2012 Team Outlook: New England
QB Tom Brady, NE (QB - #3) - Stud (low risk)
The 2011 season was a great one for QBs. Tom Brady was no exception. The Golden Boy had the 2nd best single season in terms of passing yards with 5235 yards -- sitting only behind Drew Brees' 5,476 yards. The Patriots added Brandon Lloyd to their receiving corps, which will only give Brady another weapon. Look for another big season from Brady and he should be considered a top 5 fantasy QB.
Update 8-11-2012 - Brady has had a good off season, comes into the season healthy and looks to have found another big weapon in Brandon Lloyd. No matter what the scoring system in your league is, Brady is a top 5 fantasy QB; draft him accordingly.
QB Ryan Mallett, NE - Dynasty Only
At this point, he is nothing more than a 3rd stringer. Then again, the talented Mallett has a chance to move past Brian Hoyer as Tom Brady's primary back up. However, he will most likely have to wait until 2013 - when Hoyer is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent to become that guy. He has all the physical tools to be a good QB down the road if ever given the opportunity.
Update 8-11-2012 - Mixed reviews about how Mallett has looked in camp. No matter which review is right (unless something drastic happens), Mallett wont ever see the playing field in 2012.
QB Brian Hoyer, CLE - Not Draft Worthy
The Patriots like Brian Hoyer a lot and are very comfortable with him as the backup. Despite that, you shouldn't expect him to see much action this season - unless Brady goes down with an injury. Should that happen and assuming Hoyer gets the nod over Ryan Mallet, don't be shy about adding Hoyer, not at all.
Update 8-11-2012- Hoyer is nothing more than Brady's back up. Not worth drafting
RB Stevan Ridley, NE (RB - #16) - Sleeper (undervalued)
In his rookie season, Stevan Ridley was used as a change of pace. With BenJarvus Green-Ellis gone, look for Ridley's carries and stats to rise this season. If he ends up taking over the starting job - as of early August, that looks like the deal - you can expect very similar numbers that the Law Firm has put up the last few years. Follow Ridley throughout the summer and training camp and see how he compares with Shane Vereen and the other backs on the roster.
Update 8-11-2012 - Ridley seemed to be winning the battle for lead back vs. co-2nd year man Shane Vereen and got the start in the first pre-season game. While he looked good rushing 8 times for 40 yards, he seemed to have problem with blitz pick-ups, even getting a talking to by Tom Brady. If his lack of blitz pick-ups keeps up, he will lose playing time.
RB Shane Vereen, NE (RB - #103) - Super Sleeper (high risk/potential)
Vereen only played in five games as a rookie due to injuries and too many other running backs ahead of him on the depth chart. That should change this season as the Patriots attempt to get him more involved in the offense. Look for him to battle Stevan Ridley for the lead back role, if such a thing truly exists in New Engald. Most likely he won't do enough to be a fantasy starter, as the Patriots often go with the hot hand, but he will definitely be worthy of a roster spot. Depending how things shake out, Veereen might even be a starter down the road.
Update 8-11-2012 - By all accounts Vereen hadn't done anything in camp to bump Ridley out of the #1 spot, and looked more like he was battling veteran Danny Woodhead for the 3rd down role.Then he had a really solid pre-season game, rushing 11 times for 64 yards and catching 2 passes for another 17 yards. If the speedy 2nd year back can keep showing this kind of play, he might not just win the 3rd down job, but might steal playing time from Ridley if he keeps messing up on his blitz pick-up.
RB Danny Woodhead, SD (RB - #67) - Low Potential
You never know with the Patriots, but right now we can pencil in Woodhead as the primary 3rd down back. While he might have a game or two that are worthy of fantasy starts, it will be next to impossible to guess which games those will be. Not really worth drafting at this point.
Update 8-11-2012 - Woodhead is battling 2nd year man Shane Vereen for the 3rd down running back spot. Coach Belichek always likes to have at least one veteran RB on his roster that he can trust when called on. With Faulk and the law firm gone 9and new addition Joseph Addai not even making it to training camp), look for Woodhead's roster spot to be safe.