Like him or not, there is little doubt Tom Brady is destined for Canton. Brady is arguably the most successful QB of our generation (the debate about who is the best QB is a little more complicated). Brady has led the Patriots to six Super Bowls, the only QB in NFL history to do so. Tied with Joe Montana and Terry Bradshaw with 4 Super Bowl victories each, he shares elite company in the pantheon of the NFL’s QB greats. As a fantasy football asset, his production throughout his career has been among the best of any in the last decade, right up there with Manning, Brees and Rodgers.
But even the greatest players cannot defeat father time. Brady will be 38 years old at the start of the 2015 season. The tread on the tires is running thin. For dynasty owners, that’s a death knell. So how should we value one of the greatest QB’s of the game for purposes of our great game, dynasty fantasy football?
According to our latest aggregated Dynasty QB Rankings, Brady balances out as the QB 15. Two of our most established, knowledgeable and experienced dynasty veterans, DLF Senior Writer Ryan McDowell and DLF Senior Partner Jeff Haverlack each have a dramatically different valuation and ranking of Brady.
Let’s find out why.
Admittedly, I understand the criticism of keeping a 37 year old quarterback at #6 overall within the position, let alone a 37 year old quarterback facing a four game suspension to begin 2015. But, before casting aside my ranking, hear me out.
Unless you play in a super-flex league, you can only start one quarterback per week. Regardless whether your league format awards four or six points to passing touchdowns, to compete for the championship you need performance and consistency from your quarterback position. This position is not one to ignore or leave to chance come draft day. Granted, the depth of the position is such that the disparity between first and second tier passers provides many names to choose from on draft day – and that’s entirely my point.
In dynasty, you need a healthy roster of starting caliber performers mixed with developing young talent to field a competitive team and potentially secure that elusive “dynasty” label. In a format where only a single player within a position can be started on a weekly basis, you cannot afford to be in a weekly negative point differential, especially in a position with significant scoring advantage potential. I would never suggest not having a capable and developing young talent at the quarterback position as this depth is what will provide the opportunity to stay ahead of the pack, but every year quarterback values swing wildly in the middle and, sometimes, even the first tier. For this reason, allow your other coaches to swing for the fences with the hot player from last year while you wait and secure the aging veteran with potentially three to four years left of starting ability in a system that has proven its worth.
When looking at my fellow rankers’ rankings, it’s easy to see that most feel I’m out in left field. Names such as Matthew Stafford, Drew Brees, Ryan Tannehill, Teddy Bridgewater and even Colin Kaepernick, in addition to the standard more notable names, appear before Brady’s current QB15 ranking. Of those names specifically listed, I would not choose one of them ahead of Brady to lead my team in ’15. Drew Brees, currently listed as the QB7, scored a scant 30 points higher than Brady, but has now lost both Kenny Stills, Jimmy Graham and, for all intents and purposes, Marques Colston, who is fading quickly. Combine that with the fact that for a myriad of material (and temporary) reasons, Brady’s four game average to begin 2014 was nearly 12 points below his production over the remaining games. Adjust this production accordingly and Brady rises to QB3, behind only Andrew Luck and Aaron Rodgers.
Do you really want to risk your 2015 season hoping that Matthew Stafford, who regressed badly in ’14 returns to form, Drew Brees is able to somehow overcome the loss of his impact weapons or that Ryan Tannehill can still produce after losing the double-digit-touchdown production of Mike Wallace? Don’t get me started on Colin Kaepernick, who has a world of potential matched only by his risk. Even Cam Newton, who currently sits at the group’s QB4 ranking finished 2014 as the QB16. That’s not to say these names don’t carry significant value. They have upside, are younger and could produce well, but in a format where I can start only one player, I’d much rather bank on the consistent productivity, system and longevity of a proven producer while tabbing one of these other names as my QB2 for development or depth at the position. I’m not banking year-in and year-out on what could be. I want the what is.
To be sure, if you do select Brady as your primary quarterback, you must consider a following selection of a younger developmental passer to whom Brady can pass the fantasy torch when that day does come. Blake Bortles, Jameis Winston, Derek Carr and even veterans such as Joe Flacco, Eli Manning and Jay Cutler could be valuable pieces in your stable.
Here’s the crux of the matter: In a new dynasty draft, it’s been proven that due to depth at quarterback, you can afford to wait many rounds before selecting your first player at the position. My ranking of Brady is simply a suggestion that his production value far exceeds his ranking by the dynasty community, as long as you believe as I do that he can remain productive for two to three more years. Current community ranking of Brady even suggests that you could wait until well after round ten before selecting him, prioritizing instead another key skill position player that can make all the difference in the power ranking of your roster. Thus, you fill your roster with key positional players during those critical early rounds of the draft while others fight for mediocrity , hope and potential at the quarterback position.
Every draft season I see wild stabs at potential fantasy greatness while existing fantasy greatness remains on the board. If that’s being in left field, well then it sure beats sitting in the cheap seats come season’s end.
I currently rank Patriots’ quarterback Tom Brady as my QB24 in dynasty, the lowest of all DLF rankers. At first, this may seem like a slap in the face of the future Hall of Famer, but I have my reasons.
First of all, as you probably know, I am an ageist when it comes to choosing players for my dynasty teams. While age in general is not as much of a factor when evaluating quarterbacks, Brady will be 38 years old by the time the Pats take the field for Week One of the 2015 regular season, meaning we can’t expect Brady to last much longer. Because of that, I group Brady in with Broncos’ Peyton Manning when determining the value I place on these players, judging them in only one-year windows.
That automatically moves Brady (and Manning) well down my rankings considering I’m assuming I can only get one useful year from them as fantasy quarterbacks. There are at least a dozen younger players I would take over Brady due to this fact, moving him down to the range of other veterans like Eli Manning, Philip Rivers and Ben Roethlisberger. Of course, none of these players are quite as old as Brady, giving them that advantage as well. In short, would I want one year of Brady of three years of Rivers? How about one year of Brady or five years of Matt Ryan? I think these choices are easy.
This doesn’t mean all hope is lost for Brady. After all, we saw him overcome a terrible beginning to the 2014 season to finish as QB8. In fact, his QB13 finish in 2013 was the only time in the past decade he hasn’t finished as a fantasy starter. Because of that, I would still rank Brady as a very good option in redraft leagues. I would also consider him in dynasty if I have a strong contender. The problem with that is, he still carries a lot of value, based on what he’s done over his tremendous career. I understand this reasoning, even if it may be flawed, but it’s likely easier to acquire one of the players I mentioned earlier if you need a short-term fix at the quarterback position.
In dynasty, QB is a position where there are many viable options at the position and strategies for team composition. A player like Brady really hits at the heart of these differing strategies. Do you wait to pick up an older but still viable starting QB like Brady or Manning, or do you swing early for a younger QB with a few more years left in the tank, or much higher upside? If you are trading for or selling such an asset, what is a fair price? Along with your strategy, the cost to benefit ratio of these players and of the potential moves are all part of the calculus. And part of the fun.
So where do you value Tom Brady among dynasty QB’s? And would you feel comfortable with him as your QB1 this year, or would you be looking to sell to the highest bidder?