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So Close, Yet So Favre Away

Being first and foremost a fan of the NFL (isn’t that why we all got into fantasy sports in the first place?), I am a huge fan of Minnesota Vikings’ quarterback Brett Favre.  Everyone knows about the NFL career passing records and his magical 2009 season. But to me, his toughness and cowboy-like gunslinging are what really make him a special player. The NFL’s Iron Man has started an impossible 285 games in a row, 103 games more than the next quarterback on the list (Peyton Manning), and his disregard for common ideas like risk aversion and caution is well documented.  Taking chances has literally won and lost him championships. There isn’t another quarterback that so completely plays with the “live by the sword, die by the sword” mentality. The man makes his own destiny. Favre is already the stuff of football legend, but this season I don’t expect a legendary performance.

His incredible 4,202 passing yards and 33-7 touchdown-interception ratio will not be duplicated. This is because, well, and call me what you will, but I think he has played too many games and is simply too old to get to that level again. You are probably saying to yourself “Keep hating hater. That’s what everybody said before last year and look what happened.” Sure, that’s true. Favre is not made from the same stuff most of us are made of, and he could probably throw a wiffle ball through a brick wall. I’m not a hater though, and you have to remember something: Favre is swimming in uncharted territory.

He is only the 13th quarterback in NFL history to play after age 40. And only three quarterbacks in that group, Favre included, have eclipsed 3,000 yards passing in a single season. Warren Moon passed for 3,678 yards, 25 touchdowns and 16 interceptions with the Seattle Seahawks in 1997 at age 41, and Vinny Testaverde passed for 3,532 yards, 17 touchdowns and 20 interceptions with the Dallas Cowboys in 2004, also at age 41. Here is the big difference between those guys and Favre: by this time in their careers, Testaverde and Moon had started a lot less games. Moon had 107 less starts and Testaverde 96. That’s six full seasons of starts. In fact, out of those other 12 NFL senior citizens, Favre has started and played in the most games.

More games means more punishment. Getting sacked 503 times has to take a serious toll on one’s body. Let’s face it, the NFL is a brutal game. In 1988,
The Los Angeles Times surveyed 440 former players, 78 percent of whom reported disabilities. In 1997,
Newsday commissioned researchers at

Ball
State
University
to survey 1,425 former players, and found that 63 percent reported permanent injuries. Although, he’s never missed a start in 285 consecutive games, Favre has constantly played hurt. He’s only human and it’s a matter of time before the inevitable strikes.  

Despite the advanced age, there is a reason to like Favre’s chances this year. His supporting cast will be really good. Sidney Rice, Percy Harvin and Bernard Berrian make up the most talented young group of wide receivers in the NFL. Tight end Visanthe Shinacoe broke out last year and has the skills to play at a high level again this season.  Adrian Peterson is a beast with the ball in his hands and showed off improved receiving ability last season. The offensive line is top notch and the defense will continue to put Favre and company in good field position next year.

There is one catch though, and it’s a big one. As much as all the talking heads might want you to believe it, this is not Favre’s team; this is Peterson’s team. Peterson is the engine that makes the Vikings’ offense go. His skills as a rusher demand defenses to stack the box on rushing downs. His explosiveness allows his receivers to get open on play action. The threat of a touchdown every time he touches the ball allows the Vikings to run misdirection gadget plays to Harvin and move the chains. With Peterson reportedly focusing on holding onto the football (nine fumbles last season) this summer, I look for the Vikings to continue to run ‘All Day’ into the ground and play off of him. 

Vikings’ head coach Brad Childress isn’t stupid. He knows all these things too, and he’s not going to throw Favre’s arm off or put him in many bad situations. He’s going to be careful with him like he was near the end of last season. That’s why Favre absolutely hit his ceiling last season. There simply won’t be enough passing opportunities for him to put up those gaudy numbers again. If you draft him expecting similar stats, you are fooling yourself. No human being can duplicate those stats on a run first, smashmouth team.

No quarterback was ever pushed to this limit. None put there body at so much risk. Favre never was one to care about risk. In a fantasy football draft, I’m nothing like Favre. I avoid risk like AIDS, unless the reward is a treasure chest filled with pirate booty. In Favre’s case, the risk does not outweigh the reward. According to mockdraftcentral.com, Favre is currently going 92 overall, at around the same time as Eli Manning and Joe Flacco. Those guys have much more upside and far less downside, and in the late ninth/early 10th round in 10-team formats, provide much more value to owners. I know it was only a short time ago that Favre was chucking the rock like a kid in a playground, but at 41 years old Favre will show his age in 2010.

2010 Projection: 3,666 pass yards, 23 TD, 15 INT

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