Forgot Log-in or  Password? |  Help  Not a member, Register Now!
      
Fantasy Football Today
Gameday Inactives
Downloadable Draft Kit
Mock Drafts
Get Your Draft Board
Player News
Stats
Players
Depth Charts
Roster Trends
Columns
Injury Report
Projections
Rankings
Red Zone Stats
Teams
Schedules
Scores
Standings
Fantasy Games
Playoff Challenge
Commissioner
Prize Leagues
Free
Office Pool Manager
Game Pick'em
Player Challenge
Fantasy Baseball Today
2014 Draft Prep Guide
Downloadable Draft Kit
Mock Drafts
Player News
Stats
Players
Depth Charts
Roster Trends
Columns
Injury Report
Rankings
Projections
Teams
Schedules
Probable Pitchers
Scores
Standings
Fantasy Games
Commissioner
Free
Prize Leagues
Player News
Stats
Players
Columns
Injuries
Projections
Rankings
Teams
Schedules
Message Boards
Fantasy Games
Commissioner
Free
Player News
Stats
Players
Columns
Injury Report
Projections
Rankings
Teams
Schedules
Mock Drafts
Scores
Standings
Fantasy Games
Commissioner
Free
Prize Leagues
Downloadable Draft Kit
Player News
Stats
Players
Columns
Injury Report
Projections
Rankings
Teams
Schedules
Mock Drafts
Scores
Standings
Fantasy Games
Commissioner
Free
Prize Leagues
No Fantasy Teams Found
 
 
 

2011 Fantasy outlooks: New England Patriots

Senior Fantasy Writer
  •  

In 2010, Fantasy owners spent most of the year deciding on which tight end to start in New England between Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez. It became a frustrating exercise.

Hernandez opened the season as the better Fantasy option, but Gronkowski closed the year as a star. From Weeks 9-16, they alternated scoring touchdowns. If you picked up on the pattern, you knew which one to use.

This year, we hope there is more clarity. Going into the season, we recommend drafting Gronkowski first because he has the ability to score more touchdowns. In 2010, Gronkowski finished with 42 catches for 546 yards and 10 touchdowns on 59 targets. Hernandez, meanwhile, had 45 catches for 563 yards and six touchdowns on 64 targets.

Hernandez missed two games with a hip injury and could see an increase in his touchdowns by playing a full season, but we like Gronkowski as a more reliable target in the red zone. He had 15 red-zone targets and finished with nine touchdowns in 2010, while Hernandez had 12 red-zone targets and finished with six touchdowns.

Gronkowski should be drafted as a No. 1 Fantasy option with a pick around Round 8, and Hernandez should be drafted as a No. 2 tight end with a late-round pick. Both should be successful, but Gronkowski should produce more Fantasy points.

Now if that was the only dilemma in New England then we'd be OK. The Patriots made things difficult for Fantasy owners at the NFL Draft by selecting Shane Vereen in the second round and Stevan Ridley in the third round to make things confusing in their backfield with BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Danny Woodhead.

We'll address the running backs in our categories below, as well as the receivers with Wes Welker, Deion Branch and Brandon Tate. As for Tom Brady, at least he's guaranteed as a No. 1 Fantasy option in all formats.

He should be drafted in Round 2 after Michael Vick, Aaron Rodgers, Peyton Manning and Drew Brees come off the board. The only question when it comes to Brady is what his hair will look like Week 1.

Sleeper ... Deion Branch, WR

I've done several mock drafts with analysts from other sites this offseason, and generally I end up drafting Branch as my third or fourth receiver in Round 7 or later. These are leagues where receptions count for one point and you start three receivers. I know Branch will outperform that draft position. Santonio Holmes is a good comparison for Branch based on last year. If you recall, Holmes was suspended for the first four games of the season for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy, but he finished the year with 102 Fantasy points in a standard league. Branch, by comparison, started last year in Seattle, but he played 11 games for the Patriots – or one less than Holmes did with the Jets. Branch had 97 Fantasy points for New England. Now, Holmes is being drafted well ahead of Branch because it's assumed he has more upside. But if you want better value, wait a round or two later and draft Branch. He should be tremendous playing with Brady for a full season. Welker remains a solid Fantasy option as well, and he should be drafted as a No. 2 receiver as early as Round 4 in standard formats and Round 3 in point per reception leagues. And if Tate starts out the season proving that he can be a reliable deep threat for Brady then add him off the waiver wire, but Tate is not worth drafting in most formats.

Fantasy Value Chart
Player Draft Day value
Quarterbacks
Tom Brady
Running Backs
BenJarvus Green-Ellis
Danny Woodhead
Shane Vereen
Stevan Ridley
Wide Receivers
Wes Welker
Deion Branch
Brandon Tate
Julian Edelman
Taylor Price
Tight Ends
Rob Gronkowski
Aaron Hernandez
Alge Crumpler
Kicker/DST
Stephen Gostkowski
Patriots DST

Bust ... BenJarvus Green-Ellis, RB

Add Woodhead to this category because the Patriots will likely work Vereen and Ridley into the rotation after drafting them with high picks. This isn't like aging veterans in Fred Taylor and Sammy Morris or a bust like Laurence Maroney – these kids are expected to play. Green-Ellis was a star last season with 229 carries for 1,008 yards and 13 touchdowns. Even with just 12 catches for 85 yards he finished as the No. 15 Fantasy running back in standard leagues. Woodhead finished as the No. 28 Fantasy running back with 97 carries for 547 yards and five touchdowns and 34 catches for 379 yards and a touchdown. But Green-Ellis and Woodhead can expect a decline in production. Ridley could take away goal-line work from Green-Ellis, and Vereen can take away third-down work from Woodhead. Along with that, the Patriots might bring back Kevin Faulk, which will also hamper Woodhead. Now, it's not like Green-Ellis will lose his starting job. He still has value as a No. 3 Fantasy running back in standard leagues, and he's worth drafting in Round 5 or 6 at the earliest. But if you reach for him before then you are making a mistake. As for Woodhead, he should be drafted in Round 10 or 11 in standard leagues. If Faulk returns as a free agent, however, his value will decline even further.

Keeper-league target ... Shane Vereen, RB

Add Ridley to this category as well. The Patriots backfield in 2012 has the potential to be Ridley and Vereen sharing carries, but we like Vereen with more Fantasy value down the road. You're not going to see Vereen drafted in most standard formats, but he could be worth drafting with a late-round pick in point per reception leagues. And in dynasty and keeper leagues, you can draft Vereen with a mid-round pick. He was a star at Cal last year with 1,167 rushing yards and 13 touchdowns. As for Ridley, he is suited to work at the goal line and in short-yardage situations at 5-foot-11, 225 pounds. Like Vereen, he's not worth drafting in most seasonal leagues, but you can take him with a late-round flier in touchdown-only formats. He had at least one touchdown in 10 of 13 games for LSU last year.

Schedule breakdown

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17
@MIA SD @BUF @OAK NYJ DAL bye @PIT NYG @NYJ KC @PHI IND @WAS @DEN MIA BUF

If the Patriots are going to return to the playoffs this season, they'll have to earn it. Their early-season and late-season schedules are sweet, but in between they'll face five playoff teams from last season as part of a difficult eight-game stretch. The Pats will play road games at Pittsburgh, at the Jets and at Philadelphia. Granted, they dismantled the Steelers last year, but the Jets dismantled the Pats last January and gave defensive coordinators a lot to think about. The juicy silver lining: Their final four games are very appealing and should net some big stat totals -- assuming that the Pats are not resting any stars.

Training camp topics

2010 Touches Leaders
* includes postseason
Player Touches
BenJarvus Green-Ellis 252
Danny Woodhead 151
Wes Welker 93
Deion Branch 53
Aaron Hernandez 49
Rob Gronkowski 46

Three positions should keep Fantasy owners busy during training camp: Running back, tight end and third wide receiver.

At running back, you'll want to see how Vereen and Ridley are being used with Green-Ellis and Woodhead. At tight end, you'll want to watch the split in reps with Gronkowski and Hernandez. And at wide receiver, you'll want to see if Tate can make an impact in his third year.

The Patriots don't need much from their third receiver with the production they get from both tight ends and their running backs. But they do need a consistent deep threat, and Tate has the potential to be that guy. If he plays well in the preseason then his value will rise.

Injury update

Tom Brady (foot, probable for the start of training camp) … Aaron Hernandez (hip, probable for the start of training camp) … Kevin Faulk (knee, questionable for the start of training camp) … Stephen Gostkowski (thigh, questionable for the start of training camp)

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us via Twitter . You can also follow Jamey at @jameyeisenberg . Do you have a question or a comment for our Fantasy staff? Drop us a line at dmfantasyfootball@cbs.com .

  •  
 
 
CBSSports Facebook Google Plus
COMMENTS
Conversation powered by Livefyre
 
 
Player News
Chris Harris gains medical clearance
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(2:55 pm ET) Broncos cornerback Chris Harris has been cleared to start practicing on a limited basis, reports the Denver Post. Harris, who suffered a 30 percent ACL tear in the playoff win over the Chargers, got clearance from his surgeon, Dr. James Andrews.

"It passed," Harris said. "Everything’s OK. Everything’s good. I can feel like a teammate now."

Harris hopes to join individual and position drills this week, the paper said.


Sammy Watkins shows big catch radius
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(2:45 pm ET) Bills rookie receiver Sammy Watkins made a difficult sideline grab at practice in which he displayed a large catch radius. Anticipation continues to build about what the No. 4 overall pick will do this season.

"There’s a lot of excitement for Sammy," offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett said. "The good thing about Sammy is that he’s very humble and he’s brought a great level of competition to the group and to everybody. He gets us all excited.

"What he’s done is he has amped up the competition across the whole board. Even for the quarterbacks to get him the ball on time. His work ethic is going through the whole team. I think the guys really appreciate him because he is humble. It’s just fun to have him on the team. It’s just that simple."


Alshon Jeffery: 'I'm all right'
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(2:38 pm ET) Bears receiver Alshon Jeffery, who left practice early with a sore foot, said it's nothing to be concerned about. "I'm all right," he told the Chicago Tribune.

Bills' OC: C.J. Spiller needs the ball more
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(2:33 pm ET) Bills offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett said running back C.J. Spiller needs more touches. The comment came in response to a question about Spiller's yards per catch declining from 10.7 in 2012 to 5.6 last year.

"We just have to give him the ball more," Hackett said. "When you look at any situation when you have a player like C.J., you want to get him out there a whole bunch. You want to throw him the ball, you want to hand him the ball off and that’s one thing that we have to do. He’s a great player and we have to feature him just like we have to feature a lot of guys.

"It’s about getting more plays, getting more opportunities to get him out there, keeping the quarterback in there consistent and making sure we have a guy in there that knows what we want to do and keep him in there. We want to be able to distribute the ball across the field."


Odell Beckham's missed practices: Four and counting
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(2:24 pm ET) Giants rookie receiver Odell Beckham missed his fourth straight practice Monday with a hamstring injury, reports The Star Ledger. Coach Tom Coughlin is growing frustrated that the first-round pick is falling behind.

Beckham also missed a lot of spring workouts due to the injury.


Adrian Peterson: We won't be predictable this year
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(2:11 pm ET) Vikings running back Adrian Peterson sounds thrilled with the change in offensive coordinators from Bill Musgrave to Norv Turner.

"This is what I've been looking for the past seven years," Peterson told the St. Paul Pioneer Press. "And now I feel like we have an offense that fits our talent and what we have as far as the players at their positions and what they're able to do. I'm pretty excited for what Norv Turner is putting in for us. It's putting guys in opportunities to make plays and be more versatile as an offense. So I'm stoked about that."

Peterson said it's refreshing to play in an offense that's unpredictable.

"Not to take anything away from the coaches we had before, but just being more versatile as an offense," he said. "I just call it what it is. I feel in the past, we were predictable. You guys wrote stories about being predictable in the past seven years. You won't be able to write that story this year. That's pretty much all that I'm saying. You won't be able to do that because this offense is so versatile."


Dolphins let go of Michael Philipp
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(2:05 pm ET) The Dolphins released offensive lineman Michael Philipp.

Pierre Garcon leaves with sore hamstring
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(2:00 pm ET) Redskins receiver Pierre Garcon left practice early because of a sore right hamstring, but he's not concerned and neither is coach Jay Gruden.

"He’ll be OK,” Gruden told the Washington Post. Garcon said he felt some soreness and didn't think it was wise to push it.

"I’ll be good," Garcon said. "No need to rush."

The Redskins are off Tuesday before resuming practice Wednesday.


Giants set unrealistic goal for Eli Manning
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(1:55 pm ET) Giants quarterbacks coach Danny Langsdorf would like Eli Manning to complete 70 percent of his passes this year. While Manning is focused on improving his accuracy and will take fewer deep shots, the goal is unrealistic.

Manning has a career completion percentage of 58.5 and his career-best was 62.9 percent in 2010.

"We'd love to be up there at 70 percent," Langsdorf said, via the New York Daily News. "It hasn't been done very often. That's the ultimate goal. We'd like to raise his completion percentage for sure."

Only four players in NFL history have posted a completion percentage above 70. Manning has completed 70 percent of his throws in a single game just 15 times in 10 seasons.

"The high 60s is kind of the goal, to be in the top of the league," Manning said. "Sure it's realistic. It's a combination of the offense and the players we have."


Coaches want Shonn Greene to lose weight
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(1:41 pm ET) Titans coaches want running back Shonn Greene to lose 5-10 pounds, reports the Tennessean. Greene is coming back from arthroscopic knee surgery in May. He's listed at 5-11, 233 pounds.

The report did not say how much Greene weighs now.


 
 
 
Rankings