brady walk2

Often those who pursue the mentally engaging (so, healthy?) yet highly addicting (no, unhealthy) hobby of fantasy football are still viewed as mother’s basement dwelling nerd creatures who can only view players through a set of numbers. Thankfully that stereotype has faded to the fringe of late, though fantasy football’s dehumanizing effect that turns humans into commodities remains in full force.

Still, sometimes among those who choose not to participate in the lunacy is the thought that there’s a rigid difference between a fine Sunday afternoon for fantasy purposes, and one that also wins a game in reality. Generally, this isn’t true, as even if the desired result isn’t achieved from an outstanding individual performance and the game is lost, the contribution is still there (glaring example: the Lions came one ballsy Matthew Stafford play away from losing while Calvin Johnson finished seven yards shy of tying the single-game record for receiving yards).

But each year there’s at least one player who provides a stark contrast between fantasy and reality, and between individual production and team gains. Even if there’s an easily justifiable reason, it’s always a little jarring when we look back at the numbers around midseason.

This year, that guy is Tom Brady.

Across the board, Brady’s statistical fall now at the midway point of his 2013 season isn’t a cliff dive compared to 2012. No, it’s more of a direct, 90-degree turn downwards. To name a few digits…

  • He completed 63.0 percent of his passes in 2012. That’s fallen to 55.7 now.
  • He averaged 301.7 passing yards per game in 2012. That’s fallen to 228.0 now.
  • He averaged 7.6 yards per pass attempt in 2012. That’s fallen to 5.9 now, the lowest mark in his career as a starter.
  • He’s thrown six interceptions through eight games after throwing only eight all of last year.
  • He’s on pace to throw a meager 18 touchdown passes. He threw 34 last year, and the last time he threw less than 20 was 2001.

By any metric there’s been a drastic tumble then, and although Brady has thrown some very un-Brady passes at times with a little less zip and more wobble, the reason for his decline is clear and has been stated weekly/daily. Some desperately needed help has now arrived in the form of Rob Gronkowski, with Shane Vereen also returning soon, and god willing maybe Danny Amendola can stay healthy for more than a quarter of football. But after playing without his top five receivers from last year to start the season — who caught a whooping 338 of Brady’s 401 completions in 2012 — adjusting to life with the likes of Kenbrell Thompkins and Aaron Dobson has been, in a word, difficult.

If you sporadically decided that you’re ready to start following football intensely right now (come on in, the water is warm), and in your effort to catch up on all that’s happened over the first eight weeks you saw the numbers above first, the assumption would be that since Brady has been torpedoed by his lack of support, so has the Patriots’ record. Not so, says Bill Belichick the pirate (more on that breaking news below).

Through last-second heroics like the lob to beat New Orleans which inspired talk of show ponies, and second-half transformations like what we saw this past weekend against Miami to score 24 unanswered points and come back from a 17-3 first-half deficit, New England has somehow lost only twice. Of all the top storylines that are permeating at midseason — led by the Chiefs’ sudden turnaround, and Peyton Manning owning everyone — the Patriots winning despite that offseason exodus and resulting statistical average-ness of their quarterback belongs firmly among them, as it’s a remarkable feat.

Yet for you, the managers of teams that aren’t real but can still earn you money that’s very real, Brady remains a disgusting eyesore. On average you spent the 31st overall pick on him, and he was usually the fourth quarterback off the board in August drafts, behind only Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers, and Peyton Manning. Now with only 92 total points he’s barely hanging on to a top-20 spot in fantasy production at his position (he’s 19th), and he’s behind Geno Smith, and tied with Terrelle Pryor.

That’s the low Brady has sunk to, but it gets worse. Eli Manning is having a horrendous season with 19 interceptions, which already ties the league leaders last year and puts him on pace to chuck 38 total picks. Yet even with that generous giving, Manning is still only one fantasy point behind Brady, who’s now posted single-digit point games in three of the last four weeks, and only one game above 15 points. His plunge is highlighted by a 52-game streak with at least one touchdown pass that ended in Week 5 against the Bengals. Then his new streak lasted only one game, as he posted another zero in Week 7 during a loss to the Jets.

But hey, he’s still winning much, much more than he’s losing. He’s just not winning for you, ever.

More notes, stray thoughts, and other such randomness

But hey, he makes for a pretty cuddly looking bear

If giant furry bears are what supermodels like in their men for Halloween, I suspect a trend has started.

Behold, pirate Belichick

In other Halloween trends, tomorrow around Boston there will be many children dressed up as Bill Belichick dressed up as a pirate.

So hey, scoring hasn’t really been a problem this year

We’ve had a whole lot of close games so far this season, and the record was already set for the most games decided by a touchdown or less over the first two weeks (22). But close doesn’t mean low scoring. Nope, it doesn’t mean that at all.

The Sidney Rice effect

Yesterday Sidney Rice’s season ended due to a torn ACL, and by the time this season officially ends for everyone else he will have appeared in just 39 of a possible 64 games since 2009. Luckily, the fantasy impact here could be minimal immediately with Percy Harvin returning, as he’ll be targeted in abundance right away.

But with Rice out and unable to take any looks away from Golden Tate upon Harvin’s return, the trollingest taunter should maintain weekly WR3 consideration as he’ll be needed as an outside burner. If Harvin isn’t ready this week, Russell Wilson’s outlook takes a hit, but Marshawn Lynch owners should enjoy his increased workload.

Running just isn’t happening much anymore

Yes, the NFL is a passing league. You may have heard that before.

But you’ll also recall that Andre Ellington and Zac Stacy — two late-round rookies — were the only +100 yard rushers this week, and over the past two weeks there’s been just four. As noted by Jason Lisk in his review of the running back extinction, the decline of the 100-yard game this season has been downright historic.

This year, a running back has rushed for 100 yards or more 30 times. Looking back over the past decade, there’s been an average of 58.6 such games in the first eight weeks of each season.

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