Sunday, June 17, 2012

32 in 32: New England Patriots

The Patriots were beaten, once again, by the lowly Giants, but doesn't make their team any less valuable from a fantasy prospective...unless you think that Brady is going to have another catastrophic injury. The Patriots defense generates plenty of turnovers, but I still don't know that this unit is worthy of being drafted. Perhaps once all of the big defenses are gone, feel free to take a look at this DST, but certainly don't draft them early.

Fortunately, the defense doesn't have to be good, because Tom Brady is. You can hate on Brady all you want, but that doesn't make him a bad quarterback. His numbers last season were amazing, but definitely look for them to drop a little bit this season. There is very little chance that the Patriots' defense will be as bad as the were last season, so Brady won't be asked to throw the ball quite as much. 4,600 to 4,700 yards is probably what you are going to get out of him, with a touchdown number in the mid-thirties. Tom Brady is starting to look more and more like my number-two ranked fantasy quarterback, since Drew Brees is still holding out over his contract situation, and the Lions hare having personnel difficulties. Of course, none of this matters to me, since I would rank Brady somewhere between 8th and 10th overall, and he will probably be drafted somewhere between 4th and 6th. If you don't like MJD and Ryan Mathews, though, you could be looking at Tom Brady with value; especially if Drew Brees or Cam Newton gets picked ahead of him. If it is the right move for you, pounce on it. If you don't think it is the right move, there are plenty of good-enough quarterbacks in the later stages. Hell, you can win this game with an Alex Smith-like quarterback. Last season I won my leagues with Tim Tebow and Philip Rivers, although I did nab Stafford in the 5th round of one league and won that championship handily.

Steven Ridley should be the starting running back on this team, and I like Ridley going into this season. You'll get him in the mid to late rounds, and there isn't a whole lot of competition from other backs on this team. Danny Woodhead is a situational player, for the most part, and Joseph Addai is way, way past his time. You always have to worry about drafting a Patriots running back, but Ridley is big, young, and sported a 5.1 ypc average last season. Ridley will have some limited flex value if he can get 15-20 carries per game this season. There will probably be a few games where he sees below ten carries, but I think he will be solid for most of the season. I'll give him a shot just after Donald Brown in the fantasy draft.

Wes Welker is going to be the highest draft Patriots receiver, but I'm not sure he's worth it. I know he is coming off a 1,500 yard season, but the Patriots started last season with basically no one at WR. Brandon Lloyd is (slightly) younger, Jabar Gaffney is coming off a 900 yard season with the Redskins, and Deion Branch is always a favorite of Tom Brady's. When you consider that Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez are also going to be ready to roll, there just aren't 1,500 receiving yards for Welker to have. There is no way I'm drafting Welker ahead of Gronkowski, since Gronk should have about 900-1000 yards and 10-15 touchdowns. Welker won't come close to that TD production (9 is the most he has ever had in a season, and that took 1,500 yards). Welker will probably have 1,100 yards and 7 touchdowns, making him a low end WR1. Brandon Lloyd could have a similar number of yards and scores, but will be drafted much later than Welker. Hernandez could ALSO have 900 yards and 7-10 scores, but carries much more value as a tight end. The point is, drafting Welker will be a let-down. Use your second pick on a player with more upside and less competition. Brandon Marshall comes to mind as a player who fits that mold.

Steven Gostkowski is pretty damn good. Draft him confidently.

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