Sometimes I wonder …

Jacob Feldman


Often times when I’m out mowing my lawn or working out at the gym my mind tends to wander a little bit. The topics change depending on the day but every once in a while I find myself wondering about various potential and hypothetical situations that could occur in the NFL world. I’m not talking about run of the mill stuff. No, my mind often wonders about the major things, such as Tom Brady blowing out his knee in week one a few years ago.

Because we’re in a down-time in the NFL schedule, I figured I would share a few of my musings. These are highly hypothetical situations to ponder and think about during this slow period. Most would utterly destroy the fantasy value of everyone on a team or make their value go sky high. Enjoy!

1)  The entire fantasy world is excited to see what will happen this year when Andy Reid brings his talents to Kansas City. We all know that Jamaal Charles is one of the most talented running backs in the league, but he’s struggled to reach his fullest potential due to injuries and role by previous coaches. Given Reid’s track record for utilizing running backs, that’s all about to change. Expecting Charles to near 2,000 total yards with 50-plus receptions isn’t completely unrealistic as he becomes the focal point of the Chiefs’ offense.

Of course all of this could change if Charles has a flash back to his 2011 season and ends up going down with a serious injury early in the season. What happens to the Chiefs then?

If Charles goes down, that leaves some mix of Knile Davis, Shaun Draughn, and Cyrus Gray to carry the load. Most will agree that none of these names are a special talent. Davis is a workout warrior in my book while Draughn and Gray are just average talents. None of them can be the focal point which would force Reid to go to the air. The problem is that he has Alex Smith as his quarterback. I actually like Smith more than most, but he can’t be the focal point of an offense, especially when his only proven option is Dwayne Bowe.

The bottom line for the Chiefs is that they will go as far as Charles goes. If he goes down early, the Chiefs could easily be looking at a top pick in 2014. Outside of Adrian Peterson and Calvin Johnson it’s hard to think of any other non-quarterback that is as important to his team as Charles is to the Chiefs.

2)  The NFL world and especially the fantasy world are buzzing with excitement about what Chip Kelly might do in Philly. Kelly’s offenses in Oregon were top five in the entire nation in many different categories including rushing yards, points scored, and plays ran. Most are expecting some elements of Kelly’s high paced, high flying college offense to carry over, but we also expect there to be some significant modifications to his system in order to fit the players on his team and the NFL way.

What if Kelly doesn’t change a thing from his college offense and it actually works in the NFL?

Kelly’s offense typically ran 80-85 plays per game with 60-65 percent of them being running plays. If we translate exactly that to the NFL we are talking about right around 800 rushes for the season for the Eagles. That’s right, eight zero zero. That means that both LeSean McCoy and Bryce Brown could have 300 carries each and there would still be about 200 carries for Michael Vick and whoever else to split. If something like that happened and the Eagles were winning while doing it, it could completely change the pass happy NFL as we know it.

I highly doubt that would even be attempted, but it is fun to think about it!

3)  The pistol offense featuring mobile quarterbacks seems to be one of the new trends in the NFL this year thanks to the success of Russell Wilson, Robert Griffin III, and Colin Kaepernick last season. Many NFL commentators say that it is a system that can work except for the fact that it puts the most important player on the field, the quarterback, at a much greater risk for injury than most teams are willing to accept. This partially came true last season with Griffin’s knee injury.

What if there isn’t one but two major injuries to young, mobile quarterbacks in 2013?

Let’s say that RG3 is lined up against the Packers week 2. He fakes to Alfred Morris and then takes off up the middle. He gets 10 yards before Clay Matthews launches him. RG3 puts his hand down to brace his fall and breaks his wrist on his throwing hand.

One week later when the 49ers are playing the Colts, Kaepernick runs a play-action bootleg on third and 15 and looks downfield only to see Vernon Davis double covered. Instead of throwing it away he pulls it down and runs with it. He is two yards short of a first down and tried to hurdle the defender. Unfortunately he takes a helmet to the knee in the process and shreds his ACL.

With two of the premier young talents at the position going down in back to back weeks, NFL coaches and owners would definitely start to reconsider the idea of using their quarterbacks as rushers. My guess is that this would make teams start to swing back towards the pocket passers and away from the “dual threat” quarterbacks that have been popular in the last few years, making several college prospects not quite the high picks that we thought they would be.

4)  Tom Brady is one of the fiercest competitors in the NFL, and he absolute hates losing. Unfortunately for Brady, the last few months have been filled with loss. First he threw more interceptions than touchdowns in the playoff loss to the Ravens. Then he re-structured his contract to free up cap space but Wes Welker still went to Denver. After that came Rob Gronkowski’s operations and then there is Aaron Hernandez. That means two of Brady’s top three targets are for sure not coming back with the third one potentially missing the start of the season.

What if things go really badly for Brady this year and he just decides it isn’t worth it anymore?

For the last 12 seasons Brady has led the Patriots to playoff games and Super Bowls time and time again. If the Patriots have an average season it would very much be viewed as a failure by Brady. If he feels the Patriots are going in to a brief rebuilding period maybe he would walk away instead of playing his age 37 season in 2014. We all know he doesn’t need the money.

If he did walk away, that could create a huge power vacuum in the AFC as one of the perennial playoff teams might be out for several years as they search for a new field general. Just imagine if the Patriots have the same issues that their division rival Bills, Jets, and Dolphins have had as they try to find replacements for their hall of fame quarterbacks. It would definitely be a huge change to the landscape of the NFL if the Patriots are just another team, not to mention the fantasy rosters that would be hurt by players that produced with Brady that just don’t without him. It could be interesting!

5)  Concussion. It is one of the scariest and least understood words in the world of sports right now. The full long term impact of receiving them isn’t completely clear but we can definitely say that they are a very bad thing. We can also say with some certainty that when you get one you are more likely to get a second. When you have two, you’re pretty likely to get three. If you get enough of them, then you end up like Jahvid Best.  Aaron Rodgers is one of the highest profile players in the league and he has a history of concussions with at least two of them.

What would happen if he suffered another one or even two concussions this year?

Three concussions are pushing it and four is the point where few players come back. Rodgers is only 29 years old which is in the heart of a quarterback’s prime. He also just signed the richest contract in NFL history. In other words, everyone is expecting him to keep doing what he does for several more years. In fact, the Packers and fantasy football owners are counting on it so much that there really isn’t a backup plan in place.

Without Rodgers, the high powered passing attack would stall and probably fall apart as the Packers just don’t have a replacement on roster. The futures of Randall Cobb, Jordy Nelson and the rest of the skill position players would be murky at best without their leader. It is something that no one wants to see.

These are just some of the things that I wonder about from time to time. What about you?

jacob feldman