This post comes from Justin Becker of FantasyFootballOverdose.com. You can follow him on Twitter @NFLRankings or the Fantasy Football Overdose Google+ Page, and for more NFL Fantasy Football Projections, visit Fantasy Football Overdose.
Peyton Manning is a beast in fantasy football. He was already looking mighty fine coming off of his first season back from neck surgery, and then he tossed seven touchdowns on the defending Super Bowl champs in week one of last year.
Perhaps saying he’s a beast is putting it lightly.
He went on to toss 48 more scores and broke the single-season touchdown and passing yardage records. Oh, and he went to the Super Bowl and easily finished as fantasy football’s number one quarterback (and player in general).
Last year was pretty sweet, to be sure. The only problem is, it was in fact last year and this year brings on different challenges.
To be more specific, Manning’s schedule could be quite the challenge. We’ve already seen him look human in the past, while the Seattle Seahawks made him look flat-out pedestrian in the Super Bowl last year.
Needless to say, it’s entirely likely Manning will have a few off games in 2014. While it’s probably crazy to even consider benching him beyond his bye week, some daring fantasy owners may still want to think about it. If they do, the five following games might be the best weeks to give ol’ Peyton a week off:
Week 3 – @ Seattle Seahawks
There is the clear revenge factor to be had here, but this is still the Seahawks and it’s in their own backyard. If there was ever a game to sit Manning in, this is it. Seattle clearly knows how to rattle him, as they had zero trouble getting to him early and often in the biggest game of the year last season. Unless the Broncos play flawless football, they (along with Manning) could be in for a long day.
Week 6 – @ New York Jets
Here is another tough road game against a pretty stout defense. The Jets had a very good pass defense a year ago, but it’s true that it might not be quite as solid in 2014. Antonio Cromartie is gone and they failed to bring in a true game-changer to go opposite of Dee Milliner. They did beef up at safety and are dangerous just about everywhere else, however.
One more scary element is head coach Rex Ryan. He’s an insane egomaniac that always takes it personal when he goes up against elite players – especially Manning for some reason. He’ll made it his personal goal to shut Manning down as much as possible. You probably don’t need to sit Manning for this one, but expecting elite production might be a reach.
Week 7 – VS. San Francisco 49ers
This might be Denver’s only home game of 2014 where Manning is a risky play. The Niners definitely qualify as a potential “down” game for Manning, as they have one of the most complete defensive units in all of football. It’s also near the middle of the year, so they should have all their guys at full strength (specifically linebacker Navarro Bowman). Their weakness is still their pass defense, but they wisely addressed this during the offseason and should be much better. That doesn’t mean they’ll dominate Manning on his own turf, but it could.
Week 9 – @ New England Patriots
Manning vs. Tom Brady is going to be the storyline here, but the last time these guys battled in the regular season it was more just about Brady leading an insane comeback. Manning was beyond pedestrian, as he deferred to Denver’s rushing attack and completed just 52.8% of his passes. He also threw for just 150 yards. It could be totally different and he could destroy the Pats, but they did add Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner. The game is also in New England.
Week 16 – @ Cincinnati Bengals
Cincy’s weak point actually happens to be their pass defense, however, they did address that area over the course of the off-season. They still stuff the run plenty well and can generate a pass rush. It’s possible they experience a mild drop off with the loss of Michael Johnson in free agency, but they could still pose a threat. This one is on the road, too, so it could be a little more difficult for Manning than you’d usually think. He’s probably still okay to use here, though.