Three and out: Owners worried about Manning

Manning to miss entire preseason?: One of the developing stories in fantasy football surrounds the status of Peyton Manning, who looks destined to miss all of the Colts’ preseason games as he continues to recover from neck surgery. While no one seems to know when he will be back on the field, at least two reports suggest he’ll be under center in Week 1. Colts C Jeff Saturday recently told Peter King of SI.com that Manning won’t miss the start of the season. What’s more, former Colts coach Tony Dungy said at halftime of last night’s Sunday Night Football that he expects the stud quarterback to play in Week 1 “unless he’s dead.” Remember, Manning has never missed a start in his NFL career. Ever. So if he falls into the third round or beyond in your fantasy draft, I’d advise pouncing on him like Norm Peterson pounces on a beer at Cheers. Even in a worst-case scenario where he misses a game or two, there’s still plenty of depth at the quarterback position to cover Manning for a short period.

Chris Johnson’s holdout a concern: CJ2K would be the first overall pick in a lot of fantasy drafts if he wasn’t in the middle of a training camp holdout. Now that he’s left Nashville, much to the disappointment of Titans owner Bud Adams, Johnson’s draft stock is starting to suffer. I’ve already seen it first hand, as Johnson fell to the No. 7 overall pick in a recent 14-team SiriusXM experts league. The reason for the decline is twofold. First, there’s a chance we could have an Emmitt Smith circa 1993 situation on our hands (he held out into the first two weeks of that season). Second, a number of past players (Steven Jackson, Larry Johnson, Darrelle Revis to name a few) who have held out of camp end up getting injured. While I can see Johnson falling out of the top five picks due to concern over the holdout, I’d still be hard pressed not to take him if he fell to the middle of Round 1. In that case, however, it’s imperative to take Javon Ringer late as insurance.

Ryan Williams done for the season: The curse of the second-round running back continued in Week 2 of the preseason, as Williams was lost for the year due to a knee injury. Since 2010, we’ve seen second rounders Ben Tate, Montario Hardesty, Mikel Leshoure and now Williams all suffer serious ailments. The most recent one has a profound impact in fantasy football, as Williams was the lone threat to Beanie Wells’ carries in 2011. With no significant competition for backfield touches, Wells should now be considered a borderline No. 2 or 3 fantasy back somewhere in the middle rounds. While he’s no lock to be a superstar — Wells has had injury issues of his own — it’s hard to look past the fact that he’ll be a featured back for coach Ken Whisenhunt. If you’ve played fantasy football in recent years, you know that is hard to find these days. The 21st-ranked running back on NFL.com, Wells will never be in a better position to succeed — both on the field and in fantasy land.

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