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NFL Fantasy Football: Tom Brady and the New England Patriots Team Preview, Sleepers, Picks and Rankings




NFL DFS Matchups column: Patriots and Eagles, looks at Tom Brady and Zach Ertz for Week 11 fantasy football, DraftKings, FanDuel

Welcome to our first of 32 fantasy football team previews geared toward season-long NFL leagues. First off, Nolan Kelly breaks down offseason developments for each team, examining depth charts, coaching moves, positional battles, players to watch, Best Ball ADP and targets up for grabs. From there, Ben Rasa breaks down his favorite bets, fantasy football sleepers, and drafting strategies for your teams. With ESPN and Yahoo Fantasy Football leagues starting shortly, and Best Ball leagues already going, our goal is to get you prepped early for your upcoming fantasy drafts.

Awesemo’s Season Long NFL Fantasy Football projections and rankings are OUT! And they are customizable and can be used as ESPN Fantasy Football Rankings or Yahoo Fantasy Football Rankings for whichever host site you use for your league.

You can find them right HERE.

We’ll be releasing four team previews per week, starting June 25 and going through August 16, beginning with the AFC East.

Ben Rasa and Nolan Kelly break down the AFC East from a Fantasy Football Perspective.

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The New England Patriots

Article index:

  1. Overview
  2. Key Fantasy Departures: Targets
  3. Offensive additions
  4. Best Ball ADP
  5. Positional breakdowns: QB, WR, RB, TE, O-line
  6. Preseason players to watch
  7. Betting guide
  8. Fantasy players to target
  9. Biggest question mark
  10. Fantasy football sleepers
  11. Awesemo’s fantasy football rankings
  12. Updates: check back throughout the next two months
  13. Final thoughts


Fresh off their sixth Super Bowl in 18 seasons, the Patriots will look to regroup again offensively after losing a few key cogs in their championship team. Even without Rob Gronkowski, we can expect more of the same from the Patriots this year: a run-heavy, short passing attack, with Tom Brady spreading the ball around. James White and Julian Edelman should again lead this team in targets, but beyond that, there are a lot of question marks and some deep sleepers with potential for your fantasy football drafts.

Offensive coordinator and play calling style

Josh McDaniels returns, with the Patriots new-ish look, run-heavy offense that incorporates an old-school power running game, mixed in with a short passing game.

2018 pass rate: 26th (54.91%)

2018 run rate: 4th (45.09%)

Key Fantasy Departures: Targets

Total: 233

Rob Gronkowski: 72

Josh Gordon: ?68?

Chris Hogan: 55

Cordarrelle Patterson: 28

Other: 10

Offensive Additions

  • Demaryius Thomas: Former perennial 1,000 yarder, coming off a torn achilles. Best days long behind him.
  • N’Keal Harry (first round pick): Point: No Patriots rookie has exceeded 600 yards receiving in the Belichick era. Counterpoint: Harry is the first WR Belichick has selected in the first round in 19 years.
  • Matt LaCosse: Atop the TE depth chart.
  • Damien Harris (third round pick): Could surprise if Michel’s knee-injury woes continue. His stock is rising.
  • Dontrelle Inman: 30-year-old receiver who has only cracked 500 yards once in his career. Not a factor.

Best Ball ADP

  • 39) Julian Edelman
  • 43) Sony Michel
  • 50) James White
  • 106) N’Keal Harry
  • 117) Tom Brady
  • 134) Damien Harris
  • 215) Josh Gordon
  • 218) Demaryius Thomas
  • 230) Rex Burkhead
  • 238) Matt LaCosse


What can we say that hasn’t already been written about Tom Brady? He’ll be 42-years-old this season, and Father Time is still undefeated. But I wouldn’t bet against another 30 TD, 4,200-yard performance, making him fantasy football viable in two QB leagues.

Wide Receiver

You’ve probably heard by now that Josh Gordon recently popped up on Tom Brady’s Instagram account. He may yet be suspended for a portion of the season, but this isn’t your typical NFL heavy-handed case where Goodell uses his power to suspend with impunity. Given Goodell’s recent comments, it feels as though he recognizes Gordon’s rehab efforts and is prioritizing getting him healthy and sober before he takes the field.

If Gordon can successfully continue his treatment, there’s a chance he won’t be suspended at all. If that’s the case, he makes for an excellent value pick in the later rounds of your fantasy football drafts. Extrapolated over a full season, Gordon would have finished with a 60-1035-5 line, which would have placed him just outside the top-20 WRs in football.

Julian Edelman usually misses a few games with injury, but when he’s on the field, he performs as a borderline WR1. Last year he finished as the WR20 and would have finished around WR12 had he not been suspended for the first four games of the season. He’s a great, high-floor option for any PPR league.

If Gordon doesn’t make his way back, N’Keal Harry is your best bet for targets, though he might be going too early in drafts with many assuming Gordon out. Gordon is currently going around 100 spots later than Harry in Best Balls and Season Long.

It’ll be tough to trust Demaryius Thomas after two rough seasons. His YAC/Rec is down to a mediocre 3.8 over his past three seasons, compared to a 6.1 average over his first five seasons, to go along with a downturn in targets. He’s coming off a torn achilles and he’s 31-years-old. It’s unlikely he’ll contribute enough to make him fantasy viable.

Running Back

Another year, another murky Patriots backfield. The real question mark is whether Sony Michel, who just had his knee scoped, can stay healthy. If he can, assume a Michel led two-headed monster, with James White in the passing role and Rex Burkhead or rookie Damien Harris subbing in just often enough to screw up our DFS lineups. Michel finished last season with 930 yards and a 4.5 YPC average in 12 games (eight starts). He’s got high TD upside but doesn’t catch passes in this offense, so you’re going to have to downgrade him in PPR leagues.

If Michel isn’t healthy, Harris is a legitimate threat to take over that role. The bowling ball back out of Bama isn’t overly quick, but he’s a tough runner with elusiveness, who tallied three-straight 1,000 yard seasons and showed some pass catching ability.

James White finished a shocking 7th in RB PPR scoring last year, and there’s no reason to think he can’t at least come close to the same production again. His role as a passing down back is secure, even though the Patriots backfield has never been more crowded.

Tight End

With newly acquired TE Benjamin Watson facing a four-game suspension and Austin Seferian-Jenkins signed and then promptly cut, that leaves former Broncos deep-sleeper Matt LaCosse atop the depth chart. He finished last year with a respectable 24-250-1 line on 34 targets and will get a chance to run as a TE1 to start the season. Consider him a solid option for deep leagues.

Offensive Line

Trending: neutral

PFF pass blocking grade: 6th

PFF run blocking grade: 2nd

Dante Scarnecchia returns for a 35th season, and that’s all you really need to know about the Patriots offensive line outlook. Scarnecchia will look to replace behemoth Left Tackle Trent Brown, who was overpaid by the Raiders in free agency, with 2018 first round pick Isiah Wynn. Wynn missed last season with an Achilles injury.

Replacing your starting LT on any other team, might be an issue, but this is the Patriots, they’ve earned the benefit of the doubt. The Patriots boast one of, if not the best offensive line in the NFL and, with four of five starters returning, nothing is expected to change.

Players to Watch During Pre-season

  • Sony Michel’s knee. Start reaching a round or two early for Damien Harris if reports aren’t good.
  • Matt Lacosse’s role in the offence.
  • N’Keal Harry’s preseason usage.

Betting Line

2019 O/U Win Total – 11 (Over -140 , Under +110)

No shock here as the Patriots have the highest O/U win total on the board with the seemingly ageless Brady leading them once again. The Patriots always find a way to win despite visible cracks, and even with questionable losses along the way they peak at the right time. This year they’re dealing with the loss of Gronk who, when healthy, made the offense that much more potent and difficult to defend.

Ben’s Favorite Player to Target in Fantasy Football Drafts

With no Gronk the question seemingly will be how much of a boost does Julian Edelman see and who else might pick up the slack? Edelman is a target-gorging PPR machine and if he can stay healthy, he’s a WR15 or better. But his health should be a concern only having played 16 games twice in his prior 9 years and at the distinguished age of 33. The Patriots are famous for being able to alter their game plan, even from week to week, and this makes pegging fantasy production incredibly difficult, but there is no doubt Edelman will be centrally featured  in any plan they draw up.

Biggest Question Mark?

Will the crowded Patriots backfield cause problems?

On the ground we have James White who had an insane 123 targets, hauling in 87 of them for 751 yards and 7 TD’s in 2018. This obviously translates to PPR gold and he should remain a very important piece of the Patriots offense as they love to utilize their RBs in the passing game. On the actual ground Sony Michel is the leader, but with Damien Harris (3rd Round draft pick) joining an already-crowded backfield there are legitimate concerns about how much volume Michel will see on a given week and if he can justify an ADP ~40. Add in some injury concerns for a guy like Sony and this is a situation I’m more apt to let others try and chase and look elsewhere.

NFL Fantasy Football Sleeper

Not a huge surprise as N’Keal Harry is going to be a name you hear a lot leading up to the season as he was the only WR drafted in the first round in this year’s NFL Draft. He has a chance to make an immediate impact. The former Sun Devil is a big body (6’2 230) so he could provide another red zone target for Brady and co. and help to stretch the field with Edelman certainly being more underneath coverage. The Patriots brought in some new potential weapons on the outside with Demaryius Thomas, Dontrelle Inman, and Maurice Harris, but Harry should have no problem competing against this group and carving out a role.

Awesemo’s NFL Fantasy Football Rankings

Awesemo’s Season Long NFL Fantasy Football projections and rankings are OUT! And they are customizable and can be used as ESPN Fantasy Football Rankings or Yahoo Fantasy Football Rankings for whichever host site you use for your league.

You can find them right HERE.


  • Josh Gordon has applied for reinstatement. Up him on your boards.
  • Damien Harris is nothing more than a late round flier and is going to early in drafts.

Final Thoughts

At some point the Patriots dynasty is going to end, but good luck figuring exactly when that will be. They seem poised to once again take control of the AFC East and will have their sights set on another deep playoff run with a new cast of characters. Belichick is a master of figuring out how to get the most out of players of every level of talent and it should be another year of seeing different variations of this offense depending on the opponent. From a fantasy standpoint this can be a frustrating proposition and I’m more likely to go elsewhere outside of Edelman who seems destined for a big year pending his health status.

I've been obsessed with fantasy sports since as long as I can remember. Back in 1993, while seated in the last row of Mr. MacMillan's math class, I'm fairly certain a few buddies of mine and I invented daily fantasy sports -- popping down our fivers and using nothing more than a newspaper box score, we'd make our NHL player picks for the night's action. Twenty years later I started out playing DFS on DraftStreet, when three-max tourneys with 490 people were a big deal, and I've been hooked ever since. More than anything, I'm interested in getting better as a player, and in helping you become a better player. Armed with Awesemo's grades and the projections from our experts, we're here to help you take the next step. You can contact me by emailing

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