The NFL Draft Fantasy Preview Series : Cleveland – Chicago – San Francisco – Jacksonville – LA Rams – Tennessee – Jets – Chargers – Panthers – Bengals – Bills – Vikings – Cardinals – Saints – Eagles – Colts – Ravens –Redskins – Lions – Buccaneers – Broncos – Giants – Texans – Raiders – Cowboys – Seahawks – Steelers
Team Needs: OT, LB, S
Projected Top Three Picks:
Third Round- Ahkello Witherspoon, CB Colorado, Tyus Bowser, LB Houston
Fourth Round- Sam Tevi, OT Utah
The defending Super Bowl champs come into this draft with very little to shoot for. Without a pick until Day 3, the Patriots have the luxury of owning one of the deepest teams in the league. There is the possibility that there will be a couple of trades by this team leading up to the draft. Both Malcolm Butler and Jimmy Garoppolo could see their rumored deals finally take place, leading to one or two first-round selections by the Patriots. But if neither of these trades take place, look for this team to do what it usually does and that is to take the best available player. Truth be told, the Patriots haven’t had the best luck in hitting with draft selections in recent years, but they still like to hoard those picks nonetheless. As it stands now, both the third-round selections of Ahkello Witherspoon and Tyus Bowser project out to be no better than complementary backups at the next level. Expect the Patriots to be hot and heavy on the phone in the days leading up to the draft, as they try and get themselves some action in the early rounds. Otherwise, it will be just another ho-hum year at the draft for this team.
Tom Brady looks like he will never retire. Coming off a season where he was out to prove it to all the doubters – including Roger Goodell – Brady will not have the same motivation as he did a year ago. But, that doesn’t mean that he will regress in any form or fashion either. He is blessed with talent galore at all the skill positions, and no defense can focus solely on stopping Brady. He will be one of the first three QBs taken in drafts this year, and he should likely be off the board by the end of Round 4 or the beginning of Round 5. Brady is one of the few QBs that is worth that type of investment.
With the trade of Brandin Cooks to New England, many experts are expecting big things from him in 2017. But I say not so fast. Cooks will have to learn a new offensive system and develop a rapport with Brady. He has the skillset to have a big year in this offense, but I don’t see him living up to the lofty expectations that many have set for him already. The big winner here may actually be Julian Edelman, as he will now see plenty of single coverages to take advantage of. He should again be in store for a big PPR season, while also increasing his TD output. Cooks will be drafted ahead of Edelman early in Round 2, but give me the production of Edelman a round or two later. Rob Gronkowski maintains his position as the top tight end in the game and will be drafted as such. But as opposed to last year where he was drafted at the end of Round 1 or early Round 2, you should see him stay on the board until sometime mid-Round 3 range in 2017. The other receiving options, Chris Hogan and Malcolm Mitchell, are glorified deep threats that are capable of big weeks but will likely be too inconsistent to count on in your lineup on a weekly basis.
Good luck figuring out this backfield in New England. It seems like the objective of the front office is to sign every back that is even remotely available. Newly signed Mike Gillislee is headed to New England after the Bills declined to match the offer sheet, which further jumbles up things here. He will join James White, Dion Lewis, Rex Burkhead, Brandon Bolden and, well, you get the idea here. Gillislee would figure to see most of the early-down, short-yardage-type situations, while also being the goal-line back, which lifts his Fantasy value. Both Lewis and White will also be prominently used in this backfield and hold value mostly in PPR formats. Coming off a big game in the Super Bowl, some may assume that White holds the advantage, but it would be like the Patriots if Lewis was the guy early on just to confuse us all. Gillislee will be the guy to draft first, in my opinion, but if you are wanting any part of this backfield, then more power to you. I, for one, will be avoiding the headaches myself and sticking to backfields limited to just two RBs to figure out.
Passing Offense- 269.3 YPG (4th)
Running Offense- 117.0 YPG (7th)
Points Per Game- 27.6 PPG (3rd)
Top Fantasy Performers:
QB- Tom Brady, 257 points
RB- James White, 102 points
WR- Julian Edelman, 132 points
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