Forgot Log-in or  Password? |  Help  Not a member, Register Now!
      
Fantasy Football Today
Fantasy Football Today Blog
Gameday Inactives
2014 Draft Prep Guide
Downloadable Draft Kit
Mock Drafts
Get Your Draft Board
Player News
Stats
Players
Depth Charts
Roster Trends
Columns
Injury Report
Projections
Rankings
Schedules
Scores
Fantasy Games
Playoff Challenge
Commissioner
Prize Leagues
Free
Office Pool Manager
Game Pick'em
Player Challenge
Fantasy Baseball Today
Fantasy Baseball Today Blog
2015 Draft Prep Guide
Mock Drafts
Player News
Stats
Players
Depth Charts
Roster Trends
Columns
Injury Report
Rankings
Projections
Schedules
Probable Pitchers
Scores
Standings
Fantasy Games
Commissioner
Free
Prize Leagues
Player News
Stats
Players
Columns
Injuries
Projections
Rankings
Schedules
Message Boards
Fantasy Games
Commissioner
Free
Player News
Stats
Players
Columns
Injury Report
Projections
Rankings
Schedules
Mock Drafts
Scores
Standings
Fantasy Games
Commissioner
Free
Prize Leagues
Downloadable Draft Kit
Player News
Stats
Players
Columns
Injury Report
Projections
Rankings
Schedules
Mock Drafts
Scores
Standings
Fantasy Games
Commissioner
Free
Prize Leagues
No Fantasy Teams Found
 
 
 

2014 Fantasy Outlooks: New England Patriots

Senior Fantasy Writer
  •  

It's amazing to watch the Patriots be so consistently dominant year in and year out. Making it to the AFC Championship Game in 2013 was really an incredible feat given what they had to overcome.

The Patriots reached their conference final despite losing Wes Welker as a free agent, Rob Gronkowski to a torn ACL and watching their starting running back in Stevan Ridley fumble his way to the bench. On defense, they were without standout linemen in Vince Wilfork (Achilles) and Tommy Kelly (knee) and starting middle linebacker Jerod Mayo (chest).

They are expected to be at full strength this season, including one significant upgrade with the addition of cornerback Darrelle Revis. The Patriots also added Brandon Browner, meaning this secondary -- and entire defensive unit -- could be nasty.

We're obviously more concerned with the offensive side of the ball, and we hope Gronkowski will make a full recovery in time for training camp. All eyes will also be on Ridley to make sure he's starting and, more importantly, not fumbling. And we'll see who the No. 2 receiver is behind Julian Edelman because that player could be a sleeper.

It should be another successful campaign for the Patriots again in 2014. Maybe this time it will end in another Super Bowl run.

A potentially dominant backfield ... Shane Vereen/Stevan Ridley

What you're about to read might be more bold than my "bold statement" further down, but the Patriots backfield will be the best backfield for Fantasy owners this year. That's right, I said it.

Now, we're talking a utopia here, which requires Vereen staying healthy and Ridley not fumbling. If that happens then both should be dominant.

Vereen would have been a star in 2013 if not for a broken wrist in Week 1. If you project his stats over 16 games he would have finished with 88 carries for 408 yards and two touchdowns and 94 catches for 854 yards and six touchdowns. Those stats would have made Vereen a Top 15 Fantasy running back last year, and that's what he's capable of producing if he can stay healthy all season.

Ridley couldn't get out of his own way last season because of fumble problems, and LeGarrette Blount eventually took over as the primary rusher. But Blount is gone now, and Ridley should bounce back in a contract year. He had 1,263 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns in 2012 to finish as a Top 10 Fantasy running back, and he can easily repeat that performance. New England was No. 2 in rushing touchdowns last year with 19, so Ridley is again a candidate for double digits in scores.

We hope to see the best of both running backs this season, and they could both finish as Top 15 Fantasy options based on their roles. Brandon Bolden and James White could impact Vereen and Ridley, and then there's Bill Belichick, who can always throw owners a curve. But I'd gamble on Vereen in Round 4 of a standard league (Round 3 in PPR) and Ridley in Round 5 or 6. I'm confident this will be a great season for each running back.

Worth waiting for ... Tom Brady

If you wanted Brady last season you had a pay a relatively hefty price based on his Average Draft Position, which was No. 27 overall on CBSSports.com. You could justify that then since Brady was coming off three consecutive seasons as a Top 3 Fantasy quarterback.

But he was a letdown, finishing No. 13 in Fantasy points last year, and he never appeared to get into a rhythm with his entire receiving corps. He was without Vereen, Gronkowski and Danny Amendola for significant stretches, and Amendola was a bust in his first year in New England.

Brady will bounce back in 2014, possibly in a big way. If Gronkowski and Aaron Dobson (foot) are healthy for Week 1, Brady would have his five best receiving options in Gronkowski, Edelman, Vereen, Amendola and Dobson. He had that group together for all of two games in Week 11 at Carolina and Week 12 vs. Denver. The Broncos game ended up being his second-best performance of the year with 29 Fantasy points. His best game was Week 9 against the Steelers when only Vereen was out.

Brady is likely going to fall to you on Draft Day this year. If you're inclined to wait on quarterback -- which is the right move to make -- he should be available after Round 5. And if his receivers stay healthy, don't be surprised if he's back as a Top 3 Fantasy quarterback again when the season is over.

Worth the gamble ... Rob Gronkowski

2013 Touches Leaders
850 total touches
Stevan Ridley 188 (178 car., 10 rec.) 22.1%
LeGarrette Blount 155 (153 car., 2 rec.) 18.2%
Julian Edelman 107 (2 car., 105 rec.) 12.6%
Shane Vereen 91 (44 car. 47 rec.) 10.7%
Brandon Bolden 76 (55 car. 21 rec.) 8.9%
All Others 233 27.4%

I love Jimmy Graham, but when Gronkowski is healthy he's the best Fantasy tight end. The problem is he's been limited to 18 games the past two seasons because of forearm, back and knee injuries, and he's coming off last year's torn ACL.

We hope he's fine for the start of training camp, which would alleviate many concerns for Fantasy owners, but based on last year when he missed the first six games, there are no guarantees he'll even start in Week 1.

There's no denying Gronkowski's success. He started 38 games in his first three seasons and scored 38 touchdowns. In 2011 he was a monster with 90 catches for 1,327 yards and 17 touchdowns. He was on pace last season for 89 catches, 1,353 yards and nine touchdowns, and those stats would have placed him No. 2 at tight in Fantasy points behind Graham in a standard league.

There's a lot of risk involved with Gronkowski now because of his injuries, but he's still worth drafting in Round 4 in standard leagues and Round 3 in PPR formats. When he's healthy he'll dominate, and if he plays 16 games then the reward is off the charts. No player will match his production if you draft him in Round 4 or later.

Schedule analysis

The Patriots open on the road with two straight games at Miami and Minnesota and three of their first four with a Week 4 matchup at Kansas City. Things lighten up with three consecutive home games against the Jets, Bears and Broncos before the bye in Week 10, but they'll be tested with three games in 12 days against Cincinnati on Oct. 5, at Buffalo on Oct. 12 and against the Jets on Oct. 16. The Fantasy playoffs are against Miami in Week 15 and at the Jets in Week 16, and Brady had 15 Fantasy points combined against those teams in those venues last year. Ouch.

Training camp battles

Who's the No. 3 running back? We know Ridley and Vereen are locked into their roles, but the No. 3 running back for the Patriots could be a sleeper in deeper leagues. Bolden and White will compete for the job, and Bolden should have the inside edge based on experience. This is a battle to watch, especially if Ridley has fumble problems again, because Blount was a star when he took over for Ridley last year. In his final seven games, including the playoffs, Blount had 80 carries for 570 yards and nine touchdowns.

What's the pecking order at receiver? Edelman is New England's No. 1 Fantasy receiver, and he's worth drafting in Round 5 in standard leagues and Round 4 in PPR formats. But after Edelman, it's up in the air who is No. 2 for Fantasy owners. It should be Amendola, but he was awful last season and could struggle with Edelman and Gronkowski healthy. Dobson is a sleeper since he's probably the best outside threat, but this nagging foot injury is problematic. Brandon LaFell, Josh Boyce and Kenbrell Thompkins will also play a role, and the Patriots will likely mix and match this entire group. Only Edelman is worth drafting in the majority of leagues, but we'd rank the rest of the group heading into camp as Amendola, Dobson, LaFell, Thompkins and Boyce. Dobson could overtake Amendola if he shows up on time at 100 percent.

Bold prediction

Julius Thomas is a great tight end, and Vernon Davis has proven to be a star. But this is a conversation about Gronkowski and Graham when it comes to the No. 1 Fantasy tight end. And if Gronkowski plays 16 games, he will be No. 1 again.

The last time both were healthy was 2011 when Gronkowski had 232 Fantasy points in a standard league and Graham had 187. Both were in their second season in the NFL then, and it's the closest thing we have to a fair comparison based on injuries. Graham has since finished No. 1 in back-to-back years, but his best season was 2013 at 217 points, which falls a little short of Gronkowski's top performance.

Graham could suffer this season with a potential holdout with his contract, which could give Gronkowski the edge. And if you buy into Gronkowski this season the value is better with him since Graham will be drafted in the first round and Gronkowski in Round 4.

I hope we see both guys for 16 games because the battle for the top spot would be fun to watch. But if I had a crystal ball and knew Gronkowski would be healthy for sure, I'd take him as the No. 1 player at his position. His ceiling is higher, but unfortunately he also has a lower floor based on his injury history.

Injury report

Rob Gronkowski (knee), questionable for start of season. ... Aaron Dobson (foot), questionable for start of training camp. ... Dominique Easley (knee), questionable for start of training camp. ... Tommy Kelly (knee), questionable for start of training camp. ... Vince Wilfork (Achilles), questionable for start of training camp. ... Will Smith (knee), probable for start of training camp. ... Jerod Mayo (chest), probable for start of training camp

Get player news notifications, manage your team and check scores
- all updated in real time. Download the CBS Fantasy App.

  •  
 
CBSSports Facebook Google Plus
COMMENTS
Conversation powered by Livefyre
 
 
Player News
Report: Giants Jason Pierre-Paul hurt in fireworks accident
by Elliott Smith | Staff Writer
(7/5/2015) Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul reportedly hurt his hand in a Fourth of July fireworks accident in Miami, according to the Daily News

The paper reports that the injury is not considered career-threatening, but that varying accounts of what happened have been reported. The Giants have not confirmed nor denied the incident. 

The Giants applied the franchise tag to Pierre-Paul this offseason, but the 26-year-old has not yet signed it as he seeks a long-term deal, meaning that he technically is not under contract. 

Pierre-Paul had 53 tackles and 12 1/2 sacks last year for New York. 


Report: Torn pectoral sidelines Vikings CB Josh Robinson
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(7/4/2015) The Vikings secondary took a hit last month when cornerback Josh Robinson sustained a partially torn pectoral muscle, a league source has told ESPN.

The nickel back played in 690 snaps last season and was expected to battle several others for playing time. The injury could sideline him from training camp and land him on the PUP list.


Report: Packers' Andrew Quarless arrested on gun charges
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(7/4/2015) Packers tight end Andrew Quarless was arrested for firing a gun twice in Miami on Saturday, per the Miami New Times.

Quarless was involved in a fight at South Beach and fired the gun into the ground. 


Titans receivers can thrive in YAC with Marcus Mariota's accuracy
by Ruben Palacios | Staff Writer
(7/3/2015) The Titans wide receiving corps could gain more yards after the catch this season because of rookie quarterback Marcus Mariota and his accurate throws, per ESPN.com.

The Titans were 24th in the league in yards after the catch last season, but with Mariota under center that can all change.

“If you have an accurate quarterback, it allows us to get more yards after that catch,” wide receiver Harry Douglas said. “And that’s one thing that makes a receiver dynamic -- first being able to catch the ball and then being able to do some things with it after you catch it. I feel like [to this point] Marcus has done everything he needs to do to get the ball to his receivers.”


Saints RB Khiry Robinson doesn't feel he's on outside looking in
by Ruben Palacios | Staff Writer
(7/3/2015) Saints running back Khiry Robinson might be the least known of his backfield counterparts, but he doesn't feel like the off man out, per ESPN.com.

Robinson knows the team is heavily invested in the likes of Mark Ingram and C.J. Spiller, but he's still confident he can thrive in whatever role the Saints put him in.

“I’m the type of person, I’m gonna get what I get and do what I do with it. So whether it’s 20 carries or one carry, I’m gonna do the best of my ability every play,” Robinson said.

Robinson has shown flashes of success during his three years in the league. Injuries played a key role against him last season, which can ultimately put him as the third back on the depth chart. He will use the offseason to continue to improve and challenge his counterparts for playing time.

“I just gotta keep working,” Robinson. “It’s all love in the backfield. We all work together, try to help each other. So I think it’s a good thing we’ve got a full backfield again. So if anybody goes down, we’ve got another player right up there to do the same thing.”


Browns OL Michael Bowie itching to compete for starting spot
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(7/3/2015) Browns offensive lineman Michael Bowie is not required to report to training camp until the end of July. But never mind that - he's heading out after the last Independence Day firework explodes in the sky.

Bowie is itching to get started. He missed all of last season due to a shoulder injury after starting for Seattle on its Super Bowl title team in 2013. He is seeking to stay in tip-top shape in an attempt to land a starting spot on a Cleveland line that is the strength of the team.

"It's up to them to decide who is the best five," Bowie told the team website. "All I can do is take care of my business. Hopefully I can get a shot. That's what I'm working for."

Bowie participated fully in the offseason program, working mostly with the second team at right tackle. That will likely be the spot at which he competes for a starting job. Incumbent Mitchell Schwartz has not performed particularly well there and Mike Pettine has vowed there will be competition all over the field in camp.


Redskins OLB Ryan Kerrigan nearly recovered from knee surgery
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(7/3/2015) Redskins outside linebacker Ryan Kerrigan appears to be on target to join the team for training camp after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery that prevented him from participating in earlier offseason activities.

Kerrigan, who registered a career-high 13 1/2 sacks a year ago, had the operation to alleviate pain in the area.

"My leg feels really good and I'm glad I got the surgery - not just for football but it makes my everyday life feel better so I'm glad I got it done," he told CSN Washington. "Now it's just a matter of getting stronger and getting into shape."

Kerrigan added that he's been running and now only needs to regain strength to insure his place at training camp.


Texans waive DT Brandon Ivory
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(7/2/2015) The Texans waived rookie defensive tackle Brandon Ivory on Thursday, according to ESPN.com

Ivory was arrested on first degree burglary charges in Tuscaloosa, Ala. just one day ago. Ivory's agent Jeff Guerriero said Ivory is not guilty of the charge. 

"I spoke to Brandon he is not guilty and his name will be cleared of all charges," Guerriero said. 


Chargers TE Antonio Gates suspended 4 games for PED use
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(7/2/2015) Chargers tight end Antonio Gates has been suspended four games for violating the NFL's performance-enhancing drugs policy, the team announced. 

It's unknown at this time what drug Gates tested positive for. Gates, in a statement, said he was unaware that he took a banned substance

"In my 12 years in the NFL, I have taken tremendous pride in upholding the integrity of the NFL shield and all that it entails," Gates said. "I have taken extreme care of my body with a holistic approach and I have never knowingly ingested a substance that was banned by the NFL. In an effort to recover from this past season, I used supplements and holistic medicines, and unfortunately, I have now learned that those substances always present a risk because they may contain banned substances even if the ingredient list doesn’t reflect them.

"As an NFL veteran and team leader, I should have done my due diligence to ensure that what I was taking for recovery was within the NFL guidelines. I understand that I am responsible for what is in my body and I have always believed that ignorance is no excuse when it comes to these issues. I take full responsibility for my actions. I’d like to express my sincere apologies to the Chargers, my teammates, coaches, fans and the league who have always supported me and expected and gotten nothing but the highest level of integrity from me."

With Gates out for four games, the Chargers will turn to Ladarius Green as the team's top tight end, though it was expected for Green to continue getting more looks in the passing game. Green is entering the final season of his rookie contract. 

The Chargers expressed disappointment in Gates for his suspension but plans to stick with the longtime veteran through the suspension. 

"We are tremendously disappointed for our team and our fans as well as Antonio, but no more disappointed than Antonio is with himself," the Chargers stated. "Antonio is a member of the Chargers' family and we will continue to support him 100-percent. We have the utmost confidence he will stay in excellent shape for the season and be ready to go when he returns in Week 5. While it's unfortunate to not have him to start the season, we have complete confidence our tight end group will continue to play at a high level."  


Packers' Datone Jones out 1 game for substance-abuse violation
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(7/2/2015) Packers defensive lineman Datone Jones will be suspended for one game for violating the NFL's substance-abuse policy, according to NFL.com. 

Jones will miss Green Bay's season-opener against the Bears. In 2014, Jones totaled 22 tackles and 1 1/2 sacks in 13 games played. 


 
 
 
Rankings