How to Draft Tom Brady
Thank goodness we can let go of the silly notion of Tom Brady taking his fight to the Supreme Court.
The Patriots QB announced Friday that he’ll pick up his deflated balls and accept his 4-game suspension to open the coming season. So what does that mean for his value in your fantasy football draft?
Consistent draft position
Brady has seen his ADP slip in MyFantasyLeague.com MFL10 drafting since the suspension news first dropped … by less than a full round.
February drafters were taking Brady in the middle of Round 8, on average, as the 6th QB off the board. Perhaps they were wary of his relatively muted finish to the season after a big 1st half. Perhaps the spectre of the suspension still loomed a bit too darkly.
Whatever the case, Brady’s ADP for last week sat just 9 spots below that February number, and only Saints QB Drew Brees has passed him at the position. So if you were hoping to get Brady at a discount vs. his original price, you can forget it.
That doesn’t mean he’s not a value, though.
Sure, you’ll lose the 1st 4 fantasy weeks, which eats up more than a quarter of most fantasy football seasons. But if you draft Brady around 7th among QBs, then you’ll be getting the guy who ranked 2nd at the position in fantasy points per game last year.
Brady’s 24.8 points per outing -- going by our default scoring -- also would have ranked top 3 among QBs in each of the previous 3 seasons. And he delivered even better than that when Julian Edelman was on the field.
Brady averaged 28.7 fantasy points per week through the 1st 9 games of 2015. (Edelman suffered his foot fracture in the 9th contest.) That’s 1.1 ahead of the per-game scoring average Cam Newton used to dominate the position in full-season scoring.
And this year’s Patriots look a whole lot like the group that accompanied Brady through his early run. Dion Lewis and LeGarrette Blount continue to lead the backfield. Edelman’s back, though we’ll have to see how his foot holds up after a pair of surgeries. The Pats signed Nate Washington and Chris Hogan and drafted Malcolm Mitchell to deepen the WR corps. And most importantly, they traded for TE Martellus Bennett. The former Bear stands as easily the team’s best #2 TE since Aaron Hernandez … well, you know.
This offense attempted the 5th most passes in the league last year, the 5th straight year in which it ranked among the top 7 in that category.
A perfect pairing
You didn’t need to be told that 12 (or 11) weeks of Brady as your fantasy QB is attractive. What you need is a player -- or 2 -- to take care of those 1st 4 weeks. Well, the position that’s arguably the deepest in fantasy presents options.
Your best single bet might be Cowboys QB Tony Romo, who opens with the Giants at home, Washington on the road, Chicago back home and then the Niners away. Three of those teams ranked among the 10 most generous to fantasy passers last year. The other, San Francisco, checked in 30th in Football Outsiders’ pass-defense ratings.
It also helps that Romo’s going late in Round 12, on average, about 3 rounds later than Brady. That makes them an attractive pair in any league where you don’t want to draft a 3rd QB.
Other pairing options going later than Brady include:
Philip Rivers (Round 10)
Week 1: at Kansas City
Week 2: Jacksonville
Week 3: at Indianapolis
Week 4: New Orleans
Kirk Cousins (Round 11)
Week 1: Pittsburgh
Week 2: Dallas
Week 3: at N.Y. Giants
Week 4: Cleveland
Matthew Stafford (Round 12)
Week 1: at Indianapolis
Week 2: Tennessee
Week 3: at Green Bay
Week 4: at Chicago
Marcus Mariota (Round 12)
Week 1: Minnesota
Week 2: at Detroit
Week 3: Oakland
Week 4: at Houston
Joe Flacco (Round 14)
Week 1: Buffalo
Week 2: at Cleveland
Week 3: at Jacksonville
Week 4: Oakland
Jay Cutler (Round 14)
Week 1: at Houston
Week 2: Philadelphia
Week 3: at Dallas
Week 4: Detroit
In a deeper league, where you might have room for 3 QBs, you can even consider backing Brady with Flacco and Cutler to piece together those 1st 4 weeks.
And in case you're wondering why we haven't bothered to mention Jimmy Garoppolo yet ... well, it's because we're not too interested in using him. None of the defenses New England will face over the 1st 4 weeks ranked worse than 16th against fantasy QBs last year, and Arizona, Miami, Houston and Buffalo all have a chance to improve on D over 2015.