Waiver Wire: Is Peyton Manning Droppable in Fantasy?

Chances are if you are reading this you have endured a turbulent fantasy season thus far. You likely drafted Peyton Manning anywhere from the third to sixth round depending on how your league it structured and thought you drafted him at a really good value. In the words of Robin Williams in Good Will Hunting, “It’s not your fault.” In theory, Peyton Manning was a good value where he was being drafted but football can be an unpredictable game at times. This article will walk through the numbers behind Manning’s struggles as well as explore some strategic ways for you to move forward. The good news is there is still a lot of football left even if your fantasy team is struggling.

One important note, Manning is not just struggling this season but also struggled towards the end of last season. His slump goes all the way back to November 30th of last season when the Broncos played the Chiefs. According to FFToday, based on standard scoring Manning had just 12.6 points. His fantasy point totals in the final four games of the 2014 regular season: 2.7, 13, 12.4, 8.4. In a playoff loss to the Colts, he had just 12.4 points.

Considering this, the sample size grows from just six games this season to a total of 12 games if we include the last part of 2014. Many thought his late season struggles were due to injury, but as his below average play has continued the bigger question looms as to whether we are witnessing the decline of one of the all-time great quarterbacks.

All this leads us back to the original question: Is Peyton Manning droppable? According to Matthew Berry, ESPN just changed Manning’s status from the undroppable category to droppable this past Friday. While it is logistically possible, the answer largely depends on your situation.

Chances are whoever is on your waiver wire will not have the sort of upside that Manning possesses. The solution for most fantasy owners will be to hang on to Manning but start another quarterback until he shows signs of improvement. You likely have someone on your roster that you could drop to pick up a quarterback like Josh McCown, Tyrod Taylor, Blake Bortles or Colin Kaepernick. These are the type of quarterbacks you will find on your waiver wire if you have not been carrying two quarterbacks already.

Some owners might be in a different situation. Let’s say you drafted Andy Dalton, Carson Palmer or Philip Rivers thinking they would be your backup. These players are obviously outplaying Manning and can be started each week without fear. However, you might be weak at running back or wide receiver and have the opportunity to pick up a player like James Starks or Stefon Diggs. You still most likely have someone you could drop besides Manning but in the rare case you do not, this is a scenario where it would be understandable to drop Manning.

Whatever your situation, I’ll leave you with this cautionary tale before making your decision. Last season, as a frustrated Tom Brady owner I dropped him early in the season when everyone was advising to make this move. According to FFToday, Brady’s fantasy point totals for the first four games of last season: 10.3, 10, 12.7 and 4.4. The last game happened in a blowout loss against the Kansas City Chiefs on Monday Night Football.

It was not just that Brady was putting up low fantasy numbers, but he looked terrible in the process. Manning is failing the eye test just as Brady did. Everyone thought we were witnessing the decline of Tom Brady. In Week 5, he was lights out and turned out to be one of the best fantasy quarterbacks the rest of the season. There were no signs the first four games of the season that the turnaround would happen, but it did. I do not remember who I dropped Brady for. All I remember is that I dropped him and a wise fantasy owner snatched him up.

The comparisons are not exactly equal. Brady’s struggles were in a much smaller sample size while Manning has been struggling since last season. That said, the prudent fantasy owner will start another quarterback, but keep Manning on their bench. There is always the chance that Manning comes out of this week’s bye a changed player. If he does, you will be happy you kept him. The potential reward outweighs the risk of holding onto him for a couple more weeks.