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Patriots players and coaches have taken to the practice field, and Rob Gronkowski was spotted running up a hill.
Consequently, it is time to begin thinking about which Patriot players you will want on your fantasy squad, and which players you should avoid. What do the odds makers say? Bet now on the best NFL odds here.
Everyone wants their favorite NFL player to succeed on their fantasy roster, but you must consider where you should take them and what should you expect from them. Let’s examine:
**Note that all rankings and projected draft round (PDR) were compiled for a 10 team standard scoring format.
Rob Gronkowski (TE) PDR 3rd-4th – It is still unclear if Gronk’s newly repaired ACL/MCL will be ready for opening day. Regardless, he is a huge fantasy risk due to his injury concern. In 2013 Gronkowski finished with the 16th most fantasy points at the tight end position, fairly impressive when you consider he only played in seven games. During those seven games he amassed 592 yards and 4 TDs including three games of 100+ receiving yards.
Advice: If you draft Gronk you better secure an additional TE that you feel comfortable playing all sixteen games, just in case. But when Gronk plays, he has the possibility of single-handedly winning a weekly matchup. Whenever Gronk plays, he has as good of a chance as anyone in the NFL of 100+ receiving yards and finding the end zone. A third round pick is a high price to pay for a player who will almost assuredly miss some games, but if he falls to the fourth round or further he is easily worth the pickup.
Shane Vereen (RB) PDR 4th-5th – Yes, Vereen missed half of the 2013 season with a broken arm, but in the eight games he did play in Vereen accumulated 208 rushing yards 1 rushing TD and 427 receiving yards and 3 TDs. In the last seven games Vereen averaged 5.7 catches per game and 52.7 receiving yards. More importantly, Bellichick loves his pass catching ability and the mismatches he creates with opposing linebackers, over the eight games he played Vereen was given 36 red zone touches, plus, he only had one fumble all season.
Advice: Any NFL player can break a bone on any given play, therefore, the 2013 injury can’t be held against him, Vereen is hardly a perennial injury risk like Gronkowski or Amendola. Considering the fantasy volatility at the running back position, assuming he plays all sixteen games in 2014 Vereen could reasonably wind up as a top 10 RB. He is easily worth a fourth round pick, and if you choose to forego picking a running back in the first two rounds, you may want to secure Vereen in the third round to assure you will have a reliable RB.
Julian Edelman (WR) PDR 6th-8th – The 27-year-old receiver enjoyed a breakout season filling the Wes Welker role that Tom Brady looks for. He was also one of the few Pats to play in all sixteen games, over the season he stockpiled 1056 receiving yards and 6 TDs. Those stats were good enough to place Edelman as the 18th best fantasy WR in 2013. He enjoyed an average of 8.9 fantasy points per game, but there were seven games in which Edelman scored five fantasy points or less, yikes.
Advice: Edelman’s statistical numbers could get better as Tom Brady clearly trusts the undersized receiver, but he is hardly a red zone threat. While he is a great asset for NFL purposes, he is sporadic and unreliable from a fantasy perspective. Out of 151 targets, only 21 were in the red zone and only 6 of those 21 red zone targets were inside the ten yard line. Simply put, when it is time for the Pats to score Brady is looking elsewhere. Edelman only had three games with over 15 fantasy points, only if you are desperate for WR should you consider drafting Edelman before the 8th round.
Stevan Ridley (RB) PDR 7th-8th – Despite being benched and apparently out of favor with Bill Bellichick (4 fumbles lost) Stevan Ridley wound up as the 29th best fantasy RB in 2013. He was able to average 9 fantasy points per game by compiling 773 rushing yards and 7 TDs. The most telling statistic is that between 2012 and 2013 Ridley saw 112 less rushing attempts, and Vereen missed half the year. How many carries would Ridley have seen if Vereen was available all season?
Advice: If you only have one or two RBs heading into the 7th round of your draft, perhaps you should take a chance on Ridley. His fumbling habit could easily cause him to be either traded or sit in Bellichick’s doghouse all season. Ridley is a gamble, but perhaps a bargain if he can hold onto the pigskin. Not knowing if he’ll hold onto the ball makes Ridley unappealing in the 7th round, if he is still available after the 8th then he may be worth the gamble, but your roster construction must take into account that he may not be fantasy relevant.
Tom Brady (QB) PDR 7th-9th – We all know what Tom Brady can do. His fantasy value boils down to the ability of the weapons around him. Last year Brady suffered through a career high 40 sacks and only managed 4,343 passing yards and threw 25 TDs, however, those meager numbers were still enough to land him as 2013′s 14th most valuable fantasy QB.
Advice: Since the surgery shortened 2008 season, Brady has averaged 32.4 TDs per season. There is no reason to think that Brady won’t bounce back this year. It is doubtful he will post worse numbers than last season, so as a fantasy option he is very reliable, and since the QB position is so deep, Brady would be a solid option in the middle rounds of a fantasy draft.
Danny Amendola (WR) PDR 10th-12th – Seeing Amendola play in 12 games last season was a pleasant surprise for Pats fans. While he had some nice moments, three different 100+ yard receiving games, Amendola finished with 633 receiving yards and 2 TDs landing him as the 60th best fantasy wide receiver.
Advice: He is hard to trust, but you aren’t giving up a lot at the 10th round. Most likely Amendola would not be counted on as an every week fantasy starter on your squad, however, he would possess occasional value as a flex play if other Pats receivers miss time due to injury.
Aaron Dobson (WR) PDR 10th-12th – Dobson is very similar to Amendola, he was the 59th best fantasy receiver and also played in 12 games. But, his ceiling is much higher. Week 9 of 2013 was easily his best game as he posted 130 receiving yards and 2 TDs, but he only had 4 TDs on the season.
Advice: What is most disconcerting about Dobson is that in his rookie season he only caught 37 passes on 72 targets. If Brady feels more comfortable with other recieving options, Dobson may be a bust. However, in the later rounds of the draft his potential upside is appealing–I would take Dobson over Amendola if the decision came down to it.
Brandon Lafell (WR) PDR Undrafted – It will be worth paying attention in the preseason to see how Lafell’s chemistry with Brady is progressing. Last season in Carolina’s run heavy attack Lafell had 627 receiving yards and 5 TDs, but his 6’2 frame and 4.5 speed has uncanny upside.
Advice: He may be worth a roster stash in one of the last rounds of your draft. Similarly, he would be one of those potential week 1 pickups if he has a huge first game with the Pats. Considering how much later Lafell can be acquired, I would rather target him than either Amendola or Dobson with an earlier pick.