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Andrew Swanson | Archive | Email |
Staff Writer

2019 Player Outlooks: New England Patriots

Sony Michel

The RB To Own In NE?: The drafting of Damien Harris casts a shadow on Sony Michel's fantasy value.

QB Tom Brady
(2018 QB Rank - No.17, 21.8 FPts/G)

Tom Brady is a first-ballot Hall of Famer. He owns nearly every record in the book and is widely considered to be the greatest quarterback of all time. But for fantasy purposes, the days of Brady being a QB1 appear to be over, as the Patriots continue to evolve into a run-oriented offense.

As the 17th-ranked quarterback in fantasy points per game, with 29 touchdowns and 11 interceptions, Brady performed on par with Dak Prescott, Philip Rivers, and Russell Wilson, but he was nearly five points per game behind the elite performers at the position. Although Brady continues to play excellent football well into his 40s, the offensive scheme for the Patriots is not set up to require Brady to throw the ball a ton. The Pats will look to play solid defense, run the ball effectively, and take apart defenses with a short and accurate passing attack.

For fantasy purposes, Bradyís floor does make him a nice, reliable option to pair with a more volatile option like Jameis Winston or Kyler Murray.

RB Sony Michel
(2018 RB Rank - No.24, 10.3 FPts/G)

With six touchdowns in the NFL playoffs and five games of over 110 rushing yards in 2018, Sony Michel lived up to his first-round draft stock and proved to be a vital key in New Englandís Super Bowl victory over the Rams.

Early projections after the 2018 season ended appeared to have Michel jumping up into high-end RB2 consideration, but those bullish feelings on the second-year back from Georgia flamed out with the news of Michelís offseason knee scope and the Patriots selection of Damien Harris 87th overall in the 2019 NFL draft.

There is always a ton of fantasy value to be found on the Patriots, a team that has finished in the top five in total fantasy production at the running back position in three of the last four years. If Michel is fully recovered from his knee scope, his fourth-round draft ADP is well worth the cost as he will likely be a touchdown scoring machine. However, owners need to consider the addition of Harris and what he could mean to the volume of Michel on the ground.

RB James White
(2018 RB Rank - No.16, 11.9 FPts/G)

Only Christian McCaffrey logged more targets at the running back position than James White, and only Kareem Hunt matched Whiteís touchdown production in the passing game (7). Instead of viewing White as a running back, fantasy owners should consider him more of a wide receiver with running back eligibility, who may garner between 50 and 80 carries this season in addition to his passing work.

Negative regression is likely going to come Whites way, as the former Wisconsin Badger posted an increase of 51 targets from the previous season. But his role in the offense is clear, and his rapport with Brady is undeniable, making him an excellent low-end RB in half-point and full-point PPR formats. It should also be noted that the retirement of tight end Rob Gronkowski will change the offensive scheme for the team, and could lead to more targets for White and Julian Edelman.

RB Damien Harris
(2018 RB Rank - N/A)

The Patriots used the 87th pick of the 2019 NFL draft to select running back Damien Harris from the University of Alabama, a 5í10Ē, 216 tailback who posted 876 yards and nine rushing touchdowns in a timeshare with Josh Jacobs.

Patriots head coach Bill Belichick and Alabama head coach Nick Saban have a close relationship and share information about players and schemes, leading us to believe that the Patriots took Harris for a reason and the team will utilize him this year.

The question, is, how much will Harris eat into the workload of Sony Michel, James White, and Rex Burkhead? The unknown production level for Harris makes him a draft and stash player this season, but an injury to Michel could make him a massive value for owners willing to take the plunge.

WR Julian Edelman
(2018 WR Rank - No.15, 11.0 FPts/G)

Edelman posted 74 catches for 850 yards and six touchdowns on 108 targets in just 12 games last season after missing the first month of action while serving a suspension. His 11.0 fantasy points per game where the second-most of his career, and he was on pace to set a career-high in receiving touchdowns.

With the retirement of Gronk and the unknown surrounding Josh Gordonís availability this year, Julian Edelman is the unquestioned No.1 WR for Tom Brady and the favorite target in the passing game after James White.

The fact that Edelman has yet to post more than seven touchdowns in a season of his career has always negated his value in non-PPR formats. However, his likely increase in volume with the absence of Gronk could make him of the best values of the fourth or fifth round.

WR NíKeal Harry
(2018 WR Rank - NA)

The Patriots did two very un-Patriot-like things in the last two NFL drafts by using a first-round pick on running back Sony Michel in 2018 and a subsequent first-round pick on NíKeal Harry in 2019.

At 6í2Ē, 230 pounds, Harry projects to be a red zone asset for Brady in the passing game on a team that lost arguably the best tight end in NFL history to retirement over the offseason. But offseason reports suggest that Harry has not shined in workouts this summer, and learning the Patriot offense is a formidable task for a rookie wide receiver.

WR Phillip Dorsett
(2018 WR Rank - No.96, 4.5 FPts/G)

Dorsett enters his fourth season as the often forgotten man in the Patriots wide receiving corps, with just three receiving touchdowns in 25 games with the team over the past two seasons.

Despite his low touchdown production, Dorsett continues to build a rapport with Brady and is currently ranked as the No.2 wide receiver on the depth chart. An injury to Julian Edelman would likely be required to hoist Dorsett into fantasy relevance in 12 team leagues, but he is someone to keep an eye on and could be a nice waiver pick midseason.

TE Ben Watson
(2018 TE Rank - NA

The Patriots lured Watson out of retirement to join the team and fill a void left by the departure of Rob Gronkowski.

Watson was ineffective for fantasy purposes last season with the Saints, posting just 35 catches for 400 yards and a touchdown. To make matters worse, he will miss the first four games for violating the league’s rules on performance-enhancing substances.

When he returns to the field, Watson will likely take over the starting role for Matt Lacosse. How significant that role will be is unknown at this time, but we do know that the tight end has always been a part of the Josh McDaniels offense.

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