The Patriots were a mess for both fantasy and real life football last season after the departure of Tom Brady. I expect a better year for the team in general, but will we see some fantasy relevant players? Lets dive in to the Patriots Fantasy Football Outlook.
The Patriots selected Mac Jones in the first round of the 2021 draft, plus they still have Cam Newton. The team immediately came out and said Cam would still be the starter after the draft, but everything we’ve seen since then points to this being a legit competition between the two for the starting role. So we really don’t know who it’s going to be. For this reason I’m not too keen on taking either of these guys in redraft this year.
Even if Cam starts, I think we’ll see Mac at some point, but that might not be until close to the end of the season and even if we do his fantasy upside isn’t great because of his lack of rushing. So he’s not worth more than a bench stash in a deep superflex league to me unless we hear news he’s the starter.
Newton on the other hand, showed flashes of fantasy value last year at the beginning of the year. The Patriots loved using him as the goal line back, and considering it worked so well, they would likely continue to do so. Cam had 12 rushing TDs to just 8 passing TDs, so having him at QB essentially eliminates any other viable fantasy options in this offense. He takes TDs away from the RBs and doesn’t throw to the WRs or TEs. So the fantasy outlook of everyone else is very dependant on who the guy is between Cam and Mac.
Bill Belichick has been a running back by committee kind of guy for a long time now. We’ve seen quite the revolving door of guys, that seemingly changes every year. This year it looks like Damien Harris is up. Reports have come out saying Harris is the surefire number 1 option. Sony Michel might get cut, and Harris has been reported to have a decisive edge on rookie Rhamondre Stevenson. James White is still there to take away receiving work, which would limit Damien’s upside, but I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw him get a 70-75% carry share.
Harris showed flashes of greatness last year in the games he was able to play in, and had a yards per carry of over 5. This was while having the highest average defenders in the box (7.4) and 2nd highest stacked box rate (42.3%) in the league. If Mac Jones is in at QB, it will open up the teams passing game and reduce that stacked box rate, and solidify Harris as the goal line back with no Cam to take it from him.
Somehow Damien Harris has an ADP of 110, or RB39 per Sleeper ADP right now, which is absolutely absurd to me. He’s someone I’m definitely going to be targeting late in drafts as a more than capable RB3. Without the receiving upside I don’t see him having that true RB1 upside, but we could easily see him get enough carries and touchdowns to be a great RB2.
Every other running back in this offense I’ll likely be avoiding, especially if Cam is the starter. James White wouldn’t be the worst best ball play with Mac Jones, but there won’t be any consistent production out of him.
This WR room was completely revamped in 2021. Bill decided it was time to pay up in free agency as he signed Nelson Agholor and Kendrick Bourne to some pretty sizeable contracts. I wasn’t a fan of either move to be honest as I think he overpaid for both, but that’s besides the point. If Cam Newton is the QB, I definitely don’t want anything to do with any of these guys at both wide receiver and tight end, so from here on out, all of my analysis will be based on Mac Jones being the starter.
That being said, I still don’t like either Agholor or Bourne this year. Despite how much money was poured into those two, I think Jakobi Meyers gets that WR1 role. I don’t think people realize Meyers had a 26% target share last year, which was the 7th highest rate of any wide receiver in the league. Obviously because the total volume was so low, that didn’t attribute to a great year, but with Mac Jones behind center, there’s a lot of potential there.
Agholor will be more of a deep ball threat and not take the same kind of targets as Meyers, who has always been a short to intermediate target hog. While Bourne and N’Keal Harry I really don’t see as legit threats to take much volume from him. Obviously there’s still question marks, but with where you’re able to get him, there’s no reason not to take a chance. He’s currently going off at an ADP of 196 or WR72. That means he’s going undrafted most of the time. You’ve gotta chase upside at that point in the draft, and there’s no better pure upside pick that late than Jakobi Meyers.
Just like at wide receiver, Belichick spent some big money at tight end this offseason, adding both Jonnu Smith and Hunter Henry. I would’ve loved this if just one of them came to New England, but having both guys there definitely impacts the upside of either one. We do still need to know, who is the number 1 guy? To me the answer is Jonnu. He’s far more athletic, isn’t as injury prone and just makes more plays than Henry.
I wouldn’t expect a top 5 season from either of them, but I like Jonnu as a late round tight end target. If you want to fade tight end, he’s not a bad guy to take at the end of drafts as someone who can provide a solid floor.
Up next: New York Jets
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