Someone's on the other end of all those Peyton Manning TDs

Posted: November 22, 2013

WHILE Peyton Manning's pursuit of Tom Brady's single-season touchdown record will get some well-deserved hype this week, we're going to shine the light on the guys who are on the other end of Manning's darts: his wonderful receivers.

Heading into this week, Denver is on pace to become only the sixth team to have three players with 1,000 receiving yards. And if tight end Julius Thomas can pick up his numbers just a bit, they'll be the first team ever with four guys to top a thousand.

Manning's 34 TD passes have him on a pace for 54, which would break Brady's 2007 record of 50. In a juicy twist, Manning and the Broncos are at New England on Sunday for another interesting prime-time game.

There will be a lot of focus on Denver's quarterback, but here's a look at his top receivers:

Demaryius Thomas, WR

Rec. Yds. 100+ TD

2013. . . 60 914 3 9

Projected. . . 96 1462 5 14

Quick slant: Thomas is the only first-rounder among Manning's favorite targets. The Broncos traded up two places to grab him with the 22nd pick in 2010. Two spots later, the Cowboys took Dez Bryant. (With the 25th pick, Denver picked Tim Tebow.) Whom would you rather have, Thomas or Bryant?

Eric Decker, WR

Rec. Yds. 100+ TD

2013. . . 54 792 2 3

Projected. . . 86 1267 3 5

Quick slant: It helps to be at least 30 years old, but does anybody else think of Ed McCaffrey every time Decker makes a play? White guy, same number, similar build, fearless. Decker came in the same draft as Demaryius Thomas, in the third round and right after the Eagles took (gulp) defensive end Daniel Te'o-Nesheim.

Wes Welker, WR

Rec. Yds. 100+ TD

2013. . . 61 648 0 9

Projected. . . 98 1036 0 14

Quick slant: Welker went undrafted and was released after one game in San Diego in 2004 for Clinton Hart, a safety who had spent the two previous seasons with the Eagles. Welker is a five-time Pro Bowler who has had five seasons with 100 catches and 1,000 yards. If he had made that catch in the Super Bowl 2 years ago for New England, he'd probably be a more certain Hall of Famer. Denver signed him from New England in the offseason.

Julius Thomas, TE

Rec. Yds. 100+ TD

2013. . . 45 590 2 10

Projected. . . 72 944 3 16

Quick slant: Dealing with a knee sprain that could hamper his push for 1,000 yards. Thomas has been a fine consolation for fantasy owners who didn't bite on Tony Gonzalez,Vernon Davis or the Jermichael Finleys of the world. Denver picked Thomas in the fourth round in 2011. The four players the Eagles took ahead of Thomas were Danny Watkins (groan), Jaiquawn Jarrett (double groan), Curtis Marsh (enough already) and Casey Matthews.

Give thanks, get a shirt

As usual, three readers who participate in our annual tradition of giving thanks for their fantasy blessings will be selected to win a Daily News fantasy football T-shirt.

Email us at FantasyFootball@phillynews.com or send a fax to 215-854-5524 by Tuesday, Nov. 26, with what you are most grateful for this fantasy football season. Humor is welcomed, profanity is not. We'll publish a handful next week on Black Friday.

Position watch

Quarterbacks: Peyton Manning is 3-9 in games played at New England (including playoffs) with 22 touchdowns and a very Ryan Leaf-esque 23 interceptions. He had three TD passes and no picks in a loss there last year . . . Detroit's Matthew Stafford says the Buccaneers are "probably the most talented defense we'll be playing all year." The only quarterback who has really roasted the Bucs was Nick Foles (296-3-0) in Week 6.

Running backs: Bump up the Giants' Andre Brown to an RB2. He came back to earth last week with 66 yards on 18 carries, but should get 100 yards against the wounded Cowboys defense. QB Eli Manning is even worth considering for those with bye-week or matchup issues . . . Oakland's Rashad Jennings is a borderline RB1 against a Tennessee defense that has given up 13 rushing touchdowns to opposing backs, tied with Washington for most in the NFL entering the week.

Wide receivers: After scoring six touchdowns in the first five games, Dallas' Dez Bryant has only two in the last five. He had one catch for 44 yards the last time out, but credited the Saints defense rather than blame his reportedly injured back . . . Houston's Andre Johnson is still a WR1 even at age 32. Johnson's 17 targets last week were a season high and he's on pace for 115 receptions, which would equal a career high.Imagine if he had an elite QB.

The last word

Baltimore's Joe Flacco ($121 million) and Atlanta's Matt Ryan ($104 million) signed contracts in the offseason valued at a $225 million. Combined, their teams are 6-14. Suddenly, those fees we've accumulated for foolish fantasy transactions this year don't seem so costly.

Ed Barkowitz, whose most thoughtless transaction this season was dropping injured Le'Veon Bell for Ahmad Bradshaw right after Week 1, has been writing about fantasy football in the Daily News since 2001.


Email: barkowe@phillynews.com

On Twitter: @EdBarkowitz

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