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Steve Schwarz | Archive | Email |  
Staff Writer

The Julian Edelman Injury Effect

Julian Edelman

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’ roster.

Tom 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 in. Danny Amendola figures to inherit a good chunk of the slot role.

Danny 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.

Chris 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.

Brandin 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 hold true.

Rob 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.

Malcolm 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.

Dwayne 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.

James 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 situation.

Steve Schwarz served as the fantasy sports editor of The Sports Network and is the 2014 FSWA Football Writer of the Year.