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Patriotism: Fantasy Focus – New England

Appreciation with sports seems to come with time. Old timers call them “the good old days.” I find myself jealous when I hear old friends and family members reminiscing about sports greats who have gone down in history as mythical characters.

I was born in 1980 and was fortunate enough to catch the tail end of Larry Bird’s career. I remember rocking Air

Jordan
‘s as a kid, and when the slam dunk contest was filled with all-stars. But I didn’t have the appreciation for sports that I do now.

Sports nowadays is different. Despite a recent resurrection in basketball, the sport has fallen into negative stereotypes and a playground style of ball. Hockey has fallen out of favor and can no longer be considered one of the three major sports (sorry hockey fans). And then there’s ”

America
’s Sport.” What a joke! How can you call baseball a sport when you basically buy championships and inject home runs?



America

’s sport is football. The NFL has done a fantastic job of modeling what an association should be. Within the NFL, the New England Patriots have become the role model of how an organization should be run. Within the Patriots we find this generations mythical champion: Tom Brady.

The ability to step back and appreciate greatness as it is happening is a talent. Our “good old days” are now. And one can argue, there is no better player in all of sports than Brady.


Where Fantasy meets Reality

:

The Patriots are out for blood in ‘09. Fantasy greatness comes from teams who don’t let up. Teams who will run up the score. Teams that throw in the red zone. Teams that say “we don’t care about the records” – but in reality they really do. Teams that are out to prove a point.

What’s to prove? After an undefeated season, and after posting unprecedented fantasy stats, the ‘07 Patriots lost in the Super Bowl to the New York Giants.

Everyone thought that ‘08 would be the year of redemption, but after a Week 1 season-ending injury to Brady, fantasy dreams were derailed, and it looked like Patriot fans would have to wait an other year for revenge.

Going 11-5 last season and being neglected of a playoff birth was absurd. The Patriots were better than any team in the playoffs with the exception of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Having been robbed in ‘08 with
Cassel under center, look for the Pats to try and embarrass the league once again with Brady leading the charge. Last year’s woes will contribute to this year’s fantasy success. The Patriots play best when they have a purpose. Look for the Patriots to try return to ‘07 form in ‘09.


The Holy Trinity: Belichick, Brady and Moss



The Father: Bill Belichick


The salary cap in football was to promote parade in the league. The Cowboys’ dynasty of the early 90’s was predicted to be the last. But the Patriots have proven otherwise. Unlike other sports, football promotes an equal playing field. With a limited amount of allowances and the loss of players to free agency, teams are lucky to win one championship in a decade, never mind three.

The Patriots success has come hand-in-hand with the arrival of Belichick.
New England has experienced key coaching and player personnel losses over the past few seasons: Romeo Crennel, Charlie Weis, Josh McDaniels and Scott Pioli have all relocated. Look for Belichick to prove that he is the No. 1 reason for the Patriots accomplishments, and that those that have left, can be forgotten.

Belichick once again put his mastery on display in this year’s NFL draft. The Patriots should open a clinic on how teams can not only improve the quality of this year’s team, but can also insure the future. Too many teams sell away the future for the here and now. The Patriots have remained relevant year in and out because of the organizations mastery on draft day.

The Patriots have signed veterans Fred Taylor and Joey Galloway this offseason. It is no secret that these players are in the twilight years of their careers and have come to
New England to win a Super Bowl. Belichick is a master of picking up football-smart, seasoned vets, that still got enough in the tank to be contributors. He also has perfected his talent of cutting players loose just as their time expires. Other offensive additions include wide receiver Greg Lewis and tight ends Chris Baker and Alex Smith.


The Son: Tom Brady – Resurrection ‘09


Brady is an easy player to hate. He is a football God, married to the hottest women on the planet, has a child with another hot-as-hell actress, has your girlfriend screaming out his name in her dreams, plays incredibly under pressure and always seems to say the right thing in every interview and at every press conference. Just admit it … He is the Absolute Man! The definition of a “Golden Boy.” He’s the one guy it’s acceptable to have man-crush on. Brady needs a fourth ring to even things up with Mr.

Montana
. Sorry Joe, Brady is better now – never mind when he wins another this year. Not only will Brady lead the Patriots to another Super Bowl, but he could do the same for your fantasy squad. Brady has been reported to be well ahead of schedule in terms of his rehabilitation. The Patriots’ dealing of
Cassel would not have occurred if they had any doubts about Brady’s health. With the possibility of Drew Brees and Peyton Manning being selected in front of him, Brady could be a steal as the third QB off the board. With a season of torture on the sidelines, and some new weapons at his disposal, Brady is my number one ranked quarterback going into the ‘09 season.

Brady’s ‘07 Stats:

2007: 398 Completions, 4,806 Yards, 50 TDs with only 8 INT – no that is not a typo.

A repeat in ‘07 stats would be unrealistic. The Patriots will be out to prove a point, but I look for them to be a little more cautious around Brady’s fourth-quarter gun-slinging when they’re up 24 points. I look for
New England to better establish the run this season, but 35+ TDs is doable for Brady.


The Holy Spirit: Randy Moss


The greatest season in the positions history – Randy Moss’ 07 numbers: 98 receptions, 1,493 receiving yards, 23 TDs. With Brady’s injury in 08, Moss’ looks, touches and stats were all severely compromised. All watched and waited for Randy to become disgruntled. But Moss was most impressive, not on the field, but in the locker room. With Matt Cassel at the helm, Moss was still highly productive: 69 receptions, 1,008 receiving yards, 11 TDs. Moss was able to “tolerate” ‘08 with promise of greener pastures in ‘09. Only one year removed from a 23-TD season, Moss could be a bargain, possibly falling out of the Top 3 at the position. Brady appears to be completely recovered. I expect Larry Fitzgerald and Andre Johnson to have more receptions this season, but I think Moss leads the league in touchdowns. Brady-to-Moss reunited – Super high ceiling has me salivating as I type. I’ll leave it at that.


And then there is Welker …


Wes Welker was still atop the league in receptions with
Cassel throwing him the ball in ‘08. With Brady under center, there is truly no limit for this offense. The “Slot Machine” is truly that: A Reception Machine. There are far more athletically gifted receivers on the board, but no one with more heart. The short stature, blue collar, work hoarse, is tough as nails and is a model of consistency. In a PPR or a 0.5 PPR league, Welker has a major stock bump. Although he might not lead the league in scoring, he can be counted on for 100 grabs and contend for the reception title.

Welker’s ‘07 and ‘08 Stats:

2007: 112 Receptions, 1,175 Yards, 8 TDs

2008: 111 Receptions, 1,165 Yards, 3 TDs


In Summary

:

At the end of ‘09, one team could have the coach of the year, MVP, Highest Rated fantasy quarterback, Fantasy MVP, highest scoring receiver in all of fantasy and the reception leader in the NFL. The Patriots have become somewhat of the “Evil Empire” of football. There are those of you who hate the Patriots so much that you will let it cloud your evaluation come draft day. We all have had that dilemma of wanting to go with our hearts over our heads. Fantasy football is a cutthroat world. Your best friends become your enemies, lying and cheating is expected and production supersedes everything. Besides greed and glory, all feelings need to be put aside. Let me assure you that if you pass on Brady, Moss or Welker because of a “real world” hatred for the Patriots – your fantasies will be compromised.

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