Depending on how deep your league is, you’re going to come to a decision in the early rounds that will determine your draft’s structure: Do you have what it takes to pass on a high-end quarterback and be one of those people experts suggest you be?
If you don’t, that’s perfectly fine. Reliable QBs are not the poison they’re being made out to be. And in terms of a high floor on a price tag that won’t quite butcher the fantasy hipsters’ wait-for-your-QB approach, one veteran enters as a nice compromise.
Drew Brees will be sitting there as the QB5, 6 or 7 in your draft in all likelihood, yet among the surefire every-week QB starters, he’s the safest bet.
The Saints legend, though, is going into draft weekends somewhat overlooked despite his otherworldly consistency.
For the aforementioned price, pragmatic drafters can acquire the league’s leading passer in four of the past five years. The trendy wait-out method works to a point, but for a higher mid-round pick, your QB security may outrank everyone else’s. That wouldn’t be notable if Brees were going as the QB1, 2 or 3, but the 16th-year New Orleans leader is available as basically a second-tier quarterback.
He represents somewhat of a bargain at this rate, which is quite weird considering he’s compiled an impressive resume.
Brees will still allow you an extra early-round pick on a skill-position talent, whereas Aaron Rodgers or Cam Newton, and probably even Russell Wilson, will require a QB-centric draft plan. Pulling the trigger on Brees will allow for stability without expending exorbitant capital while avoiding becoming one of the danger-seekers preparing to roll with one of 2015’s breakout boys or a lower-ceiling veteran.
Although Brees missed his first game due to injury last season, he returned to be an elite quarterback, one that trailed only Newton in QB points after Week 4. The record-setting seasons are probably out of Brees’ system, but at 37 and afforded the luxury of playing in a dome and within the confines of the same Sean Payton system for the 11th straight season, he will still be a top-tier passer.
The former Charger has four 5,000-yard seasons, and even though he dropped off a tad in touchdown passes (32 in 15 games last year) and yards the past two years; he still accumulated more than 4,800 in each. He did so last year without Jimmy Graham, elevating an inexperienced New Orleans attack pretty much by himself. And his 324.7 per-game average in 2015 was the second-best of his career.
Brees’ arm strength — much like Tom Brady’s deep-ball accuracy — has waned. But Payton has ensured his quarterback remains in a great position to run the offense.
Going back to stability, let’s scan the landscape quickly.
Rodgers probably possesses the highest ceiling again with Jordy Nelson back. But as the projected QB2, he’s not exactly a buy-low player despite coming off a down (for him) season.
Newton? It’s going to be insanely difficult to replicate that. All the talk about his improved accuracy still had him as a 59 percent passer last season, and while still a fantasy maven, Cam totaling 45 TDs probably isn’t going to happen again. He costs quite a bit as you may have observed.
Wilson may challenge Rodgers for the highest ceiling after his sensational finish, but how likely is that to recur for a team that still prefers ground attacks? Andrew Luck is coming off his worst season and has never completed 62 percent of his throws. His occasionally careless style takes points off the board in a way Brees does not.
The latter has six seasons of at least 68 percent passing, doing that in six of the past seven years — with the Payton-less 2012 slate being the outlier — to go along with having thrown for 32-plus TDs in each of the past eight years. That’s insane.
Carson Palmer has a good chance of repeating his success in Arizona, the NFC championship game implosion notwithstanding, but he’s a much bigger injury risk than Brees — who’s missed one game since becoming a starter — and plays in a higher-variance offense.
Brady hasn’t shown many signs of a potential freefall, but he’s going to miss the first four games, is 39 and plays in a cold-weather setting. The wall is coming.
Ben Roethlisberger could well thrive in Todd Haley’s aggressive attack, but he’s a perpetual injury gamble and has seen the NFL suspend his WR2 and running back. Ladarius Green also may not play for the Steelers this season.
Equipped with a more seasoned receiving corps with a better tight end than last season in Coby Fleener, Brees does not have these concerns and will be a volume machine thanks to a defense that should still be a bottom-tier unit.
The Saints surrendered a league-record 45 TD passes last season, do not have a second pass-rusher after Cameron Jordan and doesn’t have a proven second corner behind Delvin Breaux. They’re not going to allow Brees to be on the right side of many blowouts.
You’re not getting 2011 Drew Brees by drafting him, but in a year where uncertainty surrounds just about every elite passer, drafting this version of Brees where he’ll be available could be nearly just as good.
You definitely won’t draw many compliments by taking a 37-year-old passer in an early round, but he’s actually become a value pick now. Capitalize on that.