Peyton Manning out indefinitely following another surgery

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According to multiple reports, Peyton Manning underwent another surgical procedure on Thursday, and it sounds like a worst-case scenario (if not something beyond the worst-case scenario). ESPN's Chris Mortensen reports that Manning's latest surgery was cervical fusion, with perhaps a three-month recovery time line. Brutal news for one of the all-time quarterbacks, an elite fantasy commodity.

At this point, you have to assume that Manning won't play a down of football this season, although we don't yet have official word.

Here's the initial statement from the team:

Peyton has undergone this surgery today by having a single level anterior fusion. The surgery was un-eventful.

This procedure is performed regularly throughout the country on persons from all walks of life, including professional football players. Two former Colts players had this same procedure last winter and have fully resumed their careers. Rehabilitation from such surgery is typically an involved process. Therefore, there will be no estimation of a return date at this time. We will keep Peyton on the active roster until we have a clearer picture of his recovery process.

I almost hate to attach fantasy spin to this, because the story seems so grim, and this is a player of such importance to the NFL. We're all hoping Manning recovers fully. The only recent example I can recall of a significant skill player undergoing something like this is Steve Slaton, and he remains in the league. Let's not assume Manning's career is in jeopardy just yet. The news is already ugly enough.

The Colts move forward with 38-year-old Kerry Collins, a monolithic QB learning the offense on the fly. Manning has of course built rapport with his receivers over many years; Collins is far less skilled and has only had a few weeks with the team. Indy's offense will still likely support at least one every-week fantasy receiver, so Reggie Wayne remains in my rest-of-season top-20 (though not the top-10). The Week 1 match-up isn't too shabby, as Houston had the NFL's worst pass defense in 2010 (267.5 pass yards per game). If I could re-do the preseason tight end ranks, Dallas Clark would slip beyond Owen Daniels and Jimmy Graham, into the Gonzalez-Winslow range. Austin Collie and Pierre Garcon would fall into to the high-30s at receiver.

It's fine to say that the Colts should run the ball more frequently with Manning sidelined, but that's not what this offense (or this O-line) is really built to do. They ranked 29th in rushing last season, 32nd the year before, and 31st in '08 — and you should blame the system for those finishes as much as the running backs. Indy can't simply decide to be a great running team, then transform by Sunday. The NFL doesn't work that way.

In short, don't look for a silver lining here, because you won't find one.

Hopefully you drafted another high-end quarterback to pair with Peyton, because we all knew the neck issue was out there. (And if your league's Manning owner doesn't have a Plan B, then this is the right time to offer a deal). For those in need of a one-week spot starter who isn't Kerry Collins, here are a few widely available options, arranged according to my preference:

Mark Sanchez vs. DAL (61 percent)
Kyle Orton vs. OAK (68 percent)
Colt McCoy vs. CIN (38 percent)
Matt Hasselbeck vs. JAC (16 percent)
Alex Smith vs. SEA (10 percent)
Ryan Fitzpatrick at KC (46 percent)
Rex Grossman vs. NYG (5 percent)
Cam Newton at ARI (33 percent)
Jason Campbell at DEN (11 percent).

Good luck, Peyton owner, because you'll need it. And good luck, Mr. Manning. Get right, and get back soon.


Photo via US Presswire

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