As the New England Patriots prepare for their preseason opener Thursday night, let’s take a look at the defending AFC champions from a fantasy perspective.
Here are a few Patriots players you should and shouldn’t draft in your league this year:
Tom Brady, Quarterback: Sure, Brady is 41, and his array of offensive weapons doesn’t look quite as impressive this season. But he’s also the reigning NFL MVP after leading the league in passing yards and ranking third in touchdown passes in 2017. Bottom line: There is no safer fantasy bet among QBs than No. 12.
Rob Gronkowski, Tight end: The best tight end in football when healthy, Gronkowski caught 69 passes for 1,084 yards and eight touchdowns last season despite missing two games. He’s a no-brainer pick and the only tight end worth drafting in the first round.
Chris Hogan, Wide receiver: Hogan was on track for a career season before suffering a shoulder injury in late October and missing seven of New England’s final eight games. Now healthy and after an electric performance in Super Bowl LII (six catches, 128 yards, one touchdown), he’ll likely serve as the Patriots’ No. 1 wideout until Julian Edelman returns from his four-game suspension.
Rex Burkhead, Running back: Dion Lewis is gone, and Burkhead looks like the most likely candidate to replace him as New England’s top back, at least to start the season. Burkhead’s injury history is a bit troubling, but he was a touchdown machine when healthy last season, scoring eight TDs (five rushing, three receiving) in 10 games. While he’s not someone you want carrying your team, Burkhead should be a quality RB2 or flex option worth selecting in the middle rounds.
Dwayne Allen, Tight end: Allen had a terribly disappointing 2017 season from a pass-catching perspective (10 catches, 86 yards, one touchdown in 16 games). And with Jacob Hollister threatening to leapfrog him on the depth chart, there’s no reason to expect substantial improvement in that department this year.
Sony Michel, Running back: Michel, the 31st overall pick in this year’s draft, is a tough player to evaluate at this point. On one hand, it’s not hard to envision him becoming Alvin Kamara 2.0 — a player he was compared to coming out of Georgia — and lighting it up as a rookie. On the other, he reportedly is expected to miss the entire preseason and potentially the start of the regular season with a knee injury. How long will it take him to get fully up to speed once he returns? Who knows. Again, Michel could wind up being a stud this season, but that’s a lot of risk to take on.
Phillip Dorsett, Wide receiver: We originally had Kenny Britt in this space — until the Patriots cut him. Such are the risks of putting stock in a New England wideout. But someone has to fill Britt’s void, and Dorsett now has a full offseason under his belt to learn the Patriots’ offense. The speedy wideout is a former first-round pick with plenty of talent, so he could be worth a flier in the later rounds.
Jacob Hollister, Tight end: Hollister caught just four passes as an undrafted rookie last season, but based on what we’ve seen so far at training camp, the Patriots now view him as a credible offensive threat. He’s played a ton with the first-team offense and has worked closely with Brady in small group settings. If you’re looking for a second tight end late in the draft, Hollister definitely has upside.
Thumbnail photo via Matthew Emmons/USA TODAY Sports Images
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