Shuffle Up: Where does Eli Manning go from here?

Time to get in character for another week. The ranks in this exercise are not Week 10 fantasy ranks; instead, we're trying to arrange the players based on what we expect from Weeks 10-16. Assume a standard scoring format (non-PPR), and remember the golden rule: no one gains 10-20 percent of bonus value just because they're on your roster.

That established, if you logically construct a sound argument, I'm all ears. I'll add comments, and tweak a rank or two, as the night goes along. It's quarterbacks and wideouts this week; running backs and tight ends get the floor next week.

1. Aaron Rodgers
2. Peyton Manning
3. Drew Brees
4. Matt Ryan
5. Tom Brady

It looks like a Fab Five at the moment, proven commodities who are tangibly safer than the next tier. If you want to dock Rodgers the top spot because he hasn't taken the bye yet, that's fine with me. I don't see any major difference in this group. Let's do the work on the margin, where it matters.

6. Robert Griffin III
7. Andrew Luck
8. Matthew Stafford
9. Cam Newton
10. Ben Roethlisberger

Despite Newton's rushing chops, he's still just 13th in points per game at the position. A lousy six touchdown passes ties into it, and struggles in the red zone (where he carries a 61.5 rating).

11. Josh Freeman
12. Carson Palmer
13. Tony Romo
14. Eli Manning
15. Michael Vick

The Younger Manning falling this low can't come as any great shock; he's currently 17th at the position in points-per-game. I'd like to hold out more hope for what's proven to be a fairly sturdy brand in recent years, but until we know for sure Hakeem Nicks is healthy, I don't feel great about New York's pass catchers. And very quietly Andre Brown has been a touchdown-collecting vulture at the goal, cutting down on Manning's chances at the cheap scores. I'm not suggesting anyone kick Manning to the curb, but I'd have no trouble rolling with Freeman (that offense is crushing it right now) or Palmer (volume monster) until things settle down.

As my colleague Andy Behrens points out, Manning's recent slump has come against a stretch of tricky pass defenses (Niners, Cowboys and Steelers, with only the Redskins to offer a plus matchup). A better schedule is coming. Ideally, Manning will be back in form when the Redskins rematch and the Saints buffet comes calling in Weeks 13-14. In the meantime, Manning has two matchups that are close to neutral, games against the Bengals and Packers.

There's no logical place to slot Vick right now. He could regain some mojo and push into the Top 10-12, and he could lose his job to injury or ineffectiveness at some point (especially if the Eagles fall into an early elimination). I'll talk more about this theme below, in the Nick Foles section.

16. Andy Dalton
17. Ryan Fitzpatrick
18. Joe Flacco
19. Jay Cutler
20. Philip Rivers
21. Matt Schaub
22. Alex Smith
23. Russell Wilson

While the Seahawks aren't asking Wilson to win games on his own by means of volume, he's not some coddled game manager, either. Seattle's offense loves to take deep shots in the middle of the field, and Wilson has the arm strength and patience to make every throw in the book. He might throw the prettiest and most catchable deep pass in the game right now.

Wilson's mobility helps set up some of those deep connections, but he hasn't been using his wheels to scramble forward very often. At the end of the day this factor will help his pocket development — you want movement to set up passing over the duck-and-run game — but if Wilson could satiate us with 20-30 yards per week on the ground, no one would be complaining. One last thing about Wilson: he very quietly leads all rookie QBs in touchdown passes.

24. Ryan Tannehill
25. Jake Locker
26. Brandon Weeden
27. Sam Bradford
28. Christian Ponder
29. Mark Sanchez
30. Blaine Gabbert

Locker still has a lot to learn at the pro level, but he's working with a decent set of receivers and unlike the Wilsons of the world, he'll still run like a kamikaze when the situation presents itself. I'm curious to see what he shows in his first or second start back. … The Vikings need to let Ponder take some intermediate and deep looks every week, no matter if they work of not. The Minnesota passing game is heavily dependent on short, quick throws, and while that's generally a good thing to ask of your second-year quarterback, if you rely on that scheme too often, you become too easy to defend — and defenses can pinch on the flanks as much as they like.

31. Kevin Kolb
32. Nick Foles
33. John Skelton
34. Tim Tebow
35. Brady Quinn

If Andy Reid were a first-year head coach, I bet we'd see Foles playing right now. But given the suspected "playoffs or bust" theme in Philly, he probably doesn't want to risk the learning curve of a first-year QB. That said, I wonder if the Eagles offense might be better off with Foles anyway; his pocket awareness can't be any worse than Vick's and the offense might respond better to a more conventional quarterback.

36. Matt Cassel
37. Matt Hasselbeck
38. Colin Kaepernick
39. Matt Moore
40. Ricky Stanzi

1. A.J. Green
2. Demaryius Thomas
3. Brandon Marshall
4. Victor Cruz
5. Roddy White
6. Julio Jones
7. Reggie Wayne
8. Calvin Johnson

As you've surely heard by now, Megatron still doesn't have a TD pass from Matt Stafford yet in 2012. That's just crazy. Johnson's had some bad luck with plays dying inside the 5-yard line, but he's also left touchdowns on the field elsewhere, suffering through drops. And we know the knee won't be fully healthy until after the year.

9. Eric Decker
10. Vincent Jackson
11. Marques Colston
12. Wes Welker
13. Percy Harvin
14. Mike Wallace
15. Jordy Nelson
16. Larry Fitzgerald
17. Miles Austin
18. Andre Johnson

The Texans have unlocked Johnson between the 20s of late, but he still has just three red-zone targets on the year (and nothing at the goal line). He's also playing less snaps, by percentage, than he did in his salad days. The touchdown number might be a mild fluke, but it's no real coincidence he's never spiked 10 times in any season. Johnson's broken and missed tackle count has also fallen off significantly in recent years. Accept the reality — he's just a good receiver now, no longer a top-shelf guy.

I'm not buying any anti-Welker noise. Don't tell me how great Aaron Hernandez is (or heaven forbid, Julian Edelman), or how many mouths the offense has to feed (meanwhile, the backs rarely catch the ball). Welker's important here and he'll be used plenty. When you collect 60 passes and 83 targets through eight games, it's save to say you have the trust of your quarterback and offensive coordinator.

19. Mike Williams
20. Denarius Moore
21. Randall Cobb

Cobb's build could keep the Packers from skimming him a huge amount of targets, but at least he does nifty things with the ones he gets (the catch rate is terrific as well). But with the health status of Nelson and Jennings hanging over this team, it's very difficult to get a clear read on what Cobb and Jones are worth. I like Cobb, we all do. But just accept that there's a wide range of outcomes here.

Oakland's going to be a carnival down the stretch — they might junk the running game early at Baltimore. Moore is one of the primary beneficiaries. I just hope he can stay on the field for the final two months; if so, we could be looking at a special player.

22. Steve Smith
23. DeSean Jackson
24. Dez Bryant
25. James Jones
26. Hakeem Nicks
27. Steve Johnson
28. Dwayne Bowe

Is Bowe fully engaged in Kansas City? Does Brian Daboll know how to design a downfield passing game? Can anyone in Kansas City throw an accurate pass past 10 yards? Man, I'm getting depressed. At least Bowe still cranks it up for Garbage Time every so often.

Johnson is still a handy receiver for Buffalo, but it's worth noting that his yards per game and yards after the catch numbers have fallen slightly in the last two years. You can stretch him as a WR2 in deeper pools, but you really want him as your third target. He's topped 75 yards just once all year.

29. Malcom Floyd
30. Brandon Lloyd
31. Brian Hartline
32. Antonio Brown
33. Josh Gordon
34. Torrey Smith
35. Michael Crabtree
36. Kenny Britt

Britt's a headache in 101 different ways, but the potential remains and he has more theoretical upside with Locker at quarterback. And don't forget the two marginal officiating flags that cost Britt recent touchdowns.

Gordon is rawer than an uncooked steak, but he still runs by people every week. I can't guarantee you Weeden will make an accurate throw, and I can't guarantee Gordon will hold on. But Gordon absolutely has an extra gear once he gets a few strides down; this is one recent Cleveland gamble that actually paid off.

37. Sidney Rice
38. Lance Moore
39. Anquan Boldin
40. Titus Young
41. Andre Roberts
42. Jeremy Maclin
43. Golden Tate
44. Cecil Shorts
45. Danny Amendola

Amendola was one of the flagged players in the early comment wave: most readers want him higher on this list. I concede that Amendola's upside needs to be taken seriously and perhaps I'm being too cautious here, but just remember a few facts: this list isn't based on PPR formats, it's graded against standard formats; Amendola is coming off a significant injury (collarbone) that cost him several weeks; and he's never been a big touchdown scorer (he has just five over his last 122 catches). Do you know something warm and fuzzy about Sam Bradford and Brian Schottenheimer that I don't know?

If you have to own a Jaguars receiver, make sure it's Shorts. This is a recording.

46. Darrius Heyward-Bey
47. Jeremy Kerley
48. T.Y. Hilton
49. Davone Bess
50. Brandon LaFell
51. Brandon Gibson
52. Nate Washington

If I knew LaFell were healty, he's be 8-10 spots higher on this list. And if I knew Avery were not healthy with the Colts, I'd do the same upgrade with the good-looking rookie, Hilton.

53. Kendall Wright
54. Emmanuel Sanders
55. Santana Moss
56. Chris Givens
57. Donnie Avery
58. Ryan Broyles
59. Stephen Hill
60. Brandon Stokley
61. Greg Jennings
62. Greg Little
63. Josh Morgan
64. Donald Jones
65. Kevin Ogletree
66. Andrew Hawkins

I'm stunned the Bengals can't find a meatier role for Hawkins. His lateral agility is off the charts, and it's not like Cincinnati is loaded at receiver once you get past Green.

67. Leonard Hankerson
68. Randy Moss
69. Kevin Walter
70. Dexter McCluster
71. Justin Blackmon
72. Alshon Jeffery
73. Jason Avant
74. Mario Manningham
75. Pierre Garcon
76. Michael Floyd
77. Devery Henderson
78. Laurent Robinson
79. Rod Streater
80. Robert Meachem
81. Domenik Hixon
82. Jonathan Baldwin

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