The New England Patriots have historically been a source of fantasy football gold. Tom Brady is always among the top fantasy quarterbacks. Rob Gronkowski is the best tight end in the NFL, and Julian Edelman is a perennial top-20 wide receiver. Where the Pats traditionally frustrate fantasy owners is at the running back spot.
However, the only sure consistency this year is that fantasy owners will once again be frustrated by Patriots running backs. The rest remain question marks. Tom Brady's suspension will lower his value, but how much? It probably lowers Gronk's and Edelman's as well, but how will they be affected? How will Jimmy Garropolo perform as Brady's replacement?
Interesting questions to be sure, but only time will tell. Gronk is still a first-round pick. Edelman is still a solid WR1 if healthy. And Brady should be great when he returns if you can hold on until then.
Here are TJ's 2016 fantasy football projections for the New England Patriots:
Tom Brady - 3800 yards, 28 TDs, 6 ints.
Brady started last season's Gronk-you tour on fire, but he tailed off toward the end. I expect when he returns this year he'll be a madman again, and I don't know if his season will be long enough for him to tail off much at all. Draft the ageless one and pair him with a Rivers type for the first month of the season. You won't regret it.
LeGarrette Blount (RB) - 800 Yards, 8 TDs.
With Dion Lewis (RB-NE) out for a significant amount of time, one would presume the running back job in New England is LeGarrette Blount's to lose. And I'm assuming that, but you never know with Belichick and backs. Blount is a bruiser who should score a few touchdowns. In fact, TJ's touchdown projection for Blount could be a little low - if Blount is the guy. You just never know with Belichick and running backs. I will say this with certainty, Blount will either be a stud or a dud. Did I say you never know? I'm drafting Blount, but I'm doing so at my own risk.
Julian Edelman (WR) - 90 rec., 1000 yards, 7 tds.
The reports out of Pats' camp are that Edelman is looking good. Because of the Brady suspension and Edelman's injury history, you might be able to get him cheap. His current average draft position (ADP) is 41, or the 18th receiver off the board. That's not a bad place, but it's not great value either with all of the if's. In a PPR (point per reception) league, he's fine as a fourth rounder, but I'd try and wait until the fifth in a standard league.
Rob Gronkowski (TE) - 76 Rec., 1100 Yards, 10 TDs.
He's Gronk. Draft him!
It doesn't matter who's throwing the ball to him. He's easily a mid to late first rounder. If you don't draft him, someone else will and you'll be sorry.
Sleeper/bust - Danny Amendola.
More than anything I didn't want to pick Danny Amendola as the sleeper this year. Not because I don't like Amendola, I do, but because I pick Danny Amendola every year. So in keeping with tradition, and because Edelman is something of a question mark, I'm saying draft Danny Amendola as your Patriots sleeper this year. If I'm wrong, he's my bust and I've saved about 150 words writing about someone else.
The Patriots will be contenders again this year. They always are. I'm sure Belichick & Co. have answers for all these question marks, and I can't wait to learn what they are.