-- There is, like most things in life, a good side to this and a bad side to this.
The bad news, of course, is obvious. Tom Brady, the second-best quarterback in fantasy last season (335 points, Cam Newton led with 373), must serve a four-game suspension at the start of this season, the result of a federal appeals court overturning a federal judge's decision in the Deflategate battle between the NFL and the NFL Players Association. Your tax dollars at work!
Some quick back-of-the-envelope math shows that Brady averaged 21 fantasy points per game in 2015, and if you subtracted 84 points (his four-game average) from his season total, his 251 points would have put him 15th at QB for the season, just behind Alex Smith. If you specifically took the first four games he played last season (Weeks 1-5), he scored 102 points during that stretch, which would give him 233 points, or one fewer than QB18, Andy Dalton (who missed three games).
So, yeah, this is going to drop Brady in the rankings. In my final pre-NFL draft ranks, I've moved Brady down to QB10. Now, we're in April, of course, so this is all very fluid. The NFLPA could appeal again, possibly to the Supreme Court, which is semi-exciting for me. Other than one poorly received romantic poem, I've never had the chance to write the words Ruth Bader Ginsburg. There is a chance the league and the NFLPA (and Brady) come to some sort of settlement, maybe just a fine, a reduction of games, etc. I personally do not think Brady misses four games this year because of suspension. But that's a gut call, just for now.
But let's deal with what we know now and assume that Brady is missing four games, which is obviously going to affect things, not just for his stock, but stock of other New England Patriots. Anytime you lose a player of Brady's caliber, it's going to hurt. And of course, the other bad news is we are going to have to be hearing about this story for the rest of the summer. Ugh.
But there is some good news here too. First and foremost, quarterback is crazy-deep this year. Perhaps deeper than it has ever been. Drafting Brady is a still a viable and, in fact, an advisable strategy. I want to wait, wait, wait on QB this year and pairing Brady with a replacement-level QB for the first four games will equal a top-seven QB with upside once the season is over.
We are in April and pre-NFL draft, so lots can change between now and then, but at first glance, some QBs likely to be drafted outside the top 10 or 12 (i.e., after everyone in your league has one) are players such Matthew Stafford (first four games: IND, TEN, GB, @CHI -- love this schedule), Derek Carr (@NO, ATL, @TEN, @BAL) and Kirk Cousins (PIT, DAL, @NYG, CLE). Digging a little deeper, Joe Flacco gets the Bills to start (not great), but then at Cleveland, at Jacksonville and home versus Oakland.
Pair Brady with one of those four and you'll be just fine. Better than fine. So fine. Attractive, even. Hey, what are you doing later?
The other alternative is also grabbing Jimmy Garoppolo, Brady's longtime backup and the assumed starter in Brady's absence. He has looked good in the preseason before, but, you know, that's the preseason. He has never started a game in the NFL, but he has appeared in 11 career games, throwing for 188 yards and one touchdown in 31 attempts. That's a bunch of numbers that tell us absolutely nothing, as when he gets into a game it's often late and the game has been clearly decided one way or the other. Nothing at all comparable to what he'll face in the first four games.
That said, he has been in the system for a long time, he will have all offseason and training camp to prepare and his coaching staff is the best in the NFL. He will be prepared and while he may not put up huge numbers, he won't be incompetent, either.
Which is why I am not adjusting my ranks in any significant way for Rob Gronkowski, Julian Edelman or Dion Lewis. The offense runs through them and yes, the offense will be less effective and efficient under Garoppolo than Brady, but it's not like this is a Kellen Moore- Dez Bryant kind of situation.
The fact is, they are elite players at their positions, and you only have to look at someone like DeAndre Hopkins or Todd Gurley to know that middle-of-the-road QB play does not stop elite players from performing.
In short, the suspension being upheld means more discussion on TV and radio than you probably care about and a lowering of Brady's draft stock, but other than that, it's more or less business as usual for the rest of the Patriots in fantasy football in 2016.
Matthew Berry -- the Talented Mr. Roto -- is also not adjusting his Chris Hogan ranking. Berry is the creator of RotoPass.com, a website that combines a bunch of well-known fantasy sites, including ESPN Insider, for one low price.