By Matt Dolloff, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — Add Rotoworld to the list of people and entities that don’t have Tom Brady in their Top 5. Using his age as ostensibly the biggest factor, the popular fantasy sports site released its rankings of the NFL’s best quarterback “situations” on Wednesday, ranking the Patriots seventh in the league.
The site indirectly explains Brady’s No. 7 ranking with this passage, which reads like a direct shot at all the angry Patriots fans they know they’re going to get in their inbox: “Evaluating the league’s situations, we’ll take everything into account. Age, injury history, past success, future potential, retirement rumors, etc. This means simply having the best quarterback doesn’t automatically make you No. 1.”
They might as well have made “age” bold and underlined with some neon lights thrown in, because the Patriots’ overall situation pretty much checks all of the other boxes.
Injuries could be an issue with Jimmy Garoppolo if and when he takes over, but they aren’t a real concern with Brady. He’s only been taken off the field when a torn ACL forced him. “Past success” goes without saying. Garoppolo’s “future potential” is quite high, based on what he has shown publicly and that the Patriots are seemingly hell-bent on keeping him around. “Retirement rumors” are just rumors and frankly shouldn’t even be part of this discussion.
Ultimately, it’s the mere fact that Brady will be 40 years old in 2017 that will keep him relatively low on lists like this for the rest of his playing career. It’s why Rotoworld ranks the 40-year-old Brady seventh behind 28-year-olds Russell Wilson (No. 2) and Andrew Luck (No. 3), 23-year-old Jameis Winston (No. 5), and 26-year-old Derek Carr (No. 6).
Here’s the full Top 10:
1. Packers (Aaron Rodgers)
2. Seahawks (Wilson)
3. Colts (Luck)
4. Falcons (Ryan)
5. Buccaneers (Winston)
6. Raiders (Carr)
7. Patriots (Brady)
8. Panthers (Cam Newton)
9. Saints (Drew Brees)
10. Lions (Matthew Stafford)
The rankings compare Brady to Peyton Manning, whose performance suddenly dropped off in the middle of the 2014 season at age 38. It really shouldn’t surprise anyone if Brady has a similar drop-off as soon as this season; it’s not a knock on Brady, it’s just the simple reality of 40-year-old pro athletes. History has not been kind to them.
However, the Patriots must at least feel confident that Garoppolo can step in and be a solid NFL quarterback if Brady dropped off. That’s why injuries should really be more of a factor against someone like Luck, who has missed 10 starts in the past two seasons. If Luck goes down, how confident would the Colts be in their QB situation if Scott Tolzien had to start more?
But the more the Patriots win Super Bowls, the more futile it looks to continually rank Brady behind quarterbacks that he continues to beat on the field. It would be understandable for Patriots fans to feel borderline insulted that 30-year-old Matt Ryan (No. 4) would rank ahead of Brady on this list.
This is nothing new for Rotoworld, which often bases its annual rankings (regardless of sport) on predicting future performance rather than rewarding past success. The Patriots ranked sixth on last season’s version of the list and ninth on the 2015 edition.
Still, the Patriots continue to win and Rotoworld continues to underestimate them, which is probably just how many Patriots fans like it. If anyone can just keep defying the doubters, even beyond age 40, it’s Brady and the Pats.
Rotoworld is simply the latest to attempt to predict the demise of Brady and the Patriots’ unprecedented run of success. It’s going to happen every year now. Eventually, they’ll be right and they can pat themselves on the back. But it certainly won’t change Brady’s status as the GOAT.
Matt Dolloff is a writer/producer for CBSBostonSports.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect that of CBS or 98.5 The Sports Hub. Have a news tip or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff and email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.