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Disaster Recovery Week 3: Tom vs Time

Welcome to Disaster Recovery, where each week I'll examine why your studs played like duds.

This isn't a place to find out why you should have benched a player for somebody on your bench. Disaster Recovery is to examine the guys who you didn't think twice about benching, and deciding if you should be panicking at all about their value moving forward.

This season we'll be covering one dud per week. There will be two major qualifiers: the player must have performed well below expectations without an injury, and the player must be considered a must-start in most formats.

Editor's Note: Get any rest-of-season NFL Premium Pass for 50% off. Our exclusive DFS Tools, Lineup Optimizer and Premium DFS Research through the Super Bowl. Sign Up Now!


Rankings System

I'll also be implementing a new panic meter ranking system this year. It goes as follows:

  1. This week was a fluke. Don't panic!
  2. I still have full faith in this player, but there are some red flags. Be cautiously optimistic moving forward.
  3. There are genuine concerns here. Consider selling on name value, but don't panic too much unless you receive an offer you can't refuse.
  4. This player will not be the player you expected him to be. Regardless, his value may be too low to trade, and his ceiling is going to be better than anything you can get in return. Panic, but hold tight.
  5. Absolutely abandon ship. We're not coming back from this.

For Week 3, the premise is simple: The Patriots are struggling, and any Patriot struggle should be centered around the legendary Tom Brady. Can he rebound?


Tom Brady and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

Tom Brady's Week 3 stats: 14 for 26, 133 yards, one touchdown and one interception. Brady also ran for two yards and was sacked twice.

Meet Them At The Crossroads

The Patriots may be at a bit of a crossroads. The defending AFC Champions followed up a loss to a tough Jacksonville team with another loss to a not-so-tough Detroit team. The game highlighted the weakness in the New England offense: a lack of playmakers.

In the past, the team seemingly through out a ton of players that would contribute out of nowhere. Currently, the only offensive contributors have been Rob Gronkowski and James White. Rookie Sony Michel piled up 14 carries on Sunday, but only piled up 50 yards. Chris Hogan has been a complete disappointment so far this season. Phillip Dorsett, the team's leading wide receiver at (gulp) 110 yards, didn't even receive a target.

The Patriots will meet the undefeated Miami Dolphins next week.

Tom vs Time

It isn't just the loss to the Lions that has us concerned about the Patriots. The Patriots have stumbled out of the gate for sure. But this feels different.

There's seemingly been a quiet rebellion amongst the NFL community calling for the fall of New England this year. Tom Brady is 41 years old. Father time remains undefeated. Tom isn't showing major signs of regression, but it doesn't seem like this version of Tom Brady will win with no-names around him like he has in the past. Tom Brady at age 41 needs help. Plain and simple. We know Gronk is going to Gronk, but there is a ton of uncertainty surrounding the rest of the group.

Island of Misfit Toys

As it currently stands, here are the Patriots that have been active so far this season that may be able to have an impact this season.

  • James White - At this point, we know what White is. He's Brady's pass-catching back right out of the backfield. He'll be a factor this season. But he won't be much more than that. The Patriots need a certain rookie to be able to produce...
  • Sony Michel - Michel was the biggest question mark/x-factor combination on the offense until a few days ago. Belichick spent a rare first-round pick on a skill player when he chose Michel at the end of the first this year. The rookie has gotten more and more work as the season as gone on, and will continue to gain more work with the loss of Rex Burkhead. Will Michel get the opportunity to be a breakout star on this team? It's certainly trending that way. Is he capable of being a breakout star? That's the question we'll be waiting for an answer on.
  • Phillip Dorsett - Dorsett seemed poised for a breakout season after a stellar Week 1, but a target-less Week 3 and recent acquisitions have spelled out the writing on the wall for Dorsett. He won't be the breakout player Tom Brady needs.
  • Chris Hogan - Hogan has been a disaster this year. Over three games, he has seven receptions for 84 yards, with a two-touchdown Week 2 being the saving grace of his season so far. Hogan is another conversation for another day when it comes to fantasy. I'm not ready to completely write him off, but his value is deteriorating, and he isn't the answer Tom Brady is looking for.

That's it. Luckily, Bill Belichick may have a few aces up his sleeve..

The Cavalry is Coming

Two receivers will be entering the fold soon, but both have major question marks.

The Forgotten Son

When Julian Edelman returns in Week 5, he'll be returning to the field for the first time since doing this.

Don't pencil Edelman in as a sure thing just because he has a great history with Tom Brady. Edelman is 32 years old, entering his 10th NFL season, and coming off a complete ACL tear that caused him to miss the entire 2017 season. Are we really banking on a 32 year old coming off an ACL injury to save the Patriots season? Adrian Peterson was the outlier, not the norm.

Still, it's hard not to imagine Edelman injecting some life back into this offense, even if he's only 50% of the player he was in 2016. Sans Gronk, nobody on the roster has a connection with Brady like Edelman has, and even Gronk is up for debate. Edelman has had at least 90 receptions and 970 yards in his last three healthy seasons with Brady. He'll be out to prove something when he returns. I'm not sure he's the answer, but he surely won't hurt the offense. Brady will welcome the veteran with open arms.

Destiny has arrived. Or should I say... Flash has. 

The Patriots acquired the infamous Josh Gordon right before Week 3. The man known as Flash. Ahhh....

Here are Josh Gordon's per game averages in every game he's played since 2013: 3.9 receptions, 59.5 yards, .2 touchdowns in 11 total games.

I don't need to explain the upside with Gordon, but I will anyways. Josh Gordon's four game stretch in 2013 of 774 yards and five touchdowns was one for the ages. He's only 27 years old, and really only has about three seasons of NFL wear and tear on him. He's an immensely talented player who just hasn't been able to get his life back on track for a variety of reasons.

Just when things were looking up for Gordon, he injures his hamstring in a promotional shoot and Cleveland ships him out of town to New England. Gordon couldn't have found a better situation, but the Patriots are as cut-throat of an organization as they come. Gordon needs to keep himself in check to have success in New England.

If you believe he can keep himself in-line, you have to ask yourself another question. What Josh Gordon will we be getting? The Josh Gordon who's averaging 60 yards a game, or the peak level Josh Gordon that nearly averaged 120 yards a game in a season.

Honestly, both would help the Patriots. I'm betting we get a Josh Gordon somewhere in the middle. And with Tom Brady throwing him the ball, things could get special. Here's an important fact you need to remember about Gordon's career year: his quarterbacks were Jason Campbell, Brandon Weeden, and Brian Hoyer. He's never played with a quarterback that has a quarter of the skill Brady has in the pocket.

Did I just turn this into a Josh Gordon column? I have no regrets. Let's get to Brady's panic meter.

Panic Meter: 3/5

If you can sell Tom Brady for a high price, I'd pull the trigger. Quarterbacks tend to be overvalued and Brady isn't looking like he'll be in that top, top class of fantasy quarterbacks. The question marks are piling up and time isn't on his side.

But for those who don't want to get rid of Brady, know this: it's Tom freaking Brady were talking about. I can't imagine the one touchdown games piling up. He may not be as crisp as he once was and the Patriots may find themselves struggling on offense at time, but I'm betting on Tom Brady before I'm betting against him.

Edelman and Gordon should help. Michel can only get better. Maybe Hogan will actually get back to form. Don't go full panic mode on Brady yet, but sell if somebody is willing to buy at a high price.

What To Watch For

Josh Gordon. Obviously.

Also, look for the Patriots to get their running game moving a bit more with Sony Michel, and look for how Brady's chemistry is with everyone not named Gronkowski and White. The Patriots desperately need to have a good game against an undefeated Miami Dolphins team. The clock is ticking on Tommy Terrific.

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