Fantasy football fever comes down to a quarterback toss-up

As fantasy football drafts approach, rivalries are heating up and fantasy football participants are contemplating their draft strategies. If you wish to succeed and win championships, research is vital. Because of the transient nature of professional careers in the NFL—and the short shelf-life of players—it’s incumbent upon fantasy managers to do their homework. Each year, fantasy stalwarts are traded to new teams, older players are relegated to role positions, and rookies explode onto the scene as they jockey for positions, and stardom. Further, coaches resign, retire, or are fired. Offensive schemes and philosophies often vary, and fantasy managers are constantly concerned about the specter of injury. These are some of the factors that pique the interest of most fantasy managers, factors which make the pastime of fantasy football a cerebral and fluid game, not unlike a game of chess.

Unlike years past, 2013 offers a significant  number of quarterbacks who have very similar production in terms of fantasy football value. The quarterback position is arguably the deepest position in this year’s draft. Meanwhile, positions such as tight end and running back have markedly less parity. As wily veterans gain wisdom, and the youth gain experience, one’s philosophies regarding the quarterback position will likely determine an overall draft strategy.

There are simply too  many quality quarterbacks to evaluate in one short piece, so we’ll take a look at only two. Robert Griffin III and Tom Brady have been projected to be drafted in the 5th round of most fantasy football drafts, according to Yahoo Sports. Griffin is projected as the 41st pick in the draft, while Brady is slated to be acquired at pick number 46. Given the opportunity to select both, who would you, the reader, choose?

Robert Griffin III

Rookie Robert Griffin III exploded onto the scene in 2012 and guided the Washington Redskins to their first playoff appearance since 2007. He completed 258 passes, and threw for 3,200 yards. He amassed a touchdown/interception ratio of 4 to 1, and ran for 815 yards and 7 rushing touchdowns. Griffin also set a long-standing record for best passer rating as a rookie, with a Quarterback Rating (QBR) of 102.4. Further, Griffin went on to register 29 first place votes for the Associated Press NFL “Offensive Rookie of the Year,” and outpaced both Andrew Luck (11 votes), and Russell Wilson (10 votes), to garner said honors.

It’s also important to note that Griffin did miss one game due to injury during the regular season. After returning, he exacerbated his knee injury during the Redskin’s wild card loss to the Seattle Seahawks. Griffin had his lateral collateral ligament (LCL), and anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in his right knee reconstructed for the second time following the conclusion of the 2012 season. The potential for subsequent knee injuries certainly complicates matters and obscures Griffin’s recent accomplishments.

Fantasy football participants are typically skeptical of acquiring players following major reconstructive knee surgery. In general, no two players respond and recover in the same manner after such procedures, so it’s critical to acquire information and prognosticate accordingly. Look no further than the recent resurgence of Viking running back, Adrian Peterson, for encouraging news. Peterson nearly broke Eric Dickerson’s rushing record in 2012, merely one season after having major reconstructive knee surgery. Simply put, there are a multitude of factors to consider. Robert Griffin III, however, arguably possesses the most upside of any quarterback in the NFL, but is this enough to mitigate the looming possibility of recurring injury? The choice is yours, and it will likely impact your fantasy title aspirations.

Tom Brady

Brady stands as a contrast to Griffin, and if you favor a  conservative approach, your best option for the quarterback position may just be the future Hall of Famer. Brady is projected to fall at pick number 46, enjoying enough accolades and accomplishments to be a first-ballot Hall of Famer upon initial eligibility. “Terrific Tom,” an endearing name ascribed by NFL pundits, is entering his 14th NFL season (where does the time go?). He has led the New England Patriots to no fewer than three Super Bowl titles and five Super Bowl appearances. Brady is a two-time league MVP, and is an eight-time Pro Bowl selection. He has also earned First-Team All-Pro honors, twice.

Over the course of his career, Brady has accumulated 334 touchdown passes, nearly 3,800 completions, and 44,806 passing yards. He can boast of a 3 to 1 touchdown/interception ratio, and an average Quarterback Rating of 96.6. Additionally, he’s averaged 253.1 passing yards per game over his storied career. His body of work is rivaled by few, and may never be duplicated.

As many say, the numbers don’t lie. These figures indicate consistently superlative performances, year in and year out. Brady has come to be known as a consummate professional, a student of the game, and a cerebral and crafty leader. What he lacks in athletic ability, he gains in his sheer aptitude for football. The future Hall of Famer is the prototypical and quintessential NFL quarterback and embodies everything a quarterback should be.

Some pundits believe the Patriots offense will continue to flourish as they’ve grown accustomed to doing. But other analysts raise serious concerns regarding one of the most prolific offenses in NFL history. The Patriots lost standout tight end Aaron Hernandez to an arrest and impending murder trial. They chose to part ways with Wes Welker, one of the best short-route wide receivers to ever play the game. Of late, elite tight end Rob Gronkowski has been battling chronic injuries.

Will Brady muster enough weapons to enjoy another Brady-esque year? Will the recent acquisition of Danny Amendola, coupled with high draft picks at the wide receiver position, be enough to shore up a depleted roster? Will the unflappable head coach with the hood, Bill Belichick, a man of true brevity, be able to compensate for weaknesses and squeeze the most out of his players? The aforementioned must be seriously considered before drafting your starting quarterback. If history is any indication, however, Brady will have the troops ready, and will continue to be a catalyst for all things positive.

So, are you more likely to go with Brady or Griffin in the 5th round? It truly is a toss- up, if you ask me. If you have a propensity for gambling, go with Griffin, as his high upside makes him worth the risk. Griffin can easily throw for 25 to 35 touchdown passes, for 4,000 yards, as well as garner 5 to 10 rushing touchdowns while rushing for an additional 500 to 1,000 yards. As a result, he has supplanted Eagles quarterback, Michael Vick, as the “human joystick.”

If you’re feeling a bit more reserved, give the nod to Brady, who has yet to fail fantasy managers after 13 years. Barring injury, he will deliver 30 or more touchdowns and throw for 4,500 to 5,000 passing yards, all while averaging roughly 300 yards per game. Nevertheless, as your drafts approach, I caution you to consider the various moving parts before you make your final determination. Your season and bragging rights are predicated upon that careful consideration!

  • Mark DiLiberto
  • Mark DiLiberto holds a BA in elementary education from King’s College. Additionally, he’s anticipating receiving a Masters Degree in sport management from East Stroudsburg University during the winter of 2013. His interests include playing multiple musical instruments, sports, traveling, and writing.

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