Patriots

Fantasy Beat: Can't count on Tom Brady for big game vs. Bills

Fantasy Beat: Can't count on Tom Brady for big game vs. Bills

Fantasy football owners seem to get smarter every year. The leagues seem to get deeper. The competition seems to get better. That's partially because of the sheer amount of information available to fantasy geeks willing to put the time in. But it's not always easy to find sound fantasy advice on players making up the back ends of fantasy depth charts. That's where we'll try to help fill in the gaps. 

Every week, we've look at the Patriots matchup and try to help you decide which players to start and which to sit -- or which to invest in if you're playing in a daily format. 

START

JULIAN EDELMAN, WR, PATRIOTS

Julian Edelman was the key cog in a passing attack that moved the ball fairly well against the Bills back in Week 8. He finished with 9 catches on 10 targets for 104 yards, including 37 yards after the catch. With Josh Gordon expected to see a good amount of Tre'Davious White in this one (more on them later), Edelman should see plenty of work yet again. Though he's not coming off of his strongest performance in Pittsburgh, Edelman still had 90 yards and saw 11 targets. He's a safe WR2 again this week. 

ROB GRONKOWSKI, TE, PATRIOTS

You're not starting Rob Gronkowski because of anything he's done lately. And you're not starting him because of his last performance against the Bills (three catches for 43 yards). You're starting him because there aren't many other options out there. If you lucked your way into Eric Ebron over the course of the year, if you feel like you struck gold with Jared Cook (until last week), you should roll with those guys. Otherwise, you're playing Gronkowski. Like it or not.

SIT

TOM BRADY, QB, PATRIOTS

Two-quarterback league? Sure! Go right ahead and start Tom Brady. Otherwise? Time to find another option. The Bills allowed 208 yards passing to Matthew Stafford last week, and that was a down game for them. Prior to that one, they had a five-game stretch where they held quarterbacks to a ridiculous 170 yards passing or less. In eight of their last 10 games, they've allowed 180 yards passing or less

JOSH ALLEN, QB, BILLS

The Patriots have had plenty of issues defending running quarterbacks this year, and Josh Allen is among the most effective running quarterbacks in football. He's scrambling on almost 17 percent of his dropbacks, according to Pro Football Focus, and he's averaging over 10 yards per scramble, including almost 7 yards after contact. Allen could be fantasy viable on his running ability on his own, but the Patriots have done well in preventing quarterbacks from going crazy on the ground recently. Marcus Mariota and Ryan Tannehill hit the Patriots for one big run each in their respective matchups, and Aaron Rodgers was frustrated by New England's ability to hem him in the pocket. If the Patriots can do that Sunday, Allen isn't effective enough through the air to be a viable fantasy starter. 

JAMES WHITE, RB, PATRIOTS

Now that White is back to his usual role as sub back within the Patriots offense, his fantasy value has taken a real hit. Even if his teammates and coaches say they'd like to get him more involved, they aren't going to start going away from both Sony Michel and Rex Burkhead. That puts a limit on White's fantasy ceiling. He has just 40 total receiving yards in the last two weeks, and he's cracked 35 yards receiving only once in his last five games. If he can't be counted on through the air for fantasy purposes, he's not making up for that with his work on the ground. He has only six carries over the last two weeks. 

SONY MICHEL, RB, PATRIOTS

Sony Michel is still the workhorse of Ivan Fears' group. His 13 carries against the Steelers were his fewest since Week 10. Before that he had 20, 17 and 21 carries. His yards per attempt, though, in his last three games is only 3.58. He needs to score to be a truly dependable fantasy option, and he hasn't been in the end zone since Week 12, having his goal-line carries vultured by James Develin lately. If you want to roll with him as a FLEX option, I wouldn't argue against you. But I'd play Kansas City's Damien Williams over him, and I'd even think about going with Green Bay's Jamaal Williams instead of Michel this week. 

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Tom Brady, ex-Patriots teammates, coaches react to George Floyd murder

Tom Brady, ex-Patriots teammates, coaches react to George Floyd murder

The death of another unarmed black man at the hands of a police officer has sparked outrage across America.

George Floyd, 46, was murdered Monday in Minneapolis when a police officer knelt on his neck for nearly 10 minutes while three other officers stood by.

Floyd's death has led to protests, riots and in some cases violence throughout the country as Americans called for justice in his killing and demanded an end to police brutality against minorities.

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Former New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady showed his support for that movement Friday, posting the #JusticeForFloyd hashtag on his Instagram story.

Meanwhile, Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores, who left the Patriots in 2018 to become one of just three African-American head coaches in the NFL, made a powerful statement Friday noting the irony behind the outrage over Colin Kaepernick's protests before NFL games.

Flores' statement hit home with two former Patriots: Detroit Lions safety Duron Harmon and Dolphins cornerback Eric Rowe.

The Patriots' newly-acquired defensive tackle, Beau Allen, also posted a statement to Twitter on Friday night after seeing riots break out in his home state of Minnesota.

Several of Allen's Patriots teammates reacted to Floyd's death on social media, as well: linebacker Ju'Whaun Bentley urged others to take a stand for justice, while defensive backs Devin and Jason McCourty called for justice for Floyd and shared a video of rapper/activist Killer Mike's powerful speech to protesters in Atlanta.

The officer who killed Floyd, Derek Chauvin, has been arrested on third-degree murder charges.

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Are Patriots' RBs the best position group in entire NFL? Ex-NFL GM thinks so

Are Patriots' RBs the best position group in entire NFL? Ex-NFL GM thinks so

Some would argue the New England Patriots lack elite offensive weapons.

Mike Tannenbaum would argue they actually have an embarrassment of riches -- at one position, anyway.

During an appearance Friday on WEEI's "Ordway, Merloni & Fauria," the former New York Jets and Miami Dolphins general manager argued the Patriots may have the best position group in the NFL.

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"I think you can make a case that the New England Patriots running back room arguably is the best position room of any position of any team in the league," Tannenbaum said, via WEEI.com.

Notice Tannenbaum didn't say the Patriots have the best running back group in the NFL. He believes New England's running backs are the strong position group, period, in the NFL.

That's a hot take, Mike. Care to explain?

"They go five and six deep," Tannenbaum said. "I had Brandon Bolden with the Dolphins. We rarely get to talk about (Damien) Harris, who is a really good player out of Alabama. Then you think about (Rex) Burkhead, James White and obviously Sony Michel. It is a great group."

The Patriots indeed have great versatility and depth at running back: Michel is the early-down workhorse and White is the passing game threat, while Burkhead and Bolden can give you a bit of both. Harris, the team's third-round draft pick in 2019, couldn't even crack this deep rotation as a rookie.

Pundits seemed to agree with Tannenbaum before the 2019 season, too: SB Nation and Bleacher Report pegged the Patriots' RBs as the best and second-best running back group in the NFL, respectively.

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But that was prior to a 2019 campaign in which New England rushed for 1,703 yards as a team (18th in the NFL) while averaging just 3.8 yards per attempt (25th). The Patriots' leading rusher, Michel, averaged just 3.7 yards per carry, good for 40th among 47 qualified rushers.

Of course, the Patriots' offensive line contributed to their lack of success in the running game. And the team's backs were effective in the passing game, as White finished fourth among all RBs with 72 receptions.

Still, it's difficult to imagine New England's running back room as a better position group than, say, the Kansas City Chiefs' explosive wide receivers or even the Patriots' shutdown cornerback group.

If you buy Tannenbaum's argument, though, quarterback Jarrett Stidham has reason for optimism in 2020.