Brace for it. Before it whithers off into the cold winter wind amid shrieks of Black Friday glutton grabs, the bye week is unleashing its vengeful wrath once more. This time, with fury and feeling.
With the exception of one team that’s out this week, there actually aren’t that many significant bye week problems to worry about. But it’s one player on that one team that will be a really serious, painful problem, and cause straining desperate reaching among his deep league owners.
His name is Tom Brady, and you might know him.
If you own Brady, you spent a top five pick on him, and after that kind of steep investment at one position — a position where most leagues start only one player every week — you saw little need to come back quickly and draft another quarterback. Not only is that sound strategy, but it’s also mind-numbing common sense.
So maybe then you, the hypothetical Brady owner, decided that waiting nine more rounds to take a backup you’d likely and hopefully only need once was a sufficient waiting period, meaning you were picking from the likes of Jay Cutler, Matt Schaub, and Joe Flacco. All fine options, and maybe you were especially lucky to get great value on Andrew Luck, who unbelievably finished August with an ADP of 126th overall in ESPN leagues.
All of that seems very plausible and very likely, but let’s take our hypothetical scenario and series of maybes further. What if you’re in an especially deep league, and with some less than appealing matchups out there among the third tier of QBs (Luck against Miami doesn’t exactly sound like fun, and Schaub might not be needed much against Buffalo with Arian Foster set to run all over everything and everyone), and you’re picking from a tier far below the likes of Luck et al.
Then let me introduce you to another rookie. His name is Brandon Weeden, and you might know him.
If desperation is your sickness, then there are far worse plays. At first you’ll scoff at this, noting that Weeden — who by all indications is still a rookie — is facing the Ravens defense today. This is the part when I remind you that although he may have struggled with his accuracy (48.1 completion percentage) as is expected of a quarterback making his fourth career start, back in Week 4 Weeden posted with 320 passing yards on the Ravens at a pace of 6.2 yards per attempt.
That was in Baltimore, against a defense that had Ray Lewis and Lardarius Webb. Today’s game is in Cleveland, against a defense that’s missing those two key pieces, and although Terrell Suggs returned and looked angry and crazy last week, he’s still in just his second game back following Achilles surgery, and he’s well below his normal playing weight. There’s also Weeden’s improved decision making, as he’s put together back-to-back games with no interceptions and has three zero-pick games overall after throwing four in his debut.
With Webb out, deep passing with Weeden’s strong arm becomes a far greater possibility, and connections with Josh Gordon are averaging 28.6 yards per reception since Week 5. But what’s particularly appealing about Weeden — especially with Suggs’ return — is his efficiency while on the run and his solid overall pocket sense, as he’s been sacked only four times over his last four games. That brings us to this nugget courtesy of Matthew Berry and the stat heads at ESPN:
Weeden is tied for second in the NFL in touchdowns off play-action (6) (Editor’s note: This was corrected Sunday morning) and the Ravens have allowed a 68.4 completion percentage on play-action passes, seventh-worst in the league.
This isn’t a scary Baltimore defense anymore, as we saw last week during their 43-13 loss to Houston. It’s good, not great, and it’ll do more bending, and even more breaking.