The Patriots are going into this season ranked as my 22nd best team. I have them winning 5 games this year and finishing 4th in the AFC East and 14th in the AFC. Below is my in-depth breakdown of the team by position, staff, and fantasy worth.
Coaching: A++; It’s Bill Belicheck. The greatest coach of all time. He is on a whole different level when it comes to coaching. There shouldn’t be anything else to say.
QB: F; I know that the media is in love with Jarret Stidham, but I’m not buying it. I haven’t seen anything on the field that warrants hype for this guy. Even the Patriots former linebacker, Rob Nincovich, says that Brian Hoyer should be the starter. I have zero faith in Stidham as of now.
RB: C; Sony Michel is an ok starter. He is nothing special, but he’s serviceable. He had 912 yards last year on 3.7 yards per attempt. Not a great year, but there were some problems in the run game. I think the Pats have decent rotation with James White and Rex Burkhead behind him. It’s an ok backfield all around.
WR: B-; Julian Edelman and Mohamed Sanu definitely make a solid starting due. N’keal Harry is also a good complimentary player, and he has a lot of potential. They have decent depth at the position with Marquise Lee and Damiere Byrd. So, what is the problem? They have almost no speed at the position. None of the receivers is a down-the-field-threat. They can’t spread the field at all. Jarret Stidham and the offense will make mistakes when they have to have long drives with no big plays.
TE: D-; Matt LaCosse is probably not who you want at tight end. With the loss of Brady, they lost Gronk. He didn’t play last year, but the hole at the position has been very evident. They clearly need an upgrade.
O-line: B+; I like the offensive line. It’s definitely in the top 10 in the league right now. It is very solid. Isaiah Wynn, Joe Thuney, David Andrews, Shaq Mason, and Marcus Cannon are all good blockers. The loss of Trent Brown may hurt a little bit. This line is an B+ now, but I am very confident that the Patriots will trade Joe Thuney. If they do, that could be a huge loss for the season.
D-line: D+; I don’t like this defensive line. They lost key rusher Trey Flowers in free agency, and they didn’t do much to replace him. They added nose tackle Beau Allen in free agency and that is it. Sadly, it looks like he will be starting. Lawrence Guy is an okay end, but he won’t be able to hold up the line by himself. They didn’t really address this position as a need in the draft, and it will hurt them. They do have a great secondary, but it’s going to have to be able to cover for a long time if their line isn’t good enough to generate quick pressure.
LB: C-; Dont’a Hightower is a good middle linebacker, but he is getting older and is injury prone. Ja’Whaun Bentley and John Simon should be an ok outside linebacker duo. They are nothing special, but with the right coaching, (that the Patriots definitely have) they could. Though I like the draft pick of Josh Uche at 60th overall, he probably won’t get an immense amount of playing time. It’s an ok group, but it needs work.
DB: A; This secondary is great. They have the best cornerback in the league with Stephon Gilmore, and Jason McCourty is an above average number 2. Outside of those two, there isn’t a lot of depth, but that doesn’t worry me all that much. Patrick Chung and Devin McCourty make up one of the best safety duos in the league. They are fast, smart, and help defend the backside of the defense very well. If anything is keeping this defense together, it is the secondary. They haven’t helped it that much in the offseason, though, so don’t expect it to be as ferocious as it was last year. They lost key cornerback Eric Rowe. He helped with depth that might be needed later in the season.
Overall: B-; I didn’t like any of the Patriots moves this offseason. They lost key players everywhere, they had a horrible draft, and the greatest quarterback of all time left. Not only that, but as of now it looks like Joe Thuney will be traded off for draft capital. Though I think that is the right decision, It will hurt them this season. It feels right now like the Patriots are getting ready for a tanking season. I think that they could be very bad. I think if they tried their hardest, they are a 8-8 team realistically with their hard schedule. Don’t get too excited for them just because they have Bill Belicheck as their coach.
Fantasy Value: Sony Michel should be an ok fantasy back. I wouldn’t take him over almost any other starting backs due to the Patriots tendency to rotate, but he could be a good number 2. I wouldn’t get any of the Patriots receivers. I am not very confident in their pass game at all. Obviously that means stay away from Stidham. That should be a given, but I wouldn’t ever think of drafting him.