Mercifully, DefateGate has reached its end. Since Tom Brady is guaranteed to miss the first four games of the regular season, questions loom about exactly how fast the Patriots will start off the blocks with Jimmy Garropolo at the controls. In this edition of ‘The Stance,’ Brad Evans and Scott Pianowski load up their muskets and fire shots about New England’s most discussed fantasy commodities.
Rejoice! Discussions about Tom Brady and emasculated balls are finally over. With arguably the most ridiculous episode in NFL history now in the rear view and Brady shelved four games, is the future HOFer, in his Age 39 season, OVERVALUED, UNDERVALUED or PROPERLY VALUED at his current 98.2 (QB7) ADP?
Brad – UNDERVALUED. One would surmise Brady will start to show signs of aging at some point, but few, if any, cracks have been visible in recent efforts. Last year, the decorated passer was the second-most valuable contributor at the position. He also tucked inside the top-10 in several secondary categories including passer rating (102.2), yards per attempt (7.6), red-zone completion percentage (63.2) and deep-ball completion percentage (41.2). If there were signs of a decline, the water in Rio is drinkable.
The ‘Angry Tom!!!’ narrative is overplayed, especially for an ultra-competitive personality like Brady. He has plenty of internal drive to keep the pistons pumping. Regardless, the man is sure to unleash hell upon reinstatement. Sorry Cleveland. The Pats offense, which added downfield weapon Chris Hogan and tight end Martellus Bennett and will have Edelman and Lewis back, is set to explode. It’s a foregone conclusion Brady will average another 20-plus fantasy points per game in standard Yahoo leagues.
And for those suggesting a hot Garoppolo start could force a QB controversy, get a grip. Brady is the unrivaled starter. End of story.
Scott – I hope most of us can see the forest for the trees on the suspension itself; as HOF journalist Bob Ryan put it, the infraction was jaywalking and the punishment was an over-the-top retaliation for historical crimes not related to this specific transgression. Ah, I digress.
Brady’s OVERVALUED as a Top 10 quarterback; I’m pretty sure he won’t be on any of my teams. You know how deep the position is in 2016, right? You can do very well at any price point. Streaming is not hard. If you set your mind up on Brady, you need to play a man down for a month — and he’s coming back to an offense that has injury concerns with key players. Give me Philip Rivers, a round or two cheaper. (And if I miss Rivers, there are plenty of other fish in this sea.)
(Anyone buying into the Angry Tom narrative misses the point, and doesn’t understand how hyper-competitive Brady is in the first place. But this is still the oldest quarterback in the league, and someone saddled with downside as well as upside.)
Disturbingly, Julian Edelman underwent multiple foot procedures in the past six months. Though reports offer encouragement about his Week 1 availability, many in the fantasy community are understandably reluctant to draft the sure-handed wideout, even in PPR leagues. BELIEVE or MAKE BELIEVE: Edelman plays at least 13 games, tops 85 receptions and is a WR2 pillar, at a minimum, in .5 PPR leagues.
Scott – MAKE BELIEVE. I refuse to get drunk on optimism, especially when it’s tied to a player’s comeback from a major injury (in this case, two foot surgeries). There are two key issues with any Edelman pick — he’s played one full season out of seven, and he tends to be light in the touchdown column. Last year’s spike in that area will probably come down significantly now that Martellus Bennett is around.
Brad – BELIEVE. Some are predicting a dramatic drop-off in the receiver’s production with Bennett in town. Yes Marty B will wrest away a few looks, but the Pats have always featured numerous two-TE sets. It’s doubtful Edelman will suddenly disappear. He’s highly reliable, incredibly versatile and an integral option in the short-field. Topping seven touchdowns will be tough, but if he holds up physically, I suspect he’ll eclipse 90 receptions and 1,100 yards.
Though exhibited in preseason play, also keep in mind Garoppolo has exhibited strong check-down tendencies. It’s likely early on Edelman will be leaned on heavily. He’s a steal of a deal at his current 40.7 (WR21) ADP.
Before a torn ACL prematurely halted his season, Dion Lewis was on the brink of a break out. With all signs pointing to a full recovery by Week 1 and assuming he holds up 16 games, OVER or UNDER 64.5 receptions for the mighty mite.
Scott – UNDER. Again, I’m going to be careful with a major injury return, given that it’s tied to a player who costs major draft capital. Lewis missed the 2013 season after breaking his leg, and last year it was the torn ACL. This is a sports car with two major accidents; we’re talking about someone who checks in at 5-foot-8, 195 pounds. Can Lewis maintain his lateral agility? Will he be able to last a full season? Unless the price dips a round from current market, I’ll be looking at safer stocks.
Brad – OVER. Lewis was the most elusive running back in the game in 2015, a player who evaded a godlike 7.1 tackles per game. He also set the pace in juke rate according to Player Profiler. His slipperiness in the open-field and overall versatility will force the Pats to deploy him on roughly 55-65 percent of team snaps. Assuming he sees that much action, he should sail past the proposed number. Recall he was on pace for 81 receptions last year. This season, the plucky back hauls in 70-75 balls. Scrawl it in blood.