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Andy Behrens

Spin Doctors: Tom Brady vs. Peyton Manning

Andy Behrens
Roto Arcade

Between them, Brady and Manning have 13 Pro Bowl selections, four regular season MVP awards and three Super Bowl MVPs. They've also delivered two of the all-time fantasy seasons (Brady in '07, Manning in '04). These guys both rank among the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history. Today, however, we're focused only on 2009 fantasy value. Brandon Funston and Andy Behrens debate the merits of two elite QBs who are separated by very little in terms of average draft position (15.7 for Brady, 16.2 for Manning). Let's play the feud...

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Behrens says: Tom Brady(notes) authored the greatest fantasy season in history just two years ago (4806 yards, 50 TDs), and all of the essential pieces of his offense remain in place. Randy Moss(notes) and Wes Welker(notes) lead the AFC's best receiving corps, and the New England O-line returns intact. If veterans Joey Galloway(notes) and Fred Taylor(notes) have anything left to offer, there's a chance that the Patriots' attack could actually improve.

But even if the New England offense doesn't get better, it's worth noting that it was more productive than Indy's last year. Even with Matt Cassel(notes) at the controls and learning on the job, the Patriots still scored more points per game than the Colts (25.6 to 23.6) and they gained more yards (365.4 to 335.5). Now that Brady is back, expect New England to keep the accelerator firmly pressed to the floor. They're going to eviscerate opponents again, not merely beat them.

Are you worried about the knee? Well, the next negative offseason report on Brady will be the first. You're concerned about the departure of Josh McDaniels? C'mon. The Pats have survived coordinator losses before.

Brady's fantasy ceiling this season is simply much higher than Manning's. In fact, Peyton was just the No. 6 overall fantasy QB in Yahoo! leagues in 2008, and he finished only 10 total points ahead of Cassel. If you're the sort of fantasy owner who routinely gets a brand-name QB in Round 1 or 2, then Brady is the guy to target.

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Funston says Tom Brady is the reigning single-season TD pass champion. But it’s a mistake to think he can keep treating the league like his own personal candy store. The league adjusts, it always does. Just like when Peyton Manning(notes) dropped from 49 TD passes in ’04 to 28 in ’05. Or like when Dan Marino dropped from 48 TD passes in ’84 to 30 in ’85. Or when LaDainian Tomlinson(notes) dropped from 28 rush TDs in ’06 to 15 in ’07 … you get the idea.

The argument for Manning over Brady is simple: consistency. Manning guarantees you 16 games at a top tier fantasy production level for his position. Take a look at where Manning has finished among QBs in terms of fantasy points from 2000 to present:

2000: 3rd; 2001: 3rd; 2002: 3rd; 2003: 2nd; 2004: 2nd; 2005: 3rd; 2006: 1st; 2007: 4th; 2008: 6th

During that same span, Brady has finished in the top six just twice. But, that’s because he didn’t have Randy Moss to work with the whole time, you say. Well, Moss is two years older (32) than the last time he caught a ball from Brady in a game. And Brady is coming off a severe ACL injury. It’s just wrong to let your opinion of Brady’s value be formed entirely on the Sentimental Street of 2007.

I’m not picking Manning because I believe he’s going to be the top quarterback. I’m drafting him because I know he's a top tier lock, and assurances like that are few and far between in fantasy football.

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