2013 Team Outlook: New England Patriots
QB Tom Brady, NE - Solid/Safe Pick
Update 10-20-2013 - Tom Brady has had a slow start to the season, but look for his numbers to start to get back to normal, now that he is getting his receivers back
Update (8-14): Good news out of Patriots camp, at least based on initial fears: MRI on Tom Brady's left knee was negative and the quarterback is considered day to day, ESPN's Adam Schefter reported. Brady went down during 11-on-11 drills on Wednesday following an incomplete pass. Immediate reports included some fearing the worst as the Golden Boy limped off the field, though under his own power. Now it's a waiting game, but at least it appears New England avoided a calamitous situation. Nobody should expect to see him under center when the Patriots take on the Tampa Bay Bucs on Friday. Worth noting is that it is the same knee in which Brady suffered a torn ACL five years ago. This comes on top of significant changes in offensive personnel. We've learned never to doubt Brady and he still has top-5 potential, but the accumulation of issues in a very deep quarterback crop drops him into the back half of the QB1 rankings.
Preview: No sell job needed here. Once again, he had an amazing season in 2012, passing for 4,827 yards and 34 touchdown passes. No matter what scoring system you use, Brady has top-5 fantasy QB potential. The weapons might change, with Wes Welker out and Danny Amendola in, but the production will be the same. Brady plays in the most up-tempo offense and as long as he is healthy, he will continue to put up amazing fantasy numbers. If you get the chance to draft him, enjoy it.
QB Ryan Mallett, NE - Not Draft Worthy
Mallett will go into this season as Brady's back up, making him nothing more than a glorified clip board holder. Not worth drafting.
RB Shane Vereen, NE - Quality Backup
Update September 10, 2013 - Patriots announced they placed RB Shane Vereen on Injured Reserve with a designation to return.
Update September 9, 2013 - After having a great game in week 1, helping the Pats come back against the Bills, Vereen will miss at least 2-3 games due to a broken bone in his wrist. He gutted it out during the game, but will now miss time after having surgery. Keep him stashed on your bench.
Going into training camp Shane Vereen looks to be the clear cut 3rd down/passing down running back replacing starter Stevan Ridley in those situations. This job was done by Danny Woodhead last season, but he wasn't brought back this season, leaving open a greater opportunity for Vereen. While Vereen didn't do much last season, he showed what he can do in Woodhead's role, when he replaced the injured Woodhead in the divisional playoff round, rushing for 41 yards and a TD as well as 5 receptions for 83 yards and 2 TDs. In a high powered offense like the Patriots, it is worth having 3rd down backs and handcuffs, because if they get a chance to play there is lots of opportunity to put up good fantasy numbers. Additionally, with the departures of Welker, Woodhead and Hernandez, there's a whole lot of balls to go around in this offense. He and Ammendola should be the primary beneficiaries. There's a lot to like about Shane Vereen this year. We highly suggest you add him to your roster in PPR leagues after the sixth round. He's startable due to his pass catching ability, however in the event Ridley were to have an injury, Vereen becomes a Top 10 back.
RB LeGarrette Blount, PIT - Bust (overvalued)
Coming out of nowhere in his rookie season, Blount surprised everyone and rushed for over 1000 yards and scored 6 touchdowns. He has barely matched those numbers over the last 2 years combined, which led to his trade to the Patriots. At this point, Blount is nothing more than depth for the Pats and will likely see some time on special teams. Not worth drafting at this point.
RB Stevan Ridley, NE - Solid/Safe Pick
Update 10-23-2013- Ridley got off to a very slow start and missed a game due to injury. Has picked it up the last two weeks and looks to be getting back to last year's production
Profile - Ridley went from being part of the Patriots' running game in his 2011 rookie season, to the man in the Pats' running game in 2012. Despite sharing the load with others, Ridley rushed for 1263 yards and 12 touchdowns. There is no reason to believe that Ridley can't put up the same numbers once again, as the Pats seem intent on having Ridley be their go to guy. Ridley's value goes down in PPR leagues as he has only 9 receptions over his 1st 2 seasons. While Ridley is not a top 5 fantasy RB, he probably falls into the top 10-15 range.
RB Brandon Bolden, NE - Not Draft Worthy
Bolden's job in 2012 was to give Ridley a breather once or twice a game, but not being involved enough in the Pats offense to be worthy of taking a look at it, unless of course there are some injuries to the guys ahead of him on the depth chart.