Who should you target on the New England Patriots for fantasy football?

Rhamondre Stevenson (38)
Rhamondre Stevenson (38) / Timothy T Ludwig/GettyImages

As everyone quickly gets in their last fantasy drafts before the season starts, I wanted to write about my favorite fantasy players on the Patriots. Notoriously, the Patriots are one of the more frustrating fantasy teams in the league, but I think there are a few guys that, at their ADP can be winners for your fantasy teams. I will give my top five in order of how much I want them on my team. 

 Rhamondre Stevenson - RB

This one is easy. The Patriots are a running team, and they will continue to be. Stevenson is a 25-year-old star running back going into his first season without Damien Harris next to him. Yes, the Patriots brought in Zeke, but he will primarily be used as a goal-line back, punching it into the end zone. Stevenson will be the featured back, and he is one of only five RBs in the league who can say that. Last year, Stevenson caught 69 passes, and I expect that number to rise, especially with no third down back being brought in. Stevenson is the only blue-chipper on this Patriots offense and, as a fantasy back, will end up in the top ten at his position. 

Patriots D/ST

In 2022, the Patriots' defense finished first in defensive EPA, and it translated to   
fantasy, with them finishing as the number-one defense last year. They led the NFL in defensive points scored, accumulating eight touchdowns in 2022. They had 11 fumble recoveries (4th), 19 interceptions (3rd) and 54 sacks (4th).

Their 30 takeaways ranked 2nd—top-5 across the board. In the draft, their first three picks were defensive players, and with almost everyone coming back from last year, expect similar results. Up front, the tandem of Matt Judon and Josh Uche, with the addition of Keon White, will cause havoc in the trenches. In the secondary, the Patriots arguably boast the best unit, with Kyle Duggar, Adrian Phillips, Jalen Mills, Jonathan Jones, and the addition of 19th overall pick Christian Gonzalez. They're in for a fantastic year. 

Hunter Henry - TE

Mac Jones’ favorite target right here. I don’t want to discuss stats from 2022, where the Patriots were dead last in red zone efficiency, yuck. In 2021, he was targeted 12 times in the end zone and had a position-high nine TDs. In fantasy, unless you have one of the top 4 TEs (Kelce, Andrews, Hockenson, Waller), you might as well wait to later rounds to fill your TE position. Henry has an ADP of 256, so he is a sleeper pick, but one that I think could pay off. Bill O’Brien loves his TE’s getting action in the passing game, and I think Henry will be able to exceed his 2021 numbers where he finished as the TE15. 

Ezekiel Elliott - RB

Last year, a new kind of running back in fantasy emerged:  The Goal-line Running 

Back. Jamaal Williams was the face of this new fantasy asset, and I’ll admit, I  rode Williams to a championship in my league. Elliot was one of those guys, as well. Pollard had all but taken over as the featured back in Dallas last year, but Zeke still had value because of how good he is at getting short-yard gains. Similar to a vintage Marshawn Lynch, if you need 2-3 yards, Zeke will get it.

The Patriots want to give Stevenson a break here and there and, ideally, would like to give the goalline carries to someone else, as Stevenson wasn't that efficient in the red zone. This is where Zeke’s value comes in, and at his current ADP, 124 (Jamaal Williams was 145), I could see a season that could mimic Williams, getting all the goal-line carries and being a handcuff to Stevenson. Elliot could be a surprise to the fantasy world in 2023. 

JuJu Smith-Schuster - WR

Some might argue for Mac Jones here, but I don’t see an avenue where Mac can produce enough to even crack QB15 in 2023. Regardless, JuJu has the ability and talent to be a volume fantasy WR, primarily valuable in PPR leagues. He won't make substantial chunk plays, but the dinks and dimes will add up. Jakobi Meyers, who JuJu will essentially replace, was the WR23 last year. I expect similar numbers with a potential uptick, as it's a better offense, and JuJu is a better receiver than Kobi.