What changed for the Patriots? Click here
Tom Brady is the best quarterback of all time. I don't even believe there is a debate anymore with his fourth Super Bowl victory and sixth appearance last year. He is a true leader, a team player and is capable of putting up huge numbers if that is what the team needs to win. 58028 passing yards and 428 touchdown passes all time against
150 interceptions is remarkable and he is still going strong. Last season he threw 36 touchdowns against only 7 interceptions and he threw for over 4000 yards for the fifth consecutive season. At 39-years old this season time is going to catch up to him at some point but there have been so signs of that happening to date. He is a winner and should put up similar numbers to a year ago.
A 2nd round pick in 2014 from East Illinois, the Patriots are hopeful that Garappolo can take over from Brady in the future. He is good size, a live arm and is a very intelligent decision. He gets to learn behind the best in Brady which is a huge luxury.
I really like rookie Jacoby Brissett's potential a lot. Great size, athletic, can run with the ball, good arm and makes good decisions on the field. He and Garappolo are going to have a great training camp battle.
Blount has had an interesting career in the NFL. He started hot as a rookie for the Buccaneers in 2010, rushing for
1007 yards and a 5.0 yards per carry average. Over the next two seasons his numbers dropped significantly and the Buccaneers didn't sign him for the 2013 season. He ended up in New England and averaged 5.0 yards per carry on 153 carries. Then he moved on to Pittsburgh, didn't see a ton of action and forced the team to release him. He then wound up back in New England where he
once again earned a prominent role on the team. Then last year he put up 703 rushing yards on 165 carries and scored 7 touchdowns in just twelve games. He has had an up and down NFL career but has been steady with the Patriots. He should put up similar numbers this season but be aware that the Patriots will change gameplans from one week to the next so Blount can go from afterthought to superstar to afterthought at any given time.
What is it with the Patriots where a running back, completely out of the NFL picture comes in and becomes an impact player? It has happened over and over again and this time Dion Lewis was the benefactor. He had no NFL stats since the 2012 season comes in and was absolutely on fire until tearing his knee up in week Nine. He had 49 carries for 234 yards and 2 touchdowns but was a real beast in the passing game with 36 receptions for 388 yards and 2 scores. He was on pace for 80 receptions on the season. By all accounts he is progressing well from injury what watch closely during camp to see how the knee holds up.
Brandon Bolden has had moderate NFL success in his four years with 841 career rushing yards, 351 career receiving yards and 8 scores but he really is not the answer for the Patriots. He can fill in when needed but does not have the attributes needed to start at the NFL level.
Donald Brown was brought in for depth but he has been disappointing throughout his seven-year career with a high of 645 rushing yards back in 2011. That said he was a former 1st round pick and size / cutting ability give him a chance. Heck, this is the Patriots. Brown will probably average 6.6 yards per carry and score 12 touchdowns. Somehow things just work out in New England.
Edelman is a wonderful story for the Patriots. A former 7th round pick out of Kent State, Edelman floundered in mediocrity in his first four seasons, catching just 69 total yards and scoring 4 times. However his extremely hard work and outstanding work ethic have enabled him to earn the trust of quarterback Tom Brady and he has thrived since, catching 258 passes in his last 39 games. He has only mediocre size to speed ratio but his route running is terrific and he has developed very good hands. The only issue is with increased work, nagging injuries have crept into the picture and he has missed 9 total games over last two seasons. Last season a foot issue caused him to miss time. If he stays healthy, he is capable of catching 100 passes. Hard to project him to play all sixteen games in a season though. Put him down for 85 passes and 930 yards.
Danny Amendola had his finest season since 2010 with the Rams but that still just meant 648 yards on 65 carries with 3 touchdowns. He is not blessed with size or speed but his quickness in and out of cuts helps him to get open in underneath patterns. I don't think his reception totals will be as high in 2016 as the Patriots hope to add different options here.
Rookie 4th round pick, Malcolm Mitchell runs very good routes and has terrific hands. He has had his injury concerns in college or he would probably be a round higher than he was drafted. He has the tools to be a productive pro and if he has a good camp, emerging as a WR2 or WR3 is a real possibility.
The Patriots brought in Chris Hogan via free agency this offseason and the former Buffalo Bills receiver adds size and some speed to the undersized, slower receiving core. In fact, I believe there is a real chance that Hogan becomes the 2nd favorite target of Tom Brady to Julius Edelman at the wide receiver position. I have always seen upside to this formerly undrafted receiver and the Patriots make everyone better. Don't be surprised to see him catch 50 passes in 2016.
If Hogan doesn't elevate as a Patriots, perhaps veteran wide receiver Nate Washington will become a good option in 2016. The 33-year old has 457 career receptions and 44 career touchdowns. He had a 1000-yard, 7 touchdown season with the Titans in 2011 which was his career best year. I would not be surprised to see Washington emerge as the second receiving option as well so a real training camp battle is shaping up here.
Keshawn Martin caught 24 passes for 269 yards and 2 scores in 9 games with the Patriots last year. The Texans former 4th round draft pick from Michigan State has good quickness and speed and will compete for playing time as well.
I guess this Gronkowski guy is ok for a fantasy team if that team is desperate for tight end help ... ...
... ... Who am I kidding, Gronkowski is an absolutely beast mode fantasy player. He has a mix of size, speed and route running that is almost unstoppable. When healthy, there is simply none better in the NFL. He has finished as the top tight end in each of the last two years and if not for injuries would have been for five straight years. He is too quick for linebackers, too big for defensive backs and with his ability to run routes nobody is able to contain him for long. Expect more of the same in 2016.
The Patriots are always full of surprises and trading for Martellus Bennett was a bit of a shock. That said, the Patriots like to use two-tight end sets and Bennett has elite receiver ability when healthy. He has 263 receptions over the past four seasons with 19 scores while Gronkowski has 248 catches. I believe we will see both tight ends have some success this year. Gronkowski with 80 receptions and Bennett with maybe 40.
Projected Starters: LT Nate Solder, LG Jonathan Cooper, C Bryan Stork, RG Joe Thuney (rookie), Tre’ Jackson, RT Sebastian Vollmer
Key Backups: Shaq Mason, Marcus Cannon, Shaq Mason , David Andrews, LaAdrian Waddle, Josh Kline
Often with the Patriots the sum of the parts is greater than the individuals and that will likely be true again this season. The coaching and schemes are so powerful in New England that it almost doesn't matter which player is slotted in along the line. That said, I wonder if it always possible to catch lightning in a bottle and at some point, running with subpar talent is going to bite the Patriots in their behind. It is all guess right now for the three interior linemen positions. If I told you I know for sure what is going to happen I would be lying. I don't really love any of the projected starters unless Nate Solder is completely over his ACL injury. If he is, he is a solid tackle but the rest of the line is a giant question mark. Of course with the incomparable Tom Brady throwing the ball, none of it seems to matter every year anyways.
He has been with the Patriots since the 2006 season and he has made 274 of 313 attempts. He hit 66 of 70 field goals over the past two seasons. He is a solid, consistent kicker who is on an offense that gives him plenty of chances to score points.