Why You Should Avoid Drafting Drew Brees and Philip Rivers

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Why You Should Avoid Drafting Drew Brees and Philip Rivers
(Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)

 

Most fantasy rankings base their claims off of the previous year's statistics, instead of attempting to predict the very near future. These are probably the same people who drafted Tom Brady No. 1 overall last year after he tossed 50 TD passes in 2007.

"But wait a minute," you say, "Brady suffered a season-ending injury in the first week of the 2008 season. You can't predict that!"

...Or can you?

While compiling my quarterback rankings for the 2009 season, I discovered an intriguing pattern.

Between 1984 and 2007, a quarterback threw for 33 TD passes in a single season 21 times, though it's been accomplished by only 12 different players.  

Brett Favre accomplished this feat four times, totaling 33, 38, 39, and 35 TD passes each season from 1994 to 1997.

He is the exception.

Of the 11 remaining quarterbacks (in 17 different seasons) who threw for 33 TD passes, not one of them improved their TD total in the next season.

In fact, the highest TD total in a following season was 28, accomplished by Peyton Manning in 2005 after throwing for 49 scores the previous year. 

What's even more shocking is the average TD drop-off from those 17 seasons that saw a quarterback throw for 33 scores.

Care to take a guess?

If you said 21, you are an incredibly lucky guesser.

Let me say that again.

In the seasons following a quarterback hurling 33 TD passes, the average drop-off is a whopping 21 scores.

Don't believe me? That's cool, because I didn't believe it at first either.

What follows is a list of every season since 1984 in which a quarterback has thrown at least 33 TD passes, and what his TD total was in the following season.

Dan Marino

  • 1984 - 48 TD passes
  • 1985 - 30 TD passes

Dan Marino

  • 1986 - 44 TD passes
  • 1987 - 26 TD passes

Warren Moon

  • 1990 - 33 TD passes
  • 1991 - 23 TD passes

Jim Kelly

  • 1991 - 33 TD passes
  • 1992 - 23 TD passes

Brett Favre (The exception)

  • 1994 - 33 TD passes
  • 1995 - 38 TD passes
  • 1996 - 39 TD passes
  • 1997 - 35 TD passes
  • 1998 - 31 TD passes

Steve Young

  • 1994 - 35 TD passes
  • 1995 - 20 TD passes

Warren Moon

  • 1995 - 33 TD passes
  • 1996 - 7 TD passes

Vinny Testaverde

  • 1996 - 33 TD passes
  • 1997 - 18 TD passes

Steve Young

  • 1998 - 36 TD passes
  • 1999 - 3 TD passes

Steve Buerlein

  • 1999 - 36 TD passes
  • 2000 - 19 TD passes

Kurt Warner

  • 1999 - 41 TD passes
  • 2000 - 21 TD passes

Daunte Culpepper

  • 2000 - 33 TD passes
  • 2001 - 14 TD passes

Peyton Manning

  • 2000 - 33 TD passes
  • 2001 - 26 TD passes

Kurt Warner

  • 2001 - 36 TD passes
  • 2002 - 3 TD passes

Daunte Culpepper

  • 2004 - 39 TD passes
  • 2005 - 6 TD passes

Peyton Manning

  • 2004 - 49 TD passes
  • 2005 - 28 TD passes

Tony Romo

  • 2007 - 36 TD passes
  • 2008 - 26 TD passes

Tom Brady

  • 2007 - 50 TD passes
  • 2008 - 0 TD passes

The next obvious question is, "Did anyone throw 33 or more TD passes in 2008?"

It just so happens that both Drew Brees and Philip Rivers surpassed this magical number last season, each of them totaling 34 TD passes.

"So wait a minute," you ask, "Are you actually suggesting that Brees and Rivers will throw for only 13 TD passes in 2009?" (21 less than their 2008 total of 34)

Not necessarily, but history indicates the best-case scenario is that they will throw seven TD passes less than their 2008 total of 34; meaning 27 TD passes is the most you should expect.

Now don't get me wrong, 27 TD passes from your starting quarterback is pretty darn good. Keep in mind, however, history suggests this being the best-case scenario.

The information I've set forth should be enough to, at the very least, make you think twice before drafting Drew Brees or Philip Rivers in your fantasy league. I realize, however, that not everyone will buy into this theory. So let's take a peek at the schedule to prove my point even further.

I mentioned earlier that using numbers from the previous year was a bad idea. Unfortunately, when looking at defensive ranks, this is all we have to go off of. Based on the 2008 totals, here's what Brees and Rivers are up against this season:

In 2009, Brees will face 10 of the top 16 pass defenses from 2008.

  • Philadelphia (3rd)
  • Buffalo (13th)
  • Carolina twice (16th)
  • Tampa Bay twice (4th)
  • New England (11th)
  • Washington (7th)
  • Dallas (5th)
  • New York Giants (8th)

Rivers faces an equally tough schedule, as he will play against 11 of the top 16 pass defenses from 2008.

  • Oakland twice (10th)
  • Baltimore (2nd)
  • Pittsburgh (1st)
  • New York Giants (8th)
  • Philadelphia (3rd)
  • Cleveland (14th)
  • Dallas (5th)
  • Cincinnati (15th)
  • Tennessee (9th)
  • Washington (7th)

Not only does history suggest trouble ahead for Brees and Rivers, but the schedule looks to be a huge red flag as well.

It's like that old saying...once is a coincidence, twice is a trend, and 17 times is enough evidence for me not to draft Philip Rivers or Drew Brees this year.


Nick Kappel is a fantasy baseball writer for BaseballReflections.com. In addition to this, he covers fantasy football, the Kansas City Chiefs, and the Chicago Cubs for BleacherReport.com. Starting on September 10, his work will also be featured on FanHuddle.com.

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