The New England Patriots have been popular with fantasy football owners for much of the last two decades.
The Patriots have had some of the league's best offenses over that span, headlined by fantasy stars such as quarterback Tom Brady, wide receivers Randy Moss and Wes Welker, tight end Rob Gronkowski and several others. Every fantasy football league's draft saw Patriots players taken throughout the early rounds.
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The 2020 season could be a bit different in that regard.
Brady left to join the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in NFL free agency, and the likely starter in his place is either recent signing Cam Newton or 2019 fourth-round draft pick Jarrett Stidham. New England also lacks a true game-changing wide receiver, although Julian Edelman remains a very productive player in PPR fantasy leagues. The tight end position was an absolute disaster in 2019, and unless rookies Dalton Keene and Devin Asiasi change that, fantasy owners probably will want to pass on Patriots tight ends this season.
Here are fantasy football stat and draft round projections for notable players on the Patriots offense.
UPDATE (Thursday, July 2 at 1 p.m. ET): Cam Newton signed a one-year contract with the Patriots. This article has been updated to include our projections on his fantasy outlook for 2020.
Cam Newton, QB
Projected Stats*: 3,560 yards, 22 TD, 12 INT
Projected Round: 13-16
*If the starter
The main concern with Newton from a fantasy perspective is health. He missed the last 14 games of last season due to injuries, and he's taken plenty of hits in nine seasons. That said, if he's in good shape and able to stay on the field consistently, Newton absolutely should be fantasy relevant in 2020. He's thrown for more than 3,000 yards in eight of his nine seasons, and he averaged 22.75 touchdown passes in those first eight years, too. Newton also picks up fantasy points with his legs. He averaged more than 500 yards and 6.4 rushing touchdowns per season from 2011 through 2018. Newton is worthy of being drafted in leagues that start two quarterbacks each week, and in one-QB leagues he's a solid option on the bench for bye weeks and injury replacement.
--End of Update--
Jarrett Stidham, QB
Projected Stats*: 3,800 yards, 21 TD, 11 INT
Projected Draft Round: 17-20
*If the starter
Stidham has received plenty of praise from teammates and former college coaches this offseason. He also impressed during training camp and the preseason in 2019. Still, he's very much an unknown after throwing only four regular season passes as a rookie, and one of them was an interception returned for a touchdown. Stidham does have the physical abilities teams want in starting quarterbacks, and he does have some decent weapons around him, most notably Julian Edelman and James White. The Patriots offensive line also should be better and healthier next season. Stidham's challenge of beating out Newton for the starting job will be difficult. But even if he doesn't win the job for Week 1, he could still have a future in New England. Therefore, Stidham should probably only be drafted in fantasy leagues with 12-plus teams, or dynasty leagues where he could be a good long-term play.
Sony Michel, RB
Projected Stats: 1,200 yards, 8 TD
Projected Draft Round: 6-8
Michel reportedly is recovering from foot surgery in May, and it's unknown if he'll be ready for training camp if it starts next month. It's not great news for fantasy owners, especially after Michel's disappointing 2019 season. He ran for just 912 yards (3.7 per carry) despite playing in all 16 games. The 2018 first-round draft pick also has failed to make much of an impact in the passing game with only 19 receptions in 29 career games. Michel has value because he's a starting running back, and those players are vital in fantasy football. But he should not be one of the top 20 running backs taken. His injury history, weak 2019 campaign and the fact that the Patriots offense as a whole could take a step back in 2020 without Tom Brady are all reasons why Michel is a risky bet for fantasy owners.
James White, RB
Projected Stats: 80 receptions, 1,100 total yards (mostly receiving), 6 total TD
Projected Draft Round: 9-12
White's value is mostly felt in half-PPR or full PPR leagues because he's one of the top pass-catching running backs in the league. He's tallied 159 receptions for 1,396 yards and 12 touchdowns as a receiver over the last two seasons. He was a trusted target of Brady, and he should also be that for Newton or Stidham. White doesn't get a ton of carries -- 161 in the last two seasons combined -- but he did score six rushing touchdowns over that span. He's a must-own in any PPR league as a strong flex option.
Julian Edelman, WR
Projected Stats: 105 receptions, 1,150 yards, 5 TD
Projected Draft Round: 7-10
Edelman had one of his best statistical seasons in 2019 despite battling through multiple injuries, particularly late in the season. He went over the 1,000-yard mark for the third time in his career and reached the 100-reception milestone for the second time. He's now 34 years old, but the veteran remains one of the league's top slot receivers and a trusted target on pivotal third downs. He's a must-own in PPR fantasy leagues, and to a lesser extent in standard scoring leagues. If healthy, Edelman should again come close to, or go over both 100 receptions and 1,000 yards.
Mohamed Sanu, WR
Projected Stats: 65 receptions, 700 yards, 4 TD
Projected Draft Round: 15-18
Sanu was acquired by the Patriots via trade in October and never got up to speed after suffering an ankle injury a few weeks later. The veteran wideout reportedly had surgery on that ankle in the offseason, and if healthy in 2020, he could be a reliable target for Stidham. However, Sanu isn't a wide receiver you're going to start each week in fantasy. He's best suited as a flex option for when you need to replace players on bye weeks. Sanu might not even be drafted in some leagues.
N'Keal Harry, WR
Projected Stats: 60 receptions, 800 yards, 4 TD
Projected Draft Round: 10-12
Expectations are high for Harry despite a rookie campaign negatively impacted by injuries. Harry is a talented player who impressed the Patriots enough at Arizona State to be selected in the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft. Durability is a concern, but he's been a popular player on lists of breakout candidates for the 2020 fantasy season. Harry has the strength and athleticism to be an effective wideout at the pro level, and if healthy, he could be in store for an impressive 2020 season, especially if he develops a rapport with Newton.