Monday, September 8, 2008

Brady Impact

Well, we finally ran into a situation Pats HC Bill Belichick couldn't play out for weeks on end - the Pats have placed Tom Brady on the IR, thus ending his season.

Adam Shefter is saying that he tore the MCL as well as the ACL. He has plenty of time to rehab so he'll be back I think by next season.

But what about this season? What does this mean for the Pats offensive Fantasy players?

Well, it's a little too soon to make too many judgements BUT we saw some things will Cassel under center.

First off, I am also more worried about the Jacksonville offensive line than the overall Pats O. You can't replace Brady of course - but replacing three offensive linemen is even harder on the fly.

So, as dissappointing as it is for Brady owners, I think everyone else can breathe a bit.

Moss: Did you notice a difference in Moss from Brady to Cassel? Me neither. This is not to say the drop-off won't come but of the 6 catches Moss had, half the catches were on passes from Cassel, who targeted him one more time. Now, the overall offense looked a little sluggish and will take a step back. But Moss is the main weapon here and that won't change.

But will he get open? Will Wes Welker still be able to pull coverage off him? I think so. Welker is a solid possesion receiver and while I expect him to also see a slight dip in his numbers, I thought he wouldn't quite meet his total from last year anyway. So if your expectations are reasonable in a PPR league, he will still see his share of touches and targets.

Laurence Maroney is what he is - a decent back who never seems to get enough carries to do too much for you. Will he see more of a load now that Brady is down? That is the biggest question for me going into the Jets game this Sunday. I wouldn't start him now but they will likely run the ball more and that could mean Maroney will get more carries. But you have to account for LaMont Jordan, Sammy Morris and Kevin Faluk (activated today) all of whom will be active and will hamper Maroney's potential. I would avoid the run game the next week or so - you risk missing a big game from someone, but at least you'll have a better idea of who that someone might be, rather than play Russian Roulette with your #2RB or flex spot.

Finally we get to the man himself - what about Matt Cassel? Truly awful in preseason, Cassel stepped up and played very well under stress. He wasn't phenomenal - he won't turn Tom Brady into Drew Bledsoe but he seemed to manage the game just fine in Brady's absence. That said, I have no intention of starting him right now. Not until I see if he regresses. I have high hopes the rest of the offense will play up to snuff - but honestly all the above depends on Cassel playing well. Belichick insists they are not trying out any QBs, but you have to expect he will at some point. A Vet presense will only help the team. Still, it says something about Belichick's confidence level that there were no tryouts today. It will be a week or two - they have a tough game against the Jets (who will be fired up to host the Pats minus Brady) and then host the Dolphins in week 3. And then a perfectly timed bye week in 4. I really think this team has the time to get Cassel as much work as they can and give him every chance to suceed.

What really we will see in the next few weeks is the Patriots character. A team for whom everything just worked last season, will they be able to deal with this hurdle? Losing Brady is a more serious blow than the Camera-Gate garbage last year. They used that to propel themselves to a perfect season.

Is this more grist for the same mill? Or is this the sort of thing that will throw them off their game?

The answer to that question will come the next few weeks - and will also give you the answer to the questions I posed above.

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