Despite having what some called a ‘down season’ in 2014, Peyton Manning still threw for over 4,700 yards and 39 TDs. In his three years in Denver, Peyton has not missed a game and tossed 131 touchdowns. Since Manning is a player of habit that relies on timing routes with his receivers, it’s good that he already has a strong rapport with two of them in Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders, as the duo combined for 212 receptions, over 3,000 yards and 20 touchdowns last season. While Wes Welker and TE Julius Thomas are gone, 2014 second-round pick Cody Latimer will receive a larger role in his second year. Gary Kubiak’s play calling history shows that he is able to adjust to his team’s talent and strengths and produce fantasy relevant players across the board.
It’s no secret that Manning is in one of his final years in the NFL. The 39-year-old played the final month of last season with a torn right quadriceps, which no doubt affected his downfield passing. He threw for 300 yards just once in the final seven contests, which included the post-season loss to the Colts. In ’14, Peyton threw 15 INTs, his highest total as a Bronco, with 12 of those picks coming during the final nine regular season games. After averaging 41 pass attempts per game the first 10 games, he threw the ball an average of less than 32 times the final six regular season contests, which was a result of both his injury and a resurgence in the Broncos rushing attack. Last season Manning’s completion percentage and average yards per attempts were the lowest during his stint in Denver. With Kubiak, you can expect to see the Broncos to continue to use a balanced attack, which will likely lead to a decline is Peyton’s numbers.
Even through Kubiak likes to run the ball, he still has one of the best weapons in the league with Manning and will definitely utilize him to keep defenses honest. Peyton’s numbers are sure to take a bit of a drop from the 4,700 yards and 39 scores of ’14, but he is still a top-five fantasy QB, especially now that he’s had the offseason to get healthy. Manning will be without his two best offensive linemen from last season, in Orlando Franklin and Ryan Clady, but he is the best in the game at getting rid of the ball and finding WRs on timing routs. Even though quarterbacks under Kubiak have produced just 14 fantasy points per game (a mark that would have ranked 21st in the league in 2014), that stat is misleading as Kubiak has had a QB start more than 11 games in a season in just five of nine years as a play caller. And 23 games have been started by a combination of Sage Rosenfels, T.J. Yates and Case Keenum. A silver lining for Manning owners (not that you really need one), was with Matt Schaub at the helm in ’08-’11 under Kubiak, he was ranked in the top 10 three times in fantasy points per game. Don’t be concerned about Peyton possibly taking parts or all of games off to be ready for the playoffs. While modifications have been made in Manning's practice schedule, that doesn't necessarily mean time off in games. We have him as fourth on our QB list.