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Fantasy football: Should you fade Patriots offense or is it underrated?

There are a lot of question marks surrounding New England heading into 2022. We break down what to make of the offense.

Jacksonville Jaguars v New England Patriots

The New England Patriots’ offense could be very bad. It also could surprise everyone. Who knows. Bill Belichick used to get away with having lackluster skill position players when he had Tom Brady. Mac Jones isn’t Tom Brady. Josh McDaniels also is no longer in town to be innovative. So what do we do with the Pats’ offensive skill players in fantasy football?

Fortunately, the earliest you’d have to make a decision on a New England player is in the 6th round or so with RB Damien Harris. The Pats’ backfield has the most appeal. Harris and Rhamondre Stevenson have a clear path to touches and you’d think New England will lean on the run game. Harris was huge for fantasy managers last season, scoring 15 TDs. You’d think he would be getting drafted higher than RB29 but here we are. The public doesn’t trust or have much faith in Harris, apparently.

Stevenson has been viewed as the better pick based on ADP. He should see passing-game work since James White retired. Stevenson is going at RB35 and we could see a decent split in the New England RB ranks. If that’s the case, knowing the Pats will run the ball a fair amount, Stevenson makes for a good late-round selection. Still, it’s not like these are make-or-break picks in your draft.

What do we even make of the wide receivers on the Pats? DeVante Parker, Jakobi Meyers and Kendrick Bourne are the top-3 names. Parker was never in great situations in Miami but also could never stay 100% healthy. Bourne has been nothing more than a depth wideout his career, though he was an OK FLEX in 2021. Meyers has the most upside. He’s being drafted as the WR1 for New England and could break out. The issue is he ranked 86th last season in yards per catch and lacks big play ability.

The thing is, the first Pats WR off the board has been Meyers at WR54 on average. That’s 143rd overall, so Meyers is going on average around the 12th round of 12-team drafts. While none of the Pats WRs are that appealing, you can’t argue with that type of value. Worst case, Meyers gets hurt. If that doesn’t happen, the other worst case is he puts up similar numbers to last season, which is around 200 fantasy points in PPR and a top-30 WR finish. If Meyers breaks out as the top option for QB Mac Jones, he’d be smashing ADP value.

Bourne and Parker are either going undrafted or in the final few picks among skill position players before K and D/ST.

Tight end is very interesting. Perhaps the most intriguing position for New England. Last season, the Pats brought in Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith. Many believed one or both would hold some fantasy value given their past history and what we know about New England and TE usage. Neither player truly lived up to that hype. Henry had an OK season thanks to TDs (9), but only had 50 catches for just over 600 yards. He finished as TE10 in 2021 in PPR scoring.

Now, Henry is being drafted around TE14. Is that with the idea that he’ll see fewer targets since Parker is in town? Does Smith see more work this season in Year 2 in New England? If the Pats offense isn’t very good, it’s safe to say Henry may not find the end zone close to 10 times. If it’s middle of the pack or is better than expected, Henry should be a top-10 tight end. So why is he being drafted so low among TEs? It’s a big perplexing. Even Smith is going undrafted for the most part and wouldn’t surprise anyone if he had a decent season.

Before looking at this, the Pats felt like a good fade. After digging a bit deeper, we find that there’s plenty of value in taking a shot on some of these skill players. In PPR scoring, Harris was a top-15 RB last season and he’s being drafted as a top-30 RB. Meyers was a top-30 WR last season and is being selected just inside the top-60 at the position. Henry was top-10 and is down to around top-15. So you’re seeing the trend here.

Taking a chance on one or two of these Patriots skill position players feels like an OK idea. They’re clearly going overlooked and we know this is a well-coached team. Many are concerned with the offense based on preseason. It’s preseason. Worst case is the Pats are a middling offense again but that still made their skill guys valuable last season. Based on ADP, New England has plenty of players who should have no trouble returning value in redraft formats.