Julian Edleman's knee injury likely means
a target boost for Chris Hogan and Danny Amendola.
Patriots’ wide receiver Julian Edelman suffered a non-contact
injury when he planted his right foot to turn up field last night
in the third preseason game. Early reports from the team indicate
the likelihood of an ACL tear. Edelman will undergo an MRI today
to confirm the diagnosis.
In those leagues who have already drafted, Edelman’s fantasy
owners will have to survive without his production – in
2016 that was 98 receptions, 1106 yards and three touchdowns.
He ranked 20th in wideout fantasy points last season (134.3) and
28th in FPts/G (8.4), making him a low-end WR2.
But the injury affects more than just Edelman and his fantasy
owners. We must re-evaluate his absence on the rest of the Patriots’
Brady – For Brady, the loss of Edelman shouldn’t be
a problem. He’s shown the ability to quickly adapt to any situation.
It will be no different than when he lost Wes Welker after the
2013 season (Welker signed with Denver). Edelman seamlessly stepped
Amendola figures to inherit a good chunk of the slot role.
Amendola – Though he’ll likely take over the role,
Amendola is no Edelman or Welker and he’ll likely share slot duties
with Hogan. Amendola is probably good for 50 catches, 600 yards
and three touchdowns. Think Terrance
Williams from last season.
Hogan – Hogan should see the most benefit from the
Edelman injury. He’ll become Brady’s primary outside weapon and
as he showed last season he also has big-play ability. Three of
his four touchdowns came from over 35 yards out. Although, his
per-catch average will drop (17.9 ypc), he should haul in as many
as 80 balls and rack up 1,000 yards receiving and seven scores.
That’s a huge jump from 38-680-4 of a season ago and puts him
on a similar level to Michael
Crabtree’s 2016 season.
Cooks – The Edelman injury shouldn’t change your evaluation
of Cooks. Cooks doesn’t play the possession receiver role, he’s
the long-ball threat, the guy who takes the top off the defense.
Our pre-injury projection with a slight bump to 74-1018-7 should
Gronkowski – Gronkowski should see more targets … if
that’s possible. When healthy he averages over eight targets-per-game
(8.3 from 2014-15). That could peak at over nine without Edelman.
“When healthy, Gronk is the biggest difference maker in fantasy
football,” is the quote in our 2017 outlook for Gronkowski and
now even more so.
Mitchell – Mitchell has been dealing with a knee injury
of his own and should probably have started training camp on the
PUP list. He is unlikely to be ready for Week 1 and therefore
can’t take advantage of any addition playing time opportunities.
Allen – Allen may see a few more snaps in two tight
end situations, but his fantasy value is still minimal as long
as Gronkowski is healthy. However, if Gronk is on your roster,
selecting Allen with your last pick might be a great way to go.
If something happens to Gronk, and with Edelman sidelined, Brady
might turn to Allen, who proved in Indianapolis to be useful in
the red zone.
White – White has great hands and might see a couple
more targets out of the backfield, but it won’t change his fantasy
value. The Patriots backfield is already so muddled that I’m staying
away from it and the Edelman injury doesn’t clear up that confusing
Steve Schwarz served as the fantasy sports editor of The Sports Network and is the 2014 FSWA Football Writer of the Year.