The injury to Tom Brady in the first quarter of the season-opener killed many fantasy teams’ seasons before they began. Welker aside, the performance of the 2009 Patriots is absolutely linked to Brady’s health. All being well a strong season beckons, and while 2007 is highly unlikely to be repeated, elite numbers are likely for several players.
QB: Tom Brady, Kevin O’Connell
RB: Fred Taylor, Laurence Maroney, Sammy Morris, Kevin Faulk
WR: Randy Moss, Wes Welker, Joey Galloway
TE: Ben Watson
K: Stephen Gostkowski
Quarterback: After early concerns, reports from New England are very positive regarding Tom Brady’s rehab from knee surgery. Obviously there remains some element of risk, but having seen Palmer return in an amazingly short time, I am confident about Brady’s chances. Whilst his mobilty may be somewhat restricted, I see no reason to doubt his passing — dude’s amazing. If your opponent needed 250/2 from Brady on MNF to beat you, would you feel confident? Neither would I! Over 16 games, those numbers equal 4,000 yards and 32 TDs, which I think it the absolute floor for a healthy Brady over 16 games. I have him down for 4,250 yards and 34 TDs, and I think I am being somewhat conservative.
Running Back: A kaleidoscope of mid range RBs seem certain to bring the Pats solid combined numbers, but bring nothing but headaches for fantasy owners. It’s a tough call to make, but I expect Fred Taylor and Laurence Maroney to evenly split about 2/3 of the carries. I just don’t think New England trusts Maroney. Kevin Faulk remains an old faithful, bringing bench value in PPR leagues for his near monopoly on third-down action. Sammy Morris further muddies the waters by being the best goal-line option of the quartet. Belichick is certainly going to play the hot hand each week, with scant regard for fantasy owners sanity, further negating our ability to trust a fantasy starting option any given week.
Taylor 700/5; Maroney 650/5; Morris 400/6; Faulk 45 rec, 600/2 (combined yds/TD)
Wide Receiver: As goes Brady’s health, so goes Randy Moss‘ quest for top overall WR status. My confidence in Brady’s health allows me to confidently project Moss for 90/1300/15. Wes Welker’s numbers are the complete opposite, seemingly unaffected by the starting QB, posting identical numbers under both Brady and Cassel. There seems no logical reason to deviate from another 110/1150 season, with the only adjustment coming in a bump in TDs under the returning elite QB. Joey Galloway should easily hold off Greg Lewis for WR3, however both will see fair action with the Pats multi WR sets.
Moss 90/1300/15; Welker 110/1150/6; Galloway 40/550/4
Tight End: Ben Watson spent most of last season blocking rather than receiving. Although he remains a threat for the occasional TD, the addition of Alex Smith and Chris Baker greatly hamper his fantasy value.
IDP: Jerod Mayo is already an LB1 and has many great years ahead. I’m warming up to Brandon Meriweather at DB.
A year ago, the thought of getting Moss and Brady in the 2nd and 3rd rounds would have had many fantasy owners drooling. This year, it is quite conceivable that you could draft both in those rounds and end up with the top player at WR and QB. Combined with a Steven Jackson-type first-round pick, there is gold available for the risk-takers! With 4 RBs cannibalizing each other’s value, one could well deliver solid value in the mid-rounds, but good luck deciding which one it it’ll be!
Overall it’s been tough to confidently predict some aspects of the Pats’ offense. I’m look forward to reasoned opinions that counter mine!
DMac is one of a growing number of fantasy experts who write for the Cafe. You can catch up with Vincent in the Cafe's forums where he posts under the name of dmacblue.
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