Fennelly on Football: Today’s Five Points

John Fennelly , Lead Writer

Before the season began, Peyton Manning was rated the 50th best player in the NFL in the NFL Network’s ridiculous list of the Top 100 Players of 2012. I said at the time the list was a useless exercise and as usual, I am correct. Peyton is tearing up the NFL again and his Broncos will be a force in the AFC Playoffs this coming January.

At almost every fantasy football draft around the country this past summer, Vikings’ RB Adrian Peterson’s name wasn’t announced in the first, second or in some cases, any, rounds. He was not expected to bounce back from the ACL and MCL tears he suffered in a game last Christmas Eve. I personally didn’t draft him because I, like many, felt he’d need a year off. Needless to say, I’m paying the price (Peterson is currently leading the NFL in rushing). The team in my league that drafted Peterson, btw, was unaware of his injury. What a story this is, folks….

When I interviewed Wisconsin DE JJ Watt at the NFL Draft last year, I was impressed with him both as a young man and a potential NFL star. “Who the hell is going to block this kid?” I thought to myself. “Good luck to them.”  I’m 6’3″, 260 and Watt easily dwarfed me. I’m not surprised at all knowing his temperament, intelligence and ability that he has become so good, so fast.

Why does anything Aaron Rodgers does surprise anyone? It shouldn’t. I saw only one game in Rodgers’ college career at Cal – a loss to mighty USC in 2004. He was clearly the best player on the field that day. He left Cal after his junior year and entered the NFL Draft. He waited as 23 names were read before his. I was as baffled as he was. When Green Bay took him at 24, I said to my colleagues, “They get it.” They stole the draft right there, even though they had Brett Favre under roof. You know the rest, but did you know all three NFC North rivals passed on Rodgers that day? Chicago took RB Cedric Benson.  MInnesota selected WR Troy Williamson and Detroit drafted WR Mike Williams. Oops.

Perhaps the quietest future Hall-of-Famer playing in the NFL right now is Dallas Cowboys’ TE Jason Witten. Did you know only two TEs have more career receptions that Witten? His 762 catches are third all-time behind HOFer Shannon Sharpe (815) and future HOFer Tony Gonzalez (1,210). The amazing part of this story to me is Witten began the season with a lacerated spleen but has gone on to make 66 catches in the first nine games, good enough for third in the NFL.

One final note….Let’s not forget the saga of Reggie Wayne, whose career was “over” after Peyton Manning’s time with the Colts ended. Wayne still led Indy with 75 catches for 960 yards last year without Manning. When he decided to re-sign with the Colts this and test the waters with rookie QB Andrew Luck, people are now realizing what a great move that was. Wayne, at 34, leads the NFL in receptions (69) and is second to Detroit’s Calvin Johnson in receiving yards with 931.