2018 Fantasy Football - New England Patriots - Team Moves





By Chet Gresham - @ChetGresham
Follow @walterfootball for updates.

Each offseason brings change to NFL rosters, and those changes often have fantasy implications. Below, I lay out the changes at the skill positions and how those moves impact the fantasy status of the new roster.


2017
    QB: Tom Brady, Brian Hoyer
    RB: Dion Lewis, Rex Burkhead, James White, Mike Gillislee
    WR: Brandin Cooks, Danny Amendola, Chris Hogan, Phillip Dorsett, Malcolm Mitchell
    TE: Rob Gronkowski, Dwayne Allen


2018
    QB: Tom Brady, Brian Hoyer, Danny Etling
    RB: Sony Michel, Rex Burkhead, James White, Jeremy Hill, Mike Gillislee
    WR: Julian Edelman, Chris Hogan, Jordan Matthews, Malcolm Mitchell, Braxton Berrios, Cordarrelle Patterson, Kenny Britt, Phillip Dorsett
    TE: Rob Gronkowski, Dwayne Allen, Ryan Izzo




Pre-Draft Offseason:

Despite the rumors, this team should be close to its normal strength on offense for 2018. New England's biggest move was trading Brandin Cooks to the Rams, but the organization did help replace him by picking up Jordan Matthews and getting Julian Edelman back from injury. I like Cooks better than both, but the Patriots' offense can succeed with their current crop of receivers. That crop will be led by Edelman for targets, while Chris Hogan should continue his touchdown prowess. Matthews might not even start on this team, but he is the likely third receiver at the moment. I'll be investing in Edelman, as long as he looks fully recovered, and Hogan. The backups here, like Matthews, Mitchell and Dorsett, have value due to the offense and probability of injuries, but in normal redraft leagues, they'll likely remain on the waiver wire.

The second biggest move for this offense was letting Dion Lewis go. He was a great back for the Patriots last year and a key component for their Super Bowl run, but Belichick does not value single running backs, instead preferring to accumulate cheap backs who he feels can do their jobs efficiently. That's why we see a goal-line back, a receiving back and a lead back divvying up touches. Belichick doesn't have to pay anyone a huge salary and can pay for the whole set of skills, plus thin out any injury risk. It really is annoying for us fantasy folk until injuries narrow down touches like they did for Lewis last season.

This season looks just as confusing as usual, but we can feel fairly good about Rex Burkhead and James White seeing work and being useful in PPR leagues. The Patriots did pick up Jeremy Hill, who would likely be the LeGarrette Blount-like goal-line back if he can win the job, but we thought the same of Mike Gillislee last season and that started well and ended quickly and horribly. The team has also brought in other backs like Orleans Darkwa and running back draft prospects, so New England might not be done with running backs just yet, making things tough on us fake footballers.

Rob Gronkowski and Tom Brady remain the locked-in studs but Gronkowski's injury history continues to be troubling. His ADP will continue to drop a little this year and could still be worth the pick in a bad fantasy position though.



Post-Draft Update

The Patriots added a strong offensive lineman in Isaiah Wynn from Georgia with their first pick at 23rd overall and then took running back Sony Michael, also from Georgia, eight picks later at 31st overall. Wynn is a great run blocker, and Michel has all the tools to be a top running back in the league. We are always going to be up against Bill Belichick's wide usage of running backs when projecting their work, but when given a strong lead back, he will get him work. Dion Lewis didn't see double-digit rushing attempts until Week 6 last season and still ended up with 205 touches, finishing as the 12th-best scoring running back in the league. The year before that, LeGarrette Blount had 306 touches and finished with the seventh-most points. There are also years where you can argue the opposite in New England, but the last two seasons show that Belichick is just fine with giving one back a big percentage of touches, and after grabbing Michel so early, I expect Michel will get plenty of chances this season. That doesn't mean Rex Burkhead and James White can't have value, but it likely won't be consistent.

New England didn't go back to the offensive skill position until pick 210 when the organization grabbed receiver Braxton Berrios out of Miami. He's very much a Danny Amendola clone and could fit into that role sooner than later, but he'll also be way down the target totem pole to start his career.



2018 Fantasy Outlook:

Stud: Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski

Solid: Sony Michael, Julian Edelman, Chris Hogan

Sleeper: Rex Burkhead

For more recommendations, check out WalterFootball.com's Fantasy Football Rankings.




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