In the world of real estate, it is location, location, location. In fantasy football it is situation, situation, situation.
Shaun Alexander has scored 64 touchdowns the past three seasons with the Seattle Seahawks. Domanick Davis has score 28 touchdowns over the same period with the Houston Texans. There is no argument that Alexander is a better fantasy back than Davis, but what would their respective statistics have been if Alexander was a Texan and Davis a Seahawk for those three years? Would the statistics be the same?
Well of course not. The Seahawks’ offensive line and Matt Hasselbeck have had as much to do with Alexander’s fantasy success as has his talent. On the other side, Davis’ recent disappointing fantasy seasons have had more to do with a porous offensive line and lack of a passing game than a lack of talent on his part. In other words Alexander has the more fertile fantasy situation of the two.
With free agency and coaching changes, some players can find themselves in different schemes and situations almost every year. Every move in the NFL affects fantasy football to a degree, some for the better, some worse.
Fantasy publications have focused on the high profile moves such as Terrell Owens to the Cowboys and Edgerrin James’ move to the Cardinals. One off season development with fantasy implications that has fallen far under the radar screen is the Raiders signing of former Saints quarterback Aaron Brooks.
On the surface the deal appears a bit hum drum and as a move made out of necessity given the heavy cap number of departing Kerry Collins. Moreover, Brooks was replaced last year as the starting quarterback by the lowly Saints for the last month of the season. He joins an under achieving team in the Raiders who were 4-12 last year. They lost their last six games and looked bad doing so.
While Brooks’ move to the Raiders does not have star power, we think there is fantasy value here. This has sleeper written all over it!
Let’s first look back at Aaron Brooks’ career…
Aaron Brooks, Fantasy Quarterback
Brooks spent his first season in the NFL on the Green Bay bench in 1999 before joining the Saints in 2000. He took over as the Saints starting quarterback in week 11 when starter Jeff Blake went down with an injury. Since that game, Brooks had taken every snap for the Saints (a string of 69 consecutive games) until he was benched by head coach Jim Haslett for the last month of the 2005 season in favor of Todd Bouman.
During this period, Brooks threw for 120 scores, 19,156 yards and 84 interceptions while he rushed for thirteen touchdowns and 1,413 yards. His best season was 2002 when he threw for 27 touchdowns. He has played in a total of eighty five games for the Saints scoring 759 fantasy points, 8.9 points per game. Since 2001, he has finished in the top 10 in touchdown passes three times.
Brooks has had some decent skill players around him in running back Deuce McAllister and his favorite receiver Joe Horn, who has scored 46 touchdowns while Brooks has started.
Brooks was a solid NFL starter on a team that had to deal with being displaced by Hurricane Katrina and having a head coach who had his job on the line. Once they began losing last year, the Saints had to make changes and Brooks fell victim to that movement.
Brooks takes over a Raiders team that was 21st in total yards and 23rd in points scored. They fell on their face last year. Head coach Norv Turner with quarterback Kerry Collins and Randy Moss at wide receiver were supposed to be on offensive machine. They were not.
Art Shell returns as head coach as does offensive coordinator Tom Walsh. They will look to establish a downfield passing game just as they had done in their first tenure with the Raiders when they featured a young Tim Brown and veteran Willie Gault at wide receiver.
They have the weapons at wide receiver. Moss along with Jerry Porter who has 24 touchdowns as a Raider form a very formidable pair. They also have depth at the position with capable Ronald Curry and Doug Gabriel. This set of wide receivers offers Brooks by far his best supporting cast since the first day he walked on to a NFL field.
Also in the offensive mix is running back Lamont Jordan who scored 11 touchdowns last year. More importantly for Brooks, Jordan caught 70 passes. Add it all up and the result is one of the most if not the most talented group of skilled fantasy players in the league. If TE Courtney Anderson can step up his game and improve, defenses will be hard pressed to cover the receivers on this team.
It is almost a birthright that the Raiders will go downfield with the football. It’s as certain as death, taxes and an arrested Bengals’ player. They tried to do exactly that last year with Collins at quarterback and failed.
Can the addition of Shell and Brooks be the difference?. Brooks is rated somewhere from 15th to 20th by most fantasy publications. In a twelve to 14 team league that would leave Brooks off most starting lineups. Last year Carson Palmer threw for 32 scores, Peyton Manning 28. Of the next highest eight quarterbacks threw between 20 and 26 touchdowns. Brooks has the talent and players around him to justify making him a fantasy starting quarterback this year.
Forget the publications rankings — you can draft your position players and Brooks will be there. You can wait to get him as low as the 7th or 8th round. He could be the value pick of your draft and he is now my leading candidate to be Comeback Fantasy Player of the Year.
Situation, situation, situation.
And for Brooks, the situation in Oakland is right!