Forgot Log-in or  Password? |  Help  Not a member, Register Now!
      
Fantasy Football Today
Fantasy Football Today Blog
Gameday Inactives
2015 Draft Prep Guide
Mock Drafts
Get Your Draft Board
Player News
Stats
Players
Depth Charts
Roster Trends
Columns
Injury Report
Projections
Rankings
Schedules
Scores
Fantasy Games
Commissioner
Prize Leagues
Free
Office Pool Manager
Game Pick'em
Playoff Challenge
Fantasy Baseball Today
Fantasy Baseball Today Blog
2015 Draft Prep Guide
Mock Drafts
Player News
Stats
Players
Depth Charts
Roster Trends
Columns
Injury Report
Rankings
Projections
Schedules
Probable Pitchers
Scores
Standings
Fantasy Games
Daily Fantasy
Commissioner
Prize Leagues
Free
Player News
Stats
Players
Columns
Injury Report
Rankings
Schedules
Mock Drafts
Scores
Standings
Fantasy Games
Commissioner
Free
Prize Leagues
Downloadable Draft Kit
Player News
Stats
Players
Columns
Injury Report
Rankings
Schedules
Mock Drafts
Scores
Standings
Fantasy Games
Commissioner
Free
Prize Leagues
No Fantasy Teams Found
 
 
 

Fantasy & Reality: Back off from Brady?

Senior Fantasy Writer
  •  

Poor Tom Brady.

I don't mean poor Tom Brady -- the guy is making $60 milly over five seasons and is married to a supermodel. Plus, he has three rings and is a lock for the Hall of Fame. And he has great hair.

But I actually feel kinda sorta bad for him given all the stuff that's happened to his receiving corps this year. The year began with Aaron Hernandez out of the league and Rob Gronkowski on the sideline, then Shane Vereen got hurt, then Danny Amendola got hurt, then a couple of rookie receivers couldn't consistently catch the ball. Eventually Gronkowski, Amendola and Vereen all came back and they played together ... for just over 14 quarters.

Losing Gronkowski is painful for Fantasy owners, but replacing him isn't a chore (aside from choking away the tears from cutting him from your seasonal roster). Aim for Dennis Pitta, Delanie Walker, Charles Clay, Garrett Graham or Jacob Tamme -- yes, in that order.

But Gronk's absence will cause plenty of strain on a Patriots offense that averaged 32.8 points per game with him in the lineup for six. Without him the Pats averaged 20.8 points per game through the first six weeks of the season ... but did come through with 27 points on the Browns in a quarter and a half vs. Cleveland in Week 14. Of course, an onside-kick recovery and a questionable pass interference penalty on the Browns helped that number along.

Before Gronkowski came back, Brady had one game with over 20 Fantasy points in his first six. His first two back with Gronk were awful, but then he had three with 20-plus Fantasy points in a four-game span. You'd have thought Brady would have gone back to being less than stellar without Gronk last week at Cleveland, but but he managed to fire up the offense around him and with a big dose of Vereen managed to post another plus-20 effort. Gronk had two catches for 32 yards before messing up his knee, barely contributing to Brady's performance.

The impact of Gronk
Pct. of Brady's numbers in his
six full games with Gronkowski.
Completions: 24.7%
Targets: 26.7%
Yards: 31.3%
TDs: 4/11 (36.4%)

It's going to take the rest of the Patriots offense stepping up like this for Brady to remain a Fantasy hero, and that's asking a lot. More than a third of Brady's 418 yards last week came from Vereen, who posted a career-high 153 yards with 126 of them coming after the hit on Gronk and 50 of them coming on a bomb. It seems unlikely that Vereen will get those numbers every week. Amendola was another clutch contributor, hauling in the game-winning score with just under a minute left last week. Amendola has two touchdowns over nine games and while he has two games with over 100 yards, they are also his only two where he has more than 55 yards. His targets seem to pale in comparison to those of Edelman, who has been reliable for Brady. Over the last three weeks, Edelman has at least nine targets per game and has delivered double-digit Fantasy points, be it because of a touchdown and nominal yardage, a lot of yardage without a touchdown, or both a lot of yards with a score or two.

It's been Edelman's bump in production that has especially made Brady a threat, but much of that was because defenses were focused on Gronkowski and made Edelman less of a priority as a short- to mid-range receiver. That's going to go away -- it's going to be much easier to put the clamps on Edelman and Amendola without a third threat roaming 15 yards downfield. Now, the Patriots might trot out a young receiver like Josh Boyce or Kenbrell Thompkins to be that third threat, but defenses won't focus so much on stopping them like they did Gronkowski. The Patriots tried to cultivate those talents already this season and mostly failed. Defenses will also be far more cognizant of Vereen being a regular target for Brady.

Making matters worse are the actual opponents on the horizon for the Patriots: the Dolphins and Ravens (both on the road). Both are in the Top 10 in least Fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks -- the Dolphins have allowed three quarterbacks to top 20-plus Fantasy points and six to under 10 points while the Ravens have yielded four passers to go over 20 points and four have gone under 10. They're not going to make matters easy for Brady.

Check out our Fantasy Football podcast!
There is no better source for entertaining Fantasy advice than our Fantasy Football Today podcast. Dave Richard, Jamey Eisenberg and Adam Aizer will help you pass the time as you anticipate Draft Day 2014!
Latest episode | Subscribe today!

This is why I think we'll see the Patriots rediscover their run game, especially this week against a poor run defense like the Dolphins. While such a strategy might lead to a win, it won't necessarily lead to big stats for Brady. We've seen him throw at least 41 passes in each of the last three weeks and the big numbers have followed. Though Brady is capable of delivering a good stat line without throwing a ton of passes (see Week 9), it's less likely he'll be great if he's handing off more than chucking it long.

Now, here's the thing -- loyal readers will remember my breakdown of Brady from before Week 9 when I discouraged people from starting him against the Steelers and Panthers over a three-week span. That didn't work out so well, as Brady has his best game of the season at home against Pittsburgh and nearly delivered another strong performance at Carolina. I'll be the first to admit that you're playing with fire when you consider benching Brady, but after seeing Matt Ryan and Andrew Luck crash and burn without their most reliable receiver and after seeing Brady fare unfavorably without Gronk through the first six weeks of the season, it's not exactly a daring call to make.

Who's better than Brady?

So if you're going to bench Brady you darn sure better have someone solid to go with in his place. This is not the time to gamble on a flash in the pan or a weak-armed guy with a favorable matchup -- if you're going to take a big risk you might as well stick with Brady. But if you can avoid the big risk with a reputable alternative then it's worth doing. Here are five quarterbacks and a bonus duo I'd start over Brady.

Nick Foles, Eagles (at Vikings, vs. Bears)
Pretty much cinch matchups for one of the league's hottest passers. Minnesota has allowed a quarterback to get 22 or more Fantasy points in seven straight -- and that's with cornerback Xavier Rhodes playing (he might be out this week). Statistically, the Bears have been strong against the pass but the Eagles scheme combined with Chicago's leaky defense makes Foles a favorite.

Josh McCown/Jay Cutler, Bears (at Browns, at Eagles)
If Foles is the best rags-to-riches Fantasy quarterback this year, McCown has to be right on his tail. Cleveland and Philadelphia have good and bad parts to their respective secondaries, but neither one should give the Chicago passing game much trouble. It's just important to keep tabs on Cutler's health since the Bears have said he will play when he's ready. Cutler and McCown have a combined nine games with 20-plus Fantasy points, combining for a 10th in the second game in which Cutler got hurt.

Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers (vs. Bengals, at Packers)
Like Brady, Big Ben has been hot over the last three weeks. Unlike Brady, he has his full allotment of receivers. He also has two really nice matchups against suspect secondaries. I know the Bengals have been solid for much of the year, but they lost another top corner to injury last week and Roethlisberger should have an easier time connecting downfield.

Philip Rivers, Chargers (at Broncos, vs. Raiders)
I think Rivers is going to have to throw a ton this week against the Broncos, giving him a chance at some really nice numbers. Trusting quarterbacks on Thursdays isn't normally advised but this late in the season every defense is tired in every spot and offenses should get away with what they do best. For the Chargers that means leaning on Rivers, who follows up a tough matchup at Denver with a great matchup at home against the Raiders.

Colin Kaepernick, 49ers (at Buccaneers, vs. Falcons)
There might not be a better pair of matchups for a quarterback in Weeks 15 and 16 than what Kaepernick has. The Bucs have allowed multiple passing touchdowns to eight of their last nine opponents and the Falcons have allowed multiple passing touchdowns to 13 of the 14 quarterbacks they've faced. Michael Crabtree is back and getting his legs underneath him, Anquan Boldin has started to deliver on a more consistent basis and Vernon Davis remains a dangerous weapon.

Ryan Tannehill, Dolphins (Week 15 vs. Patriots)
Ryan Fitzpatrick, Titans
(Week 16 at Jaguars)
I wanted to come up with a sneaky alternative involving quarterbacks owned in less than half of CBSSports.com leagues. Tannehill takes on the Patriots, who have allowed 30-plus points to three of the last five quarterbacks they've taken on. Fitzpatrick will play at the Jaguars next week, and they've allowed 24-plus Fantasy points to five of the last six quarterbacks they've faced, including 27 to Fitzpatrick in Week 10.

Fantasy & Reality

Quick observations about the misconceptions (Fantasy) and truths (Reality) from around the league.

Fantasy: Montee Ball shouldn't be trusted. Ball is one of 10 running backs to post at least 10 Fantasy points in three of his last four games. Ball has had at least 10 touches in each of his last four games. The Chargers have allowed at least one rushing touchdown in five of their last six games and running backs tend to shine on Thursday nights. Ball has Top 15 potential this week.

Reality: Dennis Pitta is Joe Flacco's security blankie. I love it that Pitta was targeted on a third of his snaps, catching roughly half and scoring a touchdown. Seven of the 11 targets came on third or fourth down (clutch plays) and a pair of targets were in the red zone (the Ravens attempted six red-zone passes on 11 red-zone snaps in the game). I don't know how ready I am to trust Pitta in a matchup against a Lions defense that's been solid against tight ends, but I do believe Flacco will continue to lean on him.

Fantasy: Andrew Luck has no one to throw to. Back in the summer I was enamored with a receiver in Buffalo named Da'Rick Rogers, that is until he got cut. The Colts stuffed him on their practice roster, activating him recently. Desperate to get their passing game going, they gave him a handful of assignments last week and he dazzled against a good Bengals defense. Rogers went over the middle, sped past defensive backs and found ways to get open. He should lock up the starting job opposite T.Y. Hilton soon enough, though LaVon Brazill has more experience in the Colts offense and could keep Rogers relegated to three-receiver sets. But if Luck is throwing the ball then I like Rogers' (and Brazill's) chances of being effective. It's just a matter of trusting them in Fantasy; I trust Luck completely against a disinterested Texans defense at home.

Reality: I'm still starting Riley Cooper. For the third week in a row Cooper didn't deliver big stats, but it's the third week in a row he's been targeted deep and in the end zone. Eventually it's going to click. I'd say a matchup indoors against a beleaguered Vikings defense will give him the chance to cash in.

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us via Twitter @CBSFantasyFB . You can also follow Dave at @daverichard .

Get player news notifications, manage your team and check scores
- all updated in real time. Download the CBS Fantasy App.

  •  
 
CBSSports Facebook Google Plus
COMMENTS
Conversation powered by Livefyre
 
 
Player News
Report: Former Browns DE Phillip Taylor visits Steelers
by Ruben Palacios | Staff Writer
(5:57 pm ET) A day after the Browns cut him, defensive end Phillip Taylor  visited the Steelers, according to NBCSports.com.

Cleveland paid Brown $5.47 million to not be a part of the organization on Tuesday. He was a first-round pick in 2011.


Saints place Vinnie Sunseri, Nick Toon, Ronald Powell on IR
by Ruben Palacios | Staff Writer
(5:33 pm ET) After going unclaimed on waivers, the Saints placed safety Vinnie Sunseri , receiver Nick Toon and linebacker Ronald Powell on injured reserve, according to The Times-Picayune.



Raiders sign LB Lorenzo Alexander
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(4:51 pm ET) The Raiders signed veteran linebacker Lorenzo Alexander on Wednesday, the team announced. Alexander has played nine seasons in the NFL and totaled 179 tackles.

Former Bears linebacker Lance Briggs retires
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(3:38 pm ET) Linebacker Lance Briggs announced his retirement from the NFL on Wednesday, reports ESPNChicago.com. Briggs played his entire 12-year career with the Bears totaling 1,177 tackles and 15 sacks.

Briggs later said on his Twitter account that he hasn't filed his retirement papers and nothing is official. 


Panthers sign QB Derek Anderson to contract extension
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(1:04 pm ET) The Panthers reached a two-year contract extension with quarterback Derek Anderson, the team announced Wednesday.

"I’m excited about this for my family. To be here with the players, coaches and management we have – everything is top notch," Anderson said. "It was a no-brainer for me."

Anderson will backup Cam Newton. He was slated to become a free agent after the 2015 season.


Report: Bills RB LeSean McCoy may not be ready for Week 1
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(12:36 pm ET) While Bills coach Rex Ryan recently said he was optimistic running back LeSean McCoy would be ready for the regular season opener, a source indicated to ESPN that McCoy's status for Week 1 is in jeopardy.

"Well we certainly expect him to be ready to go, I hope," Ryan said, per ESPN. "If not then the next man has to step up. Boobie [Dixon] got a lot of reps out there today. Bryce Brown got a lot of reps [Wednesday]. So we will see. I am not going to put that all on one man. If he is not ready to go, he won't be in there."

McCoy has not been able to play during the preseason after he suffered a hamstring injury at practice. He has been able to conduct some light footwork, agility and cardio drills, but his conditioning needs work.

"It's way too early to say whether [McCoy] will play or not. He is doing a little bit more every day. But hell yes, I'm concerned about that," the source said. "I can't say for sure he's going to be with us Week 1. I can't say that at all. It will take everything we got just to get him ready for game day, and then we get to game day [there's] no way he can be in great football shape. So I think he will be on a pitch count, I think at the very best."


Giants K Josh Brown dealing with bruised leg; sign K Chris Boswell
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(12:27 pm ET) With Giants kicker Josh Brown trying to recover from a bruised leg, the team signed kicker Chris Boswell, reports the New York Daily News.

Boswell was signed to handle the kicking duties during Thursday's preseason finale. Brown reportedly suffered the injury while attempting to make a tackle during the second preseason game.


Report: Bills considering cutting QB Matt Cassel
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(12:17 pm ET) The Bills are reportedly discussing releasing quarterback Matt Cassel, sources told WGR 550 in Buffalo. Cassel was competing for a starting spot, which he lost to Tyrod Taylor.

Report: Colts DT Arthur Jones needs ankle surgery
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(12:07 pm ET) The 2015 season for Colts defensive tackle Arthur Jones is in doubt with the tackle reportedly needing surgery to repair torn ligaments in his ankle, sources told NFL.com.

Jones could be placed on the injured reserve/designated to return list. Jones produced 23 tackles and 1 1/2 sacks in nine games last season.


Bears acquire TE Khari Lee from Texans for draft pick
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(11:38 am ET) The Texans traded tight end Khari Lee to the Bears on Wednesday, the Bears announced. In exchange for Lee, the Texans will receive a sixth-round draft pick in the 2017 draft.

 
 
 
Rankings