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NFL preseason report: New England Patriots

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See who’s trending up and who’s trending down throughout Patriots training camp and preseason.    

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NFL: New England Patriots at Carolina Panthers Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

This page will be regularly updated with news and analysis regarding the Patriots’ skill position players throughout training camp and the preseason. ⬆︎ ⬇︎ Indicate which way a player’s fantasy value is trending and (R) denotes rookies.

Warren Sharp projects the Patriots to face the 2nd easiest schedule of 2018. If you weren’t planning on it already, draft Patriots.

Quarterback

Tom Brady ⬆︎ -- GOAT gonna GOAT. That being said, the 5th round is still too early for me but I get it if you choose to take him.

Running Back

Sony Michel (R)⬆︎ -- Michel has reportedly returned to practice this week after his knee flared up a few weeks ago. Michel is a talented runner and excellent in pass protection, which should help him secure an established role in Week 1. I fully expected him to take over the Dion Lewis Role from last season, meaning he’ll be a beast between the 20s in the NFL’s most dynamic offense. His 7th round ADP is silly and we should all be targeting him in all draft formats. Ball security is an issue and Belichick is known to be harsh in his fumble-punishments but I believe this is somewhat overblown. Dion Lewis had a reputation for fumbling from time to time and Belichick had no problem regularly giving him a solid workload.

Combining his NFL-ready skill set and the imminent leads the Patriots will be playing with in second-halves, I think Sony Michel will be a dependable, weekly RB2/flex play.

Rex Burkhead ⬆︎ -- Do not leave your draft without Rex Burkhead. You’re looking at a do-it-all back who looks to be the featured red-zone runner in the Patriots offense. His skill set is so diverse, Belichick lines him up as a slot receiver. There’s almost no reason for this guy to leave the field. If I can get a guy who will average 12-15 touches in the NFL’s most dynamic offense in the 5th round of my fantasy draft, I’m taking him every single time. Don’t be a sucker. Draft Rex Burkhead.

If you’re concerned about the knee, give Dr. David Chao’s new podcast a listen. As Dr. Chao explains, a small tear is just a sprain. Rex will be fine.

James White ⬆︎/⬇ -- White will be a dependable flex play in PPR leagues, but he’s stuck in limbo behind Burkhead and Michel in standard scoring.

Mike Gillislee ⬇ -- It’s unlikely the one-dimensional banger makes the squad this year. He’s battling Jeremy Hill for the final backfield spot but is being sadly outplayed. Hill did get a little banged up in the last preseason game so it’s still possible Gillislee makes the roster but you should look elsewhere for fantasy purposes.

Brandon Bolden ⬇ -- Bolden is one of Belichick’s special teams darlings but isn’t relevant fantasy option.

Jeremy Hill ⬆︎ -- As long as Hill’s aforementioned injury isn’t serious, he should make the team. He’s shown well in the preseason and would be in line for serious work should an injury occur to Burkhead or Michel. You do worse with your final draft pick.

Wide Receivers

Julian Edelman ⬇ -- Edelman’s 4 game suspension has dropped his ADP to the 7th round, however, he’s still going ahead of other receivers I like a lot more (Emmanuel Sanders, Devin Funchess, and Cooper Kupp among others). Julian Edelman is a good football player but I think he’s consistently overvalued outside of full-point PPR leagues. Take a look at his seasonal totals, courtesy of Pro Football Reference:

Even when Edelman returns, there are other options in this pass-catching corps that I strongly prefer. All things considered though, he’d be fine as a rotational flex player.

Chris Hogan ⬆︎ -- We’re sleeping on Chris Hogan. Barring injury, he will be the Patriots No. 1 WR for 2018, regardless of Edelman’s return. The guy is a star-in-waiting and I can’t wait to see what he can do through a full 16 games. He was an absolute stud before getting injured in Week 8. As Evan Silva points out in Sharp’s 2018 Football Preview, when Hogan returned to full health for the Super Bowl, Brady showed us just how much he trusts Hogan (in all areas of the field, especially the red-zone), helping Hogan to a stat line of 6 receptions on 8 targets, 128 yards, and 1 touchdown. Hogan will finish 2018 as a borderline WR1/WR2 in fantasy this year. Slam that draft button at the end of the 4th round.

Cordarrelle Patterson ⬆︎ -- Bill Belichick’s welcoming words to Cordarrelle Patterson: “We’ll make you the player you should be”. We’ve all know someone whose been down the Patterson road before, but I’d still take a flyer on him again — he’s currently going undrafted. He’s shown well as both a receiver and returner in the preseason so far. If there’s anyone who can unlock this guy, it’s Belichick.

Phillip Dorsett ⬆︎ -- Phillip Dorsett is an extremely intriguing late round flyer. He’d have to establish himself as the No. 2 WR -- to the point that he’d challenge Edelman for rights to 2 WR sets upon Edelman’s return. But keep an eye on him. He’s currently going undrafted but may be worth taking with the final pick of your draft.

Riley McCarron ⬇ -- McCarron is a player I’d take a chance on in Dynasty leagues. He likely won’t have a role this year, but we could be looking at Edelman’s long term replacement.

Braxton Berrios (R) ⬇ -- Berrios is the other name to keep in mind as the Pats’ future slot receiver. He’s irrelevant for fantasy this year though.

Matthew Slater ⬇ -- Slater is a stud special teamer but is not a fantasy asset.

Tight End

Rob Gronkowski ⬆︎ -- Gronk’s late-2nd-round ADP is far too low. Pairing him with one of the Top 4 RBs is a stellar 1-2 punch. Draft the TE GOAT with confidence at his current ADP.

Dwayne Allen ⬆︎/⬇ -- Allen is more-than-capable backup but I don’t see him as being fantasy relevant without Gronk missing time. But even then, there’s another name to consider...

Jacob Hollister ⬆︎ -- I believe Bill Belichick views Jacob Hollister as the frontrunner to one day replace Rob Gronkowski. The Patriots love using 2 tight end sets and I think Hollister might end up seeing significant playing time this season. It’s difficult to forecast what his production would be if this were the case, but he’s absolutely worth keeping an eye on.