I've always had a big mouth. I'll take a moment to allow you to compose yourself as the shock of that statement lingers in the air. But I've always had a big mouth and it has often landed me in some precarious predicaments. Which is putting it rather mildly. I mean, I just got my first promotion in 20 years the other day so who can argue with results? But I can't help myself. I find it nearly impossible to not point out the bull (expletive) people try to pass off as fact. I just can't do it.
I've tried to be better in recent years. I've hidden under my hat (literally, not figuratively) during numerous dinner conversations, even though I could feel my blood boil. But eventually the slow simmer, which I've tried to dull with a couple of beers, finally comes to the surface and I just can't help myself.
I just can't.
And while I've done pretty well at not discussing religion or politics in polite society, I just can't help myself when it comes to Peyton Manning. Now a lot of you might know me as one of the foremost Peyton Manning truthers in the world. I've long gone against the acceptable narrative the national media has cultivated about Manning to point out the fact he just isn't a very good playoff quarterback. He's the best regular season quarterback I might have seen in my lifetime, but he turns into Rex Grossman in the playoffs. (And yes, I realize the irony of Manning winning his lone Super Bowl against Grossman. A game when Manning underperformed but was still handed the Super Bowl MVP award because sports writers like to double-down on their factually incorrect narratives.)
A quick aside, I do enjoy some validation from the former players who roam the hallways here at NFL Media who have endorsed my theory. And a few who played in the AFC West have even doubled-down on it.
But that's not the point. The point is, I've been rather correct in my assessment of Manning. I feel like one of the few who has a truly objective look at his career. Even if the fans have been slow to embrace my facts. I remember in the days leading up to Super Bowl 48, I was one of the very few people who predicted Manning would get swallowed up by the Seahawks defense and the game would turn into one of the 1980s-style blowouts.
I was skewered harder than the second season of "True Detective" (which was freaking brilliant, but because it wasn't spoon-fed to most people, derided by critics and fans alike) on social media. But eventually the truth won out. (And my buddy took great delight in retweeting every mean tweet sent to me by Manning fan boys as we took the train back from MetLife Stadium that night in the glow of the Seahawks blowout. The second Super Bowl blowout of Manning's career. Yes, I call losing by 14 a blowout.)
Let me point this out, too. I'm not saying Bridgewater is going to be a better draft value. Or that I'd rather have him in Round 12, instead of Manning in Round 4. I hate that (expletive). I'm going to make a stand. Straight up. Teddy Bridgewater will have more fantasy points than Peyton Manning this year. No bull (expletive) qualifiers or anything.
This, of course, was something I had to say on one of the most recent NFL Fantasy Live podcasts. The rest of the cast was kind of shocked (which is more shocking because come on, I am the Manning truther). There was a mixed reaction to this on Twitter, too. One fan boy got his feelings hurt, which I can understand. But I have to stand by the facts in this instance.
For starters, Teddy Ballgame outscored Manning in fantasy points from Week 13 through Week 17. He almost nearly outscored Manning in the playoffs and Teddy wasn't even playing.
The last time Manning outscored Bridgewater was Week 12 and even then, Teddy scored close to 20 points. So it wasn't like he was awful. (I know because I rocked Teddy in DFS for the last half of the season.)
I know a lot of people like to point out that Manning was injured at the end of last season. But I think way too much of Manning to let injuries be an excuse. I know he would never want to go to the injury card, so I won't in this instance, either. I have to respect his integrity.
Let me brass tacks this for you. This season reminds me a lot of the final season of Brett Favre. He was fine in his second-to-last year when he led the Vikings to the NFC Championship Game. He pushed it one last time and it didn't end well. Manning has trended down over the past two years. He dropped from 55 touchdown passes to 39. A drop of 16. If this trend continues, he will be down to 25 this year. Which is probably pretty accurate. I know, none of this can trump the defense of, "But come on, it's Peyton Manning _(o)_/!!!!!" But life goes on and players get old.
I remember when Kerry Collins suffered a fluke injury at the end of his career. Deion Sanders went on NFL Network and said something to the effect of, 'Hey, I'm 40, fluke injuries happen.' So if you want to risk your QB1 spot on a quarterback who has had numerous injury concerns over the past few years, that's all you. I mean, you can like Peyton and still recognize the fact his best football is behind him. It doesn't make you (or me) a bad person. Just a realist.
I'd rather go with the guy who has more upside. And if you tweet me (expletive) things, realize my buddy Matt is going to retweet them back to you at the end of the year.
How about some more sleepers as the regular season approaches? Here you go:
I'm not sure where this Tom Brady business is going to end. I hope justice prevails and Brady doesn't miss a single minute of the regular season. But if his suspension stands, I love the idea to draft Bradford to man the ship for the first four weeks of the season. Well, I'd rather have Bridgewater, but I fear I that's water under the bridge at this point. (Yep, I hate myself.)
Most view him as a third-down back. But in this high-percentage passing offense, Vereen could be a huge value. He's like a third-down back extraordinaire and he could end up as a great flex option for you this year. He's going to catch a ton of passes. But watch him get some run opportunities, too.
Pretty much a clone of Jeremy Maclin. I have to imagine Chip Kelly has an extensive knowledge of Agholor, and from the look of old scouting reports, Oregon recruited him out of high school. I trust Kelly in situations like this.
Jay Cutler loves this guy. As our Matt "Money" Smith pointed out, Cutler hasn't had a situation like this in Chicago in some time. So Royal is for sure a PPR master. He's going to be an excellent WR3 choice for a lot of teams. He might even jump into the flex conversation as he gains some consistency.
He's the receiver who took the call when Jordy went down. He's going to be the receiver targeted in the late rounds, the spot where Devante Adams had been drafted previously. He's got some skills, so he's definitely worth a look. Here's the deal, I'd rather take a chance on a guy like Janis late, over Curtain Jerker McGee who you know is never going to regain his old form.
Honestly, I hadn't given him a lot of thought. But Money threw out his name during NFL Fantasy Live on Monday. And it's sound reasoning. He's been good in training camp. And he could be a steal for you in much deeper leagues.
Tight ends have traditionally thrived under Norv Turner, so you have to like the upside for Rudolph. I'm not saying you pass on Gronk or Graham because you want to snag him later. But if you've landed in the position where you have to gamble on a tight end, I take his upside.
I wouldn't go crazy and project him as the benefactor of Jordy Nelson being out for the season. But there is a small trickle down effect at work here that could make him a valuable commodity a little later on.
Additional 2015 fantasy football sleeper lists:
*-- Adam Rank gives out fantasy advice and likes to make pithy observations on the WWE, Star Wars and comic books on Twitter (you know, the things that made him popular in high school) on Twitter @adamrank. And he's always fishing for RTs from @midnight so just be forewarned. *