Fantasy Football 2013: Forget Name Value, Tom Brady No Longer A Must-Start
Fruit Loops are one of the best cereals in all of breakfast eating.
It’s consistently delicious and seems to always get the job done when you are hungry each and every morning. Trust me, folks. Stay with me here. While Fruit Loops get all the attention and would essentially be a top pick in fantasy cereal drafts, the sort of bootleg cereals aren’t too bad either. They don’t have the same appeal, but they can get the job done for you.
For years, quarterback Tom Bradywas regarded as the cream of the crop among fantasy quarterbacks. The Fruit Loop class, if you will. Year after year, Brady would sling 30-plus touchdowns to his array of different weapons. It was a no-brainer. If Brady is on your team, he is in your starting lineup. He’s finished as a top-five fantasy signal caller in each of the last three seasons. However, fast forward to 2013, and Brady is looking more like one of the bootleg cereals.
Or in other words, the Tootie Fruities class.
On Sunday, Brady threw for a very mediocre 116 yards and one touchdown, while also tossing an interception on his first pass attempt of the game. It was another slow start for Brady, which resulted in yet another weak fantasy outing. Sunday was Brady’s third game of the season with less than 200 passing yards in a game, and his fifth with only one touchdown or fewer. Those are not exactly Tom Brady-like numbers, folks. The following aren’t Brady-like numbers either. Take a look at his weekly fantasy production. It isn’t pretty.
Only one top-10 weekly finish from Brady in 2013. Could you put some of the blame on the receiving corp (or lack there of) for the first half of the season? Perhaps. I mean, according to Pro Football Focus, Brady is currently leading the league in yards in air on dropped passes this season (281). And three of the top fifteen receivers among wide receiver drop rate are members of the Patriots. Rookie Aaron Dobson has been the obvious name, sporting a drop rate of 24.14 (1st), Kenbrell Thompkins is at 14.84 (8th) and slot man Julian Edelman sits at 13th with 11.54. Not to mention the fact that he has been without his two top targets for the majority of the season.
Tight end Rob Gronkowski and free agent acquisition Danny Amendola have missed a combined 11 games this season, and, of course, we all know about the Aaron Hernandez situation. The lack of a consistent running game has been an issue as well. Stevan Ridley started the season very slowly, struggling to hold onto the ball. Meanwhile, Shane Vereen has been sidelined since Week 1, and LeGarrette Blount and Brandon Bolden are nothing more than plodders. The supporting cast has certainly been one of the worst in recent memory for Brady, but let’s not avoid pointing the finger at him, as well.
Heading into Week 8, Brady’s 55.4 completion percentage ranked 28th in the league. That numbers is also the lowest of his entire career. Who has a higher percentage of completions than Brady? How about guys like Geno Smith, Chad Henne and Mike Glennon? Brady has been oddly inaccurate all season long. He’s overthrown players, come up short on throws. You name it. In eight games this season, Brady has sported a completion percentage lower than 60 percent six times. And because New England has yet to establish a consistent running game, Brady hasn’t been nearly as effective during play-action this year. Despite ranking second in play-action attempts, Brady is struggling, sporting a completion percentage of just 53.9, which ranks 23rd among eligible signal callers. The lack of consistent run game doesn’t necessarily open up the passing game in play-action passing.
Also, it’s difficult to be an effective passer when you don’t have a ton of time to, oh, I don’t know, throw the ball. Brady has been sacked 23 times this season, which is the third-most among all quarterbacks. He’s been hit as he’s thrown three times this year, and according to PFF, Brady has been sacked 21 percent of plays where he has been under pressure, which is the sixth-most in football. The offensive line suffered another blow on Sunday, as right tackle Sebastian Volmer broke his leg.
Rest of Season
As of right now, Brady is scoring 0.31 fantasy points per drop back, which is 32nd among fantasy signal callers. And look, Brady fans. I get it. He’s one of the best quarterbacks to ever play the game, and could he turn it around? Sure he can. The offensive weapons are getting healthier, and it’d be foolish to count Brady out. However, as of right now, you’d be wrong to consider him a must-start quarterback each and every week. He’s shown absolutely nothing to warrant that title, and his rest of season schedule isn’t exactly the friendliest. He still faces four teams inside the top-10 among pass defenses (PIT, HOU, CAR, CLE) as well as the Ravens and Miami Dolphins (who Brady already struggled against).
Sure, Fruit Loops are great, but if they aren’t tasting good, why keep going back to them?
Adam Pfeifer is a featured fantasy sports columnist for Rant Sports.
You can follow him on Twitter @aPfeiferRS.