With yet again another appeal by New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady rejected by an appeals court on Wednesday, the harsh reality for Patriots fans is the team will be Brady-less for the first four games of the season.
Although Brady has shown no signs of regressing, New England fans will eventually have to gear up for the future, which won’t feature the 4X Super Bowl Champion and 3X MVP. Whether or not Jimmy Garoppolo is their future quarterback, now is not the time for that pressing question. However, with Brady likely out for the first four games of the 2016 regular season, Garoppolo will be getting the start for the first quarter of the season barring injury or a miracle.
Brady has started the Patriots last 15 Week 1 openers, and Garoppolo has yet to start a game in the NFL. With that being said, what kind of play can we expect from the 2014 second rounder from Eastern Illinois, from a fantasy football aspect?
Well, we don’t have a great blueprint of Garoppolo to evaluate, but with some projections we can tell you whether or not Garoppolo is worth the late round addition in your upcoming fantasy draft.
Three of New England’s first four games will be played in the confines of Gillette Stadium. This will give Garoppolo a great boost of confidence, especially against defensive guru Rex Ryan and the Bills. Week 1 at Arizona was one of those can’t miss games, that was until we found out Brady won’t be playing. But still, this should make for a heck of an opening game for both these teams. Garoppolo will be filled with all sorts of butterflies as he makes his first NFL start, on the road and in Week 1 of the season.
Arizona hoisted the league’s eighth best pass defense a year ago. They’ll get a healthy Tyrann Mathieu’s back for 2016, after he suffered a season ending torn ACL last year. With so much talent in Arizona’s secondary, not to mention the addition of former Patriot Chandler Jones up front, the Cards should actually be better than they were a year ago, at least defensively.
They kept opposing passers to just 6.9 yards per attempt and picked up 19 interceptions, fourth in the NFL. An inexperienced quarterback making his debut on the road on Sunday Night Football against a very opportunistic defense doesn’t sound like a very fun time for Jimmy G.
But after that, they’ll have three straight all at home. They will take on the Dolphins, Texans, and Bills, in that order. I don’t care how much money the Dolphins shelled out this offseason, their defensive core is a mix of veteran players who are past their prime, and younger players who showed glimpses of potential elsewhere, like Byron Maxwell and Kiko Alonso, but felt flat on their face a season ago. I’d expect this Week 2 matchup against Miami to be Garoppolo’s first win as a starter.
Houston comes to New England in Week 3 as Bill O’Brien and company look to seek revenge after the Patriots walloped Houston 27-6 at home last year. They were the third best pass defense ago, but Houston benefited from a division with weak quarterback play. Still getting used to things, I would expect Garoppolo to turn the jets on for this game. For fantasy owners, I’m circling this date against the Texans for Garoppolo’s coming out party.
In Week 4, Buffalo takes their annual trip to Foxborough. With two young corners in Stephon Gilmore and Ronald Darby, who proved last year they could hold their own, the Bills figure to be a tough task for New England. Rex Ryan coached teams always play the Patriot’s hard, including last year. While this will be the last game Brady will be suspended for, it’s likely that this will be the last start for Garoppolo in 2016.
Going out with a bang would be nice, but defensive additions in Shaq Lawson Reggie Ragland solidify an already stout Bills defense. But by Week 4 you’d expect Garoppolo to be scratching the surface at the NFL level. This game against Buffalo will serve as my ultimate grading factor for Garoppolo.
A 2-2 split seems ideal for Garoppolo’s first four games. A 3-1 run seems a tad bit of a push, and 0-4 is unfair to Garoppolo and would be a slap to the face of head coach Bill Belichick.
Stay away from starting Garoppolo until at least Week 2. Week 2 and 3 seem like the best matchups for him. And the best chance for your fantasy team to benefit the most from him. Week 4 is a toss up, but by then we’ll have seen enough to know what to expect from him. If he throws six touchdowns, two interceptions, and 940 yards or more, the Patriots will have won at least two of his starts.
Overall, drafting Jimmy G doesn’t seem like a great idea. It’s just a four-game ban and come New England’s fifth game, Brady will be back under center. That being said, Jimmy Garoppolo could be a strong DFS play during some of those weeks and could be a fun guy to roster if your quarterback situation is shaky to get the season going.