Few players in football are as polarizing as New England Patriots’ quarterback Tom Brady. Love him or hate him, you can’t argue with the results he’s put out on the playing field. I’m not a Patriots fan or a Brady apologist, but I am higher on him than most, particularly in dynasty leagues. I have him ranked much higher than my peers and I think everybody else is wrong to have him ranked so low and I’ll tell you why.
Brady is currently 39 years old and will be coming off of his Deflategate suspension this week. The NFL, more than the other major North American sports, is a young man’s game. Brady, despite what the awful, old videos of his NFL combine experience show, is an elite athlete. Maybe not in terms of today’s popular metrics, but elite nonetheless – and he always has been. Many players blow the doors off their combine numbers and fail miserably in the NFL; other players shockingly disappoint in the combine and go on to have Hall of Fame caliber careers. Brady is in the latter category.
He was drafted out of high school, as a catcher, by the Montreal Expos in 1995. He eventually chose to go play college football at the University of Michigan after fielding offers from Illinois, Cal, UCLA & USC amongst others. After his collegiate career at Michigan came to a close with a 20-5 record as a starter, he was selected by the Patriots in the 6th round of the 2000 NFL draft. I’ll wrap up the history lesson, but the point is that he was drafted by both MLB & NFL teams, was recruited by top echelon college programs and was a proven winner in college, the pedigree for an elite level of athletic production has always been there.
Going forward, Brady has said repeatedly over the last 2 years that he plans to play another 10 years and if he can still play, he’d like to play into his 50s. On the surface, those claims seem a little ridiculous for a 39-year-old in the NFL, but if you look into it a little bit, it might not be that far-fetched. Brady took over the starting QB job in week 2 of 2001 and since that time he has only missed 15 games – all in 2008 – after tearing both the ACL & MCL in his left knee. Aside from that, and this year’s suspension, he hasn’t missed any time over the course of his career. Few players, if any, prepare their body for the rigors of professional football better than Brady. You can Google it yourself if you want to be buried in details, but between using a personal chef to prepare all his meals under strict dietary guidelines, a rigorous sleep schedule, a flexibility-focused-exercise regimen and guidance from life-long coaches and sports psychologists … Brady is – and always has been – fine tuning his body for one thing … to be an elite level NFL quarterback.
All of that out of the way, Brady’s contract runs through next season. I don’t care how good Jimmy Garoppolo, Jacoby Brissett or even Julian Edelman look at QB, if Brady can still play, the Pats will bring him back after this deal runs up. Anyone who has played fantasy football over the last decade knows that Tom Brady has consistently been a top fantasy quarterback for years, as a matter of fact over the last 7 years, he’s only finished lower than 8th in fantasy points once and has averaged being the #5 QB. So, Brady says he wants to play 10 more years, but let’s say he only plays 6 more seasons until he is 45 years old. Even if he regresses significantly, he’s still probably going to be a top 12 QB in fantasy over that time frame. Would you rather trust a Tom Brady in his 40s to lead your dynasty team over the next 6 years or an unproven, mixed result young player like Blake Bortles or Marcus Mariota? Mariota has yet to win 2 games in a row. Bortles is clearly regressing at this point. Other big name young guys have shown flashes of greatness mixed with the madness of inconsistency and I’m not comfortable with that kind of performance when I feel like I can count on a rock-solid fantasy floor from Brady for the next 6-10 seasons. I’ll take my chances with one of the NFL’s all-time greats over any of the “next greatests” who seem to bust each and every year. Six years of Brady, even in his 40s, will probably be better than 10 years of Bortles in his 20s.
Fantasy football, and dynasty leagues in particular, require a lot of speculation. There’s no guarantee Brady plays another game after his contract runs out next year. Maybe, after this 4 game suspension, he realizes he likes time off with the wife and kids and calls it a career, but I wouldn’t count on it. Odds are he plays another 5 years at minimum, and it wouldn’t be completely shocking to see him play the full 10 years he claims he wants to play. Brady is still a top 5 fantasy QB and I believe he will continue to be going forward. I’m a high floor guy personally and looking at the next half-a-decade or so, I only see a few players I can comfortably rank ahead of Tom Brady.