Four Downs: Tom Brady bounces back
New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady didn't enter the Week 10 matchup in the Steel City looking like the top fantasy option he was expected to be. The Pittsburgh Steelers have a terrific defense, and Brady, the No. 4 quarterback and 17th overall in ESPN average live drafts months ago, hadn't topped 16 fantasy points in a game since Week 3. Certainly he had been relatively disappointing, especially since the Randy Moss trade, and asking for big numbers against the mighty Steelers seemed unwise.
Of course, Brady put on a show by throwing a trio of touchdown passes to rookie tight end Rob Gronkowski and running for another score in a spirited, emotional night that resulted in 39 points for the Pats, the most ever for an opponent at Heinz Field. Oh, in fantasy Brady had 32 points (standard leagues), but nobody entering Monday night has more. It's easily a season high for Brady, and this was a pretty big game, especially in light of the embarrassing Week 9 demolition loss against the Cleveland Browns. While the Patriots are having a strong season, Brady, Wes Welker and much of this offense hadn't performed like a top unit in more than a month. Now, fantasy owners that weren't trusting Brady and Welker have to re-evaluate.
Due to what I suspect wasn't only concerns about the matchup but also his recent statistical play, Brady was ranked No. 10 at quarterback by the fantasy crew for this week, and it made sense. Welker, who caught eight passes for 89 yards, pulled in a No. 34 ranking at wide receiver! That's unreal! But since the Moss trade, Welker, like his quarterback, hadn't done much. On Sunday, Welker was open all day and targeted an appealing 12 times. That's more like it!
This coming week, the Patriots host the Indianapolis Colts in another meeting of top teams with a recent, noteworthy playoff history. On paper, it's a far easier defense to pilfer, and the Patriots just shredded the Steelers for 453 yards and 39 points. They even ran the football with success. Brady won't be a borderline top-10 quarterback this week, but rather closer to the top five, and Welker will surely be among my top 20 wide receivers.
For Eric's notes on the Patriots' tight ends, the Steelers' passing game, the Jaguars' offense and Randy Moss, you must be an ESPN Insider!
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