Fantasy Football: Tom Brady still in Top 5?

Tom Brady is one of the 10 best players in the NFL according to the players who voted on NFL Network's Top 100 list. And he's clearly the best of his generation, but is he still going to be an elite fantasy option this year?

The common refrain is Brady can win with anonymous receivers (not an invitation to go make a Spygate joke). And it's true. If you look at the Patriots during their dominant run of three Super Bowl titles in four years, Brady won with receivers such as Deion Branch, Troy Brown and David Givens.

But Brady wasn't an elite fantasy option in those years. Brady really started to pick it up in 2005 and then he exploded with 50 touchdowns in 2007 when Randy Moss and Wes Welker joined the fold. We can argue if Welker is really an elite fantasy player or if Brady made him one, but let's look at some facts we simply can't argue against.

The Patriots top five receivers last season were Welker, Brandon Lloyd, Rob Gronkowski, Aaron Hernandez and Danny Woodhead. Welker, Lloyd and Woodhead are gone. Gronk has had multiple surgeries. Hernandez was released by the Patriots on Wednesday after he was arrested.

There is a very good chance Brady's top options in Week 1 will be Danny Amendola, rookie Aaron Dobson, Mike Jenkins and tight end Jake Ballard. And while I have no doubt Brady can win games with these guys, I'm less confident he can win fantasy games for you.

The key is Gronkowski. Here are some notes from our research department about Gronk's impact. Brady had a 23-3 touchdown-to-interception ratio and a 106.6 passer rating with Gronk on the field. He fell to 11-5 touchdown-to-interception ratio and an 87.1 passer rating with him gone. (This is where you play the dramatic music.)

Thus, I've had to adjust my fantasy rankings. Here's where we currently stand with the quarterbacks. And for the full rankings, go here.

  • Brady is still just a step ahead of Luck in my rankings. But I'd happily pass on Brady in the second, to take Luck in the fifth. Plus, I have a choice in my keeper league, too. I'm keeping Luck for sure, but I'm worried that I'm going to have to part ways with Brady.
  • Newton will likely run less, but he's still going to call his own number at the goal line.
  • Wilson could play on the best team in the NFL, but he's the last of the second-year starters to me. Stafford, Ryan and Romo are going to be great grabs in the seventh round and beyond.

Here are the running backs. Again, for the full list, go here.

  • The best position you can be in your draft is No. 2. Let the person in front of you make the decision about Foster/Peterson for you. Go with AD if the wildcard guy in the first spot takes Rodgers.
  • Truth be told, I'd almost prefer to be No. 3 so I could take McCoy.
  • Ray Rice reportedly could lose carries this season. Not a surprise if you watched the Ravens use of Bernard Pierce at the end of last season.
  • I love Matt Forte this year so much. He's going to have a monster bounce-back. In most of my fantasy drafts, I've been able to get Forte in the second round and then wait for Darren McFadden in the fourth as my flex guy. I know, I never learn with McFadden.
  • I'm getting more excited about Steven Jackson as a top fantasy option this year.

Here are the receivers. For the full list, go here.

  • Dez Bryant has a chance to be the top receiver in fantasy. I really love his upside. But seriously, Megatron. That's what keeps him from being No. 1.
  • Welcome back to the Top 5, Larry Fitzgerald. Wait, did that just sound like Peter King?
  • This isn't a knock on A.J. Green, but the Bengals have a ton of options. Plus they can run the ball, too. He's still an elite receiver. But his numbers trended down just a tick last year. But I'm not worried about him.
  • Randall Cobb is just starting to find himself as a receiver.

Here are the tight ends. For the full list, go here.

  • The NFL players can keep Graham off the Top 100 list (we need to launch an investigation into this); he's at the top of my list for tight ends. Seriously, I feel like I'm taking crazy pills.
  • If Davis is going to lineup wide, even if it's just for half the plays, he's no worse than the third tight end of this group. He could be a steal.

Until next time!

Did you know that Adam Rank won last year's Expert's League title? Oh that's right, it's like the only thing he ever talks about. Well congratulations, Rank. You finally did something. What have you done for us lately? Let's worry about 2013 and stop living in the past. Typical Lakers fan, am I right? Oh, if you found this useful (as if) check him out on the latest "Dave Dameshek Football Program". And follow him on Twitter, please. He's taking us to lunch if he gets 17 more Twitter followers today. And we only got 15 the last time, so step up fantasy enthusiasts!

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