In Manning’s 10 years as a full-season starter, he’s finished as a QB1 six times, coming in 13th twice and 14th once – missing 12th by an average of 12.87 points or 0.8 FPPG. Manning has averaged 3,871 passing yards, 25 touchdowns, 18 interceptions and 271.3 FP over his 10 full seasons. Those numbers jump to 4,189/27/19/289.7 since 2009. They’re even better (4,263/29/17/306.3) if you eliminate his abysmal 2013 campaign, and yes, I know everything counts, but most everyone has an off year at some point. Heck, Eli is the only
quarterback player to start every regular season game for the past decade! That counts for something too.
Let’s look back over those last six seasons though. During that span, only 14 quarterbacks have topped 275 FP at least three times. (I used 275 since it’s a nice looking number just a tad under Manning’s six-year average of 289.7.) That number is split nearly in half (eight) if you take those who have done it five times. Sure, Andrew Luck and Russell Wilson don’t have the years yet, but the “five” speaks to consistency. The “fives” include Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Matt Ryan, Tony Romo, Philip Rivers and Eli. That’s right, Manning is one of eight quarterbacks to provide those numbers at an extreme level of consistency. Even if we include Luck and Wilson, Manning is now one of 10. I’ll still take that every day of the week and twice on Sunday (that would be killer for my Fantasy team). The numbers and elite company prove that Eli Manning is a QB1.
Now let’s focus on 2014 for a minute. Manning finished 12th even though he was adjusting to a new offense under Ben McAdoo, which can be quarterback death*. He was without now superstar Odell Beckham for the first four games, had Rashad Jennings for a less-than-full 11 and had Victor Cruz for less than six. Even so, from Weeks 7-17, Manning had the fourth most passing yards (3,085), eight most touchdowns (19), a 91.6 QB rating and scored the ninth most Fantasy Points for quarterbacks (214.0).
So enough about the past stats, let’s look to the future. Simple analysis would see many project those numbers over 16 games giving you 4,936 yards, 30 TDs and 342 FPs. Sounds crazy? Look at 2011: 4,933/29/339. Not quite as backwoods bananas as you thought. But let’s make those numbers a bit more substantiated. Everyone is projecting OBJ to be a Top 10, many say Top 5 even. Let’s say Cruz is 90 percent of what he was (patella tendon tears are more difficult to return from than ACL tears). As such, he should still be a Top 40 Fantasy receiver… at least, that’s where most project Cruz as of today.
We now go back to the argument I made for Carson Palmer in the preseason, when the consensus had Larry Fitzgerald and Michael Floyd in the Top 20 for receivers. “How can you rank two receivers on the same team in the Top 20 but have its quarterback outside the Top 15, let alone Top 20?” Good point, huh? And where did Palmer rank in a FPPG basis before his injury? Only 10th.
Back to the Giants, even if OBJ only replicates his 2014 numbers, Cruz’s return is better for Eli than another year of Rueben Randle as his No. 2. At worst, the Giants have to replace Cruz, and Randle is the No. 2 again. Well, then 2014 is Manning’s floor. You simply can’t tell me that OBJ is a potential Top 5 receiver, Cruz should return WR3-ish value, Randle is a decent WR5/6 and Larry Donnell is a mid-to-high TE2, but Manning isn’t a QB1. It just doesn’t add up… and yet, Eli’s numbers do.
*Bruce Arians, when talking about Eli and McAdoo, said, “I did this with Carson Palmer last year… you are trying to re-program. I never try to judge a quarterback in a new offense until Week 8.”