By Adam Filadelfo (@Frostt24)
Moving over to the AFC East again, let's take a look at the defending
division champions, the New England Patriots. With all the weapons and
talent the Patriots supposedly had heading into the 2013 season, not too
many Patriots players came through for fantasy owners. There were a few
that contributed last season and quite a few that are expected to
contribute in 2014. Let's take a look.
Tom Brady- Brady had his worst fantasy season since 2008 and that was
because he missed the entire season with a torn ACL. Whether it was
regression on Brady's part or the lack of dependable receivers, Brady
let fantasy owners down big time. He only averaged less than 20 fantasy
points per game but should have a better 2014 if the receivers around
him step up.
Stevan Ridley- Ridley wasn't dependable each week for fantasy owners
simply because he was in Bill Belichick's dog house due to fumbling
issues. When Ridley was active for the Patriots, it was still difficult
to trust him since the Patriots used multiple running backs at any given
time. He averaged nine fantasy points per game which was second behind
Shane Vereen for the team lead. This season may get a little more
crowded with the addition of James White. The writing could be on the
wall for Ridley this season if he can't hold onto the ball.
Shane Vereen- Vereen could have ended the 2013 season with much better
numbers had he not missed eight games with a wrist injury. When healthy,
Vereen averaged double digit fantasy points and was a monster in PPR
formats. There's plenty of reasons to be optimistic regarding Shane
Vereen in 2014 provided he doesn't miss half of the season again. His
job should be safe since he is a weapon out of the backfield and the
other backs New England currently have are not.
Brandon Bolden- Bolden looked good in a few games he played in with the
absence of Shane Vereen but provided no value at all once Vereen
returned from his injury. Bolden was used more out of the backfield as a
receiver and averaged six fantasy points per game which isn't very
useful considering he was supposed to occupy the role of Shane Vereen
and catch passes. Heading into 2014, Bolden probably doesn't hold much
James White- The fourth round rookie out of Wisconsin will probably be
buried on the depth chart at least until preseason games start but could
play an important role when the season starts. Ridley's fumbling issues
are well known and James White can easily get the lead back job knowing
Belichick will not put up with Ridley coughing up the ball
consistently. White's college numbers weren't bad at all as he rushed
for over 4,000 yards and 45 touchdowns in his four years at Wisconsin.
White could be a sleeper heading into the 2014 season but New England
running backs are so hard to trust on a week to week basis.
Danny Amendola- Quite possibly the biggest fantasy bust of the 2013
season, Amendola played in 12 games and only managed 54 receptions and
633 yards to go with just two touchdowns. He averaged just over six
fantasy points per game in a role where he was expected to flourish with
Welker gone. Even when Amendola was healthy, he provided little fantasy
value and could be on his way out of New England with another
Aaron Dobson- Dobson played in 11 games in 2013 and like Amendola,
provided little fantasy value in his rookie season. He did average more
fantasy points on a per game basis than Amendola and could be poised to
take the next step in his second season.
Josh Boyce- Another useless fantasy player in 2013, Boyce participated
in just six games and provided absolutely no fantasy value whatsoever.
Maybe Boyce can take the next step in 2014, but until he proves he can
make plays on a consistent basis, fantasy owners will quickly forget who
he is if they even know at this point.
Kenbrell Thompkins- One of the few bright spots at the wide receiver
position for the Patriots in 2013, Thompkins at least showed he can
provide fantasy owners with some value. He finished last season with 32
catches for 466 yards and four scores. He barely broke six fantasy
points per game but again, at least he showed fantasy owners he's worth
looking at in later rounds of their fantasy drafts.
Brandon LaFell- Coming over from Carolina, LaFell just couldn't take the
next step for fantasy owners. LaFell finished with 49 receptions for
627 yards and would have been the second leading receiver for the
Patriots in 2013 behind Julian Edelman. Fantasy owners are expecting
Brandon LaFell to finally reach his potential now that he's catching
passes from Tom Brady.
Julian Edelman- Edelman was the Patriots leading receiver in 2013 and
considering he almost didn't make the team to start the season, that's
pretty impressive. Edelman took over Wes Welker's role when the Patriots
were planning on having Amendola for that. Edelman finished last season
with over 100 catches and over 1,000 yards. He will be a mid round
draft pick in 2014 and in PPR formats, should be a beast again. Even if
the other receivers take steps forward, Edelman will still be fantasy
relevant since Brady trusts him and the two of them have some chemistry
together. Expect another productive season from Julian Edelman in 2014.
Rob Gronkowski- Any guesses as to which body part Gronk has surgery on
next? A healthy Gronk means big things for one of the two best tight
ends in fantasy football and in the seven games Gronk did play in last
season, he averaged almost 12 fantasy points per game. Gronk will be the
second tight end off fantasy boards in 2014 but he is still difficult
to trust since he's always hurt. As of now, it looks like Gronk is on
track to start the season. Provided he doesn't need another surgery
between now and September.
D/ST- While many fantasy owners may tend to shy away from the Patriots
defense, they always seem to come up with turnovers and that obviously
produces fantasy points. Most owners are scared off due to the fact the
Patriots defense tends to have a bend but don't break mentality. They
give up a ton of yards and a lot of points and that costs fantasy owners
points. 2014 may bring a different approach when it comes to choosing a
fantasy defense. With the additions to the secondary in Revis and
Brandon Browner, plus the defensive line having stud playmakers like
Mayo Jamie Collins, Hightower and Chandler Jones with another season
user their belts, the Patriots defense may surprise some fantasy owners