When we say this report is "totally unconfirmed," what we mean is that A) the Colts have not confirmed anything, B) the player has not confirmed anything, and C) before Sunday night, I had not actually heard of the guy who broke the story. So this thing is just incredibly unconfirmed.
But people are drafting as I write this, and many others are drafting tomorrow, so we need to get the rumor out there: On Sunday night, John Michael Vincent of ESPN 1070 Indianapolis tweeted this...
Been told by multi sources that QB P Manning needs a 2nd neck procedure. Will remain out indefinitely. Called #colts and waiting on response.
Scary stuff. We don't know his sources, obviously. And, again, I don't know John Michael Vincent. My first reaction: Wow, "John Michael Vincent" seems like an awesome name for a metal guitarist. My second: Oh, [EXPLETIVE]! PEYTON MANNING IS NOT ALLOWED ANOTHER SURGERY!
If true, and at this point it's a huge if, then this would clearly kneecap the Colts offense. They can't radically change the playbook, especially if they expect Peyton to return in-season. (Remember, the team just brought him off the PUP list). With Kerry Collins at quarterback, there's no way that team throws the ball 40 times per game, as they did last year. It's not as if Collins is useless, but c'mon.
Update, Sept. 5: The Colts have issued a statement on Manning, and it really does a masterful job of appearing to say a lot, while in fact giving no recovery time-line and no details on treatment options (surgical or non-surgical). The key takeaways from the statement are these: Manning's recovery has slowed, he's developed soreness in his back, he's not practicing, and he'll likely be listed as doubtful for the opener. The team says, "As of now Peyton continues to deal with a complicated neurological recovery, the end date of which is unpredictable."
With Manning shelved, you can't possibly feel as good about Reggie Wayne, Austin Collie or Pierre Garcon. Reggie slides outside my top-10 receivers, Collie into the mid-30s alongside Pierre. And you can't trade these guys right now in fantasy, because you'd be selling low, based on an unverified report from a metal guitarist. That's ridiculous. If Manning is sidelined for an extended period, I'd bump Dallas Clark down the board, below Owen Daniels and Jimmy Graham. It's tempting to say that more rushing attempts could benefit Joseph Addai and Delone Carter, but of course the team context would be much worse. From a fantasy perspective, I'd be willing to trade a few carries for the opportunity to own a back tied to a 28-30 point per game offense.
So, in a nutshell, no one wins if the Colts are Manning-less for any length of time.
Important notes: Paul Wilson of the Indianapolis Star says he hasn't heard "anything concrete" on Manning's status. SI's Peter King tweeted that he's communicated with Colts president Bill Polian, who said, "I don't know anything about that. I honestly don't."
Jim Irsay has been tweeting trippy nonsense for days, which I suppose can be read as Manning-related. But all his gibberish is probably meant as a coded message to time travelers, because he seems like a loon.
And there's this from ESPN's Chris Mortensen:
No 2nd surgery/procedure for Manning is planned, as of now. He's getting multiple opinions still waiting for answers on slow progress.
That doesn't fully contradict Vincent's report — "needs" vs. "planned" — and it doesn't really make me feel much better about Manning.
Here's Mike Freeman, from CBS Sports:
After speaking to a source on the Colts the team didn't believe Manning would get another surgery. There was, however, a serious concern that Manning was not only going to miss the season opener but the potential was for Manning to miss four or five games. Or more.
Bottom line: It might not be surgery for Manning, but it ain't good.
If I were drafting right at this moment, I'd still roll the dice on Peyton, though not near his current rank (QB7). You'd have to target him mid-draft, and only if you can pair him with a legit caddy — think Stafford, Bradford or Kolb. I won't completely dismiss Collins as a potential deep league asset, because the early schedule is friendly (at HOU, vs. CLE). If you've already drafted Manning, you need to resist the temptation to make a panic trade. Let this thing play out. No one's going to give you full value, or close to it.
We'll update this situation when we get real info. Under normal circumstances — that is, when it isn't draft season — we won't post unconfirmed stuff like this. But if you're assembling a team on Sunday or Monday, you need to know the rumors.
Hopefully we can all agree that Jim Tressel is to blame for this mess.
Photo via US Presswire