Jarrett Stidham

Fantasy Football 2020: Stat projections for Patriots' offensive players

Fantasy Football 2020: Stat projections for Patriots' offensive players

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.

Download the MyTeams app for the latest Patriots news and analysis

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.

Jarrett Stidham not backing down with Cam Newton around: 'I'm definitely ready'

Jarrett Stidham not backing down with Cam Newton around: 'I'm definitely ready'

For the better part of three months this offseason, there was no evidence to suggest that Jarrett Stidham wouldn't be The Next Guy in New England. 

The initial wave of free agency came and went. The draft came and went. Still, the 2019 fourth-round selection out of Auburn looked like the choice to replace Tom Brady. Bill Belichick hadn't brought in anyone else outside of Brian Hoyer and two undrafted rookies.

Sure, it was a lot to ask of a Day 3 draft choice who had taken zero snaps of consequence as a rookie. But it looked like the Patriots believed he could be their starter.

Download the MyTeams app for the latest Patriots news and analysis

Then on June 29, news broke that the Patriots signed Cam Newton. Stidham was in Texas, visiting family, when he heard.

"Tom (Brady) deciding to go to Tampa, signing Cam and everything . . . it's just kind of a wild offseason," Stidham said. "But I would say my routine hasn't changed at all. My work ethic has kind of been the same throughout everything that's going on.

"I've just really tried to focus on being a good teammate and working as hard as I possibly can to really improve this offseason. It's been a wild ride this offseason, but happy to be back in the building with everybody and kind of get rolling here."

And happy to compete, he explained. 

Even with one of the most gifted quarterbacks in modern NFL history now present in the Patriots meetings, Stidham told reporters Friday he still feels as though that job -- the one that looked like his from the end of March through the end of June -- is up for grabs.

He didn't hesitate when asked if he believed he still had a chance to be named the starter with a good performance this summer.

Patriots Talk Podcast: Measuring the toll that opt-outs took around the NFL | Listen & subscribe | Watch on YouTube

"Absolutely," he said. "I think I'm definitely ready. I think I've put a lot of work in this offseason to really improve. Mentally, physically and really in a lot of different areas. But at the end of the day, I'm extremely excited to compete with Cam and Hoy as we go forward in training camp and get into the season and things like that.

"I'm really looking forward to the competition. I love competing in whatever it is so I'm really looking forward to it."

And then there was this answer, to a question about his relationship with Brady, where Stidham -- purposefully or not -- shed some light on the fact that he still likes his odds of being The Next Guy.

"I don't really look at it as replacing Tom Brady," he said. "I just want to be myself and I want to be a leader for this team and be the best teammate that I can be for this team. I don't really look at it that way."

Stidham even went so far as to say that he was "excited" when the Patriots signed Newton. Though the rest of the world saw the acquisition as an impediment to Stidham's promotion, he says he took a different approach. 

"What a great opportunity to compete with another great player," Stidham said. "To compete with Hoy and Cam. I was actually really, really excited for the opportunity ahead."

Maybe that's lip service. Maybe that's a young player trying to convince himself there's a real competition ahead. 

But at times on Friday's WebEx press conference, Stidham sounded like he believed he had a real crack to be the No. 1. Even with a superstar 6-foot-5, 245-pound former MVP who wears No. 1 now counting himself among Stidham's teammates.

Willie McGinest expects Cam Newton to be Patriots' starting QB in Week 1

Willie McGinest expects Cam Newton to be Patriots' starting QB in Week 1

The leading candidate to start at quarterback for the New England Patriots is Cam Newton, and former Pats linebacker Willie McGinest expects the 2015 NFL MVP to win the job in training camp.

There are four quarterbacks on the Patriots depth chart -- Newton, Jarrett Stidham, Brian Hoyer and Brian Lewerke -- and head coach Bill Belichick told reporters last week that "everyone will get a chance to prove themselves."

Download the MyTeams app for the latest Patriots news and analysis

McGinest, who's now an analyst for NFL Network, recently gave his take on the Patriots' quarterback situation.

“Well, they say it’s a competition, but if you are asking my opinion, I expect to see Cam Newton start at the quarterback position," McGinest said Wednesday on WEEI radio show "Dale & Keefe". "If he’s healthy, he’s the guy.”

Patriots Talk Podcast: Should Pats give Newton a raise with newfound cap space? | Listen & subscribe | Watch on YouTube

One thing Belichick values tremendously is versatility, and McGinest pointed out that Newton brings plenty of versatility to whichever offense he's playing in.

"If you talk to a lot of offensive coordinators and you say, hey, if you had a Cam Newton, what does that bring to your offense? The first thing they'll say is versatility," McGinest explained. "A guy you can do multiple things with within the offense. Cam has beat a lot of people with his legs, and he's had his share of injuries, but he's strong, he's big, he's physical, he can move the pocket. So, now you can incorporate those RPOs, those zone runs, those spread passes. It keeps defenses off-balance. And he can still throw the ball down the field from the pocket and be accurate.

"And he has something to prove. Here's a guy who's pretty much at the bottom of what quarterbacks are making this year and he felt like he was done wrong, so you're getting a guy with a chip on his shoulder that if he's 100 percent healthy, he brings so much to an offense. Josh McDaniels is going to have a field day with designing plays around Newton and the rest of the personnel."

Newton played in just two games last season due to injuries, and a shoulder ailment bothered him for a large portion of the 2018 campaign. If Newton is able to stay healthy and be on the field for a full season, there's no reason why he can't rediscover the form that made him a top 12 to 15 quarterback in the league for much of his career.

And as McGinest pointed out, Newton is highly motivated to play at a high level. You can bet he wants to show that teams passing on him in free agency was a mistake, while also setting himself up for another huge payday next offseason.