At some point in February, Peyton Manning will slow down and take stock of the year just past. He'll reflect on big wins, clutch drives, and gaudy stats; he'll pause to remember post-game interviews, team dinners, jokes from the locker room. Maybe he'll mix a cocktail, maybe he'll drink a glass of milk. Maybe he'll call Eli or text Cooper.
And eventually Peyton will stop and ponder the piece of hardware that really matters: the 2013 Yahoo Fantasy Football MVP. It's official, gamers. Send your best suit to the drycleaners. Start the engraving. Get ready for your close up on the red carpet.
We asked all Yahooligans to vote on the Fantasy MVP two weeks back, unveiling the ballot at the end of December. Manning was a runaway winner in every precinct (even Florida). If you take roll from the Top 500 Yahoo Fantasy Football clubs, Manning shows up on an incredible 60.8 rosters. Only Josh Gordon (55.6 percent) was in the neighborhood; the third common link was Jamaal Charles (34.8 percent).
Manning's best fantasy season (55 touchdowns, 5477 passing yards - both NFL records) was remarkably cheap to acquire back in August. Manning's Yahoo ADP finished at 25.3, third at his position (Aaron Rodgers 15.3, Drew Brees 18.9). Ray Rice and Trent Richardson went a round or two ahead of Manning, on average. Steven Jackson had a pricier ADP. Maurice Jones-Drew was a trendier target. It was a mess of a year in the backfield, after all.
The object of the game isn't simply to score, of course - you need to score more than your opponents. It's all about the marginal value. No problem for Peyton. Manning's 55 touchdown passes were 16 ahead of runner-up Brees and 22 scores ahead of No. 3 Andy Dalton. Manning rarely had an off-day, throwing for multiple scores in 15 of 16 starts. He only had two games with multiple interceptions (Week 8, Week 13), but he washed that down with nine touchdown passes.
On Manning's watch, the 2013 Broncos became the biggest fantasy bonanza of all time. All four of Denver's primary receivers scored double-digit touchdowns (Demaryius Thomas 14, Julius Thomas 12, Eric Decker 11, Wes Welker 10) and running back Knowshon Moreno added 13 spikes (ten by ground, three by air). The Broncos finished with 606 points; no other team topped 445. If you wanted a fantasy title in 2013, you set your watch for mountain time.
Past results are no guarantee of future returns, of course. Manning turns 38 in March and no one's sure how much longer he'll play. Heck, he wasn't even No. 1 on our quarterback board for keeper leagues. The NFL is a cruel business, for real teams and fake teams alike. But we'll worry about 2014 a little later.
Offer your final Mile Hile Salute in the comments. We had a time, didn't we?