FOXBORO, Mass. — New England Patriots wide receiver Malcolm Mitchell claimed to be unaware of the fact his fantasy stock has skyrocketed over the past few weeks. In fact, the rookie wideout said he knows next to nothing about fantasy football.
“I have family members mention it, but I never know what they’re talking about,” Mitchell said Friday. “I’m not sure how that works. If someone said it, I’d probably have no idea what it means.”
Informed that he’s been one of the most-added players in many fantasy leagues, Mitchell responded: “That’s cool. I really don’t have any idea about fantasy football.”
Mitchell has caught 17 passes for 222 yards and three touchdowns over the Patriots’ last three games after managing just seven catches for 98 yards and no scores over New England’s first nine contests.
Some additional notes from a frigid Friday in Foxboro:
The addition of Griff Whalen meant the Patriots likely won’t need to use reserve running back D.J. Foster at wide receiver when they host the Baltimore Ravens on Monday night.
But Foster, who played both positions in college, saw time at wideout during practice this week. And Patriots coach Bill Belichick clearly is intrigued by the rookie’s versatility.
“That’s kind of what D.J. was at Arizona State,” Belichick said. “He was some running back, he was some slot receiver. They used him some in the return game. He’s a smart kid. He’s done those before so he has all of those skills. He can run receiver routes, he can catch the ball, he can carry the ball, he can run inside runs, which we’ve seen him do that. He’s fast. He’s a tough matchup against certain linebackers, especially, let’s call it. But if you treat him as a receiver he can, as he did in preseason, handle the ball, run it from the backfield. Not just toss plays, he can run regular runs.
“Yeah, he has some variety of skills that kind of transcend between those two positions as they did at Arizona State. He’s an interesting player. That’s why he made our roster.”
Foster, who signed with the Patriots as an undrafted free agent in May, hasn’t seen the field much during his first NFL season, playing just 16 offensive snaps and another 10 on special teams. And while his ability to play multiple positions is valuable, there’s a danger in trying to spread his talents too thin.
“There’s a line there,” Belichick said. “It’s good to be really good at something. It’s good to have versatility. So you could be kind of a jack of all trades but not really be able to hang your hat on anything, or you could really be able to hang your hat on something and not be able to do a lot of other things. There’s value to both. Obviously, the more the better, but sometimes that gets capped in terms of practice time or opportunity, reps and so forth. Sometimes that can be a real advantage because you can go in a couple of different directions depending on what your team needs and what the situation is from week to week or even within the game.
“It’s just trying to find the right balance. I think it depends on the player, depends on the situation, and it could definitely change from week to week or possibly even day to day, really, depending on what the other parts are to that equation.”
Foster’s name emerged as a possible receiver/punt return option after Danny Amendola suffered an ankle injury that likely will sideline him until the playoffs. The Patriots on Friday signed Whalen, a former wideout and return man for the Indianapolis Colts and San Diego Chargers.
— Monday’s Patriots-Ravens game will be broadcast on ESPN, meaning old friend Randy Moss will be back in town to handle pre- and postgame duties.
Asked about the former star receiver’s new gig as an ESPN analyst, Belichick noted that a number of recently retired Patriots have made the transition to television.
“We have a lot of guys in those roles,” Belichick said. “I really never gave it a lot of thought, but we certainly have our share of guys in those types of roles. I’ve talked to (Moss) a couple of times. He seems like he enjoys it, has fun with it. He’s good. Really smart, has passion for the game. So if it works out for him, great.”
Thumbnail photo via Winslow Townson/USA TODAY Sports Images