Thursday’s shootout between fantasy quarterback rivals Peyton Manning and Aaron Rodgers didn’t disappoint. Within the first three minutes each had a touchdown pass to his credit, and by the end of the contest the pair had combined for 409 yards and five scores.
Most would say Rodgers got the better of his counterpart; the Packers dominated the game and Rodgers had the superior stat line. And in a year in which most fantasy experts prefer Rodgers over all others, that was to be expected. But call me crazy, I still like Manning.
He has a more talented and deeper receiving corps than Rodgers and a longer track record of success. I suspect Rodgers’ consensus No. 1 ranking is the product of fantasy owners searching for the next big thing. That said, I acknowledge he was the highest-scoring fantasy quarterback last year and has the look of someone who will remain among the top five for a long time. He just hasn’t been there long enough to warrant passing up Manning or Drew Brees quite yet.
The reason I prefer Manning over all others — and have every year for the last several years — is his consistency. I think it’s the most important factor for fantasy owners to consider when evaluating quarterbacks and tight ends. In Manning’s case, he’s just so darn predictable. Other than at the end of last season when he was forced to sit, Manning’s worst fantasy day was a 347-yard effort against San Francisco — the only game in Weeks 1-15 in which he didn’t throw at least one touchdown. His worst day, in terms of yardage, was in Week 14, when he recorded only 220 yards against Denver. It should be said, though, that he threw four touchdowns that day.
Look, Rodgers may very well outperform Manning again this year. But with Manning, fantasy owners need not worry — not about injury (he’ll reach 200 consecutive starts this year), not about yards (4,000-plus yards in 10 of the last 11 seasons), and not about touchdowns (no fewer than 26 in a season). Rodgers doesn’t have that history to support him yet, which is why in this case I’d much rather have a sure thing than the next best thing.