Fantasy Football 2013: Will Tom Brady Take A Statistical Hit?
The 2013 offseason has not been very kind to the New England Patriots.
First, the team failed to resign one of the most productive wide receivers over the past five years in Wes Welker. Then, their dominant tight end Rob Gronkowski underwent back surgery and his Week 1 status is up in the air. Now, after this legal incident with Aaron Hernandez, the team decided to part ways with him, releasing him this afternoon.
So, what does this do for Tom Brady’s fantasy value?
He is clearly still an elite fantasy quarterback, and has performed strongly with lackluster weapons around him in the past. However, considering how insanely deep the quarterback position is this year, I’ve actually lowered Brady just a tad bit in my rankings. I originally had him at the number five spot, behind guys like Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, Peyton Manning and Cam Newton. However, after the release of Hernandez and the other various hits to his receiving corp, I moved Matt Ryan ahead of him, resulting in Brady currently sitting at the sixth spot. Let’s take a closer look at what exactly Brady will be without in the 2013 season.
That’s 169 catches, 1,405 yards and 11 touchdowns, as well as 77 percent of the team’s season targets from 2012 (stat via Mike Clay). Gone. I’m not sold that third string tight end Jake Ballard is talented enough to even remotely fill that void. Not to mention what would possibly be missing from that offense if Gronkowski were forced to miss extended time. It’s difficult for another tight end to step in and replace Hernandez, strictly because he hardly ever lined up as one. Over 65 percent of the time, Hernandez lined up out of the slot, making him more of a really big receiver for the Patriots. With that being said, it will likely be a guy like Aaron Dobson or Donald Jones stepping in, whoever is more impressive during camp.
So, how does this all impact Brady’s fantasy prospects? There is no doubt that the guy is one of the best to ever do it, but I do believe we will see some statistical regression for Terrific Tom this year. Why? Well, let’s see. Believe it or not, New England finished second in team rushing attempts last year (523). With less firepower in their passing attack, as well as Stevan Ridley coming off of a breakout season, why wouldn’t they look to run the mall the same amount, if not more? Also, while bringing in Danny Amendola was a strong acquisition, I can’t convince myself that this guy will stay on the field. This is a guy who has missed a whopping 20 games over the past two seasons, and freak injury or not, there is no denying that he is somewhat brittle. Also, I’m not entirely confident that rookie Dobson can step right into a difficult offense to figure out and produce right away. I mean, we have seen guys such as Chad Johnson and Brandon Lloyd struggle making the transition.
I know, I know. Brady has finished as a top-three fantasy signal caller in each of the past three seasons. Would it shock me if he did it again? No, not really. However, like I said, the position is filled with younger guys who haven’t even reached their ceiling yet, which may make it more difficult for Brady to produce quite the same numbers, especially after losing some big time targets.
Adam Pfeifer is a featured fantasy sports columnist for Rant Sports.
You can follow him on Twitter @aPfeiferRS.
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