Maybe this is Bill Belichick's best coaching job after all. How are the Patriots 6-2 with this crummy passing game?
Tom Brady will gladly take the wins, but the stat page isn't kind to him. He's averaging 5.9 yards per attempt in 2013, Brandon Weeden territory. He only has nine touchdown passes through eight games and you know he's not doing much as a runner. If you grade all fantasy QBs on a point-per-game basis (and don't have a start minimum), Brady checks in at No. 36 in the Yahoo game.
What good is a brand name in a world of numbers?
The return of Rob Gronkowski hasn't clicked yet - Brady posted a 53.5 rating in the Jets loss and a 69.5 rating in Sunday's win over Miami (anytime you can win despite 116 passing yards, thank your lucky stars). Brady didn't notch a two-score game in October. And the opponents aren't easing up - Pittsburgh comes calling in Week 9, Carolina in Week 11. Houston and Cleveland, two good pass defenses, are looming in the second half.
So what can a Brady owner do? Maybe it's time to move on. See if you can make a trade, be it with another owner or the waiver wire. Let's consider some options.
How about Andy Dalton, the flavor of the month? He's rolled up 11 touchdowns over three games, having fun with a loaded passing group (A.J. Green and a bunch of super support options; Marvin Jones, two good tight ends, even Gio Bernard out of the backfield). The schedule could be fun down the stretch, with San Diego and Minnesota waiting in December. And it's not like BenJarvus Green-Ellis is good enough to steal a slew of touchdowns on his own.
Can't trade Brady for Dalton? I'd try that again, ace. My friend Chris Liss was championing the Brady over Dalton side in his Monday radio spot, and if Chris feels that way, I'm sure others do as well. It's out there in some leagues. Kick some tires.
What does Jake Locker do for you? He posted a snappy three touchdowns against the Jets back in Week 4, and he wasn't overmatched against the Niners in Week 7, albeit a lot of his numbers (326 passing, two scores) came in garbage time. Locker is a good bet to run for 20-30 support yards in most weeks, the Titans have respectable receivers, and their running game is stuck in the mud. The schedule also looks reasonable: St. Louis, two Jacksonville games, and maybe keep-up specials against Indy (twice) and Denver. Locker is unowned in 83 percent of Yahoo leagues.
Joe Flacco over Brady? I wouldn't dismiss it out of hand. Terrelle Pryor? At least he can run. Ryan Tannehill? The turnovers are maddening, but he's getting the ball in the end zone, too. I don't considerer any of these players in the Dalton-Locker level right now, but then again, I don't put Brady there either.
Maybe there's a Brady injury the Patriots aren't being open about - you know how they operate. And maybe Brady simply can't post dependable QB1 numbers tied to this supporting cast. Even if Gronkowski ramps it back up to all-world level, you need a second and third option. What wide receivers impress you on this roster?
• Every New Orleans game plan is different - that's how Sean Payton operates - but I have completely different feelings with respect to Darren Sproles and Marques Colston, two of the quiet men from Week 8's victory.
Sproles only saw four touches but I still have faith in what he can do when relied upon. Payton isn't going to show us his hole cards before any week, but I fully expect Sproles to be the featured weapons in a handful of games down the stretch. He's still a nightmare matchup for defenses, still has that electric lateral agility.
As for Colston, the game tape is all but laughing at him these days. He was never a burner at his peak, but right now this looks like a slow receiver, someone teams can cover - if not eliminate - with single coverage. The Patriots did that back in Week 6 and Buffalo had no problems contending with Colston on Sunday.
Is it take-what-you-can-get time with Colston? I've been there for a few weeks, but the market hasn't been robust in my pools. Kenny Stills or Colston? I take Stills, no hesitation. Denarius Moore or Colston? Take me to Oakland. I'd take any of the Giants top receivers (don't flip out over Rueben Randle's quiet day), Antonio Brown, T.Y. Hilton. Share your Colston flip results with the rest of the room. And if you have a reason for optimism, I'm all ears.
Speed Round: I have no problem worth Dez Bryant's tantrum. He should be mad. There's no reason for him to be limited to six targets in a shootout, and remember, he scored highlight-film TDs on two of them . . . You wonder if Stevan Ridley's first-quarter absence was tied to one of those Belichick silent suspensions. I still think he's the best running back in New England, even after Shane Vereen returns. Perhaps you can execute a buy-low here . . . I'm shocked Jason Campbell took just one sack in Kansas City against the blood-thirsty Chiefs defense. Just as stunning, the Browns dropped Alex Smith six times . . . You can do whatever you want with Dwayne Bowe - drop, trade, give away. I'm not going to fight you . . . It's tempting to try to sell high on Andre Ellington, simply because Bruce Arians can't be trusted. When Rashard Mendenhall is healthy, he's going to steal touches - and drive us all crazy. I love Ellington as much as anyone, but we have to live in the real world. Arians is the last guy to fully buy into the rookie. To be fair, pass protection is also an issue for Ellington . . . I'm not worried about Matt Ryan; his down game said more about Arizona's underrated defense than it did about Ryan. But my expectations remain very low for Steven Jackson and Roddy White, basic injury-return theory at play . . . It could be worse, Leslie Frazier could be running your favorite team.