New England Patriots fifth-year receiver Julian Edelman continues to be a popular discussion topic in fantasy football circles after two weeks of football in 2013.
After the 27-year-old caught seven balls for 79 yards and two touchdowns in Week 1 against the Buffalo Bills, he posted 13 catches for 78 yards against the New York Jets on Thursday night in Foxborough.
It's worth mentioning that several players have already missed time for the Patriots due to injury. Tight end Rob Gronkowski has yet to see the football field, while receiver Danny Amendola, tight end Zach Sudfeld and multipurpose back Shane Vereen missed Thursday's game (Vereen won't return until at least Week 11, per Lindsay H. Jones of USA Today Sports).
Amendola—who was signed in the offseason to replace the departed Wes Welker in the slot—caught 10 balls for 104 yards against the Bills. Gronkowski has made the Pro Bowl the past two years, racking up a combined 145 catches for 2,117 yards and 27 touchdowns along the way. Sudfeld was raising eyebrows in the offseason before pulling a hamstring against the Bills. And Vereen caught seven balls for 58 yards (to go with 101 on the ground) in Buffalo before being placed on injured reserve.
Even with Amendola potentially missing two to six weeks and Vereen being out until at least Week 11, Gronkowski could be back soon. According to ESPN's Mike Reiss, he could be back as soon as next week's game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. You don't need me to tell you what the return of Gronkowski could do to Edelman's targets.
For the moment, Edelman has been a solid WR2 in standard leagues, perhaps even a WR1 in PPR leagues. He's much more valuable in points-per-reception leagues (20 catches on 27 targets through Week 2), but he's also been an asset in standard leagues, putting up decent yardage numbers (157 receiving yards) while scoring a couple of touchdowns.
Will Julian Edelman continue to produce at a high rate moving forward?
His targets will undoubtedly take a hit when Gronkowski and Sudfeld return, but his performance in Week 1 despite the presence of Amendola suggests he should still put up WR3 numbers with the whole crew back together again.
Edelman's fantasy prospects are fairly difficult to project given Tom Brady's ability to spread the ball around and Bill Belichick's notorious tendency to keep any information whatsoever away from the media, but there's no question he's gained the trust of the Patriots organization.
Edelman's fantasy numbers will go down with everyone back, but he's still a valuable member to have on your fantasy roster, especially if you use him in favorable matchups.