Projecting Receptions by Position: AFC East


New England Patriots

2017 Totals
Tom Brady: 385 completions on 581 attempts
WR Group: 171 Receptions
RB Group: 125 Receptions
TE Group: 89 Receptions

2018 Projections
Tom Brady: 380 completions on 560 attempts
WR Group: 165 Receptions
RB Group: 125 Receptions
TE Group: 90 Receptions

I’ll be perfectly honest here; trying to predict anything for a Bill Belichick team is, to quote Montgomery Scott, “like trying to hit a bullet with a smaller bullet, whilst wearing a blindfold, riding a horse.” That doesn’t mean we can’t try though. Ultimately, Tom Brady is the heart and soul of this offense, so regardless of the team around him he’s going to get his attempts in. That being said, the Patriots dumped Brandin Cooks and Danny Amendola and replaced them with Cordarrelle Patterson and Jordan Matthews. On the other side, they lost Dion Lewis but added Jeremy Hill and Sony Michel. That sure seems to indicate a heavier emphasis on the run, and while there wasn’t much in the way of big moves for the defense, the biggest difference might just be getting everyone healthy. That defense last year did not look like a typical BB defense. With a (hopefully) healthy defense and an increased emphasis on the run, I expect Brady to throw at his lowest rate since 2010; about 560 attempts. However, armed with an legion of slot receivers and scatback RBs, I would expect a near-career high in completion percentage, which should come out to around 380 completions.

To determine how the catches will be split up, let me start out by saying that the TE group receptions are safe. Even when Rob Gronkowski misses significant time (e.g., 2016), the TE group just keeps chugging along with its low-to-mid 20% target share. There’s no reason to suspect a change this year. As for the other two groups, I would expect a slight shift in targets in favor of the RBs. I know BB is a master of making something out of nothing, but it’s really hard to get inspired by this WR corps. Safety valve Julian Edelman is suspended for four games and on the wrong side of 30, Malcolm Mitchell has been inconsistent thus far in his career, and Chris Hogan is not exactly an inspiring WR1. Maybe something can be done with new acquisitions Matthews and Patterson, but they’re still reclamation projects. On the flip side, this is one of the stronger RB rooms BB has had to play with. Jeremy Hill and Mike Gillislee are set for the thumper role, James White continues to play the premier scatback role, and Rex Burkhead is joined by newly drafted Sony Michel in the Swiss army knife role. Beli-tricks may make it difficult to predict exactly which one you’ll want to start each week, but rest assured that there will be at least one going off every week.


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