Why I Traded Drew Brees

Brees has played three of the NFL's worst defenses so far - Redskins, Panthers, and Chiefs - with two of those matchups at home. Nonetheless, Brees has "just" 904 passing yards, 7 TDs vs. 5 INTs, and a 6.7 YPA. Not awful stats, certainly, but they're a far cry from the Brees we saw in 2011.

I spent a fair amount of time this week trying to figure out which version of Brees we'd see the rest of 2012 - the 2011 version, or the slightly inferior one we've seen so far. In doing so, a trend quickly emerged in Brees' career stats. In his "efficient" years, i.e. the years where Brees had a YPA of 8.0 or higher, the rest of Brees' stats were insane - historically great yardage stats and ridiculous TD:INT ratios.

But in the "inefficient" years, i.e. the years where Brees' YPA was under 8.0, the yards were down, the TDs were down, and the INTs were up.

Here, have a look:

Inefficient years - YPA under 8.0: 2007: 4,428 yds, 6.8 YPA, 28 TDs, 18 INTs 2010: 4,620 yds, 7.0 YPA, 33 TDs, 22 INTs

Efficient years - YPA 8.0 or higher: 2008: 5,069 yds, 8.0 YPA, 34 TDs, 17 INTs 2009: 4,388 yds, 8.5 YPA, 34 TDs, 11 INTs 2011: 5,476 yds, 8.3 YPA, 46 TDs, 14 INTs

If you think going back to 2007 is going back too far, just compare 2011 and 2010: 2010: 4,620 yds, 7.0 YPA, 33 TDs, 22 INTs 2011: 5,476 yds, 8.3 YPA, 46 TDs, 14 INTs

This might seem like splitting hairs, as even Brees "inefficient" years are better for fantasy purposes than most other quarterbacks. But compare 2010 and 2011 again - there's a big difference between 800 yards, 13 TDs, and 8 INTs - nearly 100 fantasy points in most formats.

With a 6.7 YPA so far in 2012, despite playing three of the worst defenses in the NFL (and two games at home), this certainly feels like a down year is coming for Brees. This isn't Aaron Rodgers, where we can hope better times are coming because the schedule will improve. How is this going to get better for Brees? It doesn't get better than Wash, Car, and KC in consecutive weeks, and Sean Payton isn't walking through that door.

Yes, the quantity will be there - the defense is awful, and Brees will be chucking it all year. But judging by Brees' career stats, I'm not sure how much that matters. Throwing more will give him more yards, but more INTs, too. Plus, Brees is getting beaten like a drum - as bad as anyone in the NFL not named Griffin or Vick.

It's hardly time for a firesale - 300 yards and multiple TDs seem plausible each week he plays - but take a close look at those stats from 2010 and 2007, as that's what you're likely to get in 2012 - a far cry from the 2011 version. In competitive leagues, this may be enough of a reason to trade Brees now, even if it's at 90% of his auction/draft value.


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