Thursday, Sep 5th
Monday, Sep 9th

AFC EAST

WRITTEN BY :: HILOW

New England Patriots

Coaching/Philosophy/Scheme Changes ::

  • Robert Kraft absolutely cleaned house this offseason, bringing in a new head coach, new offensive coordinator and a new defensive coordinator.
  • Offense: Alex Van Pelt comes over to the Patriots to serve as the offensive coordinator after spending the previous four seasons in the same position for the Browns.
  • Defense: Head coach Jerod Mayo promoted from within for defensive coordinator, giving former defensive line coach DeMarcus Covington the nod.

Personnel Changes ::

  • QB Mac Jones was dealt to the Jaguars.
  • RB Ezekiel Elliott was not re-signed.
  • TE Mike Gesicki and OT Trent Brown wound up in Cincinnati.
  • Lost three corners, two safeties, two linebackers and a defensive lineman this offseason.
  • Signed a slew of veteran backups via free agency including QB Jacoby Brissett (could start), WR K.J. Osborn, TE Austin Hooper, TE Mitchell Wilcox, RB Antonio Gibson, DT Armon Watts, LB Sione Takitaki, and S Jaylinn Hawkins.

Schedule ::

  • Divisional Games (6)::
    • Bills x2, Dolphins x2, Jets x2
  • AFC South (4)::
    • @Jaguars, @Titans, Texans, Colts
  • NFC West (4)::
    • @49ers, @Cardinals, Rams, Seahawks
  • @Bengals, @Bears, Chargers

Bull Case ::

I mean, the defense is pretty freaking good on paper. My mom always said that if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all. So, I guess I passed the test, mom! It’s tough to get past the changes along the offensive line, the lack of a true alpha pass catcher, the changes at quarterback, and a completely new coaching regime. If you can stomach all that, maybe there’s something here to get excited about on offense. Maybe rookie WR Ja’Lynn Polk will pan out. Besides Polk, Kendrick Bourne returns after suffering a season-ending injury, Demario Douglas should continue doing slot things, Kayshon Boutte has a pulse, JuJu Smith-Schuster still has two knees, Tyquan Thornton can run pretty fast, Osborn has really dope hair, and rookie Javon Baker comes into the league as an above-average route runner.

Bear Case ::

On paper, this very well could be the worst offense in the league. On defense, however, the Patriots boast one of the better top-to-bottom rosters this season. That is quite the contrast, and likely to lead to first-time head coach Mayo adopting more of a “don’t lose the game” mindset with possession. The team brought in veteran “establish it” offensive coordinator in Van Pelt, someone who is likely to cater to that notion. We can never know for sure when analyzing a team in April, but this offense is entirely uninspiring while the defense appears to be “like, actually pretty good.” Making matters worse for that setup is an adjusted strength of schedule that ranks 31st in the league, per Sharp Football Analysis, something that could hinder the team’s ability to “win games the way they want to try and win games.”

Expectations/Takeaways ::

Expectations are low, to be completely transparent – at least from a fantasy perspective. Patriots fans can hang their hats on the fact that the defense looks like it’s going to be pretty good, but us fantasy nerds shouldn’t find much to be excited about here. If taking shots in best ball here, I want free. Rhamondre Stevenson isn’t free. Hunter Henry isn’t free. We’re talking like, Javon Baker-levels of free. Any polished route runner coming out of college has an outside chance of making a splash in their rookie year, despite how far down the depth chart they might seem to be in April. Bourne suffered a torn ACL in late October, something that could give Baker the room to assert himself in camp and preseason. 

I don’t expect the Patriots to be slinging it around the yard, but we could access some PPR goodness through Baker if he stays on the field. Polk even had troubles against zone in college, which is not a good sign entering the now zone-heavy NFL, and he was knocked in the draft process for “lack of enthusiasm blocking” – I can’t see that going over well with this organization. Hell, Baker could turn heads and play over Polk to start the year. And he’s free.

I really don’t want to be investing American dollars in the other members of this team.

Miami Dolphins

<< Add Access >>

BB+ 2024