Injuries create opportunity.
New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez exited Sunday’s game against the Arizona Cardinals and never returned. ProFootballTalk then tweeted this report that didn’t ignite optimism about a quick recovery.
Source with knowledge says Pats tight end Aaron Hernandez could miss up to six weeks with ankle injury.— ProFootballTalk (@ProFootballTalk) September 16, 2012
If Hernandez misses as much time as he’s expected to, with targets up for grabs, multiple Patriots receivers will be in position to emerge. Here they are—the weapons that could blow up with Hernandez out.
3. Daniel Fells
Naturally, as Hernandez’s backup, no one on this Pats offense will see their role expand as much as Fells.
The 28-year-old is primarily a blocking tight end. He’s also never caught more than 41 receptions for 391 yards and three touchdowns in a season. With that being said, when Tom Brady and company march into the red zone (a feat which they accomplish quite a bit), the 6’4”, 265-pound Fells will prove to be a quality safety valve.
2. Julian Edelman
Again, Fells is a blocking tight end. As a result, New England is unlikely to run two-tight end sets as often as it did with a healthy Hernandez. Bill Belichick is more likely to throw another slot onto the field as opposed to having Fells running routes across from Rob Gronkowski.
That’s where Edelman comes in.
He caught five passes for 50 yards against the Cards after being targeted just twice against the Tennessee Titans.
1. Wes Welker
Sticking with the slot theme, Welker’s numbers should receive a boost as well.
His fantasy football owners weren’t happy with his three-reception, 14-yard performance in Week 1. That’s not even PPR worthy. However, his five targets against the Titans turned into five receptions for 95 yards vs. the Cardinals.
Expect Welker to return to form thanks to what should be plenty of more looks.
David Daniels is a featured columnist at Bleacher Report and a syndicated writer.