The Player Profile series breaks down the 2012 performances of key players at each position in order to project where they should be drafted in 2013. Dig in, read up, and look ahead.
Aaron Rodgers, QB, Green Bay Packers
The 2012 top-5 fantasy draft choice failed to live up to expectations after a record-breaking 2011 fantasy season. While he still finished as the third best player at his position (dependent upon your league scoring), he simply wasn’t much better than the second-tiered (and, at times, the third-tiered) quarterbacks in fantasy football.
Rodgers had clear issues with week-to-week consistency in 2012. He was either a top-6, elite play in a given week, or he’d finish outside of the top-12. Because of this, fake footballers who had reached for him in their drafts settled for a quarterback that was as usable as plenty of waiver wire and rookie options most weeks. Of course, when Aaron Rodgers was on, he was on.
From a statistical perspective, Rodgers finished 2012 with the second-highest touchdown total of his career (39), and his third-highest yardage total (4,295). The number of passes he threw (552) was the highest of he’s ever thrown, but it was still good for just 10th in the entire league.
Entering 2013, we shouldn’t expect anything different from one of the top signal callers in the league (and potentially ever). While someone may be concerned because of the probable departure of Greg Jennings, it’s not as though Jennings played a significant role for the team in 2012. If anything, Rodgers showed us that he can play with a pure carousel of receiving options. Factor in Randall Cobb’s newfound, growing role in the offense, and Rodgers should have no trouble keeping up with his pace.
He’s still one of the best this game has seen, and next year won’t be any different. Clearly, given my stance on quarterback value, I’d never tell you to reach for Rodgers in the first or second round. He should, however, still be a top option at the position. I’m expecting a late-first to early-second round average draft position, and that’s far too early to get your starting quarterback, especially given the depth at the position. Don’t get Rodgers, but keep your expectations high for the Packers quarterback in 2013.
Drew Brees, QB, New Orleans Saints
Even though he threw a league-high 19 interceptions, Brees was able to secure the top spot at quarterback this fantasy season. He threw over 5,000 yards for the third time in his career (solid work letting this one go, San Diego), and was far and away the most efficient quarterback in 2012. Why think differently in 2013?
Brees threw the ball 670 times in 2012, which was second in the league only behind Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford. The quantity of pass attempts alone makes Brees super fantasy relevant, and when you factor in his sheer skill at the position, you’ve created a fantasy monster. He should be the top quarterback off the board next season given his quantity and talent, but again, there’s no reason for us to reach for him given the depth and demand of the quarterback position. Remember, too, that he’s getting his coach back next year.
I’m fully expecting Brees to be drafted, once again, around Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady come August, forcing any early-round quarterback hipster to pay a high price for the quarterback. If you’re one who completely disagrees with the late-round quarterback logic, then Brees would be the guy to target. Otherwise, hold tight and get a running back early instead.
Tom Brady, QB, New England Patriots
The Patriots stud quarterback had similar week-to-week numbers as Aaron Rodgers, causing plenty of owners frustration throughout the season. The offensive injuries to Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez in 2012 surely didn’t help, which, just like Rodgers, could have led to his inconsistency.
While Brady did have yet another top fantasy season, his post-season result compared to his pre-season expectations may have been a disappointment to plenty of fake footballers. The addition of Brandon Lloyd over the off-season had seemed like another 50-plus touchdown dream scenario for Brady, but it was easy to tell early on that Lloyd wasn’t going to be another Randy Moss in New England (yes, there were Randy Moss comparisons in the pre-season).
This past season, the UGG model threw for his lowest touchdown total since 2009, but was still able to post over 4,800 yards and lead the top offense in the game. While he should still be valued as a top quarterback in 2013, we have to keep in mind the situation with now free agent Wes Welker.
The Patriots should be active in free agency for wide receiver depth, but Welker has been Brady’s blanket since moving to New England in 2007. If they lose him, Brady’s numbers have an opportunity to drop slightly. How’s this for some evidence: Before 2007, prior to Welker joining the Patriots, Tom Brady never threw for more than 28 touchdowns in a single season. After Welker joined the Patriots in 2007, Brady has yet to have a season where he’s thrown under 28 touchdowns.
Say what you want about the statistic, but it doesn’t lie. You may want to pinpoint pass attempts (after all, the league has moved to a pass-first one especially over the last four or five years), but Brady’s attempt numbers haven’t shifted that much since Welker’s arrival.
I wouldn’t put my money on Brady dipping under the 28-touchdown mark in 2013, but any football fan knows that Wes Welker is helpful to Brady’s success. The Patriots, if they lose Welker, will surely try to find some sort of equivalent replacement. Just keep an eye on the situation.