By Darren Rovell
This past Sunday, as many fantasy football owners were finishing up their drafts, Peyton Manning became a buzzword when Indianapolis sports radio host John Michael Vincent wrote this on Twitter: "Been told by multi sources that QB P Manning needs a 2nd neck procedure. Will remain out indefinitely. Called #colts and waiting on response."
Within 24 hours, the Colts responded with a statement acknowledging that one of the league's most important players had seen his rehabilitation slow, that he was no longer practicing and that his status for the first week as "doubtful." He since has been ruled out for Week 1.
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Bad for Colts fans, even worse for those who drafted Manning in the first or second round of their fantasy football drafts.
"It's late in the game for this to happen," said Chris Russo, chief executive of Fantasy Sports Ventures, which runs a host of fantasy websites including KFFL.com and TheHuddle.com.
"Due to the shortened offseason, I anecdotally think more drafts are happening later than ever this year. That being said if he was your first pick, you might be hoping for a diamond in the rough backup to save your season."
Russo said that Manning's absence is not a problem if he misses a couple of weeks, but if it's a half of a season, it will impact those who drafted him.
If that happens, Manning's loss could shift money from 10 percent of the people who would win their league because of Manning and his counterparts, Reggie Wayne and Dallas Clark, who also suffer with his absence. Assuming there's about $650 million of fantasy football prizes on the line, that 10 percent could mean a shift of $65 million from people who had Manning, Wayne and/or Clark to people who didn't take him.