Fantasy football and real football are related, but by no means do they translate perfectly to one another. For instance, Joe Flacco is a legitimate QB in the NFL, but fantasy-wise he is practically irrelevant. It is important to not forget this key concept when trying to judge and predict a player’s fantasy value.
The Patriots are one of the most controversial football teams right now, both in real life and the fantasy world. For the sake of this post, I want to focus strictly on the fantasy relevance. My views as a fan and as an analyst are not the same, as I do believe the Patriots will be fine.
Tom Brady is arguably one of the greatest quarterbacks ever, and still is one of the best today, but he is going through a struggle so far this year with injuries to Shane Vereen and Danny Amendola. His receiving core is young, inexperienced, and somewhat lost. Through 3 weeks Brady has been quite mediocre in the fantasy world, and while much of the blame has gone to drops and poor route running, I have noticed Brady has been at times inaccurate. Rob Gronkowski is near his return, and this will be a huge addition for Brady owners, but to count on Gronk staying healthy the whole year is being perhaps overly optimistic. Along with Amendola seeming to be hurt more than healthy, and Vereen out until at least week 11, Brady will have to do with this young core of receivers for a while. I don’t see Brady finishing inside to the top 5 for fantasy QBs at the end of the year.
Steven Ridley, Brandon Boldin, LaGarrette Blount, and Shane Vereen make up the backfield for the Patriots this year, and before the start of the season, Ridley and Vereen were the players to own in fantasy. Now after three weeks Vereen is on IR until week 11, Ridley has struggled, and Blount and Boldin’s workload has been unpredictable. Steven Ridley has been one of the biggest busts so far this year, and even with experts telling people to have patience, I am not so sure about that. I’ve been watching the Patriots every week for almost 5 years now, and besides Corey Dillion and Ben-Jarvis Green-Ellis I have never seen a Patriots running back put together back-to-back fantasy relevant seasons. Ridley put up over 1200 yards and 10+ touchdowns last season, but now he is struggling to get an optimum amount of carries. I don’t think you should drop Ridley, but don’t expect him to be what he was last year. As for Blount and Boldin, it will be hard to predict their production, but for the time being I see Boldin sort of acting like Vereen was when he was healthy; like a running back that will be lined up as a receiver and catch the ball more than any other running back for this team. Vereen is a couple months away from return, but once he’s back expect him to be a solid fantasy addition.
Danny Amendola, Kenbrell Thompkins, Aaron Dobson, Julian Edelman and Josh Boyce are the receivers getting playing time so far this year, and with Amendola out, the #1 option for Brady is up for debate. Amendola has struggled to stay healthy his whole career, but when he plays he is productive. With Amendola currently injured, Edelman has taken his role and is getting many targets from Brady, but his production isn’t near what Amendola did in the one game he played. Why? Because Edelman isn’t as talented as Amendola. Duh. He will continue to be relevant to PPR owners, but Edelman isn’t going to score or put up as many yards as Amendola will when healthy. Dobson, Thompkins, and Boyce are the three rookie wide receivers on the Patriots, and it is safe to say nobody really knows what to expect yet this year from them individually. Thompkins has been the red zone threat so far, but when Gronkowski comes back he will be taking many of those away, so this is why I feel that Dobson will be more fantasy relevant this year. Thompkins has proven to actually be a more reliable receiver so far for Brady, but this is fantasy, not real life. Dobson>Thompkins by the end of the year in fantasy land.
Rob Gronkowski has been hurt all year but is expected to be back next week. he will be a top 3 TE this year even though he will only play about three quarters of the year. Zach Sudfeld? More like Zach DUDfeld. HA!