The New England Patriots were dealt a brutal blow when wide receiver Julian Edelman tore his ACL during the team’s third preseason game. While the team is still widely expected to be one of the top Super Bowl contenders in 2017, losing Tom Brady’s favorite target isn’t an easy pill to swallow.
From a fantasy football standpoint, it also makes things interesting as well. Names like Brandin Cooks, Chris Hogan, Danny Amendola and Rob Gronkowski all saw a change in their overall value with the injury. It can be tough to gauge exactly how a team’s offense will run after an injury, but one thing that’s certain is that the Patriots and Brady are going to have to find a new go-to option and safety valve in their offense.
Will it be the always-reliable Gronkowski? That’s tough to say, especially since he’s already expected to be in for a pretty monstrous year. How about the new face in Cooks, or Hogan, who’s in his second season with the team?
The answer? Well, it’s going to have to be a mix. Last season with the Patriots, Hogan tallied 38 receptions for 680 yards and four touchdowns but was superb during the playoffs. Over that three-game stretch, he caught 17 passes for 332 yards and two touchdowns. All signs would point to Hogan being the man, but the fact that the Patriots acquired Cooks is what really makes this a situation that’s tough to gauge.
From a fantasy football standpoint specifically, it’s hard to say that Cooks and Gronkowski aren’t the two guys that you really want to own. But, if you’re drafting in season-long leagues, or are looking for a one-week play with a great matchup in daily fantasy leagues, then Hogan could be a complete steal in certain weeks.
And then there’s Danny Amendola, who seemed to fade into the background last season for the Patriots, totaling only 23 receptions for 243 yards and four scores in 12 games. I’m not going to fully rely on Amendola as a realistic fantasy option until I see how he can produce once the season begins. But for Week 1, the reliable options are pretty much strictly Gronkowski, Cooks and a somewhat solid play in Hogan.
Let’s also not forget that the Patriots have a tough Week 1 matchup against the Kansas City Chiefs, which isn’t ideal from a fantasy standpoint. Fortunately, most DFS slates for Week 1 don’t include the Thursday night game, so we could be off the hook there.
Specifically talking season-long draft strategy, Cooks and Gronkowski are both worthy of being second-round draft picks at this point. Hogan’s stock is probably more around the seventh to ninth round, depending on the scoring. I’d have no problem selecting him in the seventh round, but if you can hold off a round or two after that, then that’s pretty much a steal at that point.
The situation will still be tough to gauge, so some risk will be involved. Even still, the Patriots have one of the best passing attacks in the NFL, so there’s reason to believe that each of these players could be a fantasy stud for you in 2017.
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