AFC East Dynasty Capsule: New England Patriots

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AFC East Dynasty Capsule: New England Patriots
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Led by an explosive offense full of high-octane fantasy performers, the Patriots have been wreaking havoc on the rest of the AFC East for much of the past decade. With Tom Brady leading the way, Patriot players have helped many dynasty owners win championships in their respective leagues.

Simply put, New England has been fantasy heaven for dynasty league owners for as long as some can remember. A multitude of factors are finally turning the tables against their fantasy values in dynasty leagues, though.

To determine the dynasty value of players on New England, you have to ask a multitude of questions. How many elite seasons does Tom Brady have left? How will Randy Moss perform knowing this is likely his last season in New England? Will any player separate himself from the pack in a running back committee? Can Wes Welker return from his devastating knee injury?

We attempt to answer these questions and more in this wicked edition of the dynasty capsule.

 

Players in their Prime

Tom Brady QB

The silly questions about durability can stop. After missing virtually all of 2008, Brady returned to play all 16 games and post a line of 4,398 passing yards, 28 touchdowns, and 13 interceptions in 2009. While that’s nowhere near his 50 touchdown bonanza from 2007, it’s still a fantastic season for a quarterback.

At age 32, he’s played more seasons than he has left, but he remains one of the few elite signal callers in fantasy football. It really wouldn’t surprise anyone if he led fantasy quarterbacks in scoring this season.

Randy Moss WR

There simply aren’t too many things scarier than Randy Moss in a contract year.

While he’s getting a little long in the tooth at 33, he’s shown no signs of slowing down. After scoring 47 touchdowns in his first three years in New England, the sky’s the limit for 2010.

Keep close tabs on his contract status, though.

If you’re not a contending team this season, Moss may be the ultimate midseason trade chip. You may not find a better window of opportunity to get value for him in dynasty leagues.

Wes Welker WR

The knee injury he sustained last year is obviously a huge concern with Welker. Word is that he’s progressing way ahead of schedule, but you have to take that with a grain of salt. While he may start this season on the PUP list, his long-term outlook is still bright.

He led the league in receptions with 123 and was on pace for a ridiculous 141 last season before the setback. As it was, his reception total of 123 was more than Steve Smith of the Panthers and Mike Sims-Walker of the Jaguars combined . It may take a while for him to return to form, but patience in dynasty leagues should be rewarded.

 

Rising Players

Brandon Tate WR

Speaking of injuries, Brandon Tate was regarded as the best North Carolina wide receiver prospect a couple of years ago before getting hurt. When you take into consideration that Hakeem Nicks was also on that team, that’s really saying something.

Tate has had his share of ups and downs, but is squarely on dynasty radars right now. If he continues to improve, he could take the place of Randy Moss in that offense one day.

Julian Edelman WR

Edelman showed he was capable of a bigger role when he replaced Welker at the end of the year. While his short-term value is tied to Welker’s injury and long-term value is tied to Moss’s contract situation, he could be a good stash in dynasty leagues.

Aaron Hernandez TE

Failed drug tests and character concerns dropped the talented Hernandez to the fourth round of the NFL Draft. He’s certainly a high-risk player, but his talent is undeniable.

He’s been lining up in multiple spots this spring and the Patriots seem to be trying to find some creative ways to get him the ball. He’s a fourth round draft prospect in a rookie-only draft.

Rob Gronkowski TE

While Hernandez may get more opportunities early, Gronkowski may end up being the better player in the long run. His durability is a concern, but he has first round NFL Draft talent.

Alge Crumpler and Aaron Hernandez stand in his way of playing time, but he’s another good player to target in the fourth round of a rookie draft.


Players with Falling Values

Laurence Maroney RB

There was a time when Maroney looked like a player to build a dynasty team around. Unfortunately, his lack of consistency and fumbling issues have destroyed any chance of that happening.

While the Pats surprisingly didn’t address the running back position in the draft, don’t view that as a sign of confidence in Maroney. It looks like a clear committee situation to avoid in New England for the foreseeable future.

Fred Taylor RB

Taylor is one of the most underrated fantasy performers in history. It’s regrettable that he hasn’t earned more accolades in dynasty circles. Unfortunately, it looks like his last ditch quest for a title may just fall short as well. Ankle surgery derailed his season last year and the prideful Taylor is going to find himself fighting for a roster spot at this point.

Torry Holt WR

The similarities to Taylor and Holt are pretty obvious. Both are likely beyond the twilight of their careers, and both are going to be fighting for playing time. If you’re expecting a Randy Moss-like career renaissance from Holt, you’re going to be left disappointed.

 

Sleeper

Taylor Price WR

Price isn’t huge at just 6’1”, but he has 4.4 speed and is more polished than most rookie wideouts. With the unknown future of the wide receiver depth chart in New England, Price is a sneaky pick in rookie drafts.

 

Summary

The personnel may be similar, but these are not the same Patriots we’re used to seeing. After looking disinterested in a loss to the Ravens, there are many questions about the future of this franchise. Most of their problems are on the defensive side, but the offense still has some work to do as well.

While they may seem to be a team in flux, we’ve learned not to underestimate this franchise. The dynasty values of many players hang in the balance, but there aren’t too many teams you’d bet on turning things around more than New England.

If they come back focused and healthy, there may not be a team with more dynasty league gems than the Pats.

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