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New England Patriots Fantasy Preview

2018 Projections

Note: all points are calculated with PPR scoring
Team Reception Breakdown

Tom Brady: 280.04 total, 17.5 ppg (380/560 passing, 4256 yards, 31 TD, 7 INT; 38 yards rushing, 0 TD, 2 fumbles lost)
Brady has done amazingly well keeping up his ridiculous pace into his 40s, but even he started to slow down a bit last year. It’s just small things for now – a slightly weaker deep ball, intermediate throws not quite having the same zip – but it’s there. That might be the motivation behind the stockpiling of running back talent and depletion of receiving talent. Brady will keep throwing until his arm falls off, but his pace should gradually decrease as he enters the twilight of his career. He should only be a back end QB1 this year.

Rex Burkhead: 196.6 total, 12.3 ppg (175 carries, 735 yards, 8 TD, 1 fumble lost; 35 Rec, 301 yards, 2 TD)
James White: 154.3 total, 9.6 ppg (50 carries, 205 yards, 0 TD, 0 fumbles lost; 60 Rec, 498 yards, 4 TD)
Sony Michel: 141.5 total, 8.8 ppg (150 carries, 705 yards, 4 TD, 2 fumbles lost; 25 Rec, 200 yards, 1 TD)
As always with the Patriots, beware of Beli-tricks. The legend of Jonas Gray is really all the warning you need. That being said, Burkhead was strong as the lead back last year and Michel looks like a clone of departed Dion Lewis. They should split lead back duties similar to last year. One item to be aware of with Michel though is fumbling, something that BB is quick to punish. If Michel can get his fumbling under control then he should have a productive season. If he can’t…Steven Ridley comes to mind. Burkhead should be right on the cusp of RB2/3 while Michel should be a high risk/high reward RB4. James White will reprise his role as the 3rd down back and should continue to play snaps from the slot with Julian Edelman suspended for the first 4 games. He has a high weekly floor as a flex. It’s unlikely that both Jeremy Hill and Mike Gillislee make the roster, but whichever one does make it will likely hold only a nominal role unless injuries/benchings push them up the ladder.

Julian Edelman: 158.3 total, 13.2 ppg (68 Rec, 743 yards, 3 TD, 1 fumble lost)
Chris Hogan: 158.0 total, 9.9 ppg (50 Rec, 740 yards, 6 TD, 1 fumble lost)
Eric Decker: 103.1 total, 6.4 ppg (35 Rec, 441 yards, 4 TD, 0 fumbles lost)
This is shaping up to be a sorry receiving corps, made all the worse by Edelman’s 4-game suspension. Hogan looked pretty good last year, but he was facing #2 corners across from Brandin Cooks. This year, Hogan will get the lockdown corners. Expect a dip in efficiency. It gets really desperate after that, headlined by a struggling Eric Decker and one-trick ponies Phillip Dorsett and Cordarrelle Patterson. Edelman will have some value as a WR2 once he returns, but make sure you have the depth to eat his suspension if you want to draft him. Hogan has WR2 upside, but also has a WR4 floor. The rest of the receivers won’t carry much value themselves so much as they will sap value from Edelman and Hogan.
Update: With Eric Decker’s retirement, the Patriots’ already thin receiving corps just got thinner. This does not affect the value of Hogan and Edelman very much. The primary beneficiary is Phillip Dorsett who has expanded his route-running ability and seems primed to open the season as the third receiver. He doesn’t appear to be in line for enough targets to be anything more than a boom-or-bust WR6, but there is always upside on the Patriots.

Rob Gronkowski: 245.3 total, 15.3 ppg (75 Rec, 1163 yards, 9 TD, 0 fumbles lost)
Part of the reason there isn’t a ton of volume for the receivers is the absolute dominance of Gronk. You know you won’t quite get a full season out of him – he hasn’t played a full 16 games in 7 years – but you should get most of one. With the numbers he puts up though you’re probably willing to give up a game or 2. He remains the elite TE1 in fantasy. If you want him, you’ll have to grab him the first 2 rounds.

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