Gregg Rosenthal

Free Agency Dose

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Finish line is near

Friday, March 16, 2012

During my first week at Rotoworld in 2003, there was a debate in our weekly Goal Line Stand rankings. Should Kelly Holcomb or Peyton Manning be ranked first at quarterback? We rolled with Manning.


Manning was on the cover of the first Rotoworld magazine I edited in 2004 with the cover: “Can Peyton throw 40 TDs?”  He threw 49.


This is my last day at Rotoworld. A lot has changed in the meantime, but Manning remains the lead story.


Three-team race


Entering Friday, it would have been a shock if Manning signed anywhere except Tennessee or Denver.  Now we’ve learned according to ESPN that the 49ers have worked out Manning and it’s a three-team race.


The Cardinals are officially stuck with Kevin Kolb as of 4 p.m. ET Friday. The Dolphins are out of the Manning race, and trying to get Matt Flynn on board before he possibly signs with the Seahawks.


I like Tennessee best as a fit for Manning. Their tackle play on the offensive line is strong, and the Titans are upgrading their interior line. I trust Manning to help solve many of Chris Johnson’s problems from a year ago.  Kenny Britt and Jared Cook make a nice base for the Titans to start from at receiver and tight end. More additions would arrive.


This is probably hair-splitting. If he’s healthy, Manning will make the offense work wherever he lands. Not the other way around. Denver, San Francisco, and Tennessee are strong up front. The 49ers would be Super Bowl favorites with Manning. Give Manning protection and the weapons around him will suddenly look a lot better.


Manning’s arm strength and ability to withstand 16 games again are the true variables here, not his supporting cast.  This isn’t Joe Namath in Los Angeles or Johnny Unitas in San Diego. Those guys were done. Manning threw for 4,700 yards with 33 touchdowns in his last complete year.  Not quite 49, but not bad.


Seven more


I started at Rotoworld writing all fantasy football, all the time. It doesn’t feel right to go out without a few fantasy nuggets before I start saying my goodbyes.


Frankly, not much has happened since my last column Wednesday evening. The market has settled down. There are still plenty of big chips left on the board other than Manning, but the frenzy of signings has slowed to a manageable level.


1. Laurent Robinson figures to be the most overpaid player in free agency. He’s making more than $11 million in 2012. I’d put his over/under of yardage around 650. At best. He’s been on four teams in five years. Guys like that rarely create lasting success.  It wouldn’t be a shock if he was one and done in Jacksonville.


2. Robinson’s best chance for big numbers will be if Chad Henne wins the job over Blaine Gabbert as the Jaguars starting quarterback in Week 1. It’s more likely to happen around Week 4.


Henne has his faults, but he could succeed with the right system and teammates around him.  Jacksonville’s offense is a work in progress. Jacksonville is paying Henne $4 million, which is not a true backup salary.


3. Peyton Hillis was a better bet for yardage in Cleveland, but he fits in well with the Chiefs. He’ll play second banana to Jamaal Charles, but will probably steal many red zone looks. More importantly, Hillis will be a must-start, top-15 option whenever Charles misses time.  That’s what you want out of a fantasy RB3.


The Chiefs have invested a lot in Charles long term. They gave Hillis $3 million for 2012. It wouldn’t surprise me if touches were split evenly this year as the Chiefs play it careful following Charles’ ACL surgery.


4. The Chargers are the perfect team for Eddie Royal. Norv Turner will know just how to use his skill set. Between Royal, Robert Meachem, Vincent Brown, and Antonio Gates, Philip Rivers has more than enough weapons to put together a strong bounceback, top-5 season.


Meachem is in a better position to produce this year, but there are a lot of weapons in San Diego to split up the pie. Just like in New Orleans.


5. Kevin Boss is going to be a drain on Tony Moeaki in Kansas City. Moeaki would have been one of my favorite tight end sleepers.


6. I couldn’t be more down on Kevin Kolb. That’s why the Peyton Manning derby will have such a frustrating end for Larry Fitzgerald and his owners.


7. Cleveland needed to make a bold move at quarterback to provide any hope for real offensive improvement in 2012. It doesn’t look like it will happen.

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Gregg Rosenthal has directed Rotoworld's football content since 2003. He co-hosts the NBC Fantasy Fix and covers the NFL for and Catch him on Twitter.
Email :Gregg Rosenthal

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