The following Bold Prediction is courtesy of Roy Anselmo, FFSpin.com and FantasyFootballCrystalBall.com Contributor
Many fantasy football experts will try to tell you to not look to far in the future when it comes to scheduling, as too many factors can change throughout the season. However, analyzing the all important playoff weeks (14-16) should at least be a piece to the puzzle of your draft prep. There is nothing worse than having your workhorses carry you to the postseason only to fall flat on their face, or worse not play at all, during your Championship game. This happened to me last year when LeSean McCoy failed to realize the magnitude of what Week 16 really meant to those who had drafted him.
With that being said, let us look at Tom Brady’s schedule during these weeks so you can better understand what his owners may have to contend with this year.
In Week 14, the Houston Texans come to Gillette Stadium for a Monday night showdown. Clearly, this will be one of the games of the week and a potential big tilt in the AFC. Houston is entering 2012 having had the 2nd ranked defense in yards allowed per game at 286, and even with the loss of DeMeco Ryans (now in Philly), I suspect DC Wade Phillips will have his unit primed and ready to go for this game. The Texan pass defense benefited last season from the addition of CB Jonathan Joseph and finished 3rd in passing yards allowed (190 YPG) while allowing just 18 passing TDs over 16 games. Tom Terrific will be in your lineup but we wouldn’t be surprised to see a mediocre performance (less than 250 yards and 1 or 2 TDs) as he contends with an elite pass defense and potential weather issues. As this isn’t terrible, it is not what you would you like to see in the fantasy playoffs from the QB you more than likely took in the first round.
Week 15 brings the San Francisco 49ers to New England for an NBC Sunday night tilt for what man consider a potential Super Bowl preview. San Fran’s defense is touted as the #1 fantasy unit to own for 2012. Jim Harbaugh’s crew finished last season 4th in yards allowed at 308 and they allowed just 14 PPG. The 49er pass defense ranked a mediocre 16th last season in YPG allowed but their opportunistic defense allowed just 20 TDs through the air while hauling down 23 INTs (tied for 2nd most in league). The stout 49er defense returns all 11 starters including studs Patrick Willis, NaVorro Bowman and Carlos Rogers. This game will likely be somewhat low scoring limiting the offensive upside for all players involved.
Provided you make it to the Championship game with Brady on your team, certainly you would not consider benching him in this game, right? However, this is the game that I fear the most. The Patriots travel to Jacksonville to take on the Jaguars in what is going to be their home finale. Jacksonville’s defense in 2011 was vastly underrated as they finished sixth in the NFL in yards allowed at 313.0 yards/game. Not only do I expect Jacksonville to come out with a very spirited effort against New England, but you have to wonder what type of effort we may see out of New England coming off the Monday night game against San Fran, and given the fact they will probably have a pretty sizable lead in their division. Not that Belichik will sit his starters the whole game, but if NE takes a sizable lead early, or if some of the starters are banged up coming into the game, it would not surprise me to see New England sit some of their important pieces in the 2nd half. These factors could result in Tom Brady having a less than stellar day and could stymie any chance Brady owners have in capturing the fantasy league title.
As a proud Brady owner last year (2nd round pick), I have no intention of drafting him this year and will instead target the likes of Drew Brees (@NYG, TB, @DAL), Matthew Stafford (@GB, @ARI, ATL), and Cam Newton (ATL, @SD, OAK) who have much more favorable schedules during fantasy crunch time.