Welcome Fantasy friends and foes to the 2020 Fantasy Football Team Previews presented to you by the Fantasy Six Pack. Our Fantasy Six Pack writers will provide in-depth Fantasy analysis and preview each position group on all 32 NFL teams.
I have the dubious distinction of kicking off the team previews by starting with the AFC East Champion New England Patriots. The Patriots have dominated the AFC East to the tune of 11 straight AFC East title by going 12-4 in 2019. The Patriots were surprisingly bounced from the opening round in the playoffs by the Tennessee Titans.
The 2020 season will look very strange for the Patriots as Tom Brady will no longer be under center. Brady decided to leave the Patriots and sign with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Welcome to the Jason Stidham Era.
The absence of Brady makes the AFC East one of the most wide-open divisions in football. Luckily for the Patriots, their division rivals have been dysfunctional for the last two decades. However, it now seems that the Buffalo Bills have assembled quite a defense, and their offense is improving with the acquisition of wide receiver Stefon Diggs, and the maturation of quarterback Josh Allen. The Miami Dolphins are on the rise with former Patriots assistant coach Brian Flores leading the Dolphins out of mediocrity. The New York Jets have Adam Gase. Sorry, but any optimism ends there.
Let's go to the 2020 Fantasy Football New England Patriots Preview and discover what Bill Belichick and the 2020 New England Patriots have to work with this season and tell me where do you think they will finish in 2020.
2020 Fantasy Football New England Patriots Preview
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All eyes will be on second-year quarterback Jarrett Stidham in 2020. After 19 seasons with Tom Brady leading the Patriots offense, the 2019 fourth-round pick will be mentored by the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Josh McDaniels and, of course, head coach Bill Belichick. The coaching staff is very high on Stidham and his potential to take over the Patriots offense.
Stidham had minimal NFL experience besides last year's preseason when Stidham performed reasonably well. He completed 61 of 90 passes for 731 yards, four touchdowns, and one interception while also rushing 17 times for 88 yards. However, Stidham will attempt to lead the Patriots in a ball-control offense, which will limit mistakes but also won't allow many opportunities for Fantasy production.
Journeyman quarterback Brian Hoyer is a serviceable backup at best but is familiar with the Patriots offensive system. If Stidham falls flat on his face, the Patriots will be in trouble. IF the Patriots defense dominates similarly to last season and the Stidham experiment fails, does Belichick start making calls to Cam Newton? Colin Kapernick?
Sony Michel was once again a disappointment for the Patriots and Fantasy managers. The expectations were sky high after a spectacular playoff run in the Patriots' last Super Bowl victory. Michel is the prototypical bell-cow back and finished as the team's leader in rushing attempts, rushing yards, and total offensive touchdowns.
His role is projected to be more paramount as the Patriots began the Jason Stidham era in New England. A good ground game is essential for an inexperienced quarterback, and Michel will play a significant role in the Patriots offensive attack.
Despite the more significant expected role, Michel is a running back I am avoiding this draft season. The risk does not outweigh the reward in selecting Michel. He has experienced injury issues in college, and that has transitioned to the NFL. His latest injury involves an off-season foot surgery, which all indications show that his timeline includes questions surrounding missing the start of training camp.
Super Bowl LI hero James White was Tom Brady's sure-handed safety valve and will play a similar role now that Stidham is behind center. He is averaging 63 catches for 557 yards and 4.8 TDs over the past five seasons. White is a PPR stud but not someone that Fantasy owners intentionally target, but he is quite valuable in the later rounds of the draft.
Damien Harris was invincible in his rookie season after a tremendous collegiate career at Alabama. Harris averaged a whopping 6.4 yards per carry. It is puzzling why Harris didn't see the field more often last season. The Michel injury may have opened the door for Harris to showcase why he was drafted in the third round. Harris is a dart throw selection for Fantasy managers and one that could hit the bullseye with Fantasy championship ramifications.
"People thinking we're no good and (that) he's just a product of Brady."
— NESN (@NESN) June 8, 2020
The New England Patriots lacked depth and talent at the wideout position last season, and it did not do anything of significance to improve the wide receiver group. The Patriots wide receiver corp came into the 2020 NFL season as the third-worst NFL receiving corp, according to Pro Football Focus.
Julian Edelman is coming off one of his most productive seasons. Edelman had 100 receptions for 1,117 yards, which was a career-high and six touchdowns. He will continue to serve as the team's number one pass catcher. Sadly, no other Patriots wide receiver aside from Edelman caught more than 29 passes last season.
The other projected starter is second-year wideout N'Keal Harry. Harry had a disappointing rookie campaign that was headlined by an injury that cost him a significant portion of the season. Harry played in 19 percent of the Patriots offensive snaps in seven games with five starts. He also finished the season with just 12 catches for 105 yards and two scores. The former first-rounder is an athletic receiver who can make plays and displays potential, but can Stidham get Harry there?
Veteran wideout Mohamed Sanu cost a second-round pick but never had more than three catches in a game over the final six weeks of the season. Sanu battled ankle issues throughout the season but looks to come back healthy after undergoing off-season surgery. If Sanu doesn't produce immediately, it would not be a surprise if the Patriots released Sanu.
The rest of this group is nothing special. Jakobi Meyers showed flashes but didn't amount to much. The Patriots brought in veterans Marqise Less and Damiere Byrd to provide depth, but I don't see much upside in either player.
TE Matt LaCosse will not wow fans with athletic ability but the former Illinois product uses his size to block consistently at the line of scrimmage and open running lanes. #ScoutingSnippets #BrawlNetwork pic.twitter.com/QEzOHAMsWN
— Bridge (@BridgesFootball) May 20, 2020
The New England Patriots were abysmal at tight end in 2019. The shocking retirement of Rob Gronkowski left a massive hole in the Patriots offense. They were forced to endure a season in which their collective tight ends of Ben Watson, Matt LaCosse, and Ryan Izzo were led by the 39-year-old Watson, who had a meager 17 catches for 173 yards with zero touchdowns. However, the listed starter was Matt LaCosse, who posted 13 receptions on 19 targets for 131 yards and one touchdown in 11 games.
In the 2020 NFL Draft, the Patriots attempted to upgrade the position by selecting two tight ends in the third round. The Patriots traded up in the third round to select UCLA TE Devin Asiasi. Asiasi has the build at 6'3" and 257 lbs while looking and moving like a modern-day NFL tight end. He recorded 44 receptions for 641 yards and four touchdowns in the final season of his college career. His speed and catching ability should make an immediate fantasy impact in the Patriots offense.
The Patriots again traded up in the third round and selected Virginia Tech TE Dalton Keene. Keene is versatile and possesses eye-popping athleticism. He is listed as a tight end but has lined up at multiple positions. Keene, a terrific blocker, will look to take on the H-back role in New England's offense instead of a traditional tight end.
The last time the Patriots selected two tight ends in the same draft, they drafted Rob Gronkowski in the second round and Aaron Hernandez in the fourth in the 2010 NFL Draft. On the field, the two tight ends were a lethal one-two punch, and teams were attempting to imitate the concept. While it's doubtful that the two 2020 draftees can make that type of extreme impact, the Patriots are anticipating to improve a team's weakness.
Record prediction - Finish this sentence #NFLTwitter
— Tres Winn (@TresWinn) March 17, 2020
The New England Patriots face a steep road in defending their AFC East title this season. Plenty of question marks and the Patriots also hold the toughest schedule in the NFL this season.
Can Jarrett Stidham lead this team? Can the defense dominate like they did last season? Above all, those two main questions lead me to believe that the Patriots will be hard-pressed to reach the playoffs in 2o20.
More importantly, this is the 2020 Fantasy Football New England Patriots Preview, so who are the Fantasy assets to acquire on the Patriots? I had to think long and hard on this question. Edelman, as your third wideout/Flex in a PPR league, might work. In deeper formats, James White might continue to prove why he is a golden PPR asset. Harris and Harry are late-round lottery selections. If they hit, you look like a Fantasy genius. If they fail, they become waiver fodder.
2020 Final Verdict: 8-8 record. However, the Patriots miss the playoffs for the first time since 2008.
Visit the F6P Fantasy Football page for more advice to get you prepared for the 2020 season.
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