With the recent news that TE Aaron Hernandez was arrested on murder charges, and subsequently released by the New England Patriots, one can’t help but notice the declining fantasy football value of QB Tom Brady.
Brady has won three Super Bowls, two NFL MVP trophies, and thousands of fantasy titles. He has become a fixture of the first two rounds and has notoriously been one of the safest quarterbacks year after year. However, this off-season has been an utter disaster for the organization and it seems with each passing week Brady’s fantasy value takes another hit.
Let’s sum up Brady’s off-season. Firstly, his superstar tight end, Rob Gronkowski, was forced to have another surgery on his forearm. After that surgery, the news came out that Gronk was also scheduled to have a procedure on his back. Needless to say, the two-time Pro Bowl tight end will have a tough time being 100% healthy for opening day.
Brady also lost both of his top two receivers from last year. Wes Welker led the team in receptions (118), targets (174), and receiving yards (1,354). However, after a messy breakup with New England, Welker quickly orchestrated a deal to sign with the Denver Broncos. The Patriots did bring in WR Danny Amendola, ironically before Welker even officially left, but the former St. Louis Rams receiver is a mid-level option at best.
New England’s second leading-receiver, Brandon Lloyd, was released and is also no longer with the team. Lloyd hauled in 74 balls last year for 911 yards and four touchdowns. He may not have had a breakout campaign, but his familiarity with the offense certainly would have come in handy during Week 1 for the Pats and potential Brady owners.
Now with Hernandez heading to jail, bad has gotten much worse for Brady’s fantasy value. The tight end grabbed 18 touchdowns through his first three years in the league and was even elected to the Pro Bowl in 2011. The team was looking to rely heavily on Hernandez this season, and after his release the team now has a large hole on the edge.
Probably the most underrated deterrent from taking Brady this fantasy season is Tim Tebow. Brady obviously has a stranglehold on the starting spot and won’t be usurped anytime soon. However, Tebow has proven that he can score within the red-zone, so if anything the former Florida Gator could at least steal a couple touchdowns away from Brady this season.
Brady will now be without three (Welker, Lloyd, and Hernandez) of his top four receiving options from last year, with the fourth’s (Gronkowski) future still up in the air. Brady is obviously still an elite fantasy starter, but the negatives are really starting to pileup for the eight-time Pro Bowl quarterback.
The recent events may not have knocked Brady out of the top-five fantasy signal callers this season, but it certainly keeps him from cracking the top-three in my eyes. I would much rather pencil in Aaron Rodgers, Peyton Manning, or Drew Brees atop of my lineup on a weekly basis than Tom Terrific in 2013.