Patriots pressing fantasy questions: Cooks and Burkhead added to high-octane offense

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Can <a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/nfl/players/5228/" data-ylk="slk:Tom Brady">Tom Brady</a> toss 40 TDs at 40? (AP)
Can Tom Brady toss 40 TDs at 40? (AP)
3-Point Stance: Tom Brady continues to defy Father Time

As the mercury rises, Brad Evans and Liz Loza will tackle pressing fantasy questions tied to every NFL team. Read, ponder and get a jump on your offseason research. Monday’s topic: The New England Patriots

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Since 2014, Tom Brady has averaged more than two passing scores per contest, seemingly getting better with age. This fall he’ll enter his eighteenth season in the league and his fourth decade on the planet. OVER/UNDER 39.5 passing TDs in 2017.

Liz – OVER. With five Super Bowl rings in his possession and a supermodel wife at his side, Brady has annihilated even the most ambitious of bucket lists. Gifted with an engine that won’t quit, he’s now set his sights on defying age. From a meticulous diet to a custom-tailored conditioning regimen, the Patriots’ signal caller is laser focused and wholly equipped to play at a high level well into his 40’s.

Surrounded by an arsenal of pass catching weapons and taking instruction from one of the greatest football minds of this generation, Brady is set up to succeed. He’s shown zero signs of decline and hasn’t missed a game due to injury since 2008. He’s a top-three QB heading into the fall.

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Brad – OVER. Brady continues to wade in the Fountain of Youth. His servings of avocado ice cream, sweat sessions with Giselle and fortunate genes have sustained his dashing looks and physical youthfulness. Showing zero signs of slowing down, the GOAT wants to play until his mid-40s. And that’s not unrealistic.

A season ago, Brady was nothing shy of magnificent. He ranked top-five in several completion percentage categories, averaged 8.2 yards per attempt, netted 296.2 pass yards per game and posted a near impeccable 28:2 TD:INT split. In the league’s most nuclear offense, he should only improve from 2016’s top-five performance. Adding Brandin Cooks, Dwayne Allen and Rex Burkhead to an already deadly offense practically guarantees it.

Brett Favre, with Minnesota in 2009, logged the greatest fantasy season by a 40-plus QB in NFL history (4,202 passing yards, 33:7 TD:INT split). Unless Father Time suddenly rears his wrinkly head – he is undefeated after all – Brady easily scribbles another achievement in his voluminous record book. And, no, I don’t believe in chupacabra, ‘squatches or stupid Madden cover curses. Fearless Forecast: 4,640 passing yards, 41 TDs, 8 INTs.

This offseason New England made a habit of stockpiling RBs, adding Rex Burkhead and Mike Gillislee to their crowded backfield. Surely, the Patriots polycephaly projects to be a pain, but if you had to PICK YOUR POISON, which head of the hydra would you choose?

Brad – GILLISLEE. Screw diamonds, touchdowns are this fantasy girl’s best friend. The ice Gillisslee sports this season is sure to forge a long lasting relationship. For all intents and purposes, the former Bill is the new LeGarrette Blount. He’s a tough, between-the-tackles grinder with a bloodhound nose for the end zone. Last year with Buffalo he averaged 5.3 yards per carry versus base/stacked fronts. Also, in 10 career goal-line totes he crossed the chalk five times. Impressive.

It’s unlikely he’ll match Blount’s league-leading 28 goal-line attempts from 2016, but 20 is foreseeable. New England will live inside the red zone much of the year. Gilly will also earn extended PT salting away the clock in lopsided affairs. Put the pieces together and we’re talking at least 850 rushing yards with 10-plus TDs. His 92.3 ADP (RB33) is highway robbery.

Liz – GILLISLEE. Like when Krista Allen replaced Lisa Rinna as Bille Reed on DOOL, Gillislee will attempt to pick up where Blount left off (assuming, of course, Blount finds a new team before July 22nd). Working as a goal line hammer in Buffalo last season, the former Bill converted 8 of 18 red zone carries.

He won’t see the opportunities that Blount did in 2016 – not with Gronk healthy and a stable of dynamic pass-catching backs (with overlapping skill sets) at the team’s disposal – but he will be used in heavy rotation near the goal line. Four years younger than Blount and a capable talent, it’s likely Gillislee’s TD production keeps him in low-end RB2 territory. FF: 200-800-8 (rushing only)

As a member of the Saints pass-friendly offense, Brandin Cooks racked up over 1,100 receiving yards in back-to-back campaigns. Moving his talents to the Northeast will Cooks’ final WR rank (.5 PPR) be OVER or UNDER 20.5 this fall (OVER = Outside the top-20; UNDER = inside the top-20)?

Liz – UNDER. I’ve never jumped on the Cooks bandwagon. In fact, I rolled my eyes at the Steve Smith Sr. comps that were being thrown around when he entered the league. With so many mouths to feed in New England, Brad is right, it’s hard to imagine Cooks seeing a big enough piece of the pie to make a top-twenty fantasy impact. BUT… this is the Patriots. And they’ve earned the benefit of the doubt.

A team that has dominated the league for the better part of twenty years, this front office knows how to fill in the gaps seamlessly. Yes, Julian Edelman has made a living out of being Tommy’s BFF, but he’s getting old (30) and the foot injuries keep cropping up. Cooks is a plan for the Pats future. This organization is high on him and so am I. FF: 80-1,100-6

Brad – OVER. The number of mouths Brady must feed rivals the Duggar family’s. It’s a welcomed problem in reality but a potential nightmare scenario in fantasy. Difficult to predict in-game matchups will ultimately determine who shines any given week. For that reason alone, Cooks is a fringe WR2. He’ll be extremely fortunate to lure the 18.6 percent targets share generated in New Orleans last year.

On a related note, let’s dispel Cooks’ outdoor struggles. His career averages indoors vs. out are nearly identical (In: 5.1-67.9-0.5; Out: 5.2-68.6-0.4). Still, because of the crowded situation, I’m not touching him at his very price 23.4 ADP (WR13). The floor is high, but, barring injuries to those around him, his ceiling may only be 70-1000-7. Give me Julian Edelman instead a couple rounds later (49.9 ADP, WR25).

Chuck passes at Brad and Liz follow them on Twitter @YahooNoise and @LizLoza_FF

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