Tom Brady remains top-10 fantasy QB despite ban

In the first four weeks of last season, Tom Brady averaged a mere 9.3 fantasy points. That was good for 27th among quarterbacks. Not good, huh?

The first four weeks of the 2015 campaign are going to be a lot worse for Tom Terrific, however, as the NFL Tuesday upheld the decision to suspend Brady without pay for the first four games for violating the league's policy on the integrity of the game. This announcement comes approximately a month after Brady appealed the suspension at the NFL's league office

As it stands, Brady will miss games against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Buffalo Bills, Jacksonville Jaguars and Dallas Cowboys. Included in that stretch is a bye in Week 4, so Brady won't be eligible to return until a Week 6 contest against Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts. What kind of impact can he make when he's back? Well, consider that after his awful four-game start to last season, Brady averaged 21.5 fantasy points per game in his final 12 starts.

That was the fifth-most among quarterbacks in that time.

Nonetheless, Brady remains among my top 10 fantasy quarterbacks and stays among my top 100 fantasy players for 2015. I can even argue a scenario where Brady's suspension could be part of a draft strategy that could help you win your league's title. With his chances of falling out of the first 10 rounds now likely, I'd focus on bolstering the running back and wide receiver positions and then grabbing Brady late. When you consider the depth at quarterback, well, playing the matchups for the first five weeks isn't what I would call an undesirable situation.

Remember, Ryan Tannehill wasn't drafted in a ton of leagues last season. He finished 10th in points among quarterbacks. The same holds true of Eli Manning, who finished 12th. I promise, you can survive for a few weeks without an elite signal-caller. And once you get Brady back under center, well, it wouldn't be a surprise if he wasn't a little motivated to tear up the competition.

As for the rest of his team, the likes of Rob Gronkowski, Julian Edelman and Brandon LaFell will take a small statistical hit with Jimmy Garoppolo under center. But coach Bill Belichick is a smart man, as he proved in 2008 when Matt Cassel replaced an injured Brady and threw for 3,693 yards while scoring a combined 23 touchdowns under his watch. Also, I can remember thinking that the Patriots were in trouble when Drew Bledsoe took a sideline smash from Jets linebacker Mo Lewis ... and Brady took over the reins of the offense.

So while he isn't the Golden Boy, Garoppolo himself might even be a matchup-based option in the first four games.

Fantasy owners also need to remember that LeGarrette Blount is suspended for the first week of the season, so the Patriots will be rolling out Garoppolo and some assortment of Brandon Bolden, Jonas Gray, Travaris Cadet and James White in their backfield against the Steelers. But again, I don't see Brady's absence making Blount less of an option as a No. 3 or 4 fantasy runner.

Brady's absence will sting to be certain, but that doesn't mean you should avoid him and his teammates in fantasy drafts. Belichick is no mere coach, and Brady could turn out to be a savior for fantasy fans once he's back out on the gridiron.

Michael Fabiano is an award-winning fantasy football analyst on NFL.com and NFL Network and a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association (FSWA) Hall of Fame. Have a burning question on anything fantasy related? Tweet it to @Michael_Fabiano or send a question via Facebook!

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