As the mercury rises and we inch closer to the open of training camps, our resident fantasy football sickos, Brad Evans and Liz Loza, will profile their favorite booms/busts of every NFL team. Today’s topic: The Dynastic Pats.
New England sports multiple viable fantasy options at several positions. Based on current ADPs, what player has the most BOOM (return on investment) potential this fall?
Brad – JORDAN MATTHEWS. It’s true Matthews would suffer a significant injury playing a laidback game of frisbee golf, but if he can somehow remain upright for 14 or more contests, he has legitimate WR3 potential. Various physical ailments and drops have certainly limited him in his career, however, he’s still only 25 years old. It’s important to remember, he also accounted for 16 total touchdowns as an Eagle from 2014-2015.
Matthews is best suited for slot work, an area where Julian Edelman played 53.5 percent of his snaps in 2016. With Chris Hogan, Gronk and Mitchell also in the mix, enticing a substantial target share could be difficult. Still, given his large frame (6-foot-3, 213 pounds), prior red-zone success, prove-it motivation and brittleness of Gronk and Edelman, it’s fathomable for him to experience a fantasy rebirth of sorts. Secure a spot on the team in training camp and the reclamation project, who currently sports a 191.1 ADP, could finish in range of 55-775-6, a line similar to what WR26 (in fppg), Nelson Agholor, tallied last year.
Liz – MALCOLM MITCHELL. The Georgia product has struggled with knee issues since tearing his ACL in 2013. When healthy, however, he’s consistently proven to be an asset, as evidenced by the 6-70-0 stat line he produced during Super Bowl 51.
A crisp route runner with plus speed, Mitchell (who missed all of 2017 with a knee injury) is expected to be ready for OTAs. Chris Hogan, Julian Edelman, and Rob Gronkowski may be expected to lead the Pats’ aerial attack, but none of them is particularly young or durable. At only 25-years-old, Mitchell is a fantastic insurance policy. He’s a size/speed prospect with versatility… and loads of upside.
Negatively speaking, what player should owners avoid like an encounter with Thanos in Fortnite?
Liz – JEREMY HILL. Remember this time last year when Mike Gillislee was supposed to vulture ALL the TDs, but then ended up scoring in just three weeks and playing in just nine games? We can’t assume that Hill is the 2016 LeGarrette Blount. After averaging under 3.9 YPC for three consecutive seasons Hill has demonstrated his limitations and, frankly, isn’t even a lock to make the squad. If you want chase a Pats RB, draft Burkhead.
Brad – ROB GRONKOWSKI. Let’s see, since the Pats appeared in Super Bowl 52 Gronk, A) Flirted with retirement, B) Reportedly sparred with Bill Belichick, C) Danced off with Shaq and D) Only recently stated he fully intends to return to the field this fall.
Gronk is a dominant, box-score smashing player when motivated and healthy. The fantasy points he accumulated in only 13 games last season still finished No. 7 among all tight ends and wide receivers combined. But the swaying factor here is he hasn’t played a full season since 2011. Knowing he could be one knee wrench away from calling it quits, it’s hard to justify spending a late-second or early-third round pick (28.6 ADP) on his services.
A basic tenant of fantasy football is reliability. Gronk, sadly, doesn’t satisfy in that area. Give me younger and more durable options Evan Engram or Hunter Henry some 30-40 picks later.
Brad – REX BURKHEAD. The buzz surrounding Michel has already shattered eardrums throughout Fantasyland. I greatly respect the rookie’s skill set, but it seems unlikely OC Josh McDaniels will take a sharp, sudden turn in his backfield philosophy. It will almost certainly remain a timeshare featuring Burkhead, Michel, James White and whoever lands a roster spot between Jeremy Hill and Mike Gillislee. Best guess: Michel heads up the committee totaling close to 15 touches per game with Burkhead chipping in roughly 11-14 grips.
When gifted a similar workload last season, Burkhead proved quite valuable. From Weeks 8-14, he crossed the chalk seven times and averaged 68.2 total yards per game, good for the 11th-best output in .5 PPR. Slotting somewhere inside the RB top-24 could easily be repeated.
It’s assumed Michel outperforms him, but not by enough to warrant a 40-pick difference in ADP. Burkhead, a bargain in the middle rounds, is one of the finest RB3/RB4 targets in re-drafts.
Liz – JULIAN EDELMAN. Yeah, he may be 32-years-old and coming of a torn ACL, but Edelman is Brady’s most trusted go-to option (averaged 10 targets per game in 2016). Furthermore, he has a full understanding of BB’s playbook. While the newer offensive pieces (ahem, Sony) acclimate to the offense, and before the grind of the season sets in, Edelman figures to provide solid WR2 value. Just remember, you’ll want to sell high on him before midseason.