Congrats to everyone who selected New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and his new wide receiver, Antonio Brown, in your fantasy football league's draft.
Brady was not one of the top 10 fantasy quarterbacks in many rankings entering the 2019 NFL season, but New England's reported signing of Brown certainly changes the equation.
First, let's assess Brady's increased new fantasy football value.
Tom Brady, QB
Brady lost a future Hall of Fame tight end in Rob Gronkowski to retirement over the offseason, but the addition of an All-Pro wide receiver in Brown definitely makes up for that departure. The Patriots haven't had a wide receiver corps this talented since 2007 when Randy Moss, Wes Welker and Donté Stallworth were added. Brady threw for a then-league record 50 touchdowns and Moss set a record with 23 touchdown receptions during that '07 season.
Here's an updated look at Brady's top wideouts:
Brady should have plenty of one-on-one matchups to exploit as defenses try to determine which of these receivers to pay the most attention to each play. The 42-year-old quarterback threw for 4,355 yards with 29 touchdowns and 11 interceptions last season. He put up these stats with Edelman missing the first four games due to suspension, Josh Gordon playing only 11 games and Rob Gronkowski not consistently playing at an elite level because of injury. Brady should easily hit between 35 and 40 touchdowns if his new receiving corps is intact for most of the 2019 campaign.
We also can't forget Brady is protected by a very good offensive line that Pro Football Focus ranked as the sixth-best in the league entering the 2019 campaign (before David Andrews' injury).
Brady is now a top-tier fantasy quarterback surrounded by the most talented wide receiver in the game (Brown) and the most dependable wideout in the game (Edelman). Gordon also has the potential to put up monster fantasy stats. He made a strong impact in 11 games with Brady last season before his suspension. The bottom line: Brady is without question a QB1 and a consistent starter in every fantasy league if Brown is health and plays a full season.
Antonio Brown, WR
Brown has caused issues off the field, but on the field, few players at his position are more productive or reliable from a fantasy perspective.
The 31-year-old veteran cannot make his Pats debut until Week 2 against the Miami Dolphins, but we should expect fantastic fantasy numbers when he does suit up (and if he subscribes to the "Patriot Way").
Only two Patriots players (Randy Moss and Rob Gronkowski) have caught 10 or more touchdown passes from Brady in a single season, and Brown has a great chance to be the third. Brown has tallied 10-plus touchdown catches in four of the last five seasons. He led the league with 15 touchdown receptions last season, in addition to 104 total catches (ninth-most) and 1,297 receiving yards (12th-most). His 504 yards after the catch were the second-most of any wideout in 2018.
Brown averaged 114 receptions, 1,524 yards and 11 touchdowns over the last six seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers. He's been a durable player, too, missing just four games over those six seasons.
The Patriots do a good job spreading their offense around and keeping defenses guessing at which player will be the focus of the game plan each week. New England's running game also ranks among the league's best, too, so we shouldn't expect an all out air attack despite Brown's reported signing. Still, if Brown is healthy, he's absolutely a WR1 (top 10-12 overall) in every fantasy league regardless of scoring. If Brown picks up the Pats offense fairly quickly and doesn't cause a distraction, you should be able to put him down for more than 85 receptions, more than 1,000 yards and close to 10 touchdowns.
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