Fabiano: Enjoy Brady's success while it lasts

Tom Brady sure had a terrible Sunday night against Philadelphia, huh?

The Super Bowl hero threw for a miniscule 380 yards with a mere one touchdown and scored a pathetic 22 fantasy points on NFL.com.

Come on Tom!

Okay, so the performance wasn't all that bad. But it was far less than what fantasy footballers have become used to when it comes to the New England quarterback. Headed into Week 13, Brady is on pace to record 60 total touchdowns. 60! Brett Favre didn't record his 60th touchdown until his fourth NFL season.

Brady has also scored 368 fantasy points and is on pace for 535 fantasy points in standard formats. In what we all considered to be the best fantasy football season ever, LaDainian Tomlinson finished the 2006 campaign with 420 points, or 115 fewer than the number Brady has a chance to reach.

Talk about ridiculous!

And it's not as if Dan Marino, Emmitt Smith or Jerry Rice never stepped foot on an NFL field. Brady is in the midst of a magical season (and it's not more magical because he dates Victoria's Secret super model Gisele Bundchen, but it doesn't hurt).

But that is the reason he is primed to be an enormous disappointment next season.

When we look back at the history of the NFL, we see that players who have recorded unbelievable statistical seasons have their numbers fall hard soon thereafter.

Let's examine five examples that are fresh in the minds of fantasy footballers.

Dan Marino

Back in 1984, when fantasy football was in its infancy, Marino made mincemeat of the NFL with a record 5,084 passing yards and 48 touchdowns. Those totals made him the top pick in all fantasy drafts (yes, there were fantasy drafts) in 1985, but Dan the Man failed to meet statistical expectations. He threw for 4,137 yards and 30 scores, but those totals were far less than what owners had hoped to receive from him.

In fact, owners might have been better off with Marcus Allen, who totaled 2,314 all-purpose yards and 14 total touchdowns for the Los Angeles Raiders.

Kurt Warner

The leader of the "Greatest Show on Turf" at the time, Warner went from Trent Green's backup to fantasy superstar in the blink of an eye. He came out of nowhere (and when I say nowhere, I mean nowhere) to record 4,353 passing yards and 42 total touchdowns in 1999. His 41 touchdown passes were the third-most ever in a single season at the time, and he went from undrafted in fantasy football to the consensus No. 1 overall selection in all 2000 drafts. He turned out to be a disappointment, however, as he missed five starts and threw for 924 fewer yards and scored 21 fewer touchdowns.

Peyton Manning

The Colts quarterback entered the 2004 season as an elite fantasy choice, but he finished it as a fantasy football stalwart. He threw for a career-best 4,557 passing yards and broke Dan Marino's single-season record for touchdown passes with 49. I was at the CBS studios with Dan when Manning broke the record, and I remember thinking "Manning can't do this again next season." Well, his 2004 success led a lot of fantasy football owners to a league title and made Manning a popular No. 1 overall pick in 2005 drafts.

Manning went on to throw for 3,747 yards and 28 touchdowns that season. Let's do the math: That's 810 fewer yards and 21 fewer scores than he recorded in 2004.

Shaun Alexander

Let's stick with the 2005 season and talk about Shaun Alexander. The former Alabama standout had never rushed for 1,700 yards or scored more than 20 total touchdowns before that season, but he exploded for 1,880 rushing yards and what was an NFL-record 28 total touchdowns. His numbers were so incredible that he put owners on his shoulders and led them to a title.

Then came the dreaded 2006 season...and the Madden curse.

Alexander was a consensus top-three selection in all drafts, but he failed to meet statistical expectations. He missed six starts due to injuries, rushed for 896 yards and scored seven touchdowns. Again, let's do the math: That's 984 fewer yards and 21 fewer touchdowns than he had in 2005.

LaDainian Tomlinson

The final exhibit is, you guessed it, LT. If you had him on your roster last season, there's a good chance you won your league's championship. He rushed for a career best 1,815 yards, totaled 2,323 all-purpose yards and broke Alexander's record for touchdowns in a season with 31. Tomlinson scored more than Brad Pitt at a convention for single women. He seemed to take permanent residence in NFL end zones, and he made fantasy owners who drafted him smile from ear to ear.

Of course, Tomlinson was considered the surefire No. 1 overall selection in all 2007 drafts.

Guess what has happened.

Through 11 contests, Tomlinson has rushed for 872 yards and found the end zone 10 times. Projected over a full 16-game season, L.T. will finish with 1,268 rushing yards and 14 total touchdowns. That's 547 fewer yards on the ground and more important, 17 fewer touchdowns. I wouldn't say that Tomlinson has been a bust, but I have him on one of my 13 fantasy teams and I have been disappointed.

So what does the future hold for Brady? Is he destined to record lesser numbers in 2008, much like Marino, Warner, Manning, Alexander and Tomlinson?

The answer is a resounding yes.

For now, Brady is the king of the fantasy football world. Heck, he's the king of the world (forgive the Leonardo DiCaprio reference). He's on pace to lead his team to only the second undefeated season ever, he's the favorite to win the NFL MVP, and chances are pretty good he'll take home his fourth Super Bowl title.

Did I mention he also dates a super model?

Yes, life is good for Brady, and it's pretty good for fantasy footballers who were smart enough to land him. But my advice to those owners is this: Enjoy the success while it lasts. Tell your grandchildren about the season you had Brady on your fantasy team when he scored more touchdowns than any other player in NFL history. Because when the 2007 season is over, it's an entirely new slate.

Brady does deserve to be (and he no doubt will be) the top overall selection in 99.9 percent of all 2008 fantasy football drafts. But based on history and the decreased numbers of Marino, Warner, Manning, Alexander and Tomlinson after their magical seasons, chances are pretty good Brady won't be the most productive player of the 2008 season.

Waiver wire focus

Isaac Bruce, WR, St. Louis: Bruce has 21 catches for 249 yards and two scores in his past four starts. He isn't the same explosive player he was in his prime, but Bruce can still be a useful asset. He has a favorable matchup in Week 13 against Atlanta and is available in more than 50 percent of NFL.com leagues.

Gus Frerotte, QB, St. Louis: With the status of Marc Bulger in doubt after he sustained a concussion in Week 12, Frerotte is in line to take over what is a talented Rams offense. Like Bruce, Frerotte has a nice matchup and will warrant consideration in leagues with 12-plus teams if Bulger is forced to miss time.

Samkon Gado, RB, Miami: Jesse Chatman is hurt and Ricky Williams is out for the season after one night's work, so Gado now has fantasy value. Reports indicate the Fins will start the former Packer and Texan, not Patrick Cobbs, against the Jets if Chatman is inactive, so he's well worth a flier in leagues with 12-plus teams.

Justin Gage, WR, Tennessee: Gage has recorded 17 catches for 254 yards and one touchdown in his last three games. He's also become the No. 1 option for Vince Young in the Titans pass attack. He is still available in most NFL.com leagues and is worth a flier if you need a wideout.

Andre Hall, RB, Denver: Hall had 167 all-purpose yards and scored one touchdown in a loss to Chicago. Travis Henry and Selvin Young are both at less than 100 percent, so Hall could be an option in Week 13 against an Oakland that ranks 31st against the run. He is available in close to 60 percent of NFL.com leagues.

Adrian Peterson, RB, Chicago: Peterson had 86 all-purpose yards and scored one touchdown in an overtime win over Denver. With Cedric Benson now out for the season, he'll take over as the team's new featured back. He's still a free agent in close to 70 percent of NFL.com leagues, so add him now.

Josh Scobee, K, Jacksonville: Scobee has missed much of the season with an injured quadriceps, but he's found real success in his return. The veteran connected on five field goals in a win over Buffalo and tied Jason Hanson for the most fantasy points among kickers on NFL.com in Week 12.

Tony Scheffler, TE, Denver: Scheffler had 82 yards and one score in a loss to Chicago, and he's become a favorite target of Jay Cutler in the Denver pass attack. He has emerged into a borderline No. 1 fantasy tight end, and Scheffler is available in close to 60 percent of NFL.com leagues.

Kolby Smith, RB, Kansas City: Smith rushed for 150 yards and two touchdowns in a loss to Oakland, and he has obvious potential as an NFL runner. With Larry Johnson's status in doubt and no one on the Chiefs' roster to challenge for carries, Smith is all of the sudden a viable fantasy starter in most leagues.

Tampa Bay defense: This isn't the same defense from the team's salad days, but the Buccaneers have scored a total of 46 points in the past two weeks in NFL.com's standard scoring system. Tampa's defense is still available in over 40 percent of NFL.com leagues and now warrants a roster spot in all formats.


Should I start Brett Favre or Ben Roethlisberger in Week 13? -- J. Brown, Oroville, Calif.

M.F.: As much as I like Favre in Dallas, I'd have to side with Roethlisberger. He's been every bit as good as Favre this season, and his matchup against a bad Cincinnati pass defense bodes well for his chances to produce solid numbers.

Which two running backs should I start: Earnest Graham, Maurice Jones-Drew, Willie Parker or Chester Taylor? -- E. Heller, Baltimore, Md.

M.F.: Taylor loses value with the expected return of Adrian Peterson, so the decision boils down to Graham, Jones-Drew and Parker. Based on the matchups, I'd side with Parker against the Bengals and the upstart Graham in New Orleans.

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