QB Tom Brady (New England)
The Patriots may pass fewer times and Brady may average fewer yards per attempt this season, as he ages and with his receiving corps on the decline, but he’ll make the best out of what he has and he remains a top level fantasy quarterback. He’s scored an average of 39 times in the last 3 seasons, while throwing an interception on just 1.4% of his throws.
Projection: 4400 passing yards 35 touchdowns 12 interceptions 70 rushing yards 2 rushing touchdowns (311 pts standard, 381 pts 6 pt td leagues)
RB Stevan Ridley (New England)
In his first year as a starter, Stevan Ridley rushed for 1263 yards and 12 touchdowns on 290 attempts last season. The Patriots could run even more this season, missing weapons in the passing game, but still planning on running the NFL’s fastest pace. He has a great offensive supporting cast and should continue to put up big rushing numbers. He just doesn’t give you anything in the passing game.
Projection: 300 carries for 1350 rushing yards 12 total touchdowns 7 catches for 50 receiving yards (212 pts standard, 219 pts PPR)
RB Shane Vereen (New England)
Danny Woodhead is gone so Vereen will take over a bigger role in the running game. Woodhead and Vereen combined for 138 carries last season and Vereen could be around there this year, even before you consider that the Patriots might run more. Vereen is also a good bet to exceed Woodhead’s 40 catches for 446 yards and 3 touchdowns from last season. He is a more talented and explosive back and including the playoffs, he had 15 catches for 254 receiving yards and 3 touchdowns on just 117 pass snaps last season and he’s been lining up all over the formation this off-season and he could be the Patriots’ version of Darren Sproles or Reggie Bush. He could get 200 touches.
Projection: 140 carries for 630 rushing yards 6 total touchdowns 60 catches for 500 receiving yards (149 pts standard, 209 pts PPR)
WR Danny Amendola (New England)
I won’t project Amendola to match the 112 catches Welker averaged per season in New England. Welker’s biggest advantage over Amendola is his sturdiness. Welker missed just 3 games in 6 seasons with the Patriots, while Amendola has played in just 42 of 64 possible games to this point in his career. On top of that, Welker’s greatest talent was his chemistry with Tom Brady and that’s something Amendola might not necessarily have. Welker was never a big touchdown threat either, scoring an average of 6.2 times per season in 6 years. However, he’ll clearly be a big part of the offense should he stay healthy.
Projection: 100 catches for 1100 receiving yards and 6 total touchdowns (146 pts standard, 246 pts PPR)
WR Kenbrell Thompkins (New England)
Thompkins seems to have a strong hold on the starting job opposite Danny Amendola. Ordinarily, it’s very, very tough to trust rookie receivers, especially undrafted rookie receivers, but Brandon Lloyd caught 74 passes for 911 yards and 4 touchdowns as a starter and he didn’t even play that well. There’s a reason he’s unsigned as of this writing. Thompkins probably won’t reach those numbers with Aaron Dobson, Josh Boyce, and Julian Edelman capable of stealing snaps from yet, but he’s absolutely worth a late round sleeper and he’s the other New England wideout to own after Amendola.
Projection: 60 catches for 750 receiving yards and 5 total touchdowns (105 pts standard, 165 pts PPR)
TE Rob Gronkowski (New England)
Sure he’s a major injury risk, but Gronkowski has scored 36 times in his last 35 games. He’s worth his current ADP in the 4th round even if you can only get 10-12 games out of him. Tight end is a deep enough position that you can get by with a TE2 for a few weeks, but it’s thin enough at the top that Gronk could easily lead the position in points per game played, as he has in each of the last 2 seasons.
Projection: 60 catches for 850 receiving yards and 10 total touchdowns (145 pts standard, 205 pts PPR)
TE Zach Sudfield (New England)
Like Thompkins, Sudfield is impressing big time as an undrafted free agent. He might be their #2 tight end behind Rob Gronkowski and he’s capable of playing both the Gronkowski and Hernandez role. With Gronkowski’s uncertainty and Hernandez being in jail, Sudfield is worth a pick as a late round flier.
Projection: 50 catches for 600 receiving yards and 5 total touchdowns (90 pts standard, 140 pts PPR)