Fantasy Football and the New England Patriots. They go together like peanut butter and jelly.
For some people, the end of the lockout meant free agency, but for many it meant that it was time to start preparing for their fantasy football drafts. In New England, they got a little bit of both. The Pats traded for Chad Ochocinco, who together with superstar Tom Brady, will form one of the best QB-WR duos in fantasy football this season.
Who else on the Pats is going to be a factor?
The New England offense last season was breaking records left and right, so the chances are, there will be many worthwhile Patriots pickups for the 2011 NFL season.
However for you, I will present the five best, in ascending order.
Chad Ochocinco and Tom Brady are going to be lethal this season for the New England Patriots.
I wanted to put Wes Welker here, especially after he scored the third-most fantasy points for the Pats last season, but I can't help but assume that Ocho will take away yards and most importantly, touchdowns, from scrappy No. 83.
In a PPR league, stick with Wes. With standard scoring, though, Ocho's yardage totals and touchdowns should put him in front.
Projected Stats: 1000 receiving yards, nine touchdowns
The New England Patriots have not sat idly by this offseason. In attack mode, Bill Belichick and the Patriots front office have brought aboard a few big name players to help improve a defense that was already the third-highest fantasy scorer on the team.
Albert Haynesworth, Shaun Ellis and a whole bunch of other players are joining a New England defense that all of the sudden looks like a top five unit.
The sack totals should rise significantly, and with the return of cornerback Leigh Bodden, expect a few more interceptions this season.
Defense has always been priority No. 1 in New England under the watchful eye of Bill Belichick, but this season is the first in a long time that the Pats put their money where their mouth is.
For fantasy fans, that means the New England D/ST is going to produce a lot of points this year.
Projected Stats: 45 sacks, 30 interceptions, 15 fumble recoveries, seven touchdowns (two return)
One word: Touchdowns.
Rob Gronkowski is going to score a hell of a lot of touchdowns this season. In fact, I would be surprised if he doesn't lead all wide receivers and tight ends in the category.
He was barely a part of the rotation until halfway through last year, and he still hauled in 10 touchdowns (on only 42 catches). However, after watching his game progress the rest of the year, I can't help but imagine that those numbers will be way up.
Gronk, as he is lovingly called in New England, is a 6'6", 265-pound behemoth who has the hands of a wide receiver and the strength of an offensive lineman.
You do not want to get in his way, and neither does anyone in the NFL.
Projected Stats: 650 receiving yards, 14 touchdowns
BenJarvus Green-Ellis' name might be one of the strangest you will hear, but it is also the concept behind one of my favorite nicknames in sports: Law Firm.
BJGE is a touchdown machine, and with a relentless and determined approach, he is a legitimate 1,000-yard rusher. He may not be the fastest, he may not be the strongest, but he is certainly one of the toughest competitors you will ever come across.
Last year was Law Firm's breakout season. He was spectacular in collecting 13 rushing touchdowns and 1,008 rushing yards. While I don't expect the touchdown figure to rise, I definitely expect the yardage to increase.
Green-Ellis is 26, right in the prime of his career, and he is the featured running back on the most explosive offense in the NFL. This might be the year he becomes an NFL star.
Projected Stats: 1300 rushing yards, 12 touchdowns, 100 receiving yards
Tom Brady is one of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history, and it isn't only because he's won three Super Bowl Titles.
The man can throw the football.
Last season, while not as eye-opening as his 2007 season (50 touchdowns!), Brady was once again among the tops in the fantasy world. He finished third, right behind Aaron Rodgers and Michael Vick—except he was playing with an offense about half as explosive as theirs.
This season? Things have changed.
With the development of the two young tight ends (Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski), the addition of Chad Ochocinco, and the full season presence of All-Pro offensive lineman Logan Mankins, this is shaping up to be one of the most loaded offenses in football.
It would be crazy to expect Brady to reach his 2007 numbers, and unfair of me to expect the impossibly low interception numbers from 2010 (four), so why don't we settle right in between.
Pick Brady with your first pick, and thank me later.
Projected Stats: 4100 passing yards, 42 touchdowns, eight interceptions, one rushing touchdown
What do you think? Am I overrating the New England offense? Let me know in the comments section below.
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