By Adam Harris-
(CBS) OK, I will admit that my article before the season advising people to buy hard on the Patriots this fantasy year has turned out to be, up to this point, wrong; however, I am now ready to back the Patriots, yet again, in fantasy football.
Below are reasons why you should put your faith back in the Patriots for the fantasy playoffs.
Injuries have plagued the Pats this year as Shane Vereen (RB) missed eight games with a fractured wrist, Danny Amendola (WR) was out four games with concussion, back, leg and knee issues, Rob Gronkowski (TE) returned three weeks beyond originally anticipated, and Stevan Ridley (RB) fumbled his way to a horrible start to the season.
These things cannot be taken lightly, thus are legitimate excuses for Tom Brady (QB) and the Patriots struggles on offense. And even with all the injuries and struggles, Brady is still on pace to throw for over 4,000 yards. The drop in production from a fantasy aspect comes when looking at Brady’s touchdown total. He is currently on pace to throw for 22 scores this season, which is well below his 37 touchdown average over his past five full seasons.
Tom Brady, however, now has his full squad, which will increase his numbers and projections exponentially. Brady had a very nice game Monday night against the worst possible match up a fantasy QB could ask for. The Panthers came into the game giving up just 10 points per week to signal callers, and Brady finished with 15 points in the first game with his full offensive squad. Everyone is back and the Patriots have been waiting to unleash the chains on this still very dangerous offense.
Perhaps the most convincing argument I could make advising people to buy into the Patriots is the pace of their offense. The Patriots have run 700 plays this year, ranking seventh in the NFL and are trailing three teams who have yet to go on their bye.
This past Monday night, the Patriots threw the ball 40 times and spread the ball equally among their fantasy weapons. In the passing game, Shane Vereen saw the most targets with 11, but not far behind were Rob Gronkowski, Aaron Dobson, and Danny Amendola all with seven targets each.
On the ground, the Patriots gave Stevan Ridley 13 carries, and a goal line chance that netted a score, while LaGarrette Blount (RB) saw 10 carries. This Patriot team is going to run plays and gain yards the rest of the way, no matter their opponent. The only ting to be worried about is how many times they can get in the end zone. I believe it is going to be many, many, many times, thus the Patriot way will be reborn.
The team is back and healthy. Tom Brady is more and more comfortable every day, and they want to hit their stride as they enter the NFL Postseason. Look for them to make up for lost time in the remaining six games.
Shane Vereen’s return will give Brady one of the best check down options in the game. Vereen is a great option in PPR leagues across the board.
Danny Amendola has now played in five consecutive games, believe it or not. He and Brady are right there together, on verge of a few break out performances. Hopefully they come in the fantasy playoffs.
Superstar tight end Rob Gronkowski and Brady look to be right back on the same page as they were before Gronk’s injury. Gronk is the type of player that can carry you through the playoffs. He’s a difference maker and should be targeted in trades, and should be held on to if owned.
Aaron Dobson (WR) has become the Pats X option on offense, drawing an average of seven and a half targets a game from Brady. Dobson is a good FLEX option in deeper leagues (12-14 team).
Stevan Ridley NEEDS to keep keep the ball off the turf, and if he does, he is a great fantasy option moving forward. He fumbled again Monday night, so keep an eye on that, but feel very comfortable if Ridley is your RB2 moving into the playoffs.
Last but not least, Tom Brady is still Tom Brady. I think Brady is a top six fantasy quarterback the rest of the year, with the likes of RGIII (WAS), Nick Foles (PHI), Matt Ryan (ATL), and Phillip Rivers (SD) ranked behind him. Brady has his weapons back and now has a few weeks to develop the desired chemistry heading into the fantasy playoffs.
The Patriots have a rough first week of the fantasy playoffs, facing the Cleveland Browns, but the game is in Foxboro and the Browns have been slipping in the defensive rankings. They now give up 18 points a week to QB’s and they do not match up well with Rob Gronkowski over the middle. The Patriots will scheme around the Browns defense and should get you through week one of the playoffs.
Week 15 the Pats face the Dolphins who rank in the favorable half of the NFL as far as match up is concerned for your players. Championship week the Patriots see the Ravens who do not cause any panic from me as a Patriots owner.
I am all in on this Patriot team, and I suggest you do the same thing. Adding a guy like Vereen or Ridley or even Gronk can win you week after week in the playoffs. At this point it is about gathering as much blow up potential as you can, and every Patriot option now has blow up potential.