If your fantasy team roster is filled with Patriots, then this is the place for you. We here at Patriots Life will provide a weekly fantasy football update of the New England Patriots. Here is the player-by-player analysis for this week.
Quarterback: Tom Brady- Brady is a must-start every week. Although Brady had his worst game of the season last week, he is still one of the most consistent quarterbacks in the league. And with two rushing touchdowns this season, he is giving fantasy owners an added dynamic to his game. Is Brady becoming a rushing quarterback? No, but look for him to rebound at home against the Jets.
Running back: Stevan Ridley- Ridley had only 34 yards on 16 carries in a 24-23 loss at Seattle last week. The poor fantasy showing by Ridley wasn't due to lack of snaps stemming from his fourth quarter fumble at home against Denver two weeks ago. It was a result of a good Seahawks' defense and Josh McDaniels' play-calling. The Patriots' offensive scheme was to throw the ball at Seattle. Brady attempted 58 passes. It didn't end with a win on the field, and the lack of touches for Ridley didn't help Patriots' fantasy owners either. The Jets' defense gives up close to 200 rushing yards a game so look for Ridley to reap the benefits this week.
Brandon Bolden- After his coming out party in Buffalo, Bolden has been limited the past two weeks. Don't look for him to break out this week, either. Bolden had just six carries against the Seahawks and has been limited in practice with a knee injury. With Ridley and Danny Woodhead getting touches, it's best to sit Bolden this week. But if he's been on your roster since he scored a touchdown at Baltimore, don't look to drop him anytime soon. Keep him on your bench.
Danny Woodhead- Woody is the most versatile of the Patriots' backs but his inconsistency makes it a tough decision as to whether or not to start him each week. Last week, he had a season-high five receptions for 46 yards, but only four carries for 25 yards. A lot of Woodhead's success depends on the passing game. He is the best receiving option coming out of the backfield. This week, Woodhead plays against his former team, and if Bolden is limited, Woodhead will get more touches than usual.
Brandon Lloyd Lloyd has only scored one touchdown this season, although I'm still not convinced he was down at the one against the Broncos, although I'm glad Shane Vereen found the end zone on the next play. But Lloyd has without a doubt been Brady's second-favorite target. He has more receptions than Rob Gronkowski this season. Lloyd is a lock for between three and eight receptions a game, but puts up inconsistent receiving yard totals. Gronk hasn't gotten open in the red zone and I have a hunch Lloyd is due for a touchdown this week against the Jets. But if your fantasy team is in need of consistent touchdowns from its wide receivers, than Lloyd may not be the receiver for you.
Deion Branch- Pats fans gotta love Deion accepting a lesser role and being a team-guy. His loyalty to the Patriots organization is undeniable but his fantasy franchise value is minimal. More concerning than his mere four receptions this season is the fact that he's only been targeted nine times. Brady just isn't looking to throw him the ball. He isn't a lock for New England's roster week to week and shouldn't be on your fantasy roster either.
Julian Edelman- Edelman was beginning to put together a promising 2012 campaign until he was derailed by a hand injury suffered at Baltimore a few weeks ago. He didn't travel to Seattle and most likely will be out again this week, but keep him on your bench because when he does return, he could pay surprising dividends.
Tight Ends: Rob Gronkowski- Gronk has surprisely been quiet this season. He's only scored three touchdowns and has successfully executed just one Gronk Spike. With the exception of the Ravens game, Gronkowski is still good for five receptions and the touchdowns will come soon enough. Start him.
Aaron Hernandez- Hernandez returned from his Week 2 injury suffered against Arizona, and for most fantasy owners, chances are the points he totaled in Seattle went to waste. It's hard to be sure whether or not to start a Patriot who was recently injured. Bill Belichick certainly won't help you. Hernandez was expected to come back soon, but to be so involved against the Seahawks, (six receptions, 59 yards and one touchdown) was a pleasant surprise. Not only did he return but he returned with a vengeance. He was involved in the game plan and was back to his old self, showing no limitations from the injury and making it rain after his score. Look for him to be just as involved against the Jets.
Kicker: Stephen Gostkowski- Gostkowski is 14-of-17 on field goal attempts this season. Although he's missed big ones (don't forget his two misses at Buffalo were huge till the Pats rolled over the Bills in the second half), it seems as though he's righted the ship. He was 3-for-3 at Seattle and if not for Brady's pick in the end zone and intentional grounding penalty that cost them points at the end of the half, Gostkowksi could've made five kicks. The Patriots haven't been automatic in the red zone, and this week I expect McDaniels to not be so "cute" with play calls close to the goal line. Because of last week, we may see a more conservative approach, resulting in easy kicks for Gostkowski. If you got him, start him, but remember the Pats' bye week is coming up.
Patriots Defense- Bend but don't break. Opportunistic. Those are the kinds of realistic words we like use when talking about the Patriots' defense. But last week in Seattle, they were back to their old selves. They couldn't come up with the stop or turnover in the 4th quarter to close out the game. The Patriots will need to stop the run this week against New York and force Mark Sanchez into throwing the ball. Sanchez averages an interception a game and the Patriots D averages an INT per contest. Sanchez isn't going to pass for 82 yards this week, and if the Jets are losing late, with the Pats secondary in a prevent defense, his final yardage total may look inflated. Expect the Pats to give up touchdowns against the Jets, and cost fantasy owners possible points by not turning around in coverage for easy interceptions. This isn't the Bears defense. The Pats D won't score points and may hurt more than help, even against Sanchez. The Pats D does have Tebow's number, but don't expect him to drop back for a pass more than once. Even Patriot fans stay away from owning the Patriots' defense, but this is a New England-catered article.