ESPN Bottomline 2.0

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Brett Favre's fantasy: More football

Brett is back.

A little less drama than usual, but the Favre is back in his proper place in the world – playing football somewhere in the American Midwest.

As a fantasy football owner the question becomes – how much do you really care?

Outside of Favre fan boys (who will take ye olde gunslinger with their first pick regardless and yes, these people do exist) it takes more of a discerning eye to quantify the value of Favre this year. It is his 20th NFL season.  In the “Not For Long” league, that is an eternity, especially at one of the skill positions. How is Favre holding up? Is that ankle going to be a significant problem? Can he just jump into action a month after the start of training camp and pick up where he left off?

These are valid questions. The short answers are that Favre’s arm will probably be fine, the rest of his body has held up well through the years and he is perhaps the toughest player ever to drop under center (in reference to his ankle).  Twenty years gives Favre somewhat of a right to be given the benefit of the doubt, from fans, coaches, teammates and fantasy owners alike.

Senility set in with Favre long ago. Reference various retirements for proof. More importantly though, reference his actual performance through the years. Yes, last year he was remarkable. Perhaps even MVP worthy remarkable if it was not for the Era of Manning in the NFL. Yet, can you really expect more of the same from Favre this year? Look at last year’s numbers against his career averages.

2009 (Career)

Completion percentage – 68.4 (62.0)
Yards – 4202 (3648)
Touchdowns 33 (26)
Interceptions 7 (16)
Rating – 107.2 (86.6)

Favre was 201 yards off his career high, set in 1995 (with his second best mark at 4212 in 1998). He threw for more than 30 touchdowns for the first time since 2004. He had a career-low in interceptions with his previous low of 13 in both 1995 and 1996. Remember, this is the man who owns the all-time NFL mark in both touchdowns AND interceptions.

So, the question to ask yourself is: can Favre do it again?

Short answer?


Last year was a special year for Favre. It was his “Stick It To The Packers” year along with a year that his franchise has legitimate Super Bowl aspirations that came just short in overtime of the NFC Championship game. Favre was also in camp earlier last year, though that should not be as big a problem as some will make it. This year Favre seems almost like it is an also-ran type of thing. He wanted to make sure he was healthy, he wanted to miss most of training camp (a guess but after 20 years of getting beaten by large men in the sweltering summer heat, would you want to show up if you did not really have to?), he wanted his annual 15 minutes of Summer Favre Mania.

The biggest thing that I notice this year is just the way Favre seems to be approaching it. Last year it was “I am thrilled to be a Viking and we are going to go out and win a god damn Super Bowl!” This year he is saying “Well, shucks, I just owed it to Minnesota to come back.” You know, unfinished business and all.

Favre is a guy who plays with fire and the brighter the better. It is almost like Terrell Owens in a roundabout way. When Owens burned his bridge with one team, he would go to the next and be a (relatively) model citizen and productive player. Then the next year he was back in his high chair screaming at whoever would listen about the indignities he had been served.

Look at Favre’s stats for the last couple of years. The last year in Green Bay was one of his best, slightly below what he did in Minnesota in 2009 (28 touchdowns, 15 interceptions, 4155 yards, 66.5 completion percentage, 95.7 quarterback rating). For all anyone really knew, that was going to be his last year in the NFL and he had something to prove with Aaron Rodgers being the quarterback the team seemed to favor going forward (in retrospect, with good reason).

The next year, things never really clicked with Favre in New York. It did not seem like his first choice of destinations, the team was mediocre and New York is definitely not Green Bay (or Mississippi). Subsequently Favre’s numbers slipped (22 touchdowns, league-leading 22 interceptions, 3472 yards, 65.7 completion percentage, 81 quarterback rating).

No fire. No Favre.

The thing to look for in Favre this time around in Minnesota is his decision making. Last year Favre was motivated last year to take care of the ball. Hence his highest career completion percentage and his lowest ever interception total. Yet, looking back on Favre’s trends, he is been a bit of a yo-yo. His penultimate year in Green Bay he threw 18 touchdowns and 18 interceptions (much like that 22/22 split for the Jets) with a mediocre team. Without that chip on his shoulder, Favre becomes undisciplined and unfocused and is a middling to bad quarterback.

That probably will not be entirely the case this time around with the Vikings. He still has a good team around him and perhaps a bit of a chip after yet-another playoff ending interception and this time it could possibly be the real end to his career. The last shot at glory. Favre probably will not be as good as last year but he will still be decent.

Where does that put him on your draft board? Think top-10 quarterback in the draft. Perhaps eighth or ninth. That would put him in the 65 to 80 pick range, depending on the priorities of your league. Anything above that and you have gone senile along with your quarterback. Anything below and he will probably be gone.

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Also, if you are not a fan of the title, it is alright. It is a colleague's suggestion for an SEO optimized version thereof. Kind of clever actually. I hope.

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