2020 Fantasy Outlook: New England Patriots
It’s a new era for the New England Patriots and that means there will be a fair amount of uncertainty for fantasy owners surrounding Pats players. Let’s breakdown the new look Pats.
Offseason additions: QB Cam Newton, WR Marqise Lee, WR Damiere Byrd, FB Dan Vitale, QB Brian Hoyer, K Justin Rohrwasser (R), TE Devin Asiasi (R), TE Dalton Keene (R)
Offseason subtractions: QB Tom Brady,
K Stephen Gostkowski, WR Phillip Dorsett,
TE Ben Watson, FB James Develin.
Quarterback: 2020 looked to be the Jarrett Stidham show, but the signing of former MVP Cam Newton leaves us all in a state of speculation. Under the impression that this will now be a run first offense, or at the very least a balanced offense, that certainly caps the starting QB’s ceiling. With a QB with little experience with the Pats playbook or little experience on the field, the Pats will rely on their dominant defense and talented running back stable. Belichick and co. will most likely look to make this squad into more of a ground and pound team like what we saw in their 2018 playoff run. Their QB will be asked to manage the game and be a solid performer more than someone who will consistently light up the stat sheet. I wouldn’t draft Newton or Stidham unless it’s a two QB league or Dynasty in Stid’s case. Either one of them should be an excellent streaming option with plenty of upside for Newton.
Running Back: Last season was pretty rough for the Pat’s running game. There were plenty of excuses to go around though: the heart and soul of the unit in Center and team captain David Andrews missed the entire season, starting left tackle Isaiah Wynn missed half of the games and the Fullback and Tight End positions got depleted by injuries. With those positions restocked and healthy, the Pats are looking to run, run, run in 2020. There will be no shortage of opportunities to go around and former 1st round pick Sony Michel should get another chance to lead the way. After a promising rookie season that ended with an ultra productive 3 game playoff performance, (71 carries for 336 rushing yards and 6 touchdowns), last season was quite disappointing. He got a good amount of work (10th most carries) and didn’t miss a game, but put up dismal numbers, 247 carries with only 912 rushing yards and a sluggish 3.7 YPC to go along with 7 TDs. In PPR leagues he finished as the RB #31. I like Michel as a breakout candidate and expect him to easily outperform last season’s flop even with his recent foot surgery although that injury should be monitored by fantasy owners. He offers a unique low risk high reward appeal. He could be one of the better value picks of 2020 with a current ADP of #77. As for the rest of the backfield, James White will most likely regress without Brady at the helm. White will definitely still have value in PPR leagues (RB #18 last season), but shouldn’t be counted on for more than a flex in PPR leagues. Damien Harris, Brandon Bolden and Rex Burkehead round out the crowded backfield. Harris is a very long shot to get a consistent workload, but is a very deep sleeper and could be valuable if Michel misses time.
Wide Receiver: This unit is obviously headlined by Mr. Reliable Julian Edelman. He may be a little less reliable without Brady, but shouldn’t have much of a drop-off. Expect Jules to remain a solid WR #2. Mohammed Sanu and sophomore 1st round pick N’Keal Harry are pretty much locks for the other two starting jobs. I’m pretty high on Harry after seeing him flash his talent and playmaking ability in his brief sample last season. He only started 5 games and gained 112 yards on 12 catches, but did score two impressive touchdowns and ran the ball 5 times for 49 yards. Fellow sophomore WR Jakobi Meyers showed great chemistry with Jarrett Stidham last preseason posting a stat line of 28 targets, 20 catches, 253 yards and 2 TDs, most of which came from Stidham’s hand. Meyers was in the mix in the regular season starting only 1 game but had a healthy 13.8 YPC on 28 catches for 359 yards. The undrafted Wideout could find his way onto the field a lot more often making him a deep sleeper in PPR leagues. Volume is the main concern with the Pats Wideouts. If Newton starts he should be able to supply 3 receivers, but consistency will most likely be a problem for them. Other than Edelman we’re looking at sleepers that could be nice flexes.
Tight End: Ben Watson retired, but Ryan Izzo and Matt Lacosse will still be in the mix. They shouldn’t be in the fantasy conversation due to not one, but two rookie 3rd round draft picks, Devin Asiasi out of UCLA and Virginia Tech’s Dalton Keene. The rookies should easily beat out Izzo and Lacosse for targets considering they only got a combined 28 targets in 17 games. Asiasi and Keene are both sleepers, but Asiasi looks to have the edge as of now. His trainer compared him to Zach Ertz and Austin Hooper (both of whom he trained in the past) Asiasi boasts route running skills that will be hard to matchup up with opposed to Keene’s Swiss Army knife abilities. They’re both worth consideration as late round flyers in deeper leagues.
Defense: This top scoring fantasy defense won a lot of leagues last year. Their schedule this season could be a problem, it’s been widely recognized that they have one of the toughest this year opposed to one of the easiest in 2019. Losing star Linebackers Jamie Collins and Kyle Van Noy was definitely a big loss, but on paper Bill Belichick has an even more dominant secondary than last year. They should still be a top 10 defense just not nearly as ridiculous and matchup proof.
Once again the Pats don’t have any high profile fantasy prospects but there is plenty of potential here and the uncertainty amid this offensive transition could produce some epic steals!
Overview from a rival fan:
I never thought I would see the Patriots play without Tom Brady until he retired. I cannot wait to see them struggle with a starting QB (if Stidham is the starter over veteran Newton). Stidham has thrown 2-4 passing for 14yds and 1 INT. As a Jet fan, I am excited to have a chance against them. Personally, I think this team will struggle with Stidham and even with Newton if they go that route. Besides Edelman, this team doesn't have anyone reliable on offense to throw to (maybe White and Michel in the passing game) and that's going to hurt a QB starting his first year. Their secondary is still something to worry about for opposing teams, so that's going to keep them in games. Either way, it's not a guarantee for NE to continue their dominance in the AFC East.
Fantasy wise, I would absolutely stay away from Stidham and Newton in most standard drafts. Until we see what Stidham can do, he's not worth a roster spot. If he flourishes (doubtful), you can get him in waivers. Both Michel and White are decent RB options, although I wouldn't have either as my RB1 due to their RB by committee style they held last season. I would use them as RB2 or lower. WR Julian Edelman is the only offensive player I would draft as my #1 option by position. Patriots D is still among the best in the league and I would take them when you feel like your offense is set. Typically I don't take Defenses too early due to wanting to fill my roster spots, but for those that do, they are a reliable option. ~Jimmy Palucci, lifelong Jets fan.