What jersey will Peyton Manning be wearing next season?
This is a very good question and if we are to believe Mr. Manning, we should know by the end of the coming week. Right now it appears to be a three-horse race between Miami, Denver and Arizona.
If he ends up in Miami, Manning vs. Brady two times a year will be fun, although Iíll warn you right now, the media hype leading up to each game will be overblown and likely annoying. In Miami, Manning has a legit No. 1 wide receiver in Brandon Marshall and suddenly guys like Anthony Fasano, Davone Bess, and Brian Hartline would become more fantasy relevant. I am a little curious as to why the Dolphins have not viewed Matt Moore as an option for next season. While a 16:9 TD:Int ratio is not anything great, his 7.2 YPA suggests there is some upside there. The latest reports say that Miami is behind Denver and Arizona, which could fuel the rumors of a Matt Flynn arrival on South Beach.
Manning has been visiting with John Elway over the weekend and is probably the only player the Broncos could bring in who would allow Broncos fans to comfortably jump off the Tim Tebow bandwagon. Denver would be an interesting fit in that John Fox has historically tailored his offense to be a run-first type of unit. Demaryius Thomas, a Georgia Tech alum -- like that Calvin Johnson fellow -- showed at the end of the season and during the playoffs that heís the No. 1 wide receiver the Broncos drafted to replace Brandon Marshall. Eddie Royal could turn into a beast (a la Austin Collie), especially in PPR formats. Eric Decker turned in a solid rookie campaign and would get top-25 WR consideration if Manning joins the team. The fan base in Denver could also be sold on the idea that Tebow would sit behind Manning for a few years and learn from the veteran. Given that no team finished over .500 in the AFC West, Denver would instantly become the division favorite if Manning were to land there. Not putting all of their eggs in one basket, Elway had dinner with Oklahoma State QB Brandon Weeden before Manning arrived for his visit.
Arizona has a little bit of a conundrum in that Kevin Kolb is due a $7 million bonus on March 17. Furthermore, even if he is cut, Kolb will count for $8 million against the cap, so keeping him and paying him the roster bonus and salary isnít out of the question (a total of $10 million). Landing Manning would make the Cardinals competitive in the division but probably not be enough to overtake the 49ers. If Manning goes to the desert and proves to be the same player weíve come to know, would Larry Fitzgerald become the top wide receiver in fantasy? He would be on my board. Iíd also guess that wherever Manning ends up, you can pencil in either Pierre Garcon or Reggie Wayne on the same team.
Somewhat lost in all of the Manning news was that Oklahoma State ran their Pro Day on Friday and Justin Blackmon was clocked in the 4.41-4.50 range for his two attempts at the forty-yard dash. It should be noted that Oklahoma State is known for having a fast track, so his forty time may have been a tad faster. Regardless, Blackmon to me is someone who could pay handsome dividends if he ends up with the right team and quarterback. Go back to last season. How much did Julio Jones (when healthy) and A.G. Green reward their fantasy owners, given that they were at best mid-round picks? Not that this season wasnít brilliant for Blackmon (1,522 receiving yards, 18 TDs) but itís even wilder to look at his sophomore year when he had 1,782 receiving yards and 20 TDs. During that sophomore season, he eclipsed 100 receiving yards in every game and caught at least one touchdown in that span. For argumentís sake, letís say Blackmon goes to the Rams with the sixth overall pick, giving Sam Bradford a legitimate wide receiver. Would it be too aggressive to put Blackmon in the top-15 among fantasy wide receivers for next season? Keep in mind A.G. Green finished 15th among wide receivers in receiving yards and four rookie wide receivers last season had at least seven touchdowns. So watching Blackmon explode next season shouldnít come as a surprise.
The Redskins are going to give up how much for the second pick in this yearís draft? This was a totally defensible move in my book. Obviously Washington is enamored with Robert Griffin III and from what Iíve seen, rightfully so. He not only measured bigger than some thought at the Combine, but ran a 4.41 forty-yard dash. If your team had no decent options at quarterback (and hasnít for years), would you deal three first round picks and a second for someone like Cam Newton? Thatís what the Redskins hope theyíll have in Griffin and I think the chances are better than not that theyíll be happy with their decision. The Redskins also have plenty of cap space to get someone for Griffin to throw to outside of Fred Davis and Santana Moss. Considering the Redskins are planning on winning immediately, those first round picks arenít guaranteed to be top-10 picks and typically thereís a decent drop-off between the top-half of the first round and second half. If Griffin lives up to the lofty expectations, the NFC East will be the toughest division in football.
As a Bills fan I couldnít be happier to see the Jets sign Mark Sanchez to a three-year extension. Since coming into the league, his YPA has regressed each season, going from 6.7 to 6.5 to 6.4. His 18 interceptions were the fifth-worst in the league and right now thereís little evidence that he will be anything better than a league-average quarterback.
Do you buy a comeback by Randy Moss? The 35-year-old wide receiver reportedly had an outstanding workout for the Saints, who could potentially lose Marques Colston and Robert Meachem to free agency. While 35 is not exactly ancient, itís hard for me to believe that Moss can still come back and be even 75 percent of the player he was. That being said, with his size he could fill the role of a red zone target for some team, making him an interesting end-game selection in touchdown-only leagues.
One of the more interesting wide receiver free agents to keep an eye on is Laurent Robinson. Would it surprise you that Robinson finished behind only Calvin Johnson and Jordy Nelson among wide receivers with 11 touchdowns for the season? This is from a guy who started as the fourth receiving option for the Cowboys, missed the first two games of the season and only had 15 targets over the final four games of the season. If Robinson ends up on a team as the No. 2 wide receiver with a competent quarterback, he should be viewed as a top-25 wide receiver come draft day.