After countless hours of research and more mock fantasy football drafts than we care to account for; it's obvious that “experts” and novices alike view Drew Brees as the overwhelming favorite to be 2009’s top fantasy football QB. It's easy to comprehend at first glance, considering Brees’ lofty numbers in 2008.
Sure, we understand the concern for Brady’s health. We also get the concept that basically missing the entire 2008 season leaves some doubt as to whether or not Brady still has the tools to be an elite fantasy QB. The fact of the matter is, however, that many great QB’s have rebounded strongly after the exact same injury. To name a few examples in recent years, there's Donovan McNabb, Carson Palmer, and Phillip Rivers, who had his best season ever returning from ACL surgery last year; and even Drew Brees himself tore his ACL as a junior in high school.
It isn’t like we're talking about a RB or WR who typically struggles to return to form after knee ligament tears. We are dealing with a pocket QB; a pocket QB that was never exactly known for his running abilities in the first place. By all accounts Brady has made a miraculous recovery. While there will almost certainly be some rust to knock off early in the season, Brady should return to form fairly quickly. It may not be 2007 Tom Brady form, but we doubt anyone can expect superhuman numbers like that to be put up by an NFL signal caller ever again.
We get that Drew Brees had a great 2008 season and we certainly consider him a top flight fantasy QB, but from a potential standpoint, Brady still has the edge, and here's why:
Considering the vast majority of fantasy football leagues are played head-to-head on a week-to-week basis, the name of the game is consistency. At season's end a QB can amass huge stats, but it's what he does on a weekly basis that really matters. For example, if Brees throws for 400 yards and 5 TD’s in a given week, you are probably going to win your head to head match up that particular week, but going into the following week, those stats are of no help whatsoever. Point being, that many of you may be shocked to know that while Drew Brees was spectacular in his 8 home games in 2008, throwing 23 TD passes with only 5 interceptions; he was the exact opposite in his 8 road appearances throwing for only 11 TD’s with 12 picks. That's 8 weeks of sub par QB play, not exactly the kind of consistency you are looking for from a so called #1 ranked fantasy QB.
Tom Brady, however, will be a more consistent QB in 2009 and the odds of Brady re-injuring his knee are really no greater than Brees suffering a season ending injury himself. At last check, Brady’s golden arm and decision making skills are no different than they were during his record setting 2007 campaign.
We aren’t saying that Drew Brees is going to be a bust. In fact, if Marques Colston remains healthy; Brees should exceed his 2008 numbers. We just feel that too many so-called experts look at the big picture and assume Brees is the better and safer option. The truth is that Brady is getting a bad rap over a fairly common injury, an injury that Brees himself has suffered.
Another valid case to be made for Brady as the top 2009 fantasy QB is that everything that he had in place in New England in 2007 is still in place in 2009, and then some. Bill Belichick is still running the show. Randy Moss and Wes Welker should be as solid as ever, and Brady will have a stable of talented running backs at his disposal. In fact, Brady probably has more talent surrounding him for 2009 than he had during his miraculous run in ’07. If you were burnt by drafting Brady last season, we can completely understand why you would be sour on him this year, and Brees is an excellent alternative, but if you want the best QB for your fantasy roster in 2009, no one will outshine Brady, and you will likely get him at a steal in rounds 2-4 of most drafts.
FINAL ANSWER: Tom Brady