Judging off an initial projection of the 2019 New England Patriots roster, which players might represent the team’s top options in fantasy football this year?
As anyone who has played fantasy football in the past decade can attest, the New England Patriots are a fascinatingly complex – and fascinatingly frustrating – team in the world of virtual gridiron gaming.
At first glance, the Pats should be a veritable treasure trove of prospects waiting to be mined. After all, this is a franchise that has double-digit season win totals in 17 of 19 years under head coach Bill Belichick. New England has appeared in half of the Super Bowls held over the past 12 years, and they’ve won the title in half of those six appearances.
Both quantitatively and qualitatively, the Patriots have been an NFL juggernaut since the dawn of the new millennium. And yet despite all that, the team has rarely offered slam-dunk picks in the realm of fantasy football.
Belichick is notorious for aggravating fantasy owners with his convoluted revolving door of running backs throughout the season; it’s a strategy that often bewilders opposing defensive coordinators to great success, but it’s also maddening if you’re a fantasy owner trying to pinpoint which Patriots running back is going to get the ball any given week.
Rob Gronkowski was one of the surest things at the tight end position when healthy… but unfortunately for Gronk (and for those who drafted him in the first couple rounds), the key words in that sentence are “when healthy.” The big man was capable of being the No. 1 tight end in all of fantasy any given year, but he only managed to play a full 16-game season twice in nine years as a pro, and now he’s retired (seemingly for good).
The Patriots have historically been extremely adept at spreading the ball around within their offense, making household names of previously-pedestrian receivers, washed-up veterans, and pass-catching running backs. And while the list of players to catch passes from Tom Brady over the past two decades is both prodigious and prestigious, it also underscores a basic truth with regards to fantasy production: so many mouths to feed equals no one mouth getting all the food.
Even Brady himself, cemented as the greatest quarterback of all time, has seen his fantasy relevance diminish greatly over the past few years. He might still be as accurate and intelligent with the football as ever, but with the Patriots’ offense increasingly balanced and a growing number of dual-threat QBs popping up around the NFL, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that his draft position this year is being projected outside the Top-12 for quarterbacks (he finished No. 14 last season).
It’s not all gloom-and-doom for people who want to combine their love of fantasy football with their passion for the Patriots this year, though. Even if Brady and Gronkowski aren’t advisable draftees, there are still a number of other worthy options to consider… provided one maintains a proper perspective of floors and ceilings with these picks.
Let’s get started…