By: Derek Havens
For fantasy football enthusiasts, leagues around the world are gearing up for another season.
The NFL is about a week away from kickoff, so it’s crunch time. Whether you have been reviewing draft kits, researching player value or participating in mock drafts, you may still have some unanswered questions surrounding the Patriots from a fantasy perspective.
With many questions surrounding the Patriots offense at this point, it’s hard to decipher who you can or cannot take a chance on.
– A lot has been made of Tom Brady losing so many weapons from last season. Going into 2013, what kind of impact do you see him having from a fantasy perspective?
Tom Brady will still be a Top 10 quarterback and well worth having as the starting quarterback on your fantasy team, but fantasy football is often about comparing players to each other.
The problem with Tom Brady as a fantasy quarterback is: 1. The team has a strong running game with Stevan Ridley, Shane Vereen, etc. and 2. There are a TON of good QBs with even better weapons.
If a fantasy player is left with a choice of Tom Brady vs. the rushing ability of Cam Newton, who do they take? What about Tom Brady throwing to Danny Amendola & Kenbrell Thompkins vs. Matt Ryan throwing to Julio Jones and Roddy White? With the depth at quarterback, it has Tom Brady fall down boards, but if you miss on the Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, and Peyton Manning’s of the world, Brady is a fine fantasy starter. He has always made the talent around him better and when Rob Gronkowski is back, we should see plenty of touchdowns.
– Rookie wide receiver Kenbrell Thompkins has emerged as one of the team’s top options for the passing game. What are your thoughts on him for the upcoming year?
I think any wide receiver starting with Tom Brady as a quarterback has plenty of potential. I didn’t love Kenbrell Thompkins coming out of college due to a long rap sheet in high school, moving to different colleges, and not a tremendous college career at that. Watching him the preseason has definitely made me reevaluate him due to his physical nature, natural field awareness, and separation ability.
At this point, he is worth having on any fantasy bench to see what happens. If he blows up, you could have the next Victor Cruz. If he doesn’t, he should be easily cuttable for whoever becomes Tom Brady’s favorite target or another emerging young star in the NFL.
– Tight end Rob Gronkowski is coming back from multiple surgeries — forearm and back — what is your take on his value and do you believe he can have a similar impact as in past seasons?
I think Gronkowski will do just fine upon his return. His back issues are widely known and he has had to play through them for awhile. With the loss of Aaron Hernandez, if the Patriots are passing in the red zone and Gronkowski is on the field, I fully expect him to be the target.
On a points per game basis, he is very likely to be the top, or at least top two, fantasy tight end this season. He is worth a pick in the fourth round or so of your fantasy draft to lock him up!
– The Patriots have a young, opportunistic defense. What is there fantasy value for the upcoming season?
I think they will be average. The Patriots defense is fine to play on a match-up level when they go up against the Jets, but they haven’t been a big play defense for quite awhile when playing average to good teams and can give up points in garbage time that hurt you. With the young talent, there is upside, but I’d suggest looking another way or just streaming your defenses to play the best match-ups.
– Give me one or two Patriots players who could emerge as fantasy “sleepers” this year:
The two big “sleeper” players for the Patriots right now are the undrafted free agent rookies, tight end Zach Sudfeld and wide receiver Kenbrell Thompkins. Both should be starters Week one and Sudfeld seems to be filling a lot of roles for the Patriots and as long as Gronk is out, Sudfeld is worth starting in your fantasy league. Thompkins, as noted before, is worth having on your bench to keep an eye on.
I do like to go deeper with my sleepers, so keep an eye on Josh Boyce as someone who could emerge from the rookie class, maybe even over Thompkins by season’s end.
Be sure to follow me: @PatriotsHaven!