Peyton Manning dominated the National Football League in 2014, putting up records for passing yardage (5,477) and touchdowns (55) in a single-season. Naturally, this record-breaking campaign went down as the best season ever for a fantasy quarterback.
Using history as our guide, we can safely assume it probably won’t happen again.
As we know, talent changes teams, players get older and defenses adapt. Manning already plays in a division with two improving defenses in the Kansas City Chiefs and San Diego Chargers, and we saw several times last year (specifically the Super Bowl) that Manning and the Denver Broncos high-flying offense is not invincible to pressure.
Looking back, it’s also worth noting that Manning’s seven touchdowns in week one came against a less than typical Baltimore Ravens pass defense. All in all, he threw for a combined 24 touchdowns in games against the Cowboys, Eagles, Redskins, Chargers, Texans and Raiders. We can’t take away from Manning’s amazing season, but it definitely is worth pointing out that those opponents were cakewalk matchups. Dallas had one of the worst coverage units we’ve ever seen at times, while the 2-14 Texans were a downright debacle.
Manning’s incredible 2013 run required heavy dose of talent… and circumstance. The Broncos had a ton of weapons and in hindsight had a pretty favorable schedule. That should change with Denver taking on the NFC West in cross-conference play this season. The loss of Eric Decker and Knowshon Moreno in free agency removes familiar faces from a rhythm-based system.
Another thing to consider is that record seasons aren’t normally repeated. Just take a look back at the last two times someone broke the NFL record for passing touchdowns in a season: Peyton Manning tossed 49 back in 2004 and then threw just 28 the next year. In fact, he never even came remotely close to 40 again until throwing 37 in his first season in Denver. Tom Brady broke Manning’s record with 50 touchdowns in 2007. He played just one game the next season due to a knee injury, but in his next full season he also threw just 28 touchdowns. And like Manning (until last year), he hasn’t reached 40 touchdowns in a season again.
Lastly, value at the quarterback position needs to be considered in fantasy football. For instance, as fantastic as Manning was, Drew Brees still finished just 85 fantasy points behind him with 435. Manning was clearly on another level, but that didn’t mean you needed him to have a winning squad. The value at the position was deep rooted, with a whopping 10 other quarterbacks topping 300 fantasy points — led by Cincinnati’s Andy Dalton with 354. Another three put up 260+ fantasy points.
You probably didn’t win with one of those three guys under 300, but 13 different fantasy quarterbacks (Manning and Brees included) could have led you to a fantasy championship. So, before drafting, consider that quarterback might be the deepest position in fantasy football. And while Manning could easily end the year with the most points at his position again, that doesn’t necessarily mean he’s the guy you need to pick to win your league.
This post comes from Justin Becker of FantasyFootballOverdose.com. You can follow the Fantasy Football Overdose Google+ Page, and for more Fantasy Football Projections visit Fantasy Football Overdose, a fantasy football blog.