Wait for word before releasing Peyton Manning

 

Peyton Manning has been one of the greatest quarterbacks in fantasy football for the better part of the last 13 seasons. In 2010, he threw for a career-best 4,700 yards and finished fourth in points at his position.

Oh, how quickly things change …

Manning had neck surgery on Thursday, the third procedure on his neck in the last 19 months. While he won’t immediately be placed on injured reserve — the Colts want to keep him active until a timetable is established for his return – it doesn’t look like he will be back anytime soon.

This news makes Manning little more than a late-round flier in deeper fantasy leagues, especially those that have roster spots set aside for injured players. If you’ve already held your draft and Manning is on your roster, wait for word on his timetable before releasing him (if injured spots aren’t available).

Veteran Kerry Collins is the Colts’ starting quarterback in Manning’s absence. Sure, he’s an upgrade over Curtis Painter, but Collins’ presence under center is a significant blow to the fantasy value of every member of the offense not named Joseph Addai or Dallas Clark. And even those players will lose some of their luster, as Manning is in a different fantasy stratosphere than Collins.

Reggie Wayne is still a valuable fantasy starter, but he’s closer to a No. 2 wideout without Manning. The stock of Austin Collie and Pierre Garcon take a bigger hit, as it can be argued that Manning’s presence was a huge factor in their individual fantasy appeal. As for Collins, he’s no more than a low-end No. 2 and matchup-based starter across the board.

If you need a signal-caller in Week 1, take a long look at Kyle Orton, Rex Grossman and Mark Sanchez. None are owned in more than 75 percent of NFL.com leagues.

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