Patriots: In Brady we trust?
The Patriots shuffled around some supporting-cast players as they've been known to do, but, of course, the biggest story this offseason is Tom Brady's recovery from major knee surgery (ACL, MCL reconstruction). The reports have all been favorable so far, but until Brady survives his first big hit in a game it's going to be difficult for fantasy owners to feel 100 percent comfortable about him.
Of course, you could say the same thing about a number of other players returning from injury who don't have a resume that includes three Super Bowl titles, a 16-0 regular season and a 50-touchdown campaign. So when we say Brady is a risk-reward pick in fantasy, it's not like he's in the same category as Carson Palmer, who doesn't enjoy the same level of accomplishment and supporting cast Brady does.
However, let's not get too giddy over the offseason reports. It's important to caution against automatically assuming Brady will return to his lofty levels of two years ago when he set the record for touchdown passes. There are still some hurdles to clear.
First off, that season was otherworldly in that 50-touchdown, 4,806-yard seasons don't come around often. Second, the Patriots lost play-caller Josh McDaniels, who became head coach in Denver, so expect an adjustment period now that those responsibilities likely will fall to assistant coach Bill O'Brien. Finally, the Patriots spent three of their first eight draft picks on offensive linemen, indicating they are at least somewhat concerned about Brady's protection.
In addition to Brady's knee, there are other things worth watching in Patriots camp. How veteran additions Joey Galloway and Fred Taylor fit in with the offensive system will indicate whether they are worth late-round fantasy picks. On defense, a rebuilt backfield with Leigh Bodden and Shawn Springs will be a key in whether New England can be a bounce-back story in fantasy leagues.