In Tom Brady, we have a quarterback who's shown the ability to be elite, even at an older age. In 2013, things were different than what we've seen in year's past. In fact, according to our metrics, you could almost consider it an anomaly.
Entering 2014, fantasy owners are thinking Brady's 2013 performance is now mostly the norm. He's being selected as the eighth quarterback according to FantasyFootballCalculator.com, a place he hasn't finished - prior to last year - since tearing up his knee in 2008.
Is this warranted, or is Tom Brady truly undervalued?
The Receiving Talent
One of the first things to look at from the 2013 campaign was just how much Rob Gronkowski affected Brady’s performance. Here are the 16 games from last season charted with and without Gronk.
|Week||Points||Did Gronk Play?|
With Gronk starting, Brady averaged 18.1 fantasy points per game, a pace that, had it continued for all 16 weeks, would have had him finish as the fifth quarterback in fantasy. Without Gronk in the lineup, Brady’s points per game dropped sharply to 15.2.
While health is difficult to predict, it's not encouraging that Gronkowski hasn’t played a 16-game season since 2011. In addition to Gronkowski’s injury concerns, two of Brady’s top targets at wide receiver, Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola, make Gronkowski’s health look reliable in comparison. In 10 combined seasons, the duo has put together only two full 16-game seasons, one from each of them.
Even when healthy, the Patriots pass catchers, with the exception of Gronkowski, have struggled to perform. Four Patriots finished in the top-25 in drops last year, with Edelman recording eight and Kenbrell Thompkins, Aaron Dobson and Shane Vereen each recording seven.
The group’s efficiency last year also leaves a lot to worry about for Brady owners this year. The Patriots best performer in Reception Net Expected Points (NEP) per Target (minimum 40 targets) in 2013 was Aaron Dobson, whose 0.66 was good for only 49th in the league.
With the same group of receivers as last year bringing the same injury risks and shaky talent, there's definitely an inherent risk to drafting Brady this year. Sometimes a player’s draft position makes taking this risk worth it though, but this may not be the case for Brady this year.
Using FantasyFootballCalculator.com's average draft position (ADP) numbers and numberFire’s own 2014 projections, this is how the top quarterbacks stack up:
|numberFire Rank||Player||Projected Fantasy Points||ADP Rank (Among QBs)|
|12||Robert Griffin III||285.05||7|
There's just too much value in quarterbacks going after Brady that the risk of another down year just isn’t worth it. There are seven quarterbacks being drafted, on average, after Tom Brady that are projected to either outscore him, or finish within one fantasy point per game of him. Picking Brady in the sixth round when someone like Russell Wilson, projected to put up very similar fantasy numbers, is available nearly four full rounds later isn't a smart use of a draft pick. And it's not getting the kind of value you need to win your fantasy league.