Pat Williams and Jared Allen taunt the Packers (Yahoo!).
Brad Childress doesn't necessarily find the narrative of his training camps accurate (Star Tribune).
Jared Allen (Pioneer Press).
E.J. Henderson (Pioneer Press). I really love E.J. Henderson.
Tarvaris Jackson (Yahoo!).
Vikings as a fantasy juggernaut: #14 (Yahoo!).
In the division...
Around the NFC North (Vikings.com).
Calvin Johnson (CBS).
Roy Williams (USA Today).
Cold, Hard Football Facts has Power Rankings.
Advanced NFL Stats finds that teams down by one early in the fourth quarter have a better chance of winning than teams up by one early in the fourth quarter. Brian Burke's theory sounds reasonable:
"Why would a team be better off being down by a point than ahead by a point? I think it has to do with mindset and risk tolerance. Teams that are down increase their risk tolerance and teams that are up decrease their risk tolerance. My theory is that, in general, almost all offenses usually play below the optimum risk level. They should typically be playing more aggressively. But teams may actually start to optimize when behind in the 4th quarter. Teams with small leads would restrict their risk tolerance even more, tilting further from the optimum risk-reward balance."
Matthew Berry notes 50 fantasy football facts. I'll quibble a bit with the first one:
"Last year, there were seven games -- almost half a season -- in which Peyton Manning threw only one or zero touchdowns."
This is, of course, accurate, but it is framed in such a way to show what Berry wants it to show. Looking at Manning's game logs, you could also note that there were just two games in which Manning threw zero touchdowns (including the last game, when the Colts coasted with everything clinched). This was topped only by Matt Hasselbeck and Tom Brady (15) and tied by Eli Manning and Ben Roethlisberger. So it is technically accurate to say that there were seven games when Manning threw only one or zero touchdowns, but it distorts the fact that only two of those games featured zero touchdowns. This also means there were nine games in which Manning threw multiple touchdowns. From my brief look, this was topped by six quarterbacks in 2008. While this doesn't make Manning look far superior to every other quarterback, it still shows that throwing multiple touchdowns in nine games is an impressive achievement.
Of course, we're also talking about the quarterback that has averaged 30.6 TD passes and 4,163 yards per season in his career, and that has never thrown fewer than 26 touchdown passes in a season, and that has never missed a regular season game due to injury. Can we say that about the six quarterbacks with more multi-touchdown games than Manning in 2008? You know the answer.
So even if Peyton Manning's 2008 season (which was excellent) makes him appear less than a great fantasy quarterback, he's still the most reliable fantasy quarterback there is. He threw a touchdown in 14 games last season (topped only by Brady and Hasselbeck). He threw for 200+ yards in 13 games last season (topped only by Brady and Brees). And over the course of his career he has always thrown for at least 26 touchdown passes, and he has always passed for at least 3,700 yards. His average season is 16 starts, 4,163 yards and 30.6 touchdowns. He is usually a spectacular fantasy quarterback, and he's always consistent.
This is not to say that Peyton Manning's fantasy value, or more accurately the perception of his value, isn't overhyped. It may well be. But Manning is a spectacular, consistent, and reliable fantasy quarterback. He's not going to have a dud season. If you use an early pick on Manning, he will produce for you.
(Now you're asking, "PV, at what point did you turn this blog into half a Viking blog, half a Peyton Manning blog?" My apologies. I do know, I think, how Manning became my favorite non-Viking player, a guy I root for. The Vikings are the team that has often been great, has often been close, but has never won a championship and has a reputation for choking. That description also fits Manning before the 2006 season's playoffs. I started to want him to win, to prove everybody wrong, to finally get over the edge. In some weird way being a Viking fan made me a Peyton Manning fan. That doesn't mean, of course, that when he comes to the Metrodome in September, I won't be rooting for the Vikings to crush him and make him play horribly in defeat--don't worry about anything like that. And at least this blog has always been devoted to intense fantasy football arguments--we haven't changed there. Thanks for indulging).