Mac Jones overtaking Cam Newton for the New England Patriots' starting quarterback job marked the beginning of a new era in Foxboro. It also changed the fantasy football landscape for those with Pats players on their roster.
In 2020, Newton's presence limited the upside of several Patriots standouts. For instance, Jakobi Meyers was the team's highest-scoring pass-catcher (113 fantasy points) and didn't have any touchdowns on the season. Pass-catching running back James White went from valuable PPR (point per reception) asset to virtually unusable in all formats.
The jury is still out on Mac Jones, but the 2021 first-round draft pick should boost the real and fantasy values of his Patriots teammates if he plays anything like he did in camp and the preseason. Here are the primary benefactors of Jones being named New England's next starting QB.
We're starting the obvious here, but Jones immediately becomes a usable fantasy quarterback now that we know he's the guy. The Alabama product won't provide much -- if anything -- in the form of rushing, but he could end up being a viable bye-week waiver-wire add for those scrambling for a QB. It's best to wait at least a couple of games to see what Jones is capable of before throwing him into your fantasy lineup.
Patriots receivers, tight ends, and pass-catching backs were irrelevant in fantasy football last year, and that isn't totally a knock on Newton. There just wasn't much offensive talent on the roster. But Newton's inaccuracy certainly didn't help matters.
With Nelson Agholor, Kendrick Bourne, Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith now in the mix, plus Jones throwing them the ball, the Patriots appear to have some legitimate fantasy options. Agholor remains a bench stash but has more value than he did with Newton at the helm. Bourne is waiver-wire fodder for now, but could be an OK flex play at some point this season. Henry and Smith both could be solid TE1 options if the Patriots run 12 personnel as is expected.
Jakobi Meyers could end up being Jones' favorite target in the slot. If we had to pick one Pats pass-catcher for fantasy purposes, it would be the former undrafted free agent out of NC State. Consider Meyers a low-end flex play/bench stash with solid upside for now.
Harris saw his fantasy value rise when Sony Michel was traded to the Los Angeles Rams, and Cam Newton's release makes him even more of an attractive RB for your squad. Newton would have stolen a bunch of goal-line opportunities from the third-year running back. Jones isn't someone who is going to sneak it into the end zone the way Newton did, so Harris should see the bulk of those carries and see his TD total rise. It's worth noting, however, that rookie Rhamondre Stevenson could compete for goal-line work as the season goes on.
Consider Harris an RB2 in standard leagues and a solid flex in PPR formats.
White was a disappointment in fantasy last season largely due to Newton's inconsistency with getting the ball to his third-down back. Those types of throws are Jones' bread and butter, so we should see White return to being a rock-solid option in PPR formats. He probably still isn't worth a roster spot in standard leagues, but keep him on your bench as a depth piece in 0.5 or full PPR. White remains an integral part of what the Patriots hope to accomplish on offense.