In less than 2 weeks time, we'll get the official word from Favre about his new home in Minnesota. What fantasy implications does this pose for you as you prepare for your drafts over the coming weeks? I'll give you my two cents up front and then let you decide.
Favre should be drafted, but only in a backup role.
OK, that hurt a bit to write. I've won many fantasy matchups in the past on Favre's cannon. I've literally leapt out of bed as Favre tossed an 82-yard monster pass to Greg Jennings on the first play in overtime for the win on Monday Night Football (giving me the comeback win in that week's matchup by 1.5 pts). My daughter was born on Favre's historic routing of the Oakland Raiders where he threw for 399 yards and 4 touchdowns the day after his father died. I kid you not - that was all the doctors and nurses at the hospital could talk about. I've laughed as Favre tossed another TD pass to Donald Driver and then rushed down the field to pick his receiver up like an over-excited kid. In fact, I have dozens of memories like this. For as long as I've played fantasy football, there's always been Favre.
If you know me or you've followed my postings, you know that I live about an hour's drive from Lambeau and that I generally make it to 1 or 2 games a year. I've had 3 sports heroes in my life: Michael Jordan (who didn't want to be like Mike?), Paul Molitor (when he was a Brewer), and Brett Favre. If Favre falls to me in a draft, I'll take him, but I just can't see myself putting him in my lineup if I hope to win that week's matchup...and I'm not alone.
Last week I participated in the 2009 Fantasy Players Network Draft Challenge in the Experts Division. This is a set it and forget it league with 3 divisions manned by fantasy football site owners from within the Fantasy Players Network. Favre went in the 12th round and was taken by one of the guys from MockDraftCentral.com. I took Kyle Orton in the 11th ahead of Favre, and in hindsight, I feel a bit guilty of that. Favre will produce for the Vikings, but it will be sporadic in my opinion with plenty of negative twos for all the inevitable interceptions.
While Favre may not put up great consistent numbers, the rest of the team in Minnesota will benefit greatly by having #4 under center. For the first time in a long time, the Vikings have a legitimate QB to go along with an incredible rusher. Favre opens up possibilities for Adrian Peterson that he just doesn't have with Sage Rosenfels or Tarvaris Jackson. Defenses don't respect Rosenfels or Jackson the way they do Favre, and with good reason. A good play action opens up the receivers and can be sold because defenses need to stop AP. Viking receivers Bernard Berrian and Sidney Rice will benefit from this as well.
If Favre's time in New York is any indication of the type of benefits we can expect to see spread around, Peterson should post much better #'s than last year. Consider Thomas Jones. He was so-so in Chicago as part of the RBBC with Cedric Benson. He didn't really bloom until Favre arrived in NY where he posted 15 TD's. Peterson only had 10 TD's last year and he's a much better back than Jones. The Vikings are also a run-first offensive team. Conventional wisdom would then dictate that Peterson should do at least as well, if not better.
Another guy sure to see a boost in his Average Draft Position (ADP) is Visanthe Shiancoe who also went in the 12th round of the Experts Draft, taken by Dynasty Rogues. Favre has a long history of favoring his tight ends in the red zone.
One could even make the case that the Viking's Defense deserves a slight boost in their ADP with Favre on the team. Most leagues provide points for keeping the score low and penalize you when the opposing offense's score reaches certain thresholds. Football 101 should have taught you that when a solid run game is mixed with a solid passing game, the offense tends to win the time of possession struggle. Minnesota already has a strong defense, but keeping them off the field means that they're fresh when it's their turn. There's a big IF in the statements above. IF the passing game is solid... Favre is well known to be a gun-slinger and that means he's going to make bad throws. His 22 interceptions last year meant -44 fantasy points (in most leagues) and put the Jets Defense back on the field early 22 times.
Don't get me wrong, Favre will have some big games. I wouldn't be surprised to see a repeat of last year's Jets/Cardinals game where Favre threw 6 touchdowns, including 3 to Laveranues Coles. The only difference is that Favre will be wearing purple instead of green. The difficult part is projecting which game he'll do that in 2009. Your guess is as good as mine.
I and others also have a big question mark on the health and strength of Favre's throwing arm. I was just reading this morning in the paper (yes - I still get the traditional newspaper delivered to me) about his comments that he feels good, but sometimes his throws don't have what they used to. As the ball is released, he feels a solid throw coming, but it doesn't go where he thought it would. That's not what you want to hear coming from a guy like Favre. It doesn't inspire much confidence when you're drafting him.
Finally, I suppose there's a sentimental value to consider when drafting Favre. The guy has brought me more wins than losses over the years and it just wouldn't be the same without #4 on my team. Whether you like him or hate him, you can't deny the excitement he brings to the game. Unless you're Ted Thompson, you want to see him succeed. (I'll save my criticism for white-haired-owl-face for a future post.) For many here in Wisconsin, Favre is family. We'll be mad at him in the same way that you might get angry with a cousin, uncle, or sibling. In time, we'll forgive and forget as families often do.
That's one of the neat things about Favre. He elicits an emotional response both good and bad. My sister sent me an email the other day about some guys in my hometown (I use that term loosely) who are selling Favre t-shirts at JudasFavre.com. The guys are friends of my future brother-in-law (who I think is an incredible guy - Welcome to the family Duane) and I think it highlights the effect that Favre has on people in Wisconsin. Will I buy one of these t-shirts. Absolutely not. As many of my readers know, I tried in vain to get a Favre Jets jersey from NFLShop.com. A Vikings jersey would probably be easier to get, but I don't want it hanging in my closet next to the Favre Packers jersey. In this economy, I'm not going to spend my money on what I consider to be a low-quality, distasteful gimmick. These back room t-shirt guys will get their 5 minutes of fame. I'm sure I'll see 1 or 2 people at Lambeau wearing these, which begs the question "What will the reaction be when Favre himself steps onto the field in Green Bay wearing purple?" Honestly, I don't know, but a Packers Vikings game would be fun to watch.
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