Fantasy Football: Projecting the Value of the 2011 New England Patriots
The New England Patriots annually find themselves in the hunt for division and conference championships and they can help you win championships of your own if you're selective enough.
As one of the most successful and productive teams in the league, the Patriots have a number of fantasy football studs on their roster. I'll offer you my take on just who should be on your roster as well.
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Tom Brady is the single most important piece responsible for the sustained success of the New England Patriots franchise. It should come as no surprise that he's also one of the most valued fantasy commodities for all that he does on the field.
In 2010 Brady ranked 1st amongst quarterbacks for touchdowns thrown, 1st in quarterback rating, 4th in completion percentage and 8th in passing yards. He threw the least amount of interceptions of any starter, took the 9th least sacks in the league and lost only one fumble all year.
Taking a look at Brady's career stat line prior to the 2007 season you'll notice he's only thrown for over 4,000 yards once and he had never thrown for more than 28 touchdowns.
The weapons around him were mediocre at best for many of those years and since the near perfect run three seasons ago, he's had a considerable array of receivers around him. The stats are showing it too and I expect the statistical development to continue in 2011.
He's got a versatile and predominately young group around him for the first time. Brady has a very good chance to nab another MVP award this season and he stands a great chance at being your fantasy team's MVP as well.
4,200 yards, 40 touchdowns, 8 interceptions
The Running Back Committee
New England's backfield can be a fantasy player's worst nightmare. The Patriots employ the dreaded committee approach and there is typically no clear cut starter for fantasy purposes.
Last season, BenJarvus Green-Ellis went from fourth on the depth chart to posting the first 1,000 yard season by a Patriots' back since 2004. He's extremely unlikely to hit that number again, but he's still a bruiser and a threat for a lot of goal line carries. Rookie Stevan Ridely is billed as a north-south runner as well and may vulture carries from BGE this season.
Danny Woodhead is a threat for yards on the ground and through the air, but won't hold a lot of value in most shallow leagues. The Patriots drafted another back with similar versatility in Shane Vereen. The Cal product has great hands out of the backfield and will surely be tested as a runner. Vereen has the highest dynasty potential out of this entire group, but he shouldn't be drafted with very high expectations in 2011.
Best of luck to anyone who decides to go with a New England running back this season, the talent is there, but there's little chance any of these guys will be showcased in this offense. You're looking at multiple RB3s here at best.
When it comes to fantasy football, the receiving corps in New England is almost as annoying as the running back committee.
This group is busting at the seams with fantasy potential and it's a great thing for a football team, but not for our personally drafted fake teams. There is so much talent here that the players begin to lessen each others value because the ball often gets evenly distributed in this offense.
Wes Welker will be a full year and full offseason removed from his ACL tear and is a fantastic buy low candidate. He's always been a monster in leagues which award points for receptions and with health I expect him to return to form in 2011, he's a legitimate WR2 with health.
Beyond Welker it gets a little hazy.
Julian Edelman and Taylor Price could eventually develop, but you're safest bet until that happens is Deion Branch (WR3) who posted over 700 yards receiving and five touchdowns in just eleven games with the Patriots.
Brandon Tate (KR) will continue to be very valuable in the kicking game, but his ceiling as a potential wideout appears very stunted.
Tight ends Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski will likely see more defined roles in 2011.
Hernandez is the better bet for receptions and yardage while Gronkowksi has developed into a lethal redzone threat. Neither one of these guys is ever going to be a clear cut TE1 while they're both on the same team though.
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Everyone's favorite fantasy football position, the kicker.
You can scoff like most do and pick up your kicker in the latest round possible, but if you want one of the upper tier players at the position look, no further than Stephen Gostkowski.
He's fully recovered from a torn quad, which kept him out for the latter half of the 2010 season, and he's been one of the most consistent and productive kickers in the league for years.
The Patriots will be put up a lot of points, and No. 3 will put a lot of them through the uprights.