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Is Brett Favre A Fantasy Bust In Disguise?

Let me make this absolutely clear: I have the deepest respect for Brett Favre as a professional football player. Favre, as we all know, holds every major National Football League passing record – don’t forget his extremely impressive streak of consecutive games started – and No. 4 is undoubtedly a first-ballot lock for enshrinement into the NFL Hall of Fame whenever he finally decides to hang up his cleats and return to Kiln, Mississippi. Although it’s pointless to rehash the compelling, yet bizarre preseason soap opera that climaxed with his longtime team, the Green Bay Packers, trading him to the New York Jets, I will say this: No offense, Jets fans, but it’s so strange to see Favre wearing green and white instead of green and gold.

 

Favre’s uniform colors, however, are not the issue here, but his fantasy production is. The stage was set this past Monday night for the 38-year-old Favre, who still has a rocket arm, to work his magic against an admittedly desperate 2007 AFC West champion San Diego Chargers team that was trying to avoid an 0-3 start. Although his fantasy numbers were solid at the end of the night, a lot of Favre’s production came in garbage time, and he didn’t play well in his second straight matchup against a 2007 playoff team. Favre made several bad reads and was intercepted two times. In case you missed the game, he threw a few other bad balls that should have been easy picks. Is this the type of play and fantasy production that we should expect from Favre for the rest of the year? Did the hoopla about the Favre trade and his unexpectedly outstanding Most Valuable Player-caliber 2007 season give fantasy owners some unrealistic expectations for Favre’s 2008 fantasy worth?

 

Is Favre Struggling Badly?

 

No, but his numbers have been painfully average overall. Through Week 3, Favre was rated No. 14 in the NFL in passing. He has completed 63 of his 90 pass attempts (70 percent completions) for 646 yards, six touchdowns and three interceptions. Using a fantasy scoring system of one point for each 20 passing yards, four points for each touchdown pass and minus one point for each interception, Favre has amassed 17.70 fantasy points, 12.05 fantasy points and 23.55 fantasy points, respectively, in three games played this season. His Week 1 and Week 3 numbers are solid from a fantasy perspective, but Favre isn’t playing as well as he did in Titletown.

 

How do Favre’s 2008 statistics compare to his 2007 numbers?

 

BRETT FAVRE – 2007 GREEN BAY PACKERS

 

OPPONENT

RESULT

COMP

ATT

YARDS

TD

INT

FP*

Week 1

Philadelphia

W, 16 – 13

23

42

206

0

1

9.30

Week 2

N.Y. Giants

W, 35 – 13

29

38

286

3

1

25.30

Week 3

San Diego

W, 31 – 24

28

45

369

3

0

30.45

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AVERAGES

26.7

41.7

287.0

2.00

0.67

21.68

*Fantasy points: 1 pt. per 20 yards passing, 4 pts. per TD pass, -1 pts. per interception

 

BRETT FAVRE – 2008 N.Y. JETS

 

OPPONENT

RESULT

COMP

ATT

YARDS

TD

INT

FP*

Week 1

Miami

W, 20 – 14

15

22

194

2

0

17.70

Week 2

N. England

L, 19 – 10

18

26

181

1

1

12.05

Week 3

San Diego

L, 48 – 29

30

42

271

3

2

23.55

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AVERAGES

21.0

30.0

215.3

2.00

1.00

17.77

*Fantasy points: 1 pt. per 20 yards passing, 4 pts. per TD pass, -1 pts. per interception

 

Granted, Favre has attempted an average of 11 fewer passes per game compared to this time last season, but his numbers are clearly down. The biggest difference is the drop in average passing yards per game, while touchdowns and interceptions are very close. There is obviously a drop off in fantasy points scored per game. Aside from passing yardage, Favre’s numbers against the Chargers in 2007 and 2008 are surprisingly similar.

 

No West Coast Attack In East Rutherford

 

You’ve undoubtedly heard football pundits and game announcers remind us that Favre is playing in a new offensive system with some different players, and it’s going to take some time for him to get comfortable with everything. This is not trite blathering; it’s all very true. Favre spent his entire Green Bay career playing in a West Coast attack. It’s clear that many thought Favre’s talent and experience could overcome his unfamiliarity with offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer’s Pro-Style scheme. What is the difference between a West Coast attack and the Pro-Style attack that the Jets utilize? I could write a mini-article on that, but I’ll keep it simple: The difference is the terminology for formations, routes and audibles. Although the Jets coaching staff has altered the scheme and tried to use some terminology that is more familiar to Favre, it’s very obvious that he is learning on the job. Don’t forget – Favre also missed a ton of the Jets training camp, and he’s still trying to build a rapport with his wide receivers and tight ends. In addition, it takes the average player at least half a season to become comfortable in a new offensive scheme – regardless of how talented or experienced he is.

 

Was Favre Already On The Decline In Green Bay?

 

Some of you may be questioning whether my intelligence is on the decline by posing this question. How can I suggest that it’s time to start writing the epitaph for the career of a future Hall-of-Fame quarterback who completed 66.5 percent of his passes while throwing for 4,155 yards, 28 touchdowns and just 15 interceptions in 2007? Look at Favre’s numbers prior to the 2007 season:

 

BRETT FAVRE PASSING STATISTICS BY SEASON

SEASON

GS

TEAM RECORD

COMP

ATT

YARDS

COMP %

TD

INT

FP/G

2004

16

10 – 6

346

540

4,088

64.1

30

17

19.2

2005

16

4 – 12

372

607

3,881

61.3

20

29

10.3

2006

16

8 – 8

343

613

3,885

56.0

18

18

15.5

2007

16

13 – 3

356

535

4,155

66.5

28

15

19.0

    *Fantasy points: 1 pt. per 20 yards passing, 4 pts. per TD pass, -1 pts. per interception

 

Following his strong 2004 campaign, there was a noticeable change in Favre’s 2005 numbers. The passing yardage didn’t fall off much. On the other hand, his pass attempts were up, his interceptions were up and his touchdown passes were down. Some believe 2005 marked the beginning of the decline of Favre’s skills. Others, however, are quick to point out that the Packers started rebuilding around him that season. Former head coach Mike Sherman was fired and Mike McCarthy took over that season. The two biggest challenges for Favre that year: learning McCarthy’s new offense and trying to produce with a lack of talent around him. The interior of the offensive line featured new starters at center and both guard positions. The running game featured a declining Ahman Green and the inexperienced Samkon Gado. Favre had then-breakout wide receiver Javon Walker and the steady Donald Driver in the passing game. However, with such a porous offensive line and a mediocre running game, enemy defenses frequently clamped down on Favre and his receivers.

 

The team showed some improvement in McCarthy’s system during the 2006 season, but Favre’s numbers didn’t change much. His pass attempts were still in the high range. Favre’s interceptions came down, but his touchdown passes and passing yardage remained almost the same. Walker had left via free agency, and then-rookie wideout Greg Jennings was in and out of the lineup with injuries. Green had also left via free agency, leaving the team to rely on a collection of career backups to carry the football, which allowed enemy defenses to yet again focus on stopping Favre and Driver.

 

Favre finally looked like a master at the controls in McCarthy’s offense in 2007, and the team came together around him, which is why Favre’s statistics were on par with his stellar 2004 campaign. The offensive line had finally started to jell. Jennings had developed into a go-to receiver, and Driver was still his usual steady self. Young wide receivers James Jones and Ruvell Martin, along with tight end Donald Lee, had emerged as solid targets. In addition, the running game took off at mid-season with the arrival of Ryan Grant.

 

What is the point of this discussion about Favre’s last four seasons in Green Bay? I think Favre can still play the game at a top level, but he can’t carry a team by himself any more, as evidenced by his 2005 and 2006 numbers. This obviously begs the question: Does Favre have adequate talent around him to succeed in New York?

 

Favre’s Fantasy Forecast

 

The answer to that question is “yes,” although I think Favre’s supporting cast in Green Bay was a little stronger. What does he have to work with in New York?

 

Wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery – He is not a burner but has good speed, size and hands. Cotchery is also smart and runs good routes. He seems to be a Favre favorite.

 

Wide receiver Laveranues Coles – Regarded as a speedster, Coles has good hands and is willing to make the tough catch over the middle.

 

Wide receiver Chansi Stuckey – The second-year pro is emerging as one of Favre’s favorite targets. Although Stuckey is undersized, he has good hands and quick acceleration.

 

Tight end Dustin Keller – The first-round pick is a tough competitor with breakaway speed. If he and Favre build some chemistry, defenses will have to start scheming to stop Keller.

 

Tight end Chris Baker – The veteran is more of a possession tight end than a big-play guy. I’m surprised that he is still in the fold after the Jets drafted Keller.

 

Running back Thomas Jones – Jones is not spectacular, but he is a solid one-cut-and-go back with decent speed and good receiving ability.

With the addition of free agent guard Alan Faneca and offensive tackle Damien Woody, the offensive line now loaded with four former first-round picks and should be more-than-solid once it jells.

 

Let’s go back to the original question: Is Favre a fantasy bust in disguise? The answer, in my opinion, is no. Will there be more growing pains for Favre than some had expected? Yes. Don’t expect Favre to even come close to posting Green Bay numbers in a game until at least the second half of this season, at the earliest. By the way, I’m assuming that Schottenheimer and head coach Eric Mangini will let Favre throw more often as he becomes more comfortable in the Jets’ scheme.

 

If you’ve been down on Favre, don’t overreact and cut him or trade him. Favre’s next six games are against teams that did not make the playoffs last season, and nine of his remaining 13 games are against teams that did not make the postseason in 2007. Bottom line: I think the best is yet to come for Favre, especially during the second half of the season. Stay the course with him as a backup/spot starter. You should never count this extremely competitive, proud man out of anything.

 

 

 

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