How you view Tom Brady in your fantasy draft this season is key. Drafting Brady means you have to sacrifice QB production for the first month of the season but the upside is you’re getting the G.O.A.T for Weeks 5 and beyond with a massive chip on his shoulder. Dangerous situation for defenses. I’m not foolish enough to overlook Brady’s upside with that built up competitive anger but I’m also not stupid enough to overlook all the schedule analysis, ADP value, and statistical analytics that come with drafting Brady (and really any player in fantasy football for that matter).
I have done some deep digging for Tom Brady’s value in this year’s draft. There certainly are positives to drafting the GOAT but he also comes at an expensive price and has some downside in the later part of his schedule. I will cover both sides of drafting Brady in this article and I will also cover my exact strategy for drafting Brady which includes the perfect backup to draft to fill Brady’s “empty” weeks.
Here’s what you need to know about drafting Brady this year:
- His average ADP on Yahoo is 72.9, 10th among QBs. I just finished my 14th mock draft and if you want Brady you’ll have to draft him in either the 6th or 7th round, that’s where he’s going.
- His bye week is Week 9 which means that on top of the 4 weeks he will miss to start the season you would also miss Brady for another week of regular season in fantasy. In a perfect world the Pats would have their bye in Week 4 but this isn’t the case. This equates to Brady being out for 5 out of 13 regular season weeks in fantasy (for the majority of leagues that start playoffs in Week 14). This means by default Brady won’t be a starter for you for 38.46% of your fantasy regular season. You have to consider that if you don’t make it to Week 14 it doesn’t matter how many points Brady puts up for you then.
- When Brady returns in Week 5 he has a VERY generous schedule lined up for fantasy points. Weeks 5-8:
Week 5, away at Cleveland
Week 6, home vs Cincinnati
Week 7, away at Pittsburgh
Week 8, away at Buffalo
Week 9, BYE
- When he returns from his BYE in Week 10, his schedule isn’t as friendly though:
Week 10, home vs Seattle, Sunday Night Football
Week 11, away at San Francisco
Week 12, away at NY Jets. Sunday Night Football
Week 13, home vs LA Rams
Week 14, home vs Baltimore. Monday Night Football
Week 15, away at Denver
Week 16, home vs NY Jets
*games in bold indicate Fantasy Football playoffs
Weeks 5-8 I expect huge numbers from Brady. Numbers like “fuck you Goodell” type numbers. He’ll be pissed and can easily be in shootouts versus Cleveland, Cincy, and Pittsburgh.
Weeks 9-16 is where strategy and game-theory for fantasy football get interesting. Week 9 on the bye is no help. Weeks 10-16 is a much more difficult schedule than 5-8. It doesn’t mean that you can’t start Brady during these weeks it just means that he’s facing some of the best defenses in the league and you have to wonder what his fantasy value is compared to other QBs playing a softer schedule at this time. Brady’s difficult late-season schedule has to be considered and drafting the perfect backup QB to fill Weeks 1-4 who also has a generous late season schedule is an ideal strategy if you draft want to draft him.
A quick look at Brady’s late season schedule:
10. Seattle at home isn’t necessarily a tough situation for Brady. Seattle’s D is as good as it’s ever been but Brady also had 4TDs vs 2 INTs in Super Bowl 49 vs. Seattle so this can still be a big statistical game for Brady, especially on Sunday Night Football.
11. San Francisco on the road has huge fantasy potential for TB12. Must start here.
12. Jets on the road may not be so easy. Brady is 1-2 his last 3 trips facing the Jets in NY with 2 TDs to 3 INTs and just a 59.8% completion percentage (his career average is 63.6%).
13. LA Rams at home may also not be so easy. Rams boast one of the best front 7s in the league and have a very similar style to the teams that gave the Patriots a tough time last year. Granted the O-line for New England should be better this season but considering how many blitzes he’ll face vs. Gregg Williams’ defense it’s hard to circle this as a particularly strong fantasy week for Brady.
14. Ravens at home. Patriots fans don’t need me to remind them of the difficulties John Harbaugh & the Ravens can bring to New England. I think on MNF here Brady can have a huge game but he was also on MNF last year home vs Buffalo and put up just 1TD/1 INT on 277 yards so you can’t say “Brady on MNF is automatic.” Patriots are 2-2 their last 4 games vs Baltimore since 2012. Brady has 6 TDs vs 3 INTs in those 4 games but 3 TDs came in one game and he has just 3 TDs/ 2INTS in the other 2 games. In fantasy playoffs this isn’t exactly ideal.
15. Denver on the road. Brady was hit it seemed on every other play last season in the playoff game in Denver. He had a great game there in the regular season with 3TDs/0 INT and 282 yards but he followed that up with 1 TD/2 INTs in the playoff game. Again, New England’s O-line should be better but during your fantasy playoffs are you that comfortable going up against the league’s best defense in their house?
16. Jets at home. Brady always plays the Jets better at home than he does in East Rutherford. TB12 has 9 TDs/1 INT his last 5 home games versus the Jets. This is a must start even though the Jets are tough on D. This is the best FF playoff matchup for Brady, but you have to get to Week 16 first.
If I draft Brady I am starting him no question Weeks 5-8 and then Weeks 11 & 16 (if I’m lucky enough to get to 16). This means that drafting Brady leaves holes for Weeks 1-4 and then he is at least a questionable start in Weeks 12, 13, 14, and 15. Which fantasy quarterbacks have great schedules during those weeks AND have great ADPs?
- Tony Romo – faces the Giants, Redskins, Bears and 49ers in Weeks 1-4 when Brady is OUT. All except for the Bears game have shootout potential. The Cowboys’ defense has enough holes where the Cowboys should be forced to play a good amount of shootouts. Romo faces the Redskins again in Week 12 and Giants in Week 14. He has tough matchups in Week 13 (@MIN) and Week 15 vs the Bucs but he will be home and can potentially be forced to keep up with Jameis Winston. Overall this a great schedule to plug in for Brady when he’s out or facing a tough matchup. With Romo’s ADP at 96.8 you can draft Brady in the 6th/7th, Romo in the 8th/9th and have the QB position optimally strategized for the whole season while you stockpile WR/RB/TE talent early.
- Eli Manning – Eli faces the Cowboys, Saints, Redskins in Weeks 1-3 when Brady is sitting. Difficult matchup Week 4 @MIN. Faces the Browns, Steelers, Cowboys, and Lions Weeks 12-15 when TB12 has the difficult schedule. This is a great compliment to Brady but at an ADP of 70.9 Eli is 26 spots more expensive than Romo. Romo & Brady are the best value QB tandem if you really want Brady.
Tweet @spreadinvestor and let me know what you disagree with/agree with/what I may be overlooking. I will be writing about fantasy football drafts early this week before focusing on all things related to beating the sportsbook this season. In the meantime, here’s a list of every player projected to go Rounds 1-5 in fantasy and if they’re overvalued/undervalued.