4. Julian Edelman
The most dependable offensive player when Brady is not on the field, Edelman has been the No. 4 best performer this season. His stat line of 18 catches for 180 yards can be translated into a final regular season projection of 96 receptions and 960 yards. Furthermore, Edelman has racked up 30 yards rushing on five end-around handoffs.
Edelman also leads all pass catchers and ball carriers with eight first downs. Regardless of who is throwing the ball, this offense tends to run through Edelman to advance the first down marker on crucial third downs.
Of course, Edelman’s versatility has benefitted the Patriots already this year. Edelman’s downfield blocking has sprung big plays on several occasions, and his ability as a quarterback allowed the Patriots to avoid signing some veteran off the couch in the wake of Garoppolo’s bum shoulder.
The most essentially cog in the offense outside of the quarterback position is Edelman, to put it bluntly.
Next: 3. LeGarrette Blount