I admit it: I'm that annoying guy who drafts Peyton Manning in the first round of my fantasy football draft. The strategy has always appealed to me because my running backs always get hurt. Ki-Jana Carter's career ended because he heard that, 10 years down the line, I might draft him in the first round of a fantasy football draft. (I won't draft Steven Jackson, for obvious reasons.) Manning is so good, at his best, that the difference between him and the quarterbacks everybody else is taking in the third round is much greater than the difference between some likely-to-regress running back and some other likely-to-regress running back.
But without Peyton Manning—who may miss week one of the regular season, and is, anyway, 35-years-old. He's coming off a career high in completions and attempts, but a career low in yards per attempt. I could still see taking him as the first quarterback in your fantasy draft, but it's hard to take him first overall with all that uncertainty. Tom Brady's coming off an outstanding year—four interceptions? seriously?—but he putting up quite the same counting stats. Drew Brees and Philip Rivers are outstanding, but what we're seeing in general is Peyton Manning moving back toward the pack, which lowers the advantage he used to have over the running back du jour.
I still might take a quarterback first, but without The Peyton Manning around people will look at me even more strangely.