Brady's durable, but supporting cast isn't
By Thomas J. Harrigan, Fantasy Sports Writer
Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady has played 16 games in 11 of the past 12 seasons, and the type of hit that caused his knee injury in 2008 has since been barred by the NFL. He's as stable as they come, even at age 37.
But Brady's supporting cast is as durable as a carton of eggs and fantasy owners need to take that into account.
Brady's average draft position (ADP) has risen as tight end Rob Gronkowski's health prospects have improved over the past month.
On July 12, his ADP was 75, eighth among quarterbacks. It's up to 62.3 Monday and he's now being drafted sixth among QBs.
But the durability concerns of Brady's weapons make him risky, even though he doesn't have any health issues of his own.
Brady's fantasy upside is largely dependent on Gronkowski, who has missed 14 games the past two seasons and undergone eight surgeries since college.
He's made a remarkably quick recovery from the torn ACL and MCL he suffered during Week 14 last year and is on track for Week 1, but we just can't predict how the injury will affect his abilities or whether he'll be able to play 16 games without suffering another injury.
In the 18 games Gronkowski played the past two seasons, Brady had a 33/8 TD/INT ratio, a .650 completion rate and an average of 7.7 yards per attempt. Without him, he completed 59 percent of his passes, averaged 6.8 yards per attempt and put up a 26/11 TD/INT.
But it's not just Gronk who hasn't been able to stay on the field.
Running back Shane Vereen missed eight games with a fractured wrist last season, he sat out three games with a left foot injury in 2012 and he was limited to five games as a rookie due to a nagging hamstring injury.
Second-year receiver Aaron Dobson has the size and speed that New England's other receivers lack, but he's been on the active/PUP list for the entirety of training camp while he recovers from surgery to repair a stress fracture in his left foot.
Danny Amendola's injury history was well documented before he signed with New England last season and he didn't even make it through Week 1 before suffering a severe groin injury that he played through the entire season. He also sustained a concussion in Week 6 and ended up missing four games on the year.
And Julian Edelman, who ended up seeing 151 targets last season as nearly every other Patriots receiver went down around him and finished with a team- high 105 catches for 1,056 yards, missed 16 games over his first four seasons.
Brady finished 13th in fantasy points among quarterbacks last season with 241 (standard leagues), in the ballpark of Alex Smith (238) and Ryan Tannehill (225).
He showed his upside by averaging 18.6 fantasy points per game over the final eight contests, but his downside was revealed the first eight games. With most of his top veteran weapons either injured or in jail and New England's rookies struggling to adapt to the NFL, Brady averaged 11.5 fantasy points per game in that span.
Brady is a virtual lock to play 16 games this season -- after all, the Pats don't play Bernard Pollard's Tennessee Titans -- but the uncertainty whether his supporting cast can do the same is enough to make me shy away from him at his current ADP.
08/11 19:14:12 ET