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Patriots Fantasy Preview

Postby The Lung » Tue Jul 24, 2007 7:38 pm

From SportingNews.com: http://fantasy.sportingnews.com/nfl/experts/roger-kuznia/20070724.html

Patriots: Are they loaded!
July 24, 2007

Roger Kuznia
Sporting News

WHAT'S NEW

Rather than sticking to the plan of building through the draft and filling gaps with non-descript guys, the Patriots went all out in free agency this spring. Stud quarterback Tom Brady now has improved weaponry in Randy Moss, Donte' Stallworth and Wes Welker, all of whom are better than any of the team's starting receivers last year. New England also gave its aging linebacker corps an infusion of youth in Mr. Everything, Adalius Thomas.

The improvement on both sides of the ball makes this Patriots team one to watch, for fantasy owners and football enthusiasts alike. A number of the Patriots' skill players are coming off seasons in which they dealt with injuries. If they stay healthy, New England will be the team to beat in 2007. Remember if it weren't for the Colts' rally from a 21-3 deficit, the Patriots would have been the ones playing Chicago in the Super Bowl, and possibly adding yet another Super Bowl championship.

Projected draft round
Player Round
Tom Brady, QB 4-5
Laurence Maroney, RB 2
Sammy Morris, RB 12
Randy Moss, WR 4
Donte' Stallworth, WR 6-7
Benjamin Watson, TE 9-10
Stephen Gostkowski, K 17-DND
Defense/special teams 9-10
Draft position based on a standard 12-team combined scoring and yardage league with a 17-round draft. DND: Do not draft.

5-Star Players

Tom Brady, QB. Brady's consistency since becoming the Patriots' starter has been staggering. He has been good for about 3,750 yards passing, 26 TDs and 13 INTs the past five seasons. But we fully anticipate this season being Brady's best. He never has had weapons in the passing game like Randy Moss and Donte' Stallworth -- both vertical threats. Brady is a great selection because he's never out of the lineup, and he's consistent week to week. You can always count on him to get your team points. The demand will be high for Brady, so there's no way he lasts past the fourth round. This year may be the one when I veer from waiting on drafting a QB and go after Brady instead. He should be worth it.

Patriots defense/special teams. Adding Adalius Thomas is a huge improvement to this already-strong defense. But to say that Thomas can single-handedly make the Pats' defense as good as the Ravens or Bears is a mistake. Two of the Patriots' biggest playmakers in recent seasons (Rodney Harrison and Tedy Bruschi) are 34 or older and on the downside of their careers. This unit will be great at keeping the score low, but don't look for a bevy of defensive TDs. And if Asante Samuel continues his holdout into the season, the team's secondary may be exploited. Don't get caught drafting this unit too high. There is great upside, but there is some risk, too.

4-Star Players


Laurence Maroney, RB. Although he shared carries with Corey Dillon last year, Maroney sure dealt with his share of injuries. Maroney hurt his knee toward the end of training camp and missed the final preseason game. Later in the year, Maroney dealt with torn rib cartilage that kept him out of two games. Then Maroney had offseason shoulder surgery. That's a lot for any player to deal with in one year. If healthy, Maroney should have a terrific season, but do realize there is injury risk involved. Maroney runs more upright than most, and that can subject him to more punishment.

Randy Moss, WR. Moss has gone from first-round fantasy value to major malcontent over the past three years. It's a shame that Moss tries only as hard as he thinks he needs to, but there should be plenty of motivation for him to return to past glory. If Moss is loafing, he'll get an earful from Tom Brady and Bill Belichick. Although Moss has dealt with several leg injuries in recent seasons, I believe some of his minor injuries provided a way of getting out of playing for what he considered lost causes. I bet Moss is healthy and comes to play. He's a sure fantasy starter despite the character risk.

Adalius Thomas, LB. Thomas is an extremely fun player to watch because you never know where he'll line up. He's just that versatile. You can bet that Bill Belichick will use Thomas' versatility to free him to make plays like he did for the Ravens. Thomas is in the mold of Chargers linebacker Shawne Merriman in that he'll provide double-digit sacks but fewer than 100 tackles. I'd want to own him just because of his touchdown potential. If he gets into the open field, he can run.

Benjamin Watson, TE. Watson is only 26 years old, but the poor guy has had rotten luck with knee injuries. He missed nearly all of his rookie season with one, and then he missed five games over the past two seasons because of knee problems. Watson is a terrific target for Tom Brady, but I really question whether he can last a whole season. He is a borderline starter in fantasy leagues. I won't put myself in a position to have to draft him.
Key additions:WR Randy Moss, WR Donte' Stallworth, LB Adalius Thomas, WR Kelley Washington, WR Wes Welker.

Key losses: RB Corey Dillon, TE Daniel Graham.

3-Star Players

Stephen Gostkowski, K. The Patriots were careful not to test Gostkowski on too many long kicks last year. In fact, the Patriots didn't let him attempt a 50-yarder until Week 12. Now that Gostkowski has a year's worth of experience and a load of confidence, expect the Patriots to use him on additional longer tries. With the Patriots primed to score a lot of points this year, don't be surprised if Gostkowski ends the year in the top five in scoring among kickers.

Donte' Stallworth, WR. Stallworth falls from being a No. 1 option in Philadelphia to New England's No. 2, but don't let that designation sway you from drafting him. When not battling hamstring problems -- he missed four games in '06 -- Stallworth demonstrated his ability to be a home-run threat. Fourteen of Stallworth's 38 receptions a year ago were for 20-plus yards. If Moss fails to produce for whatever reason, the Patriots have a guy in Stallworth who can easily be a No. 1. If you draft him as a fantasy No. 2, you should be pleased.

2-Star Players

Ty Warren, DE. I read a transcript of a Warren chat on some other website, and he's a man of very few words. My impression? The man is all business, and he took care of a lot of it last year. Warren is coming off his best season (84 tackles, 7.5 sacks), and he could find himself even freer with Adalius Thomas around. Warren has upside and could fill in as a No. 2 lineman.

Wes Welker, WR. As the No. 3 receiver for the Dolphins last year, Welker had 67 receptions for 687 yards and a touchdown. Because of Tom Brady's ability to utilize all his weapons, Welker will play a significant role in the Patriots' offense, but realize that there's no way he catches 67 passes this year. Draft him as a No. 4 or No. 5. He could be useful in favorable matchups or if a starter gets hurt.

1-Star Players

Rodney Harrison, SS. Of the 35 players ranked in our DB rankings, none is older than Harrison. Harrison is No. 33 on our list, which means you shouldn't need to be thinking about him on draft day.

Sammy Morris, RB. Morris did a serviceable job for the Dolphins when Ronnie Brown broke his hand last year, and he enters this season as Maroney's backup. Morris doesn't have track-star speed, but realize that guys like Heath Evans and Patrick Pass have had some decent games for New England when pressed into larger duty. Draft Morris as a No. 4 or No. 5 back.

Kevin Faulk, RB. Faulk isn't used much as a rusher anymore; his value comes as a backfield receiver in third-down situations. Faulk had 43 receptions for 356 yards and two scores last year. Because Morris likely would assume starter duties should something happen to Maroney, Faulk is a bye week fill-in for deep leagues.

0-Star Players

Asante Samuel, CB. I can't begin to fathom why a person would feel slighted if his employer were guaranteeing him nearly $8 million for one year's work. What, you need two Bentleys for each month of the year rather than one? Samuel has vowed not to report to training camp, and he also has vowed not to play until Week 10. He's an in-season pickup if he decides to drop the nonsense and play.

Ultimate Fantasy Football Tip: At $3.75 million, Donte' Stallworth is an absolute bargain. However, realize that the Pats' first three games are against tough defenses -- the Jets, Chargers and Bills. Consider Stallworth in Weeks 4 and 5 against the Bengals and Browns, especially if he surprises and starts quickly against those stud defenses.

TO KNOW LIST

Coaching: Bill Belichick is lauded for getting his players to buy into a team system and schemeing his way to wins. It sometimes doesn't provide the prettiest victories in terms of scoring a ton of points and pleasing fantasy owners, but it will be interesting to see what Belichick does with all of his new toys -- both offensively and defensively. There might not be a more exciting team to watch this season than New England.

Offensive line: The line is plenty good right now and each of the starters is signed through at least 2009. Dan Koppen is solid at center, guards Logan Mankins and Stephen Neal are better than solid, and tackles Matt Light and Nick Kaczur protect Brady from the outside. This is a better- than-average unit.

Schedule analysis:
The Patriots have three home games come fantasy playoff time, but two of the three contests (PIT and NYJ) are against good defenses. Coupled with the possibility of snow in New England in December, it's not wise to overload on Patriots players for your squad. There aren't many gimmies on a schedule that includes San Diego, Indianapolis and all of the NFC East. This team will earn all the points it gets -- and we think they'll get plenty. Fantasy Strength of Schedule: 8th toughest (or 25th easiest).
(~);}

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(~);}
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Re: Patriots Fantasy Preview

Postby A Fleshner Fantasy » Tue Aug 07, 2007 11:41 pm

Hmmm...in a # of leagues, I'm thinking Maroney goes 1st round.
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Re: Patriots Fantasy Preview

Postby mthomas720 » Sun Aug 26, 2007 11:14 pm

I'm a huge Pats fan, but I wouldn't touch anyone but Brady or the Defense in fantasy. They spread the ball around way too much for any receiver/tight end to be really valuable, and we still don't know if Maroney can handle a full load by himself, without getting hurt.
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Re: Patriots Fantasy Preview

Postby A Fleshner Fantasy » Mon Aug 27, 2007 6:23 pm

mthomas720 wrote:I'm a huge Pats fan, but I wouldn't touch anyone but Brady or the Defense in fantasy. They spread the ball around way too much for any receiver/tight end to be really valuable, and we still don't know if Maroney can handle a full load by himself, without getting hurt.


And that means you shouldn't get thier defense...why?
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Re: Patriots Fantasy Preview

Postby mthomas720 » Mon Aug 27, 2007 8:32 pm

A Fleshner Fantasy wrote:
mthomas720 wrote:I'm a huge Pats fan, but I wouldn't touch anyone but Brady or the Defense in fantasy. They spread the ball around way too much for any receiver/tight end to be really valuable, and we still don't know if Maroney can handle a full load by himself, without getting hurt.


And that means you shouldn't get thier defense...why?


No I said I would get their defense. I said I wouldn't touch anyone but Brady or their defense
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Re: Patriots Fantasy Preview

Postby A Fleshner Fantasy » Sat Sep 01, 2007 4:27 pm

mthomas720 wrote:
A Fleshner Fantasy wrote:
mthomas720 wrote:I'm a huge Pats fan, but I wouldn't touch anyone but Brady or the Defense in fantasy. They spread the ball around way too much for any receiver/tight end to be really valuable, and we still don't know if Maroney can handle a full load by himself, without getting hurt.


And that means you shouldn't get thier defense...why?


No I said I would get their defense. I said I wouldn't touch anyone but Brady or their defense


My bad. :-X
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