I was talking with my colleague Ray Tannock last night about Brady's performance so far this season. He seems to think it's no big deal and Brady will right the ship in the next few games. The New England Patriots will once again be play-off bound, and all will be right with the world...of football. I being the ever pessimistic member of our staff, believe last season's injury ended more than Brady's 2008 season. I think it's taken him off his game, and it will take the better part of 2009, if at all, to get him back to top 3 QB, fantasy relevance. Feel free to choose sides and weigh in on the debate.
|Tom Brady is Still The Man for Your Fantasy Team
|Tom Brady is Merely Joe the Plumber in 2009
by Ray Tannock
By Rustyn Rose
|Shortly after the Twilight zone-ish finish to week two Sunday night, Rustyn and I, debated the performance of the great Tom Brady thus far this season.
My intrepid colleague is a pessimist, and there is nothing wrong with that, but I myself take the high road on Mr. Brady and refute the notion of the common thought that Brady isn’t who he once was, and that the injury is a big part of it. Again, please chime in on this wonderful debate.
The first two games against the Bills and Jets offered more wincing than elation as Patriots’ fans were subjected to a less than spectacular two game outing thus far from the wonder boy.
But we aren’t talking about the Rams defense or the Browns defense either.
In argument for Brady, the Bills and Jets build their system around an aggressive speed-rush style that is designed to disrupt any QB no matter who you are; just because you’re one of the best doesn’t mean you’re invincible.
In an average NFL play, it normally takes the QB about 2.5 seconds to throw the ball to any given receiver, this allows for ample surveying of the field—believe it or not.
The Jets were getting to Brady in just under 2 seconds as pointed out by Monday Night Countdown.
It’s not necessarily Brady who has lost the step; remember, it was Brady that crammed two 18 yard plays down the Bills throat in the closing moments that made every Bills’ fan in America regret staying up that night, and every Patriots’ fan regret going to bed early.
But when you suffer a major injury such as the one Brady did, you tend to lose some other skill sets that are also associated with a QB—albeit temporarily—but still, the skills get effected.
A QB just doesn’t get the ball snapped to him and, viola makes a beautiful throw—contrary to popular belief there is no magic QB fairy— there are other intricacies to their job, such as directing blocking assignments and then re-directing blocking assignments in the pre-snap reads.
Was Brady affected by the injury? I’m sure there is something still lingering, but his injury didn’t affect the play of the O-Line. His injury didn’t affect the defensive looks teams are giving him, and the injury certainly didn’t affect the running back situation in New England.
These are, however, things that have an effect on a QB.
The O-Line has been average at best so far. The running game has certainly lost a step, The combination of these two elements makes it easier for defensive coordinators to get to Brady quicker than they have enjoyed in the past; particularly Brady’s divisional opponents.
Did I mention that wide receiver, Wes Welker, the other wonder boy play maker for the Patriots was MIA in the last game?
But to think this is going to last is a bit trite.
The point is, take away a QB’s weapons, and yes you will be fooled into thinking he is on the down turn. Remind yourself that it is only two games into the season, and he is still 1-1 in the division and you should remember this guy is Tom freaking Brady.
But what about fantasy relevance?
All time since 2004, Brady ranks 8th in overall Fantasy Consistency— WITH last year included— so dismiss last year, and that rank is probably going to go up a bit. The men before him in no particular order are Manning, Romo, Rivers, Brees, Big Ben, Favre and McNabb, and aside from Kurt Warner, there really isn’t any other QB worth entertaining.
Getting back to top three status shouldn’t be a problem.
As the year progresses, everything in the bright bubbly world of Tom Brady will return to normal; he was above average when he took over for Bledsoe while accomplishing the impossible, and he is still above average now; Think About It.
|What happened to our perennial top 3 fantasy QB? Gone is the sure arm, and confident swagger of the game's most consistent playmaker under center. Last year's week one, season ending injury seems to have sucked some of the ooomph out of kid Brady. Or perhaps being Mrs. Gisele Bündchen has made him a bit soft.
After watching him play three rusty quarters against the Buffalo Bills in week one, then getting shut down without a touchdown in week two, well, that's just plain ugly. The last game Brady went without scoring a passing touchdown was against the very same New York Jets in December 2007. It was his only shut out of that season. He only had two games without a TD in 2006. He already has one goose egg in 2009. In week three we'll get to see Brady take on the 2-0 Atlanta Falcons, and the road just gets rougher from there.
Long gone is the Tom Brady who could throw the Patriots on his shoulders and with a broken leg, fractured throwing arm, tackling dummies for receivers, a paper clip and a stick of gum, dominate and win week after week. The McGyver of the gridiron is gone. To be replaced by, what? Brady seemed fine in the preseason; what little we saw of him. For the briefest moment in the fourth quarter of week one, there was a spark, perhaps even a flicker of the 2007 titan of the turf.
The question is, will we see the Brady of yesteryear, or this new shadow of his former self, as the remainder of the season continues to unfold? I would say we'll see a bit of both, but mostly the latter. Call it rust, call it readjustment, call it too much time off, or simply call it a tough schedule, but Brady will struggle to be consistent and a worthwhile fantasy QB most of the season.
Brady was drafted in the top two rounds of most leagues this year, based on his mammoth 2007 season. Could we however simply argue that 2007 was an anomaly and we are seeing typical Brady in 2009?
Prior to 2007 Brady never posted more than 28 TDs, and only eclipsed 4000 yards passing in one season (2005). Until 2007, Brady's highest passer rating was 92.6. In fact if you throw out 2007, his average passer rating for the prior six full seasons was 88.5, his average number of TDs was 24.5, and his average yards passing, a respectable 3,593.
Based on that passer rating, Brady would have ended 2008 at number 11, behind his replacement, Matt Cassel, and just ahead of rookie Matt Ryan.
Based on touchdowns, he would have finished 8th; behind Jay Cutler, and ahead of Donovan McNabb.
Based on passing yards he would have ended in the 11th spot, behind David Garrard and ahead of Brett Favre.
Combine all three and based on his pre-2007 averages, Brady is the 10th best QB overall. Certainly not worth a first or second round pick. So I guess my argument is less that Brady is washed up, but rather that he's fallen back to earth, will be a decent but average QB in 2009. I'm guessing his final stats will put him around 9th or tenth place again.
If you think I'm simply fudging numbers to reach a conclusion that fits my theory, let's simply look at his 7 full seasons. If we throw out his first season in 2001, and his last complete season in 2007, and look at the the 5 seasons in between from 2002 to 2006, Brady finished 9th, 10th, 9th, 6th, and 9th in the quarterback rankings respectively. The numbers speak for themselves, and as many a more brilliant person than myself has said, numbers don't lie. Just sayin'.