Alden Newman – Pats Militia
The Patriots have been busy this offseason. Coming off of their fifth Super Bowl victory, the Pats were aggressive in adding talent this offseason with the goal of winning number six. Even though Brady will be missing his leading receiver as a result of the Edelman injury, he still has an arsenal of weapons at his disposal. Even though the additions of Dwayne Allen, Rex Burkhead, and Mike Gillislee are incredibly exciting, and further add to our offensive depth, for this article I am focusing solely on the wide receivers. Having to gameplan against Brandin Cooks, Danny Amendola, Chris Hogan, Phillip Dorsett, and Malcolm Mitchell will certainly have defensive coordinators scratching their heads. Similarly, even for those of us that are Patriots fans, fantasy owners are finding the situation difficult to manage. To try to help owners out, I am going to rank the five Patriots wide receivers in terms of fantasy value.
#5. Phillip Dorsett
The very recently acquired Dorsett came to the Patriots as a surprise to many New England fans. The former first round pick has been pretty disappointing for the Colts in his first two seasons, but his speed and athleticism may allow him to break out this year for the Pats. He has undeniable big play ability, proven by his four receptions last year of 50+ yards. However, he has not yet proven that he can produce consistently at the NFL level and will surely need some more time to become comfortable with Patriots’ playbook. In deep leagues, and leagues with big play bonuses, Dorsett is an exciting stash, but I’m not expecting big numbers from him, especially early in the season.
#4. Danny Amendola
It’s easy to view Danny Amendola as the “backup Edelman,” because of their physical similarities. But just because they’re both white and short, can we really just substitute one in for the other? Let’s look at the numbers. Last time Edelman was injured was in 2015. Amendola played in five games that season when Edelman was out. In those five games, Danny caught 25 balls for 245 yards and one touchdown. From a fantasy perspective, that comes out to 8.6 points per game (0.5 PPR). If Amendola were to average 8.6 points per game throughout this season, he would’ve been the 48th ranked receiver, making him a bench player in most leagues. Danny is a loyal and reliable Patriot, and he will surely make tons of big plays for the team this year. But with that being said, he’s not a top 3 fantasy option on this team.
#3. Malcolm Mitchell
After suffering a gruesome looking elbow injury in the Patriots first preseason game last year, Malcolm Mitchell battled back and ended up contributing to the Patriots’ Super Bowl run. The rookie from Georgia even caught six passes for 70 yards in The Big Game. With a year of experience under his belt, I’m expecting Mitchell to break out this season as a major contributor in the Patriots’ offense. How will the second year wideout perform with a more significant role in this offense? Well, there were eight games last season (regular and postseason combined) where Mitchell was targeted at least four times. In these games, Mitchell recorded 33 receptions, 400 yards, and 4 touchdowns. In fantasy terms, that comes out to 10.06 pts/game (0.5 PPR). That kind of production, over the course of an entire season, would have made Mitchell the 39th overall WR in fantasy last season, making him a flex option or bye week play. If the Patriots are willing to expand Malcolm Mitchell’s role in the offense, and I am expecting them to, look for the young receiver to put up impressive numbers this season.
#2. Chris Hogan
Similar to Mitchell, Hogan has proven that he can make the most of his opportunities in this offense. And with Edelman out, Hogan becomes one of the team’s top receivers and should in return get plenty of opportunities to make plays. Let’s look again at games with four or more targets. In these games, Hogan had nine of them, he caught 33 passes for 595 yards and scored four times. From a fantasy perspective, that equals 11.11 points per game. That kind of production over the course of an entire season would have made him the 24th overall fantasy WR last year. Chris Hogan’s role in the Patriots’ offense should expand significantly this year, and fantasy owners should expect him to produce as a reliable weekly starter.
#1. Brandin Cooks
I don’t imagine this will come as a surprise to many, but I am expecting Brandin Cooks to be the top wide receiver for the Patriots this year. He has shown durability, playing all sixteen games in each of his last two seasons. And he is consistent, averaging just under thirteen points per game over that span. Take that production, and multiply it since the best quarterback ever is throwing to him this season. I’m excited to see what Cooks does on the field this year, and as a fantasy owner I’m expecting him to be one of the top wide receivers in the entire league this year. Monster numbers are coming from Cooks, so either get him on your roster, or pray each week that you don’t have to face him.