Losing a fantasy stud like New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady is obviously a devastating setback for your fantasy team. Since the Patriots placed Brady on Injured Reserve, which officially ends his 2008 season, you don’t have to worry about head coach Bill Belichick playing games with Brady’s playing status on the weekly injury report, and you are free to plan for the future of your fantasy team without Brady. What are you going to do now? You need a plan.
Brady owners fall into three categories. Which one describes you?
You drafted a decent quarterback to backup Brady.
You selected a low-value quarterback to plug into your lineup when Brady had his Bye week. You would not want to start this quarterback each week.
You didn’t draft a backup for Brady, because you wanted the extra roster spot for a running back or a wide receiver.
If you drafted a solid backup for Brady that you can safely start each week, you’re not in bad shape. All you need to do is secure a solid backup via the waiver wire or possibly through a trade. If you don’t have to trade away talent at other positions, the better off your team is.
If you drafted a low-value quarterback that you had planned to start just during New England’s Bye week – someone like quarterback Tarvaris Jackson (Minnesota Vikings), quarterback Kyle Orton (Chicago Bears) or quarterback Vince Young (Tennessee Titans) – you obviously need to acquire another quarterback to tag team with your backup. You should also consider upgrading your scrub backup.
If you didn’t select a backup for Brady during your draft, you’re obviously in a world of hurt right now and need to make some quick, decisive moves to save your season.
THE WAIVER WIRE?
All leagues are different, so it’s hard to gauge what signal-callers are available in your free-agent pool. The first four quarterbacks discussed are your most legitimate options, if they are available:
Matt Cassel, New England Patriots
– He is obviously the starter now. Positives: knows the offense; has a ton of talent around him; has an easy schedule. Negatives: inexperienced; did not play well in preseason; has not made a start since high school.
Kurt Warner, Arizona Cardinals
– I’m surprised to see that the 37-year-old veteran is still available in a few leagues. Positives: knows the offense; has a talented wide receiver corps. Negatives: prone to turnovers and injuries.
Chad Pennington, Miami Dolphins
– Don’t laugh at Pennington. The veteran was solid in Week 1, posting 251 yards passing with two touchdowns and one interception. Positives: has an easy schedule; will have to throw to keep his team in games. Negatives: not much pass-catching talent around him; may lose his job to rookie quarterback Chad Henne when the team falls out of playoff contention.
J.T. O’Sullivan, San Francisco 49ers
– He is talented but looks like a project. Positives: will throw the ball a ton. Negatives: inexperienced; will likely turn the ball over a lot; not much receiving talent around him.
The following quarterbacks are merely stop-gap measures:
– Garcia (ankle) is injured and may not play in Week 2. Either McCown or Griese would start in Garcia’s place. Positives: know the offense. Negatives: not a huge passing team; weak wide receiver corps.
Damon Huard, Kansas City Chiefs
– Huard is not a long-term solution. He is expected to start as long as quarterback Brodie Croyle (shoulder) is banged up. Positives: knows the offense; has some decent pass-catchers. Negatives: will not keep his starting job long-term.
Kerry Collins, Tennessee Titans
– Collins is just a short-term fix, because quarterback Vince Young (knee) will miss just two to four weeks. Positives: knows the offense and is a solid passer. Negatives: not much receiving talent around him; not a permanent starter.
Quarterbacks such Matt Ryan (Atlanta Falcons), Joe Flacco/Troy Smith (Baltimore Ravens), Trent Edwards (Buffalo Bills), Kyle Orton (Chicago Bears), Brodie Croyle/Tyler Thigpen (Kansas City Chiefs), Tarvaris Jackson (Minnesota Vikings), JaMarcus Russell (Oakland Raiders) and Jason Campbell (Washington Redskins) are not usable as regular fantasy starters.
MAKE A TRADE?
If you don’t see any viable options on the waiver wire, trading for a starting quarterback is obviously your only other option. One thing to keep in mind: as frustrating as it will be, you’ll probably have to overpay for a quarterback. The other owners in your league know you’re in a bad situation – especially if you drafted a weak backup or no backup at all. You need to be smart about this. Don’t accept the first offer that comes to you, especially if it is horribly one-sided, and don’t be afraid to haggle with anyone who makes an offer. They expect you to wrangle with them.
If you want to be proactive and make offers to other owners, here is a plan that I recommend following when putting together trade offers:
If you own one of the top-five tight ends, offer him first as trade bait. I’ve never won or lost a league because of the tight end that I’ve owned, and you can find a decent replacement tight end on the waiver wire this early in the season. You may get a deal done quickly, because many owners love having a top tight end.
If there isn’t interest in your stud tight end, or if you don’t have one to offer, I’d next think about parting with a wide receiver. If you’re loaded at this position, parting with one will not set your team back a lot. You can usually find decent wide receiver help in the free-agent pool. Should you offer up your No. 1 stud wideout? I would do so only as a last resort. If it comes to that, try to talk the other owner into a multi-player deal so you can get a decent wideout in return to pair with your No. 2 wide receiver.
We all know that running backs are gold in fantasy football. You don’t see many good backs available in your free-agent pool, do you? If all else has failed, you’ll have to offer a running back. Should you part with your No. 1 stud running back? No. I would rather use a scrub quarterback from the waiver wire than give up my best running back. However, you may have to part with your No. 2 running back to get a deal done. Try to talk the other owner into a multi-player trade so you can get a decent back in return.
Be creative. Another owner may be happy with just a decent running back and a decent wide receiver in exchange for a quarterback. Another may be happy to give you a signal-caller in exchange for a tight end and a wide receiver. Explore all the options available.
What will it cost to obtain at least a decent starting quarterback? I don’t know. The market value will vary depending on what is available on your league’s waiver wire, depending on the demand for quarterbacks in your league, depending on how many quarterbacks you have to start (most leagues start just one) and depending on how large or small your league is.
If you didn’t draft a decent backup for Brady or didn’t draft one at all, don’t beat yourself up over it. Even the most reliable, dependable fantasy player can get injured. Consider it a fantasy football lesson learned and move on. I can’t guarantee that you’ll land the quarterback of your dreams through the waiver wire or through a trade using my suggested approach. You probably realize that replacing the fantasy points that Brady would have generated is all but impossible. The best you can do is to land the best available quarterback – if you need one – to keep your team competitive. If you can land a solid one from your league’s waiver wire without giving up any of your players, consider yourself lucky. If you have to make a trade, think everything through. As discussed, don’t settle for any lame offers, and don’t be afraid to take the initiative and make offers yourself. Remember: there is no crying in fantasy football, and there is no giving up in fantasy football either.