Author’s Note: This article pertains to Apex Fantasy Football Money Leagues’ scoring (PPR with 4 Points Per Passing TD) and does not apply to 2 QB or 6 Points Per Passing Touchdown Leagues.

After providing the 4th most Points Above Average for owners in 2013, I fully expect Peyton Manning to be a 1st round fantasy football selection in 2014. Although it may be a contrarian viewpoint, I don’t think “The Sheriff” is worthy of your 1st round selection.

Inexperienced fantasy football players will disagree with me, asserting “he scores the most points in the league.” While that is a true statement, it’s not even close to a reasonable argument as to why he should be a first round pick.

Vitally important to fantasy football success is understanding that value comes from how a player compares with other players at his position – not his overall points. While Peyton Manning is the front-runner to lead all players in scoring, the deviation at quarterback is not large.

This is likely due to the fact that there are so many other viable starters at the quarterback position. I’ve listed my top 16 quarterbacks for the upcoming season below (I included 16 players because it is the baseline for my projections):

 NameTeamPointsPAA
1Peyton ManningDEN365.4459.06
2Aaron RodgersGB354.2447.86
3Drew BreesNO349.3042.92
4Cam NewtonCAR311.084.70
5Andrew LuckIND309.282.90
6Tom BradyNE308.261.88
7Nick FolesPHI306.760.38
8Tony RomoDAL304.08-2.30
9Robert Griffin IIIWAS296.30-10.08
10Matt RyanATL296.04-10.34
11Matthew StaffordDET294.02-12.36
12Colin KaepernickSF289.24-17.14
13Russell WilsonSEA288.82-17.56
14Jay CutlerCHI279.64-26.74
15Alex SmithKC276.72-29.66
16Philip RiversSD272.90-33.48

While Manning leads the field, there are plenty of viable candidates to be your starting quarterback, especially considering there are only 12 teams in each Apex league. That means you’ll typically always be able to get someone like Tony Romo, Jay Cutler or Russell Wilson, even if you wait until the 9th round to take your quarterback.

Added Value to Your Fantasy Team

To compare how taking Peyton Manning compares with selecting a late round quarterback, I’ve used the Average Draft Position (ADP) from FantasyFootballCalculator.com. Let’s compare the following scenario: You have the 11th pick – I’ve selected two different paths for your 1st and 9th round selections:

Route A:

PickPlayerPAA
1.11Peyton Manning59.06
9.11Anquan Boldin-24.9
34.16

Route A gives our hypothetical team 34.16 points above average. Let’s see what happens if we wait on quarterback and take a wide receiver early.

Route B:

PickPlayerPAA
1.11AJ Green84.8
9.11Jay Cutler-26.74
58.06

Route B gives our hypothetical team 58.06 points above average and appears to be the superior strategy. While Cutler can still contribute despite being a late 9th round pick, Boldin is a fringe fantasy starter who you shouldn’t feel good about starting every week.

I used these players because their ADPs work perfectly and this could very well be a decision that many owners have to make. While AJ Green gives you a large weekly advantage over other guys you could be starting (like Boldin), Peyton Manning doesn’t come with as much value. With just 12 quarterbacks starting each week there’s plenty of guys to go around – marginalizing Manning’s value.

If the multitude of other quarterback options isn’t enough to convince you, here are the reasons why I don’t think Peyton Manning can repeat his miraculous 2013 season.

Likely Regression

To provide fantasy value as a 1st round selection, Manning will need to come close to his repeating his historic 2013 season. According to my mathematical analysis (PAA), he will need to score around 385 fantasy points to become worthy of a 1st round selection – Manning scored 425.98 last season.

To achieve that hefty point total, Manning will need to approach another 5,000 passing yard, 50-touchdown season. While “The Sheriff” didn’t struggle to meet those totals last season, remember that’s he’s only reached each of those margins once in his illustrious career – culminating in a truly incredible season.

When you see seasons like that, it’s wise to bet on them being statistical outliers. As most historical seasons, like Adrian Peterson’s 2012, regress to the mean in the following season. It doesn’t help his odds that last season was the 1st year Peyton Manning had topped 37 passing touchdowns since 2004. Manning had also never topped 4,700 passing yards until last season.

Also decreasing his odds of repeating is the loss of his 2nd most-productive receiving option, Eric Decker. Decker amassed 172 catches for 2,352 yards and 24 touchdowns over their two seasons together. He also proved to be extremely durable, missing zero games over two seasons with Manning. Those will be big shoes for the oft-injured Emmanuel Sanders and Cody Latimer to fill. While I believe they are solid young talents, neither comes with the red-zone prowess that Decker provides.

Conclusion

If the benefit of grabbing a valuable wide receiver or running back early isn’t enough to convince you to stay away from Manning in the 1st round, hopefully Manning’s likely regression is. It’s extremely difficult to be successful drafting a quarterback in the 1st round when someone can get a semi-comparable starter in the 9th round or later.

If he hangs around long enough, there is a point where Manning becomes a value pick. That point does not occur in the 1st round.