As of today, we are officially only three months away from the start of the NFL regular season. In just 91 days, the Green Bay Packers will attempt to avenge their 2012 loss to the Seattle Seahawks at CenturyLink Field following the infamous “Fail Mary” TD or INT, depending on how you see it. This season also marks Tom Brady’s upcoming 37th birthday in August. Here’s what to expect from the aging future Hall-of-Fame QB.
Brady finished the 2013 season as the 13th-best fantasy QB with 241 points in standard scoring leagues. Though he has been a perennial top QB option in fantasy for years and years, his poor performance last season has dropped his current 2014 ADP to the late seventh round. But is Brady slipping, or did he just have a down year in 2013 due to other reasons?
I guess I’m a Brady believer because I attribute his drop in stats last year to lack of quality receivers rather than a drop in his talent and ability. Brady completed only 380 of his 628 pass attempts for about 4,300 yards and 25 TDs, and his 60.5 completion percentage was the second-worst of his career.
However, according to SportingCharts.com, the New England Patriots ranked second in the league in dropped passes. Brady’s receivers dropped 41 passes last year, about 6.5 percent of his total attempts. Moreover, he had almost all new receivers, the majority of whom were either injured for part of the season or rookies.
Both of his star pass-catching TEs were gone for the better part of the season. Aaron Hernandez was facing murder charges, and Rob Gronkowski only played in seven games due to various back and knee injuries. Danny Amendola played in 12 games through a groin injury, and Shane Vereen played in only eight games while still in a wrist cast for a few of them.
The two rookie Patriots WRs, Aaron Dobson and Kenbrell Thompkins, combined to catch fewer than 50 percent of their 144 targets last year.
So here’s the 2014 outlook. Although Gronkowski, Amendola and Vereen are still injury risks, it was extraordinarily unfortunate that they all missed so many games during the same season. While they may suffer injuries again, I don’t foresee all three out at the same time again in 2014. Dobson seems to have leapt over Thompkins on the depth chart, and a second year in the league should see his performance and stats improve.
I think that Brady still has the arm and should bounce back this year to finish the 2014 season with about 4,500 yards, 30 TDs and 10 INTs. That should be good enough to propel him back into the top five or six fantasy QBs. However, there is risk associated with Brady this year, and I don’t think he’ll outscore the other QBs in his tier by a wide margin. I’d be happy if Brady ended up as my QB, but I wouldn’t necessarily reach for him.