For fantasy football owners in search of a top-tier quarterback, Aaron Rodgers of the Green Bay Packers and Tom Brady of the New England Patriots have been sure-fire, and frankly fool-proof, options in recent years. Even with some notable offseason departures for their teams, both Rodgers and Brady will be among the first five signal callers selected in virtually all fantasy leagues this year.
But since this is the debut edition of my “Fantasy Face-Off” series for 2013, is one a better option than the other? Let’s take a look, then I’ll make my choice.
The Case For Aaron Rodgers
Rodgers lost his most two most experienced wide receivers this offseason, as Greg Jennings signed with the Minnesota Vikings as a free agent and Donald Driver retired. But the cupboard is not bare in Green Bay, with wide receivers Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb and James Jones joined by tight end Jermichael Finley. The Packers did use two draft picks in April on running backs Eddie Lacy and Johnathan Franklin, but Rodgers is clearly at the helm of a pass-first offense.
Futher bolstering Rodgers’ fantasy value is his running ability, as he has at least 250 rushing yards in each of the last four seasons with 14 total touchdowns on the ground over that span. Green Bay’s lackluster offensive line (51 sacks allowed in 2012) adds some injury risk, but there’s little reason for Rodgers not to be the first quarterback off the board in fantasy drafts.
The Case For Tom Brady
The Patriots actually had a running game to speak of in 2012 (seventh in the league-136.5 yards per game), but Brady still finished in the top five in the NFL in passing yards (4,827-fourth), passing touchdowns (34-fourth) and attempts (637-fourth). Four of New England’s top five pass catchers from last season are gone, and the one that remains (tight end Rob Gronkowski) looks unlikely to be ready for the start of the season after multiple offseason surgeries.
New England refurbished their group of wide receivers via free agency (Danny Amendola, Donald Jones, Michael Jenkins) and April’s draft (Aaron Dobson, Josh Boyce), so Brady will be challenged to build quick rapport with the new array of weapons around him.
Brady is obviously not the most nimble quarterback in the league, but he has added to his fantasy value with seven rushing touchdowns over the last two seasons. If anything that touchdown vulturing could have a negative effect on Patriots’ running back Stevan Ridley, but he had 12 touchdowns on the ground last season.
Choosing between Rodgers and Brady is an exercise in futility on a lot of fronts, as both will contribute to plenty of fantasy league titles in 2013 as long as they are healthy.
For me it comes down to value relative to draft position, so that makes Brady my choice. Those that draft Rodgers will have to spend their first-round pick or a big chunk of auction dollars to get him, while the negativity surrounding Brady will surely bump him down pre-draft rankings a few spots and perhaps make him a relative draft day steal.
Brad Berreman is a contributing writer at Rant Sports.com. Follow him on Twitter @bradberreman24.