If he doesn’t get the suspension reduced and Tom Brady is suspended for four games, he would actually not return until Week 6 against the Colts, as the Patriots have a Week 4 bye. With the suspension, you are only getting 8-9 games from Brady before your Fantasy Football playoffs start. That is your first consideration when deciding whether to draft Brady.
Your second thought should be, “Do I want to play quarterback streamer for the first five weeks?” Last year, Brady finished as QB9 in points and QB11 in FPPG, as Cam Newton and Tony Romo jump him on a per-game basis. Brady was a low-end QB1, and you are now adding in five games worth of replacement level quarterback play. Sure, you would have done that for the bye anyway, but it still factors in to the equation.
What’s replacement level? Jimmy Garoppolo comes to mind since he’ll be stepping in for Brady, but we don’t have much of a history for Garoppolo’s performance. Taking quarterbacks that you could pick off the waiver wire last year, you find the Andy Dalton, Colin Kaepernick and even Mark Sanchez types. Basically, guys averaging around 15-16 FPPG. That’s actually not that far off from Brady’s 17.9 FPPG mark (Yahoo!). When you average it all together, you end up with around 17.0 FPPG, which puts Brady plus replacement around QB16-17. Obviously, you hope to do better by playing the matchups, but you won’t be the only one looking for bye week replacement or likely using the QB streaming method.
Currently, Brady is going ahead of Tony Romo, Philip Rivers, Eli Manning and more. I would definitely take Romo and Manning and strongly consider Rivers. No matter what, Brady falls from QB1 status in drafts. Now, if his values drops far enough that he’s on the board alongside Kaepernick, the rookies and sophomores, I absolutely jump because Brady could come out firing (see: ticked off) and put up even better FPPG numbers than last year. It’s all about the value.
As for the teammates, the easy answer is the running game and LeGarrette Blount get a boost for the first four games (three for Blount), Julian Edelman and Brandon LaFell take a hit and Rob Gronkowski sees the slightest dip in value. Gronk could actually turn into a steal if he slips into the second round because owners are worried about the first month. Garoppolo knows who Gronk is and what he can do; he will definitely feed him plenty every week.
In the end, your quarterback decision depends on how your draft falls and your tolerance of risk/streaming your quarterbacks. As of today, Blount returns to pre-suspension value, the receivers dip a bit (Edelman barely at all in PPR leagues) and Gronk holds. If Brady sees his suspension reduced, he jumps right back up to low-end QB1/high-end QB2 and is in the argument with Romo and Manning for who is first off the board.
Main image photo credit: Mike