Search for perfection ups Peyton's value

Updated: December 15, 2009, 2:26 PM ET
By Eric Karabell
Score one for the fantasy football owners. Not only does it appear Peyton Manning will play Thursday night against the Jacksonville Jaguars, despite the fact the game is, at least in the standings, meaningless for the Colts, we at ESPN Fantasy have projected the Indianapolis Colts quarterback for 22 fantasy points. No quarterback is projected for more. Since last week, whether it's due to Colts players' speaking up, public backlash or just a change of heart by still-unbeaten coach Jim Caldwell, the Colts now appear to be in search of perfection, meaning Manning and his healthy pals can still be relied upon in fantasy football.

This is obviously a big deal in our game, since Manning enters Week 15 as the No. 4 player in season scoring, and third among quarterbacks. We've been warning Manning owners for weeks to have a solid backup in place, just in case he sits, but it appears as long as the Colts keep on winning, you can leave Alex Smith or Kyle Orton on your bench. Indeed, the Colts have clinched home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs, and in the past that would mean key players, like Manning certainly is, might not play enough in season-closing games to be as statistically relevant in fantasy football as we need them to be. But it appears the stock has risen for completing an unbeaten regular season.