The always underrated Eli Manning

I don’t know what it is about Eli Manning that turns fantasy owners off, but every year it seems like his ADP is a lot higher than it should be. Currently, he’s going 8.10 in Draftmaster drafts and is the 13th QB off the board. This is a guy who has thrown for 4,000+ yards in each of the last two seasons and has 58 TDs over that same span. He was QB7 last year and QB10 the year before.

So what gives?

I think this is a case of fantasy owners not liking Eli’s personality, body language, looks, game…whatever…so much so that they discount his abilities as a fantasy QB.

Over the past three seasons, he has averaged the 12th most fantasy points (17.7) of QBs who have started at least 30 games. If we look at just the last two years, he is 8th in fantasy points per game (19.0). Plus, he hasn’t missed a start in six years, so you know you can probably count on him being healthy enough to play.

One thing working against him is his lack of upside. Last season was the first time that he cracked the 30-TD milestone. Otherwise, he has oscillated in the 21 to 27 range for his entire career. I suppose fantasy owners see the upside of Matthew Stafford, Josh Freeman or even Matt Ryan (who now has Julio Jones to throw to) and they like the idea of having a player with top 5 potential instead of Eli, who is pretty much guaranteed to finish in the 7-12 range.

The great thing for savvy fantasy owners is that since Manning is currently the 13th QB off the board, he’s often available a round or two longer since there is just one team still without a QB at that point in the draft. There aren’t too many fantasy owners who want to burn two picks in the first eight (or nine) rounds on the QB position. They usually want to build depth at RB or WR or take one of the last starter-quality TEs that remain. So the #11-#14 QBs are usually good value in the 8th-10th rounds.

Another plus for Eli is his projected strength of schedule. I rank the Giants’ passing schedule fourth behind the Dolphins, Cowboys and Eagles (though it should be noted that his W16 matchup against the Jets is not as good as the numbers say due to Darrelle Revis’ absence early in the 2010 season).

As I start to participate in mock drafts, I have found myself approaching the QB position this way:

1. Wait until the 6th round and draft Ben Roethlisberger, if available.
This is a topic for another post, but I am very high on Big Ben this year, so if he’s there in the 6th after I’ve drafted two RBs, two WRs and a very good TE, then I’ll snatch him up. He has been going 6.08, so it is far from a sure thing. In my last two mocks, I drafted in the middle of the 6th and he was already gone both times.

2. If Big Ben is gone, wait until the 8th (or even 9th, depending on draft position) and pick Eli Manning.
By the end of the 7th round, it’s likely that 11 of 12 owners in your draft will already have their QB. That means there’s a great chance that Eli will slip to you in the 8th, and if you pick early in the 9th, you can probably wait until then if there’s another player you like on the board.

Currently, once the top 16 QBs are off the board (the last being Jay Cutler, per ADP), there aren’t a ton of trustworthy options available. I really like Ryan Fitzpatrick in the 10th or 11th, but he has the same bye week as Eli, so he’s out as a QBBC option with Manning. Matt Cassel has a much tougher schedule in 2011 and the rest of these QB situations are unsettled. This should clear up as the summer wears on, but right now my plan would be to draft Eli in the 8th or the 9th and then use the 9th or 10th round pick on another QB like Joe Flacco, Sam Bradford or Jay Cutler. Those three players have schedules that combine well with Eli’s, so fantasy owners can get a nice QBBC going in those middle rounds.

So we have a durable, 30-year-old, Super Bowl-winning QB who has thrown for more than 4,000 yards the past two seasons and as averaged 29 TDs per season over the same span. Moreover, he has a stud WR in Hakeem Nicks at his disposal along with several other good options — Steve Smith 2.0, Mario Manningham, Ahmad Bradshaw and Kevin Boss — to throw to. And he has a pretty favorable schedule to boot.

What’s not to like?

16 Responses to “The always underrated Eli Manning”

  • Jeff:


    Great points about Eli. What are your thoughts about drafting a QB and their #1 WR like Eli & Nicks or Rivers & Vjax, for example?

  • John Paulsen:

    I wouldn’t shy away from a QB/WR combo, but I wouldn’t seek one out, either. It makes your team’s scoring more dependent on that duo’s passing game, which can work out great if they hook up for 1-2 scores. But it definitely doesn’t make your fantasy team more consistent. I prefer consistency over wild swings in points scored week-to-week.

  • @big_jubes:

    So you’re suggesting 2 RB, 2 WR, TE and then take QB in the 6th if Ben is available.

    What about going RB’s and WR’s in the first 5, getting Ben or Romo in the 6th and waiting to grab a TE late?

  • John Paulsen:

    TE in the 7th/8th? Sure, you’re looking at Owen Daniels, Zach Miller or Rob Gronkowski…I like those three players in the 7th-9th, so yes, no problem with five RBs/WRs in the first five rounds, Big Ben in the 6th and then a TE in the 7th/8th.

  • brent:

    thoughts on taking one of the top qbs in the 1st rd and how it affect the rest of your draft as opposed to waiting till the 5 or 6th to grab a qb ??? 6 pt per td -2 per turnover and 1 pt per 10 yds running

    also in ppr drafting from the 10-12 position is this the yr you can go wr,wr and then come back with rb,rb and still get good talent at the rb position .6 pts per td ,-2 per turnover,1 pt per 10 yds running and 1 pt per 20 yds recieving

  • John Paulsen:

    I’m not an advocate of drafting a QB early. The difference between a 1st/2nd round QB and Eli Manning in the 8th is not as stark as the difference between a 1st/2nd round RB and the RBs that are available in the 8th round. Would you rather have Rodgers and Fred Jackson or Darren McFadden and Eli Manning?

  • John Paulsen:

    Re: WR/WR/RB/RB — Not a bad idea in PPR leagues if you are pretty sure you can get a couple of solid RBs in the 3rd/4th. Unfortunately, after the first 14-15 RBs, there is a lot of risk with the RBs available (Moreno, Stewart, D. Williams, Greene, etc.)

  • Mac:

    What about Eli’s perennial collapse when it comes to week 13 on…According to my league scoring (6 pts/td passing or rushing, 1 pt per 50 yards passing, 1 pt per 20 yards rushing), Eli totally falls off the wagon when he hits week 13. Avg scoring by the 12th highest scoring QB in my league last year was 11.44 ppg. if we use 11 ppg or higher as the barometer for good games, Eli has scored over 11 pts per game in only 7 of 25 starts (this includes week 17)…and he bettered 11 ppg in 6 of 20 starts if you exclude week 17. His scoring avg for all those games is 9 ppg. I dont know about you guys, but I have a hard time banking the “money” games of the season on a QB that perennially under performs.

    If I am gonna follow that same logic to take a qb late, I am gonna target Matt Ryan. I know his ADP right now is in the 7th round (with Eli in the 9th according to FFC) but he has a a way higher success rate when it matters most. Ryan has only 13 games played between week 13 and week 17 the past 3 seasons, but he already has 5 games scored over 11 ppg. (5/13 games thru week 17, and 4/10 for games between week 13 and week 16). Oh, and Ryan has averaged over 11 ppg when it has mattered most and we all know that those 2 ppg difference can make all the difference when the playoffs roll around.

    Picking Eli is good value to get you to the playoffs, especially with that late round value, but if you actually want to win money, Ryan is a much safer bet (while you can still get your 2 rb, 2 wr, te draft out of the way before you even have to pick him). I would put my money on Ryan over Eli if I was gonna draft a qb after the top 6 are gone.

  • John Paulsen:

    @Mac — Thank you for your comment. You bring up a good point. I ran some quick numbers and over the last three years in W13-W16 (not including W17 since most leagues are done by then), Eli averaged 17.4 fantasy points utilizing a standard (20 passing yards = 1 pt, TD = 4 pt, INT = -1) scoring system. In W1-W12, he averaged 18.0 fantasy points. W17 matters a lot in your numbers, and Eli has not been good the last three years (1 TD, 2 INT) during W17, but he had to play Minny twice on the road and then WAS on the road last year. I think the explanation for the slight (0.6) drop in fp for W13-16 can be explained by the competition — 8 of 12 games were against NFC East rivals, who know him better than anyone.

    As I mentioned in the piece, I would ideally use Eli as part of a QBBC with another quality QB that could start during the weeks in question, but with games against DAL and WAS in W14 & W15 this year, I’ll probably be starting Eli in the fantasy playoffs. Ryan is a fine middle-round choice as well, though I prefer Eli a round and a half later.

  • Mac:

    I think it’s more than just opponents when it comes to Eli and week 13 on. If you go back and look at my numbers above, the scoring avg I included is for only weeks 13-week 16, no week 17 included in his scoring averages for my leagues scoring. Eli has only scored above the statistically worst starting qb in my scoring format (11 ppg) 6 times out of 20 games…A 30% clip is not what I want from my QB when it comes to playoff time.

    I went further and I broke down Eli’s career averages per start for week 1-12 and then weeks 13-16. Eli averages 19.4 completions off 33 attempts for a 58.9% completion percentage with 230.4 yards (6.96 avg per pass), 1.7 td’s a game and 1.1 ints. Now when you move to the later weeks of the season (13-16), Eli’s numbers shift to 17.8 completions on 32.1 attempts for a 55.4% completion percentage with 209.2 yards (6.5 avg per pass), 1.17 td’s a game and 1.14 ints.

    Now I don’t know about you but losing 30 yards passing and a half td a game is pretty significant when you look at week 13-16 as where you ultimately win or lose your fantasy season. Losing a td every two games is a huge drop off from the regular season.

    And the reason I used Matt Ryan as an example above is because he is one of those qb’s that is consistent throughout the season. Ryan’s career numbers (week 1-12) are 20.5 completions with 33 attempts for 61.7 completion percentage, 231.3 yards passing (6.98 per pass), 1.45 td’s and .75 ints. In the money round (week 13-16), his numbers are 17.6 completions to 30.6 attempts with a 57.5% completion percentage, 201.8 yards (6.59 avg per pass), 1.5 td’s and .7 int.

    Not only does Ryan avg around the same yards as Eli in the money rounds but he averages almost a 1/2 an int less per start and .3 more td’s per start. In my scoring format, those are significant numbers when your season is on the line. That’s why if I am gonna wait past the top 6 qb’s to be picked, I am gonna aim for a guy like Ryan over Eli…I have been burned by Elie come playoff time and I wont make that same mistake again.

    • Mac:

      I forgot to give you my insight into why I thought Eli’s numbers drop so much when it comes to week 13. It just seems to me that the Giants end up playing a lot of bad weather games once week 13 rolls around and they turn more to their running game to hammer in those close td’s whereas earlier in the year, Eli will throw some of those red zone td’s. It’s not like teams figure Eli out at the end of the season vs the beginning, I think it’s just the team philosophy changes towards what is gonna win games once the weather gets ugly…

  • John Paulsen:

    I just ran your scoring system and came up with 14.6 W13-W16 vs. 15.8 for W1-W12 — is that what you show?

    • Mac:

      Eli scoring by week last year in my scoring format (but my numbers I calculated up above were done for his entire career to improve on the sample size): Scoring week 1 thru 12- 14, 12, 1, 3, 17, 15, 21, BYE, 23, 13, 6, 16. Which works out to 144/11=12.8 pts per game. Weeks 13-16: 0, 3, 26, 6. Which works out to 35/4=8.7 pts per game. 2009 he had a good playoff run but that is his only season he has been consistent in my scoring format. My league averages scoring between 55 and 70 ppg, so losing 4 ppg at the qb position is a huge difference…I think you’re numbers would have been correct up above but I forgot to include -3 for ints.

      • John Paulsen:

        With -3 per INT, I show 11.1 for W13-16 in the last three years versus 12.8 in W1-W12. I don’t think using data from early in his career is very relevant. I don’t typically go back further than three years when looking at a particular player unless his last three years aren’t representative of his current/new situation.

        He had a good finish to 2010, with 6 TDs (vs. 5 INTs) against the Eagles and the Packers in W15-16. He also threw for almost 600 yards in those two games.

        In the end, if you don’t want to draft Eli in the 8th or 9th and would instead like to take Matt Ryan in the 7th, I’m not going to argue with you about it. Matt Ryan is good value in the 7th, but I’ve noticed that the non-QB talent seems to really thin out somewhere in that 7th/8th round, while the QB position stays strong with Eli, Stafford, Cutler, etc. You’re also talking about a scoring system that is 2:1 TD:INT when the standard league is 4:1. That means that guys who have a tendency to throw a lot of picks are going to be devalued. Eli is in that group.

  • Gary:

    I drafted eli manning because of a player that grabbed the “last good” QB already owning a QB…

    I think eli es the only player that has me worried, rest of my team is pretty good, I think if eli has a decent season I can’t be beaten in my league. My Team is as follows:

    QB: Eli
    RB: A. Foster
    RB: Steven Jackson
    RB/WR: Ryan Grant
    WR: Roddy White
    WR: Dwayne Bowe
    WR/TE: Jermichael Finley
    TE: A. Gates
    DL: Justin Tuck
    DB: LaRon Landry
    DP: Patrick Willis
    DEF: Steelers
    K: N. Kaeding

    Tell me what you think of my team!