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2024 Player Outlooks: New England Patriots

By Nick Caron | 6/19/24 |

QB Drake Maye
(2023 QB Rank – N/A)

In the quarterback landscape for the New England Patriots, the situation remains uncertain with Jacoby Brissett potentially starting the season. However, amidst this uncertainty, rookie Drake Maye emerges as a compelling figure for fantasy managers to monitor closely. Known for his robust stature and impressive college statistics, Maye demonstrated a knack for minimizing turnovers and delivering under pressure throughout his collegiate career. Despite a puzzling downturn towards the end of his final season, the consensus points to Maye eventually blossoming into a starting-caliber NFL quarterback. His profile suggests potential for elite production, although immediate fantasy relevance may be limited by New England's offensive challenges and his rookie status. Nevertheless, in Superflex and two-quarterback formats, Maye presents an intriguing late-round option with significant upside. Drawing comparisons to Josh Allen in terms of both passing and rushing abilities, Maye could provide substantial fantasy returns once he secures playing time in the Patriots' lineup.

QB Jacoby Brissett
(2023 RB Rank – No. 57, 12.6 FPts/G)

The Patriots are still considering their options, but their lack of commitment to rookie Drake Maye suggests they are leaning toward Jacoby Brissett as their starting quarterback to open the 2024 season. Brissett, a journeyman QB who has spent much of his career as a backup, finds himself back in New England, where his professional career began in 2016. He played minimally as a backup for the Commanders in 2023, but he has started 48 games throughout his career, giving fantasy managers a good idea of what to expect. While Brissett is an excellent short-term fill-in, it’s difficult to envision him as a long-term solution at QB for any NFL team, especially one like the Patriots, who recently selected a quarterback near the top of the draft. Brissett's lack of upside, compounded by the mediocre offensive weapons in New England and his limited contribution as a runner, leaves little reason for excitement in any fantasy format.

Rhamondre Stevenson

RB Rhamondre Stevenson
(2023 RB Rank – No. 35, 12.3 FPts/G)

In 2023, there were quite a few running back busts, but few hurt fantasy managers more than Rhamondre Stevenson. Many assumed that Stevenson would command a massive touch share after the Patriots failed to invest significant assets in their running back depth chart, opting instead to bring in Ezekiel Elliott, who most had presumed was washed up. However, Stevenson conceded far more touches to Elliott than expected, resulting in a very disappointing RB35 finish.

Stevenson played in just 12 games and was noticeably hindered in several others, making him a tough player to start even when he was active, as he was only the RB27 in fantasy points per game. While it's easy to attribute Stevenson's lack of production to his health issues, it's also important to note that he was stuck in one of the league's worst offenses, which is expected to remain subpar in 2024 despite presumed improvements.

With Elliott gone, the Patriots have replaced him with a younger, more versatile back in Antonio Gibson. The exact division of touches in the backfield is still unclear, but Gibson, who played wide receiver in college, has primarily been utilized as a passing-down specialist during his career with the Commanders. Stevenson might see a higher percentage of red zone touches, particularly near the goal line, but if the Patriots' offense struggles again, this may not compensate for a potential drop-off in passing game usage, especially in PPR formats.

The risk of a bad fantasy season for Stevenson is probably higher heading into this season than it was before 2023. However, his draft day price also reflects this risk, making the cost to acquire Stevenson much lower this year, which should alleviate some concerns about his potential bust factor.

RB Antonio Gibson
(2023 RB Rank – No. 35, 12.3 FPts/G)

New Patriots running back Antonio Gibson finds himself in a new situation, which isn’t always ideal for fantasy purposes, but the Patriots' offense isn’t much worse than what he experienced with the Commanders. Unfortunately for Gibson, he joins an offense that already has a viable pass catcher out of the backfield in Rhamondre Stevenson. However, Stevenson was a major disappointment in 2023, and the new Patriots coaching staff has no ties to him. This could make Gibson a sneaky late-round value, especially considering Stevenson missed significant playing time last season and played through injuries in the games he didn't miss.

While Gibson is unlikely to be a major fantasy contributor without an injury to Stevenson, his presence could still be a thorn in the side of Stevenson managers this season.

WR Demario Douglas
(2023 WR Rank – No. 63, 7.8 FPts/G)

Demario Douglas was a late-round darling during many 2023 fantasy drafts, but the rookie failed to deliver on the somewhat unfairly ambitious expectations that some had for him. Douglas finished the season with 561 yards on 49 catches - great numbers for a sixth-round NFL draft pick - but he failed to score a single touchdown, which meant that he delivered absolutely no spike weeks and thus was fairly irrelevant for fantasy purposes.

Looking forward to the 2024 season, there are multiple reasons to be excited that the second-year wideout could ascend into becoming a viable fantasy option, at least in deeper leagues. While Jacoby Brissett is not a star and Drake Maye is a complete unknown as an NFL QB, it’d be tough for either of them to be worse than the quarterback play from Mac Jones and Bailey Zappe that Douglas had to deal with a season ago. The same goes for the coaching staff and offensive play calling which have both undergone an overhaul during the offseason and should lead to a more explosive offense if nothing else.

The Patriots' wide receiver room is still very much up in the air, but Douglas projects to lead the team in slot snaps and probably has the best chance of any New England pass catcher to emerge as a weekly WR3 fantasy option here in 2024.

WR Ja’Lynn Polk
(2023 WR Rank – N/A)

Patriots’ rookie wide receiver Ja'Lynn Polk has a strong chance to break out into fantasy relevance given the state of the Patriots' wide receiver depth chart, which is one of the weakest in the league. This should allow him to compete for playing time much earlier than some of the receivers selected ahead of him in the draft who find themselves in more competitive offenses.

However, the Patriots' offense lacks high power, so red zone opportunities will likely be limited, which puts a cap on Polk's realistic ceiling. Additionally, New England’s quarterback situation is uncertain, with mediocre veteran Jacoby Brissett competing with rookie Drake Maye. This will likely lead to growing pains if and when the team decides to change quarterbacks.

Despite these challenges, Polk is a low-cost option who could reasonably end up as the Patriots’ WR1 in 2024. While it's unrealistic to start calling him “this year’s Puka Nacua,” few players taken this late in drafts have the potential to provide even a WR2 season. Therefore, it may be worth taking a chance on this young pass catcher.

WR Kendrick Bourne
(2023 WR Rank – 67, 12.8 FPts/G)

Kendrick Bourne had a quiet but reasonably productive first season for the Patriots in 2023. The veteran led all New England wide receivers with six touchdown receptions, catching 37 passes for 406 yards. While these numbers weren’t bad considering the terrible situation he was in on one of the league’s worst offenses, Bourne didn’t bring enough to the table to be a viable fantasy option in anything but the deepest leagues.

Unfortunately, we should expect more of the same in 2024, as teammate Demario Douglas is probably the odds-on favorite to lead the team in receptions and yards. Even if Bourne sees more playing time, he has almost zero potential to finish as a WR2 or even a WR3 in fantasy.

Fantasy managers often make mistakes with players like Bourne. Late in drafts, the focus should be on upside, not floor. Instead of looking at his season-long projections next to the “draft” button, consider the best-case scenario for this player. Even if Bourne delivers WR36 numbers for the season, which would exceed expectations, it won't significantly help you win your fantasy league. Instead, target young players with the potential to breakout and drastically exceed their expectations with your late-round picks. While the chances are high that you might cut them from your roster, Bourne will seldom make your lineup anyway, so it's better to shoot for the moon with a player who offers more breakout potential.

TE Hunter Henry
(2023 TE Rank – 19, 9.2 FPts/G)

Hunter Henry is once again expected to lead the Patriots' depth chart this season, and fantasy managers should expect him to finish somewhere between 10th and 20th at his position. This range of potential outcomes might seem wide, but in reality, especially at tight end, it can come down to one or two touchdowns over the entire year. There are only a handful of tight ends who make a significant difference for their fantasy squads, and beyond that, it's a guessing game on which player will sneak into the end zone each week.

Henry lacks the physical ability to be an elite difference-maker at this point in his career, and his questionable health history adds to the risk. Additionally, he is still stuck in an inefficient New England offense that is projected to finish near the bottom of the league in both pass attempts and efficiency.

With Austin Hooper still on the roster and taking more snaps than ideal, Henry doesn't offer enough upside to be a strong fantasy option this season. While he may have a few games with big numbers, the inconsistency in his performance means you might not have him in your lineup when he has that magical two-touchdown game.

Henry is a fine TE2, particularly in leagues where you start more than one tight end per week, but otherwise, he’s someone you probably won’t regret avoiding in drafts this season.

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