 4,700 yards, 33 TDs and 17 INTs, more or less in line with his average (slightly above average actually).
The obviously grander implications of Manning sitting out have to do with fantasy football. For as much as Arian Foster complains about "sick" people only caring about his health for fantasy purposes (and then saying he himself has to do well because he's on his mom's team), players of Manning's caliber missing time is a big deal.
By now, just about everyone's had their drafts. For the most part, Manning's been going in the six through eight slots, after Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, Tom Brady, Philip Rivers and Michael Vick. Manning owners essentially need to have a backup that's a starter, as it seems Manning will miss more than just the first game.
Quality backups to target should be Matthew Stafford or Sam Bradford, both of whom will definitely be great in place of Manning. The problem with them, though, is that they're going earlier than last year and potentially as starters. Joe Flacco might be another one that you can snag in the meantime.
The waiver wire for Manning owners is probably pretty thin, and you might be playing the matchups for a few weeks. Ryan Fitzpatrick (against KC) and Colt McCoy (against CIN) should be available in leagues and have promising Week 1 matchups. And there's always Sexy Rexy.
Assuming Manning's rehab continues, he should be fine. He's 35 years old and still has some great years left ahead of him. There's really no cause of any "end of an era" talk just yet among Colts fans, but fantasy owners with Manning on their rosters have a reason to believe the sky just might be falling.
And maybe Manning should lay off the police work.
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