Fantasy Football draft notes: Peyton Manning hurting, Chris Johnson holding out, Michael Vick struggling


How far should you drop Peyton Manning in your quarterback rankings? (Matt Kryger/AP)
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By now you should have your draft cheat sheets at the ready and a plan of attack for draft day whether you’re in a 10-year dynasty league or are just testing the fantasy waters for the first time.

But just in case you haven’t been glued to your television this preseason, here are a few notes to keep in mind heading into your draft (or drafts x 4 in my case).

Peyton Manning may miss the start of the season. The Colts’ signal-caller has never missed a start in his 13-year-career, but that 208-game streak appears to be in serious jeopardy. Manning had surgery to repair a bulging disk in his neck in late May and his recovery — although steady — has kept him out of training camp. With this type of injury it’s difficult to set a timetable for a return. The Colts simply don’t know when the 11-time Pro Bowl QB will be back, evidenced further by their signing of veteran Kerry Collins earlier this week. With so much uncertainty in Indy, you may want to bump Manning down a few pegs in your quarterback rankings — behind Philip Rivers, Tony Romo and possibly even Matt Schaub depending on how risk-averse you are.

• The Chris Johnson holdout continues. One of the top running backs in the NFL still has yet to suit up for the Tennessee Titans and time is running out for the two sides to make a deal. It’s difficult to imagine the Titans not doing what they have to do to sign the explosive play-maker, but now rumors are swirling that Tennessee may look into trade possibilities. The Titans have said publicly they are willing to make Johnson the league’s highest-paid RB, but Johnson left a meeting earlier this week without a deal and the two sides seem no closer than they were when the lockout ended. Johnson is clearly top-five running back talent, but if he’s holdout lingers into the season, you’d be well-served to drop him a few spots behind Jamaal Charles and Ray Rice.

Michael Vick has struggled in the preseason. The preseason is the preseason, meaning it holds little significance aside from getting starters ready for the regular season and giving others a chance to fight for a roster spot. So it’s easy to shrug off Vick’s three-interception performance against the Pittsburgh Steelers last week. On Thursday, Vick bounced back with a decent showing: 10 of 18, 98 yards, rushing TD. He’s still going No. 1 among quarterbacks in many leagues, but the pounding he takes running the ball and question marks in his receiving corps — Jeremy Maclin’s illness, Steve Smith’s microfracture surgery recovery — make Aaron Rodgers a safer option. Vick has the potential to be the best player in fantasy this season, but is he worth the risk where you need to draft him?

Jahvid Best is a perpetual injury risk. There’s little dispute Best has the skills and potential to crack the top-10 of fantasy running backs. The problem is he can’t seem to stay on the field. Best’s draft prowess was tempered with injury concerns after he endured elbow, shoulder and hip surgeries and missed four with a concussion — all during his college career at Cal. Despite playing in 16 games last season, Best’s explosiveness was severely limited by turf-toe injuries and his final stat line — 171 carries, 555 yards, 6 total TDs — left much to be desired for those who used an early-round draft pick on him. Rookie Mikel Leshoure’s season-ending Achilles injury should give Best a boost in carries this season, but another concussion currently has Best on the sideline once again. Consider the brittle back a high-upside pick, but only if you can get him in the late fourth or early fifth round of a 10-team draft.

Matt Brooks is the high school sports editor for The Washington Post. He's an Arlington native and longtime District resident and was previously a high school sports reporter, editor for several blogs and Early Lead contributor with The Post.

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