Tom Brady has been a productive quarterback for fantasy football owners dating back to the mid 2000’s, and 2013 was no different as he threw for 4,343 yards (sixth in the league). He was at his best during a six-game stretch from Week 9-Week 15 where he averaged 371 passing yards per game with multiple passing touchdowns five times during an important stretch for fantasy owners. But Brady failed to top 30 passing touchdowns (25) for the first time since 2009, and his completion percentage (60.5 percent) continued a downward trend.
Other than the 2008 season that saw him suffer a torn ACL in the season opener, Brady has started all 16 games in each of his other 11 full seasons as a starter.
Injuries and off-field issues quickly thinned Brady’s supporting cast last year, but if tight end Rob Gronkowski and wide receiver Danny Amendola can get and stay healthy he’ll have his top two targets in place. Brandon LaFell was added to New England’s wide receiver group in free agency, and if Aaron Dobson is able to stay healthy himself after a left foot issue hobbled him as a rookie he’s an intriguing weapon.
Brady has thrown the ball more than 600 times in three straight seasons, and I don’t see that changing substantially this year.
A recent article from Pro Football Focus put Brady near the bottom of the league when under pressure in 2013. Poor offensive line play was surely a factor, particularly on the interior, but Brady has never been particularly nimble and will turn 37 in August.
The days of Brady having Randy Moss and/or Wes Welker to throw to are over, and much of his fantasy upside for this year hinges on Gronkowski’s health as he works his way back from a torn ACL. There is now downside in banking on Brady as a weekly fantasy starter that has not existed before.
Brady is clearly in decline, and name recognition along with past performance may lead to him going too early in fantasy drafts this year. But Brady still has solid upside potential, with good talent around him and the likelihood of plenty of pass attempts, and I think he’s a few spots too low in ESPN.com’s initial rankings as the No. 12 quarterback.
Bye Week: Week 10
Projected Round: Ninth or 10th
Auction Value: $13 (Fantasy Sharks.com)
Brad Berreman is a Senior Writer at Rant Sports.com. Follow him on Twitter.