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2017 Fantasy Football Team Outlook - New England Patriots

This article continues our team outlook series where we will break down each NFL team from a fantasy football perspective. We will cover the major changes on each roster from this off-season and project what the team will do in the upcoming year. Today we take a look at the New England Patriots.

The Patriots began the 2016 season marred in controversy. They had that whole "Deflategate" thing, which was routinely and mundanely shoved down the throats of football fans all summer long. In correlation to that, beloved New England icon and sweetheart Tom Brady would start the season serving a four game suspension. They also lost one of their key offensive weapons halfway through the season, as Rob Gronkowski suffered a herniated disk that would require surgery. It didn't matter in the end, as the Pats demonstrated resiliency and overcame those obstacles, ending the regular season with an adequate 14-2 record. Oh yeah, they also came back from a huge deficit to win the Super Bowl, not a big deal. Now that the season is behind us, let's take a look at how the franchise will look moving forward, especially on the fantasy end of things.


When you think of the perfect fantasy quarterback, look no further than Tom Brady. Brady, who turned 40 years young during training camp, looks better than ever. He had a monster 2016 campaign, throwing 28 touchdowns and 3,554 yards. He also had only two picks and boasted a ridiculous 112.2 quarterback rating. Oh, and did I mention that he did all of this despite missing the first four games of the season due to suspension?

The Patriots are very confident that Brady will be healthy all season even at his advanced football age. In fact, they only have two active quarterbacks on their 53-man roster, with Brady being one and youngster Jimmy Garoppolo being the other. Garoppolo was a sought after commodity after his efficient play last season while filling in for Brady and was the talk of trade rumors all offseason. However, Garoppolo will retain his “best backup in the league” status.

Garoppolo has limited value this season unless Brady finds himself injured. However, Garoppolo will still have fantasy value, but mostly in dynasty leagues in anticipation of the day that Brady does indeed call it a career. As far as Brady goes, if you get your rocks off by selecting quarterbacks early during your fantasy draft, you aren’t going to do better than him. If you value the quarterback position, Brady is your guy this season.

Running Backs

The Patriots were one of the best rushing teams in the league throughout the 2016 season. Ending the season with a total of 1,872 team rushing yards and 19 rushing touchdowns, the patriots demonstrated versatility on the offensive end of the football.

LeGarrette Blount was a fantasy freak all season and led the league with 18 rushing touchdowns which were complemented by over 1,000 yards rushing. Dion Lewis showed promise, but saw limited play during the season due to various injuries. James White saw some action and was a popular waiver wire target in fantasy leagues throughout the land. Despite their success in the rushing area last season, the potential for an even better year for the team this year is not out of the question.

LeGarrette Bount is now gone, packing his bags and heading to the Philadelphia Eagles. Dion Lewis is back and appears at full strength. The team signed free agents Mike Gillislee and Rex Burkhead. While with the division rival Buffalo Bills, Gillislee put up some good performances throughout the season despite playing second-fiddle to superstar LeSean McCoy. In total, Gillislee finished the season with eight touchdowns and nearly 600 yards on the ground. Not too bad for a guy who was limited to only 101 attempts during the year. With Blount out, Gillislee is anticipated to fill in for him in the same role that he had last year. He is slated to be selected towards the middle of fantasy drafts, but could be a steal if he comes even close to having the same type of production that Blount had. Burkhead had a very good training camp as well as preseason, but isn’t expected to see as much production as the aforementioned Lewis and Gillislee. Then there is James White, a player, like Lewis, who will likely be favored in PPR leagues due to his pass catching ability out of the backfield. There are also rumblings that he may line up in the slot at times. All-in-all, none of the backs are slated to be selected anywhere in the early rounds of fantasy drafts as their true value isn't known at this time and won't be revealed until the season progresses. However, if you are into taking chances, it may pay off.

Wide Receivers

The Pats passing game had to overcome much adversity throughout the season in 2016. However, undeterred by injuries and suspensions, New England was still as potent as ever in the receiving game. In total, the Patriots finished the season fourth in the league in receiving yards with 4,308 and were tied for a sixth best 32 touchdowns through the air.

Julian Edelman had one of the best seasons of his career, finishing the season with a personal best 1,106 receiving yards. However, he did see his touchdown total fall from previous years and only had three scores by the end of the regular season. The team will be without Edelman for the entire 2017 year after he suffered a knee injury during preseason play. Brandin Cooks was traded from New Orleans for virtually nothing and is now the team’s number one receiver. Cooks, who is known for his durability and blazing speed, is now slated to fly off the board sooner than expected at fantasy drafts as a result of Edelman’s absence. Deep threat Chris Hogan is ready for some action and is always a threat for big receiving plays. In an attempt for sustained health for an entire 16 game stretch, Danny Amendola will have his snaps monitored this season which will have a negative impact on his fantasy value. Super Bowl standout Malcolm Mitchell has been dealing with a knee injury throughout the offseason and was severely limited during training camp as a result, something to keep in mind this fantasy season. And then we have Phillip Dorsett, who was recently traded to the team in yet another deal involving Indianapolis. In his brief tenure as an NFL receiver, Dorsett has fared relatively well and has a career total of 753 receiving yards and three touchdowns. However, his fantasy value has since multiplied now that he is paired up with the Bill Belichick and the G.O.A.T. To summarize, Cooks is slated to be a second round pick during fantasy drafts, but it could be argued that he be selected higher than fantasy darlings such as Mike Evans, Jordy Nelson and his former teammate, Mike Thomas. Hogan will have seesaw production all season and Mitchell needs to stay healthy but the upside is there. If you have already drafted, hurry and pick up Dorsett from the waiver wire as he is now a popular target. And Danny Amendola is, well, still Danny Amendola.

Tight Ends

When you think of the best tight end in football, you think of Rob Gronkowski. When you think Rob Gronkowski, you think fantasy stud, and injury prone. Unfortunately, many fantasy owners around the universe had their hearts shattered to a million pieces last season upon learning that Gronkowski was going to miss some time, yet again. Grokowski’s 2016 tilt was overshadowed by various injuries, including a season ending herniated disk that the star tight end suffered during the Pats’ week 12 matchup against the New York Jets. However, after adopting Tom Brady’s “TB12” diet (at least partially) and working on motions to increase his flexibility, he is hoping to play his first full season since 2011. If he can return to prominence this season, look out. He will definitely be worth the second round pick, the round he is anticipated to go in fantasy drafts. If for some reason the avocado ice cream doesn’t equate to a full season of good health for Gronkowski, New England acquired the services of Dwayne Allen from Indianapolis. While with the colts, Allen had a career total of 19 touchdowns, including a career best six last season. He has been getting some work in with Brady during training camp, most notably working on red zone passes from the future hall of farmer. Regardless if Gronkowski plays or not, Allen still has value in fantasy leagues this season but will see his value sky rocket the moment Gronkowski finds himself injured again.


After many years of efficiency, Stephen Gostkowski took a step backward last season. Though he wasn’t horrible, he struggled mostly in extra point attempts and ended the 2016 season missing three of them, which is uncharacteristic for the veteran as he hadn’t missed one since his rookie season in 2006. After rumblings of bringing in some competition into training camp this season to put some pressure on the long time Patriot, it never happened. Gostkowski appears to have found his groove once again and has been efficient through the preseason, going 11-for-12 in PAT attempts and an efficient 8-for-9 kicking field goals. Though he may not be as good as he once was, he still is just as good, if not better than most. He will be one of the first kickers off this board this upcoming season.

Defense/Special Teams

The Patriots rounded out the 2016 season as one of the most efficient defensive units in the league. They were eighth in the league in total opponent yards per game and were very consistent all season. Linebacker Dont'a Hightower and defensive back Devin McCourty, who will both also have IDP value, made the pro bowl. They also had a pro bowler on special teams (once again), with wide receiver Matthew Slater being named to his sixth career pro bowl. Overall, things looked very good for the Pats in those departments all season. 2017 should be considered just a continuation of the previous season. Hightower is back after having resigned with the team during the offseason and the team still has some of the best defensive backs in the league in Malcolm Butler and Stephon Gilmore. Though they lost Rob Ninkovich, who retired at the start of camp, but made some small moves in hopes of strengthening their rushing defense. They are in the top 10 in fantasy rankings and will come off the draft boards relatively quickly this upcoming season. If you are going to hold out on drafting a unit until later on in your draft and the Pats' defense/special teams are available, you can't go wrong.


The Pats are heading into the 2017 as the favorites, once again, to win it all. Tom Brady is 40 but you could never tell. He will be snagged off draft boards very, very early. Gronk is eating avocado ice cream and can be a steal out of the second round if he stays healthy. Brandin Cooks will get more looks after Julian Edelman went down with the knee injury and could also see similar numbers to those in the elite category in the same position. They also have a handful of options out of the backfield that can be plugged in and out at any time. Mike Gillislee is a favorite and will be the first back to go out of the group but don't sleep on Dion Lewis or James White either, especially in PPR leagues. This team is surely loaded with fantasy studs who can help ensure your fantasy success this upcoming season.