After winning four of their last five games, the New England Patriots earned a much-deserved bye week. If your fantasy football team's lineup consisted of mostly Patriots, however, you were in trouble today.

I for one didn't even try to win my fantasy football game this week. I didn't check the waiver wire, make substitutions or update my roster at all. My team is mediocre anyway. But for Pats fans with a roster full of idle players, this week consisted of a makeshift roster. With the Pats resting and recovering this weekend, here's a look at some fantasy story lines pertaining to the Patriots in the second half of the season.

New England defense: In case you didn't hear, the Patriots traded for Buccaneers' cornerback Aqib Talib this week. His career totals are impressive, however, Talib isn't a lock to step in and become a takeaway factory. Talib only has three interceptions the last two years and won't be able to play until Week 11. The Patriots' defense's forte is forcing turnovers. They have 23 takeaways already this season (14 fumble recoveries and nine interceptions). Although one would think Talib would help improve the defense fantasy-wise, he might not make the Patriots' defense that much-more attractive as a fantasy option.

In real life, Talib is a great pickup for the Pats as long as he keeps his head on straight and can cover wide receivers. The Patriots defense always manages to force turnovers, but better coverage in the secondary is where they have been lacking. So in reality, Talib is a rgeat pickup for New England, but in fantasy, he might not make the Pats' D that much better.

Patriots run game: It'll be very important to keep an eye on the Patriots injury report this week because Brandon Bolden, after a week of rest, may be ready to come back. That means Shane Vereen will likely get less carries. Vereen saw extended action the last two weeks and did well. He scored his second touchdown of the season in London against the Rams, but aside from select goal line situations, don't expect Vereen to get many touches if Bolden is back. However, a reason for Vereen's increased role may have something to do with Stevan Ridley as well.

Ridley will finish with over 1,000 rushing yards and possibly 10 touchdowns this season. But I have a feeling both Bolden and Vereen will see more burn because Bill Belichick doesn't want Ridley to be the focus. There's a method to his madness, the more Ridley does, the more he has to pay him. Down the road, come contract time, this season's totals will be brought up at the negotiation table. The worst thing an NFL team can do is pay a running back, and Belichick refuses to. And if people don't think Bill Belichick thinks of these kind of things years before then they haven't followed the Patriots the last decade. So in some situations, expect to see less of Ridley.

Aaron Hernandez: Hernandez didn't make the trip to London and his health needs to be closely monitored the rest of the way. His status might become a week-to-week thing after his initial return from a leg injury landed him back on the inactive list after two weeks.

One last thing, it looks like I made the wrong call telling you to sit Brandon Lloyd last week. Whoops.

Matthew McDonough 11/05/2012 03:02:00 AM Edit

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