There is just so much ball to go around.
Rookie Deion Branch quickly proved Monday night that his stellar preseason performance was no fluke. He is a barn burner with Jerry Rice style moves to turn some short passes into long gains. The Pats honestly expected this performance from Branch, however, so he's not the issue with Troy Brown.
I think that the biggest factor in releasing Brown from a fantasy football team is that Bill B. plans to use Donald Hayes alot, especially in scoring situations.
Brown had the lowest average of all the receivers (except for a single 3-yard dump pass to J.R. Redmond), despite being tied for highest number of receptions with Branch and Cleeland.
Before the start of the season, it was assumed that Branch would push Patten for a starting job, but the sure-handed Patten came on strong in the the Monday Night game. If he continues to play well and Troy continues to falter, then Branch will push Brown, but that's not what the Pats were looking for.
I'm looking at the same situation in my league ... all of the Patriots receivers are currently free agents, except for Branch, who is on a friend of mine's team. My team is solid now so I'd have to drop someone good to grab a Pats WR. I think I will wait and see how it sorts out. Here's how I think the Pats WRs sort out:
Troy Brown - He's the veteran threat who will continue to draw most of the attention in the opening part of the season. He can produce in that situation, as he proved last year, but it will be alot easier for the other wideouts, and the TEs, 4th down receivers, and receiving backs will all steal TDs from him. Where TDs are king, his stock does slip considerably.
David Patten - Good hands. He will produce no matter how the Pats use him. For what the Pats want to do ... stretch the field ... he is less useful than Brown or Branch, but you will see NO dropoff of production if he becomes a 3rd down receiver.
Deion Branch - Laugh at me if you will, this guy is Jerry Rice reborn ... Rice may just vanish in a poof some week this year as he finishes channeling his spirit into Branch. Branch is quick and elusive, and when you see him take an over-the-middle pass, spin around a defender, and dash for the end zone, you'll think you're watching Jerry Rice. What he doesn't have is Rice's reputation, so early in the season look for him to make alot of big plays until defenses figure out what they have on their hands. I'm not going to forget that he's a rookie, though, and neither should anyone else. Some of the league's corners will have him for breakfast.
Donald Hayes - Looks good, damn good, and Bill B. plans to use him alot around the endzone (the strategy this year seems to be to flood the redzone with receivers, which may not be good for A. Smith's scoring potential).