Thursday, August 7, 2008

Favre fantasy fallout

I know, I know ... the last thing you probably want to hear about at this point is more Brett Favre nonsense. But it's my civic duty to look at this whole NFL soap opera from a fantasy perspective.

Favre goes from the Packers - his home for 16 seasons - to the New York Jets, winners of four football contests last year. He'll have new coaches, new teammates, a new offensive system with new terminology. How will it affect his fantasy worth?

First, let's pretend this whole thing never happened, and instead of "retiring," Favre decided to come back for another season with the Packers. Where would that rank him among fantasy QBs? In the top 10? Probably. Last season was kind of miraculous for a guy his age (more than 4,000 yards passing and 28 TDs), but it proved he could still air it out. With a nice receving corps (led by Donald Driver and Greg Jennings), an improving tight end (Donald Lee) and offensive line, and an emerging young star (Ryan Grant) at running back, Favre would have had a chance to come close to those stats this year and serve as a quality fantasy starter, somewhere in the bottom half of the top 10.

But now he's a Jet, and the rankings have to change accordingly. Laveranues Coles and Jerricho Cotchery are a decent 1-2 WR tandem, and they certainly stand to benefit from the addition of Favre. Ditto for rookie TE Dustin Keller, a serious receiving threat from Purdue. The offensive line looks much improved - at least on paper - with the addition of vet Alan Faneca at guard. Thomas Jones is a solid back who will benefit from better line play.

There's a chance here for Favre to be productive. Problem is, when you factor in his unfamiliarity with the offensive system/coaches/teammates, his advanced age (he'll turn 39 this season) and the pressures of the Big Apple, there's a legitimate risk in counting on him as a top-10 starter. With these question marks, could you justify taking Favre over a young improving QB like, say, Jay Cutler or Derek Anderson - two guys who have a better complement of skill players around them and will benefit from another year in their own system? Would you take Favre over Ben Roethlisberger or Matt Hasselbeck or Carson Palmer - fantasy mainstays who carry considerably less risk?

Maybe you could make a case for taking Favre over Donovan McNabb and Marc Bulger, who've seemingly spent more time in the trainer's room than on the field in recent years. But that still probably leaves Favre outside the top 10 - which means he's not a No. 1 starter in most fantasy leagues. If I can draft him as a No. 2, I'd jump at the chance because of the upside he carries, but I'd have to think long and hard about making him my starter.

Photo by The Associated Press

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