The ageless wonder continues to play at an elite level entering
his age 41 season, fighting back father time and helpless AFC
defenders for another top-10 fantasy finish in 2017. Brady completed
66% of his passes for 4576 yards and 32 touchdowns, marking the
sixth time in his last seven seasons of 16 games in which he reached
at least 30 touchdowns.
As always is the case with a quarterback playing into his 40s,
the wheels will eventually come off the rails, as even the future
hall of famer will break down at some point. But the consistent
level of production and the limited number of interceptions that
Brady brings to the table makes him worth the risk.
From a skill position standpoint, the Patriots have more than
enough firepower for Brady to finish once again as a top-10 quarterback,
even with WR Julian Edelman missing the first four games of the
season due to a failed PED test. Perhaps the biggest worry about
Brady is the loss of his starting left tackle Nate Solder to free
agency and the development of rookie tackle Isaiah Wynn as Brady’s
blind side protection.
Bill Belichick and the New England front office went against
their typical mold by using a first-round pick on rookie running
back Sony Michel. As a team that rarely uses high draft capital
on offensive skill position players, let alone running backs,
the Patriots are high on the former Georgia Bulldog.
At 5’11”, 215 pounds, Michel has the size and ability
to be an every-down back in the NFL, and his pass protection skills
were arguably the best of any player in the draft. The problem
is that Belichick likes to use a stable of running backs, and
Michel struggled with fumbles while in college. Michel also a
had procedure to drain fluid from his knee on August 4th which
could keep him out of pre-season action. Not the best situation
for a rookie. Despite these issues, any RB who receives a sizable
share of the New England ground game carries significant fantasy
value, as the Patriots scored the second-most points in the NFL
last season behind the Saints.
The oft-forgotten man in the New England stable of running backs,
James White led all Patriot ball carriers in targets (72) and
receptions (56), while finishing fourth on the team in catches
behind Rob Gronkowski, Brandin Cooks, and Danny Amendola.
Although the Patriots used a first-round pick on rookie Sony
Michel, a talented college RB who can also catch passes, White
projects once again to be the third down and pass-catching back
for Tom Brady in 2018. White’s value is significantly higher
in PPR formats compared to standard leagues, as the former Wisconsin
Badger has yet to carry the ball more than nine times in an NFL
regular season game.
In quiet fashion, Burkhead posted a solid 2017 season as the
No.18 ranked running back in terms of fantasy points per game.
His 10 fantasy point per game was higher than Christian McCaffrey,
Tevin Coleman, and Lamar Miller, and he scored the same number
of total touchdowns as LeSean McCoy - on 252 fewer touches.
The addition of first-round selection Sony Michel will no doubt
cut into the value of Burkhead in 2018, as one would assume that
Belichick and the New England front office will look to feature
their new prized running back. Despite this fact, Burkhead will
continue to have value as the primary goal-line back and could
be a steal if Michel continues his trend of fumbling issues dating
back to his time at Georgia or has trouble recovering from his
A torn right ACL in the third preseason game cost Edelman the
entire 2017 season. The 32-year-old slot receiver worked his way
back over the offseason and appeared primed to regain his place
as Tom Brady’s favorite WR target before news broke of a
four-game suspension for PED use.
When active, Edelman has been a volume beast in the Patriot passing
game, with over 150 targets in two of his last four seasons. Assuming
he is back to full speed and will not be in Belichick’s
doghouse for missing time, Edelman will likely slide back into
the slot receiver role and the 8 to 10 targets that come along
with that position.
The four-game suspension will chase away risk-adverse owners
who are not comfortable using an eighth-round pick on a player
who will miss a quarter of the season. But for those willing to
take the hit, adding Edelman as a reserve or Flex WR, especially
in PPR formats, could be a league-winning move.
An A/C joint sprain forced Hogan to play in only nine games in
the 2017 regular season. In those nine games, Hogan was a valuable
fantasy asset, catching 34 passes for 439 yards and five touchdowns.
From weeks two through five, Hogan delivered four consecutive
double-digit performances, including a two-touchdown game against
Houston Week 3.
Injuries are always a concern for Hogan, a six-year veteran who
has yet to play a full 16-game season as a member of the Patriots.
It should also be noted that although Hogan was a stud for the
first quarter of 2017, he has never caught more than 41 passes
or five touchdowns in a season.
The departure of Brandin Cooks to Los Angeles and the four-game
suspension of Julian Edelman opens the door for Hogan to once
again be a difference-making WR in the first quarter of the season.
The question will be how long can Hogan last before succumbing
to another injury, and will this finally be the season in which
Tom Brady comes down to Earth.
Gronkowski is the definition of a league-winning player when
healthy and arguably the most dominant player to ever play the
tight end position. With five seasons of double-digit touchdowns,
including a career-high 17 in 2011, Gronk delivers elite wide
receiver numbers at a shallow position filled with few competitors.
At just 29 years of age, Gronk presumably has multiple years
left as an elite tight end as he continues to build his resume
for Canton. But injuries continue to plague the former Arizona
Wildcat star who managed to play in just 21 combined games over
the past two seasons.
A conventional narrative in the fantasy industry is owners should
try to be one of the first to draft a tight end or one of the
last, with the pool of players in the middle of the group indiscernible
from their peers. As the consensus top-ranked tight end, Gronk
possesses a unique ability to win a week on his own and a player
who is worth the risk as a second round pick. But owners who draft
Gronkowski should have a viable replacement for the weeks in which
the outspoken TE is out with an injury.