Patriots

Patriots

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 filling out the back ends of fantasy depth charts.

That's where we'll try to help fill in the gaps. Every week, we'll 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. You know you're playing Tom Brady every week. You know you're playing Rob Gronkowski, when healthy. But this is where we'll delve a little deeper with the information we've gleaned by being on the beat. Hopefully someone somewhere finds it helpful.

START

KAREEM HUNT, CHIEFS, WR

Every week we work with the understanding that you'll always be starting Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski. If you own any of Kansas City's stars, you're obviously starting them as well. That includes Kareem Hunt. We won't bore you with long-winded analysis here, but he's one of the easiest plays in fantasy this week. The Patriots are allowing 4.4 yards per carry and 54.3 yards through the air to running backs per game. Shocker: Hunt is an RB1 this week.

TYREEK HILL, CHIEFS, WR

Another obvious one, Hill looks like a particularly difficult matchup for the Patriots. Their top two corners -- Stephon Gilmore and Jason McCourty -- have played well this season, but there's not an obvious athletic matchup for Hill on the Patriots roster. Jonathan Jones might be the best combination of quickness and speed to run with Hill. Rookie Keion Crossen also has impressive athletic traits, but it'd be asking just a SMIDGE too much for a player who's played six snaps as a pro to run with one of the toughest covers in football. Regardless who's on Hill -- five different Patriots defenders were targeted in coverage on Hill last season -- he'll be a WR1. 

 

TRAVIS KELCE, TE, CHIEFS

He's not the best tight end in football. But he's one of the most productive big receivers in football. Kelce has to be in your lineups regardless, and given what tight ends did to the Patriots last week he may be extra enticing. But here's the thing... I'm not saying don't start him. Start him. He's in the start category. Do it. But he caught five passes for 40 yards last season seeing a variety of defenders, including Devin McCourty and Kyle Van Noy. Will the Patriots stick Patrick Chung on Kelce, like they did in the 2015 Divisional Round? Will they give McCourty another crack at guarding that spot? They've done well on Kelce in the past so just temper your expectations. 

JAMES WHITE, PATRIOTS, RB

With everything James White has done through the first five weeks of the regular season, there's no way you can't start him. He's an easy RB2. In a PPR format, he might even be considered your RB1. Especially because of the matchup this week. The Chiefs are 28th in the NFL at defending backs in the passing game, per Football Outsiders, allowing 90.1 yards per game on 9.5 targets.

SONY MICHEL, PATRIOTS, RB

Don't let the Kenjon Barner signing scare you. (That didn't actually scare anyone, right?) Sony Michel is the bell-cow runner for this offense. Even if there are still yards left on the field by the rookie, he does show flashes of the patience needed to maximize what's being blocked for him, resulting in some explosive runs. If the Patriots want to keep the Chiefs offense off the field, the best way to do that would be to feed Michel. Even if this becomes a shootout, he should see enough touches (and he'd likely get the goal-line work if there was any) to make him a dependable RB2. 

JULIAN EDELMAN, PATRIOTS, WR

Well then. That didn't take long. We advised against starting Julian Edelman last week because there was some uncertainty as to how much he would play. Great call... The Patriots clearly were in knock-off-the-rust mode with Edelman, targeting him early and often. With a long week to prepare, and with plenty of game reps under his belt against the Colts, Edelman's workload should only go up from here, putting him firmly in the WR2 conversation in PPR leagues. 

 

SIT

SAMMY WATKINS, CHIEFS, WR

I know what you're thinking. In Sammy Watkins' last three full games he's been targeted 23 times, pulling down 17 catches for 233 yards and a touchdown. Why sit him now? The Patriots pass defense has been surprisingly effective, limiting quarterbacks to just 6.6 yards per attempt, which is third in football. They're also pressuring opposing quarterbacks at a rate that is better than everyone in football outside of the Rams. They're seventh in the NFL at defending No. 2 receivers, per Football Outsiders. And if Watkins runs into his old teammate Stephon Gilmore, look at the numbers Gilmore has posted through the last three weeks if you eliminate the 33-yard touchdown given up in Detroit when Duron Harmon acknowledged he should have been providing safety help over the top: four catches on 12 targets for 29 yards, a touchdown and three passes defended. That's a rating of 70.1. Just don't love Watkins this week. If you're in a bind and need a FLEX, go crazy, but I'd like players like Tyler Lockett, Michael Crabtree, Keelan Cole and Devin Funchess over Watkins.

JOSH GORDON, PATRIOTS, WR

Obviously, Gordon's touchdown grab against the Colts -- the 500th touchdown pass of Tom Brady's career -- was impressive. But Gordon is in this category once again this week strictly because of workload. He's seen 18 snaps each of the last two weeks, and while the number of routes he's run increased from 12 to 18 from Week 4 to Week 5, that's still not enough for me to throw him in my starting lineup. Does he have the potential for an explosive score every time he's on the field? Sure. But it looks like there still are some chemistry issues between him and Brady -- the incompletion on Gordon's slant against the Colts was an example of miscommunication -- and he's a little too "boom or bust" at the moment. The Chiefs defense is 31st in football in terms of yards allowed through the air per game (343.0), but outside of Edelman I wouldn't feel great about any Patriots receivers fantasy-wise this week.  

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