New England Patriots
|By Shawn Childs, Thursday, August 8, 2019|
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New England tends to run a high volume of plays each season while trying to be balanced if game score favorably presents itself. Last year they ran the ball 45.4 percent of the time with success in rushing TDs (18). As Tom Brady gets older, the Patriots would like to help him out by running the ball well. They added another top back this year, which bodes well if/when they play from the lead. New England also knows they have to score to win games in the NFL. More of the same unless Brady has an injury.
QB Jarrett Stidham - Dynasty Only
After flashing in his freshman season (75-for-109 with 1,265 yards, 12 TDs, and two Ints), Stidham decided not to return to Baylor due to a scandal and the firing of most of the coaches. Jarrett ended up transferring to Auburn where he started in 2017 and 2018. Over the last two years, he passed for 5,952 yards with 36 TDs and 11 Ints. His overall plays faded previous year due to a poor supporting cast, weaker offensive line, and sinking confidence. Stidham's regression led to him falling in this year's draft. Overall, he completed 64.3 percent of his passes in college with an excellent TD to Ints ratio (48:13). Jarrett ran the ball 103 times in 2017, but he gained only 153 yards with four TDs. Stidham needs more time to develop while owing a football IQ to play at the next level. His first step is to improve his feel within a fading pocket to help him gain a bigger passing window without pulling the ball down.
QB Tom Brady - Solid/Safe Pick
Update 12/29/19Brady is the 12th ranked QB after 16 weeks (19.75 FPPG) despite delivering weakness in Fantasy points in seven of his previous nine games (15.45, 17.25, 10.80, 13.50, 13.45, 14.40, and 19.95). He scored between 27.00 and 29.10 Fantasy points in five games with four of those coming over the first six weeks. In Week 2, Brady threw for 264 yards and two TDs vs. Miami. The Dolphins give up the second-most Fantasy points (25.37) with eight straight QBs scoring over 23.50 Fantasy points. Four QBs scored over 30.0 Fantasy points against Miami. Trending down and the Patriots may now want to show all their offense cards in this matchup. Viable based on his expected floor, thanks to his matchup.
RB Sony Michel - Stud (low risk)
Update 12/29/19Michel played better in the last two games (103 combined yards with one catch and 101 combined yards with one catch), but he didn’t score a TD for the eighth straight contest. Michel needs 162 rushing yards to reach 1,000 while averaging 16.1 touches per game. In Week 2, he gained 83 yards with a TD vs. the Dolphins. Miami allows 4.4 yards per rush with RBs scoring 17 TDs. Possible TD with a run at 100-plus rushing yards with New England expected to play from the lead.
RB James White - Solid/Safe Pick
Update 12/29/19White lost some of his chances in Week 16 to Rex Burkhead, which led to a short game (29 combined yards with four catches on seven touches). Over his previous three contests, he gained 299 combined yards with three TDs and 16 catches highlighted by his game in Week 13 (177 combined yards with two TDs and eight catches). In Week 2, White finished with 29 yards, one TD, and three catches vs. the Dolphins. RBs have 70 catches for 569 yards and five TDs on 79 targets vs. Miami. With New England expected to play form the lead, White looks to be a boring option in the daily games.
RB Damien Harris - Deep-league Only
For me, Harris has the 'it factor' an NFL team should be looking for in a lead back. He gives off the appearance of bigger back than his size (5'10' and 216 lbs.). His first step acceleration after downshifting in tight quarters gives him many winning plays. Damien drives through contact with a unique feel for finding more open field. Harris tests defense when reaching the second level of the defense with his vision and power. In his senior year at Alabama (1,080 combined yards with nine TDs and 22 catches on 172 touches), he failed to show growth over his previous two seasons (1,136 combined yards with four TDs and 14 catches and 1,091 combined yards with 11 TDs and 12 catches). His pass catching opportunity was short due to Josh Jacobs shinning brighter in this area. Harris doesn't fumble, and his game grades well in pass protection. For the Patriots, Harris becomes the insurance policy for Sony Michel plus gives New England that in between back that will stand tall in pass protection while being a threat to run and catch the ball. You could say he's a better, more explosive vision of Rex Burkhead. Damien should receive between eight and touches per game while being tougher to time in the Fantasy market. Must handcuff for Sony Michel owners.
WR Demaryius Thomas - Bust (overvalued)
Decline has set into Thomas's game over the last two seasons, which wasn't helped by poor QB play in Denver. After a slow start with the Broncos (36/402/3 on 56 targets) over eight games), Demaryius was expected to see a bump in value after his trade to the Texans. In Houston, he caught about 70 percent (23) of his 33 targets for 275 yards and two TDs over seven games, but he struggled to get open on enough plays to steal chance away from DeAndre Hopkins. After playing in 111 straight games over seven seasons, Thomas suffered an Achilles injury in Week 16 forcing him to miss the last game of the year. More of an afterthought in the Fantasy market until there is a cleaner update of his recovery from his injury. Also, Demaryius had an off the field incident involving an unfortunate car accident. Hopefully, he avoids a suspension in 2019. Worth a dart if the summer reports are positive on his health and his form looks improved.
WR Antonio Brown - Solid/Safe Pick
Update 09/16/19The drama-filled summer of Antonio Brown added another chapter this week when a former acquaintance filed a lawsuit against him in federal court. Either way, Brown should be in the starting lineup for the Patriots on Sunday. In Week 1, New England’s WRs caught 14 passes for 273 yards and three TDs on 20 targets against the Steelers. Miami allowed over 300 yards passing to Lamar Jackson and five TDs. The Patriots are huge favorites (18.5 points), which may lead to much more runs than expected. As great as Brown is a receiver, it may take a game or two to get on the same page with Tom Brady. I wait to see him in-game action before taking a slippery dance.
WR Julian Edelman - Solid/Safe Pick
Update 12/29/19Edelman continues to battle multiple minor injuries, leading to a couple of quiet games (2/9 and 5/72). On the year, he has five 20-point Fantasy games (8/110/1, 9/113, 8/78/2, 6/106/1, and 8/95/1) while having a floor of 12.20 Fantasy points over ten of his previous 11 starts. The Patriots have looked his way 146 times (9.7 targets per game) in 2019 with ten contests with double-digit targets. In Week 2, he had four catches for 51 yards on four targets vs. the Dolphins. Miami allows the second-most Fantasy points to WRs (41.10 FPPG – 189/2735/27 on 317 targets). They’ve allowed two TDs or more to WRs in six straight games with four of their previous five opponents gaining over 200 yards. Nine WRs gained over 100 yards against Miami (Marquise Brown – 4/147/2, Terry McLaurin – 4/100/2, Juju Smith-Schuster – 5/103/1, John Brown – 9/137/2, Jarvis Landry – 10/148/2, Alshon Jeffery – 9/137/1, Robby Anderson – 7/116/1, Sterling Shepard – 9/111, and Tyler Boyd – 9/128/2). Edelman has a winnable matchup, and Tom Brady should look his way earlier in the game.
WR Josh Gordon - Solid/Safe Pick
Update 10/04/19Rhythm with Tom Brady has been a problem for Gordon all season. He’s caught only 14 of his 27 targets (51.8 percent) for 221 yards and one TD. His best two games (3/73/1 and 6/83) came at home. Overall, Gordon averages 6.75 targets per game. As I laid out in the Julian Edelman writeup, Washington has risk defending WRs with speed. Gordon may see a decent share of CB Josh Norman, who is off bad start the year. Overpriced for his opportunity, but there are signs of the biggest game in his time with the Patriots.
WR N'Keal Harry - Sleeper (undervalued)
Over the last two seasons at Arizona State, Harry caught 155 passes for 2,230 yards and 17 TDs. For his size (6'2' and 227 lbs.), N'Keal has surprising speed (4.53 in the 40-yard dash at the NFL combine) while being beast with his strength. He'll do all the dirty work at WR while catching a high number of jump balls. Harry can make moves in the open field, but he won't make many huge plays scoring plays over a long field with his legs. Complete monster in the red zone while being open even if a defender is draping all over him in coverage. He'll beat speed with power plus defeat physical press corners with his legs. N'Keal needs to improve his route running and work on improving his release. The loss of Rob Gronkowski creates an excellent opportunity in his rookie season. Draft with confidence as a WR3 in PPR leagues while expecting 60+ catches for 800+ yards and a run at double-digit TDs.
WR Mohamed Sanu - Solid/Safe Pick
Update 11/16/19In his first full game for the Patriots, Sanu caught 10 of his 14 targets for 81 yards and a TD. After nine games, he has 45 catches for 417 yards and two TDs on targets with one other decent outing (9/91). New England had him on the field for all of their plays vs. the Ravens. CB Ronald Darby struggled earlier in the year against the Falcons while missing four games with a hamstring issue. His possession type resume does limit his upside and scoring even in a favorable game.
WR Phillip Dorsett - Low Potential
Update 09/29/19Dorsett regained his value as the WR3 in the Patriots’ offense after they released Antonio Brown. After three weeks, he has 13 catches for 187 yards and three TDs on 14 targets. New England will use him to stretch the field or on crossing plays in the red zone. His catch rate (92.9) command more looks. Even with nice stats, Dorsett receives fewer than five targets per game. More of a flier than an impact play in the daily games.
WR Cameron Meredith - Gamble (high risk)
Fair Evaluation: At this point, Cam is only a gamble while waiting for the summer training camp updates Young enough to find his way while offering the best skill set to work as a WR2 in this offense if he gets healthy.
A torn left ACL cost Meredith all of the 2017 season. He had a full season to recover for 2018, but health was an issue again. In his six games played, Cameron caught nine of his ten targets for 114 yards and one TD while never receiving over 34 snaps in a game. His year ended in Week 9 with a second issue with his left knee that required minor surgery.
Over two two-game stretches in 2016 with the Bears (Week 5 – 9/130/1 and Week 6 – 11/113 plus Week 15 – 9/104 and Week 16 – 9/135/1), Meredith offered impact value while being the best WR on the field for Chicago. In those four games, Cam had double-digit targets in each game (12, 15, 13, and 12). Unfortunately for Fantasy owners, he disappeared in six straight games (1/12, 1/24, 1/50/1, 4/49, and 2/19) starting in Week 7. Over his last 12 games of the season, Meredith had 60 catches for 836 yards and four TDs on 89 targets.
As of mid-June, Meredith still wasn't ready for game action.
TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins - Bust (overvalued)
(Update: ASJ was waived.)
The void created at TE by the retirement of Rob Gronkowski may be a win for Seferian-Jenkins. Injuries tend to limit his playing time while never posting a playable Fantasy season. In 2017 with the Jets, Austin caught 50 of his 74 targets for 357 yards and three TDs. He missed 23 of 48 games over his first three years in the league plus another 11 games in 2018. Last year the Patriots completed 54 passes for 761 yards and three TDs on 78 targets to the TE position, which was well below the previous seasons with Gronk offering an edge at TE. Seferian-Jenkins may have a game or two, but he's tough to trust based on his career path even with a QB that likes to throw to the TE position.
TE Matt LaCosse - Super Sleeper (high risk/potential)
(Update: Austin Seferian-Jenkins was waived, making LaCosse a potential frontrunner heading into training camp.)
New England signed LaCosse for depth at TE in the offseason. After floating around the NFL for three seasons, the Broncos gave him his best opportunity in 2018. He caught 24 of his 37 targets for 250 yards and one TD. In college, Matt finished with 38 catches for 397 yards and six TDs. Only a low-level role player.
PK Stephen Gostkowski - Stud (low risk)
Over his 13 years in the NFL, Gostkowski made 87.4 percent of his field goal attempts with a high level of success from 50 yards or more (25-for-35). Entering 2016, Stephen never missed an extra point in the regular season. He whiffed on five of his 146 chances over the last three seasons. In 2018, he made 27 of his 32 field goal attempts leading to a 10th place ranking at the kicker position. Over his last eight years, Gostkowski averaged 36.1 FG attempts per year with well over 50 extra points each year. Stephen is an excellent kicker with a top five opportunity in most seasons.
New England - Bye Week Fill-in
The Patriots allowed 4.9 yards per rush in 2018, but game score led to only 22.9 rushing attempts and the 11th ranking in rushing yards allowed (1,803). Their run defense tightened up in the red zone leading to only seven rushing TDs. They have up 11 runs over 20 yards.
New England finished 22nd defending the pass with QBs passing for 3,943 yards with 29 TDs and 18 Ints. Their defense had only 30 sacks.
The strength of the 2019 defense will be the secondary again. CB Stephon Gilmore holds WRs to a low catch rate and minimal yards per catch. He'll make some mistakes in TDs while falling short in Ints. Gilmore had 20 defended passed last year with neutral value in run support. CB Jason McCourtyplayed well in his first year in New England. His cover skill came in above the league average with some risk vs. the run. Jason does allow too many big plays. CB Joejuan Williamsgives the Patriots a big pass defender who will help in press coverage with improvement his value in the red zone.
S Devin McCourty hasn't been an edge on three of his last four seasons in the NFL. He tends to be a sure tackler while doing a nice job in coverage. When at his best, Devin improves the run defense. CB Ken Webster may transition to safety at some point of his career, which will help ease the pain of replacing Patrick Chung who has never been a difference maker. Chung tackles well, but his defense is sliding vs. the run.
LB Dont'a Hightower missed 11 games in 2017 with an injury, which may have been part of the reason for his step back in value in 2019. Hightower tends to struggle to defend the run and in pass coverage. Other his tackling ability, his value looks to below the league average. LB Kyle Van Noy will make plenty of tackles (92) with some value in sacks (3) and in coverage (one Int and two defended passes), but his game ranks below the league average in all areas. LB Elandon Roberts is a rotational player against the run with weakness in coverage.
DT Lawrence Guy is a top run defender while heading to the bench on passing downs. Last year he set a career high in tackles (59) with one sack. DT Byron Cowart is the only other player with upside on the interior of the defensive line. He tends to be an underachiever while offering some disrupting ability if he earns a starting gig. DE Michael Bennett has 56 sacks over his last seven seasons, but he'll start the year at age 33. New England hopes DE Derek Rivers can add value after missing most of his first two seasons with injuries after being selected in the third round in 2017. DE Deatrich Wisehas a lot to prove after struggling in most areas in his first two years in the NFL. DE Chase Winovich will work as a pass rusher while having the size and speed to pick up the action at linebacker.
When looking at the 2018 Patriots' defensive stats plus intake their weakness at the first and second levels of the defense, a Fantasy owner will get the sense it could be a long year for the New England getting offenses off the field. They lack a pass rush and the talent to attack at linebacker. The strength in the secondary will help minimize the damage in TDs in the red zone. The Patriots have a favorable schedule for their defense but weakness in playmakers to be a must play from week-to-week in the season-long Fantasy games.
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