With the start of the NFL Season quickly approaching with teams heading to Training Camp, we will begin to look at teams from a Fantasy Football standpoint.
Coming off a 12-4 season and a trip to the AFC Championship game, the New England Patriots headed into the off-season with a huge question. Will they resign Wes Welker and if they don’t how do they replace him? Well back in March the first question was answered and they didn’t. The second part of the question was answered with the signing of Danny Amendola and seemingly moving Aaron Hernandez to the slot, with a hopefully healthy Jake Ballard into his spot on the line.
Rob Gronkowski‘s broken forearm didn’t heal as the Patriots and he would hope, after having multiple surgeries to clear up infections, and then stunning people with a precautionary trip back under the knife to clean up his back.
The biggest shock of the off-season happened in mid June when Aaron Hernandez was being investigated in relation to a homicide and then a week later charged with the murder of Odin Lloyd.
The Patriots have done a good job since in distancing themselves from the former TE that wore #81, and the players are trying to remove the the distraction. But let’s look at the depth chart and try to help you with your fantasy drafts.
Tom Brady is still a top 3 NFL QB, brain wise. This season will most likely not prove to be the past 3 years of Brady, fantasy wise. I believe you can still pencil him in for 3500+ yards, 30 TD’s and less than 8 interceptions. but in saying that most of those will come post October 1st. Getting Gronkowski healthy hopefully by then, acclimating Amendola to the offense to fill the Welker role. The questions in the passing game, may be relieved by the emergence of the running game last season.
Stevan Ridley isn’t a 350+ carry back, but he is a guy who should be able to carry rock 250-300 times and score you 10 TD’s and gain you over 1100 yards. A good 2nd back or 1st in a deeper league. Shane Vereen proved he could catch the ball on swing routes and you saw that in two memorable catches against the New York Jets in the now infamous “Buttfumble” game and against Houston in the Divisional Round. If he shows the durability to carry the ball 150+ times and catch 50 passes, the Patriots offense should be fine and in position to win a sort of strengthened AFC East, and make a run into the Playoffs.
When it comes to Rob Gronkowski’s fantasy outlook, it all depends on when he makes his way back onto the field. With the Patriots first two games coming within 5 days of each other against the Bills and Jets, expect Gronk to be back onto the field anytime after week 3. If he plays in 12+ games, you can pencil in #87 for 800+ yards and 10+ TD’s. The Patriots TE’s won’t have the same dynamic effect as it has had since 2010, but with Gronk, Ballard, Hooman, and Daniel Fells. expect the Patriots TE’s as a whole to have 100+ receptions, 1500+ yards and 15 TD’s.
Patriots WR’s since Randy Moss haven’t been down the field threats. The biggest question there is, Can they find a way to replace Wes Welker’s sure hands on 3rd and medium. If Amendola can produce at 75% of Welker’s production, that’s good for nearly 90 catches and 900 yards. A healthy Julian Edelman can be counted on for 50 catches and 600 yards. the Patriots have waited a long time to see if drafting Edelman can prove to be a productive WR. With the acquisition of Leon Washington, Edelman will not have to handle the kick return duties. Aaron Dobson and Michael Jenkins are tough to call fantasy wise, because of as you’ve seen in the past, if #12 doesn’t trust throwing them the ball, they won’t see it too often.
Where should you draft the Patriots?
Tom Brady 4th or 5th Round
Stevan Ridley 8th-12th Round
Shane Vereen 16th-20th Round
Rob Gronkowski 10th-14th round
Danny Amendola after the 15th Round
Julian Edelman free agent pickup
Stephen Gostkowski top 5 K
New England Patriots Tight End Rob Gronkowski, who’s play warranted a 6 year, 53 million dollar contract extension last June from the team. But after his latest no shirt wearing dance party in Las Vegas on Sunday night, the question is now coming up, “Does Rob Gronkowski need to grow up?” The short answer is yes! The long answer is off the field yes, on the field the Patriots need Gronk to be Gronk. The timeline of Rob Gronkowski’s off the field transgressions now include a picture with porn star Bibi Jones with her wearing a Patriots jersey, partying like a crazy college kid at a Patriots post Super Bowl XLVI party, beer bongs during spring break and now this. Look, I am not trying to deny the kid a good time, BUT with the investment the Patriots made to him, the fact that when the time comes in post Tom Brady New England, Rob Gronkowski is the Patriots biggest star. He has to show an ability to “Just Say No!” As a New England Patriots fan, I love the guy, I love what he brings you on the football field, BUT once again, he needs to learn that the Patriots have made an investment on him, and he needs to be ready to be the Superstar, that the Patriots and their fans need him to be.
Now the question is who sits him down and says, Look Rob, we get it you are a big kid and we love that about you, but you need to make better decisions. Is that guy Robert Kraft? Hell he is signing the checks, Bill Belichick? Tom Brady? Ding, ding, ding we have a winner. Brady is one of a small handful of guys on the Patriots that have a Super Bowl Ring. Brady, in his earlier days owned Boston and still does, needs to sit Gronk down and say, it’s great to go out and have a good time, but giving your boy on stage a DDT, is just not cool. The Gronk family from their dad Gordie on down to the 5 brothers are a group of over sized kids, but at this point, they need to take a back seat in Rob’s life and let Gronk become the greatest Tight End to ever play the game.
What could help Rob? Go to California to work with Tom Brady, the same way Julian Edelman did last off-season, and Aaron Hernandez is going this year. Doing this may help his off the field and come September the Patriots on the field.
What makes a Quarterback “Elite”? Ask Eli Manning and Giants fans they will tell you that 2 Super Bowl Wins and MVP Awards do it, ask fans of other teams they’ll give you another answer. In judging and naming who is “Elite” it really is up to what you treasure and value in a QB and it’s all opinions.
Well here is my opinion and definition of “What makes an “Elite” QB. To me there can only be one “Elite” QB, the creme de la creme, the best and right now in the NFL that player wears # 12. No, not Aaron Rodgers, it’s Tom Brady.
Why is it Tom Brady, 3 Super Bowl wins, 5 trips to the big game, 6 AFC Championship Games (5 wins), 10 Division Championships (most in NFL History). Stats alone are not what gives Brady the edge in my opinion, they don’t hurt his case but the teams that Brady has played on are what put him in this position. The New England Patriots team first attitude and Bill Belichick’s mantra of “Do Your Job” and ” next man stops up” has always kept New England in the playoff hunt and perennial Super Bowl hopes. When you look at the weapons around Brady short of Randy Moss and now Rob Gronkowski, Brady has never had a Hall of Fame cast of weapons around him. He has the ability to make players better, from Troy Brown to Danny Woodhead. It’s hard to imagine where the Patriots would be today without the scrawny 6th round pick that was waiting in the wings after Drew Bledsoe’s Patriot career ending injury in Week 2 of the 2001 season. An even stronger case for Brady is made in Sean Glennon’s book, “Tom Brady vs. The NFL”.
Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers
Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints
Eli Manning, New York Giants
Peyton Manning, Denver Broncos
Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons
Matt Schaub, Houston Texans
Ben Roethlisberger*, Pittsburgh Steelers
Very Good QB’s
Jay Cutler, Chicago Bears
Andy Dalton, Cincinatti Bengals
Joe Flacco, Baltimore Ravens
Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions
Tony Romo, Dallas Cowboys
Phillip Rivers, San Diego Chargers
Good QB’s and too early to fully tell
Josh Freeman, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Robert Griffin III, Washington Redskins
Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts
Christian Ponder, Minnesota Vikings
Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks
Alex Smith*, San Francisco 49ers
Michael Vick*, Philadelphia Eagles
Carson Palmer, Oakland Raiders
Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers
Ryan Tannehill, Miami Dolphins
Chad Henne, Jacksonville Jaguars
Runaway, Runaway if you want to survive it’s time to break free
Mark Sanchez, New York Jets
Brandon Weeden, Cleveland Browns
Ryan Fitzpatrick, Buffalo Bills
Sam Bradford, St. Louis Rams
Jake Locker, Tennessee Titans
Brady Quinn, Kansas City Chiefs
John Skelton, Arizona Cardinals
Remember rating QB’s in the NFL is opinion based and these are my opinions. What’s your list
*Currently Injured and not starting
We all know the story by now. New England Patriots star Tight End Ron Gronkowski had an ankle injury that may, or may not, have limited his ability in the Patriots 21-17 loss to the New York Giants in Super Bowl 46 in Indianapolis.
What we do know is that Gronk likes to take his shirt off in the club and do some, shall we say, ‘interesting’ dances moves.
Gronk going out to a night club and getting crazy is nothing abnormal for a 22-year-old these days. What was perceived by some in the sports media and former players, and most notably former Patriot Rodney Harrison, who ripped Gronk to shreds on a Chicago radio station.
What I find strange and downright hypocritical about Harrison’s comments was talking about how young players are a problem in these situations, and that veterans like himself,Willie McGinest, and Teddy Bruschi would never EVER let this happen, was that Gronk was not alone in his Dancing With the Stars audition gone wrong.
Where was Harrison’s outrage towards VETERAN Matt Light, the guy who was a 2nd round pick of the Patriots in 2001 and has been an important VETERAN of this team for years? Where was the outrage from Harrison there? Why the focus on Gronk?
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From this vantage point, I see no issue with Gronkowski and Light blowing off some steam at a night club after a tough Super Bowl loss. Any of you had a very rough day at work, maybe lost the most important sale of your life, or lost the account you worked on for years, and then decided to kick back and have a few beers? Why must we judge what these two do after they have fulfilled their obligations to the New England Patriots for the 2011 season? Why MUST that be questioned?
And what relevance does this have to how Gronkowski or Light played on Super Bowl Sunday? It is not as if, Gronk and Light made this decision BEFORE the Super Bowl and that decision cost them the game. The game was lost before that.
Another sign that this is a non issue…any comments from Bill Belichick? Tom Brady? Robert Kraft? Or better yet, Gisele? (sarcasm off)
The fact that this story has gotten so much attention proves one thing: The sports media is paying far too much attention to the NFL at the wrong times. The season is over. Free agency begins in March. Let it go.
And as soon as Gronk has a 2 TD game in September 2012, this will all be forgotten.