August 07, 2008
Now that Brett Favre has agreed to take his
theater of pain boyish gun-slinging to New York, it's clear that the NFL itself is the biggest winner in the transaction. And Tarvaris Jackson is probably the runner-up, because he gets to keep his job.
We're left to deal with the fantasy implications. Ostensibly, it's a very good situation for Favre. As we discussed last month in the Juggernaut Index, the Jets have made a substantial and necessary investment in their offensive line, and they have talented veterans at receiver and running back. But back then, everyone's fantasy value was diminished by the quarterback situation. It appeared to be a battle between a young player who was strong-armed but not ready, Kellen Clemens, and a vet who was ready but not strong-armed, Chad Pennington.
Brett Favre clearly does not lack experience, nor talent, nor a strong arm. His arrival in New York is a rising tide that should lift the fantasy value of every Jets skill position player to some extent. There is simply more territory for an opposing defense to cover when Favre is the quarterback -- way more territory.
This helps Thomas Jones significantly. At the moment he's No. 27 in our composite running back rankings, but the sudden credibility of the Jets passing game should bump him at least five spots, into the pile-up with Edgerrin James, Earnest Graham, and the best of the rookies.
First-round tight end Dustin Keller, who was a force at the NFL Combine, gets quite a bit more interesting, too. He's no longer just a dynasty league flier, but is instead a late-round TE of interest. Keller is currently third on the Jets' depth chart, but it's early and he's a superior talent.
Laveranues Coles and Jerricho Cotchery also clearly benefit from Favre's arrival. It's a bit more complicated in Coles case, since he was such a favorite of Pennington's. (More detail on that here). Health and speed are the greater concerns with Coles. Cotchery will get a substantial boost in my rankings, moving into the low-20s. That's Dwayne Bowe/Hines Ward territory. The 26-year-old Cotchery has caught 82 passes in each of the past two seasons and his yards-after-catch increased from 4.5 in '06 to 5.4 in '07. It's tempting to make a Donald Driver comparison there.
But that gets us to another problem: the Jets offense and the Packers offense are not identical, and we can't simply assume that Favre is the only piece of the equation that needs to adjust. Recall what an NFL source told Jason Cole recently:
“Brett is a sandlot guy. When (Mike) Holmgren was there, half the time he didn’t even run the play that Holmgren (called). He just threw it where he felt like,” the source said. “Go back to the Super Bowl (victory over New England in 1997). That first touchdown pass to (Andre) Rison. That wasn’t the play that was called.
“With Brett, what you’re going to do with him is find his 10 favorite plays and run those most of the time. Forget him learning your whole playbook. That’s not going to work for him.”
You're not going to see Favre simply shoe-horned into what the Jets were doing last year. That team was seriously limited by the quality of the line and the quarterback. You can only be so conservative with Favre at the controls, regardless of Brian Schottenheimer's preferences. Favre is only three years removed from season in which he threw 29 interceptions. That's easy to forget, given last year's brilliance.
For now I'm bumping Favre to 14th in my quarterback rankings, behind Matt Schaub and Eli Manning, but ahead of David Garrard and Jake Delhomme. His ceiling is just too great to dismiss. If the weeks ahead go smoothly and the propaganda is effective enough, Favre will climb higher.
Still, I don't expect to actually own him in any leagues. There's going to be at least one Jets and/or Favre fetishist in every draft who takes him three rounds earlier than my philosophy and QB tiers will allow.
It should also be noted that there will be a fair amount of interest in Chad Pennington in the days ahead. He could find himself in the starting QB mix in Kansas City, Miami or Chicago tomorrow. Or the Patriots could simply scoop him up, interrogate him, and give him to Randy Moss as a pet.
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