Bill Belichick is a tight end hoarder.
Last season, we saw Rob Gronkowski break records, finishing (easily) as the best tight end in fantasy football…history. The scary part? His teammate and fellow tight end, Aaron Hernandez, finished as the third best tight end.
With the off-season addition of Brandon Lloyd, the Patriots have weapons that can both stretch the field and stay back for short yardage. Brady is going to have to spread the ball to four Pro Bowl-caliber players: Rob Gronkowski, Aaron Hernandez, Wes Welker and Brandon Lloyd. Is it even possible for them all to be fantasy relevant?
The one player being overvalued on the Patriots is…
Rob Gronkowski. Really? The early second round?
If you think Gronk will get you 18 touchdowns again, then by all means draft the guy. But you’re banking on historical numbers. That’s never a good idea.
The fact is, the tight end position is deep this year. You can wait a long time before drafting one, especially when most league lineups start just one. To get one in the early second round means that he’s got to far and away outproduce the rest of his peers. It’s the concept of value based drafting. I just don’t see it happening again with Gronk because he’d need to put up a significant touchdown number.
I think Gronk will finish as a top tight end, no doubt, but to get a tight end that early isn’t smart. Especially if you’re banking on touchdown production with a deep receiving corp.
If I had to choose a New England running back, I’d take…
Stevan Ridley. But that doesn’t mean I’m getting him.
The fact is, New England running backs are not only unpredictable, but rarely useful. You can come at me and say that this is incorrect because of BenJarvus Green-Ellis (or Corey Dillon if you’d like to go back that far), but just look at the numbers.
Green-Ellis was the 24th ranked running back last year. That’s barely startable, and he scored 66 of his 148 points off of touchdowns. I mean, if Green-Ellis had scored 4 less touchdowns, he would’ve been in the 30th ranked range. Touchdowns were such a big part of his production (45% of total points) that it was more than LeSean McCoy (42.5% of total points) who scored 20 times.
In 2010, The Law Firm finished 15th. A little better, but he scored 13 times. If you compare that to other players ranked in his range, you’d see Cedric Benson scoring 8 times, Steven Jackson with 6, and LaDainian Tomlinson with 6.
The fact is, if you’re going to draft a New England running back, you’re banking on touchdowns. And as I’ve said, it’s just not smart to do that due to unpredictability.
Belichick has historically been unpredictable with running backs. I don’t think drafting one in the middle rounds is worth your time.
Watch out for…
Brandon Lloyd. The people comparing this signing by the Patriots to Deion Branch and Ochocinco just don’t know what they’re talking about. Lloyd is talented. It just took some time for the talent to be realized.
Now, I was higher on Lloyd a few weeks ago than I am now. I think a part of that is because there are so many weapons in New England, and it only seems reasonable for us to believe that Lloyd won’t be the central piece of the offense.
But he’s back with Josh McDaniels, has a quarterback that can get him the ball, and won’t be seeing a ton of double teams with so many other weapons to take defenders away. When McDaniels and Lloyd were together in Denver, he finished as the leading receiver in the NFL.
His current ADP varies anywhere from Round 3 to Round 6 in most leagues. I’m not sure I’d get him above a player like Roddy White for risk purposes, but I think he’s a potential steal in the 5th round, and could end up being a low-end WR1 this year in fantasy.
If he drops in your draft, feel good about getting him for immense upside.
The one word to describe the 2012 Patriots is…
Deep. There are so many weapons on this offense that it’s hard to predict who will come out on top.
Even so, I’d stay away from drafting Gronkowski early for VBD purposes. And I’d do the same for running backs. Keep tabs on Brandon Lloyd, though, because there could be a lot of value with him.
The 2012 Patriots will be explosive and fun to watch once again.