Patriots Fantasy Football Preview: Who to Draft?

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Every year, the Patriots are a hot-button when it comes to fantasy football discussion.  While, as a team, they put up huge numbers, they can be a head-ache when it comes to fantasy football owners.  Week-to-week, you can never predict who will be the leading rusher and/or leading receiver.  That being said, here's are six major Patriots, and whether or not we think you should draft them.

Tom Brady, QB, #12

Verdict: Good bet

Projected Line: 4200 yards, 32 touchdowns, 9 interceptions

Thoughts: Tom Brady is about as you of a bet as you can get when it comes to the New England Patriots and fantasy football.  Barring a significant injury (knock on wood), Tom will get his 30+ touchdown and 4,000 yards, no matter who is on the receiving end. Tom is worth a mid-late first round pick (or earlier, if you're like me and prefer to draft a quarterback over a running back).

BenJarvus Green-Ellis, RB, #42

Verdict: Flip a coin on it

Projected Line: 925 yards, 10 touchdowns

Thoughts: I think BenJarvus Green-Ellis is a solid, albeit risky fantasy option.  The Patriots have a healthy multitude of backs heading into 2011.  While Green-Ellis is the projected starter, there's no doubt that he could see a dip in his carries.  Less carries presumably means less yards, which could mean less touchdowns.  You can still draft Green-Ellis, I just would wait until the fifth round or later.

Rob Gronkowski, TE, #87

Verdict: Good bet

Projected Line: 55 catches, 710 yards, 10 touchdowns

Thoughts: Sure, Gronkowski will be splitting time with Aaron Hernandez, but he is becoming an elite tight end who will see plenty of throws in the red zone.  Tom will be looking his way more next year, and considering his impressive rookie campaign, there's no reason not to take Gronkowski.

Chad Ochocinco, WR, #85

Verdict: Bad bet

Projected Line: 69 catches, 790 yards, 4 touchdowns

Thoughts: Ochocinco is a risk, even as a #2 receiver.  While his production will likely be fairly decent, with the number of weapons the Patriots have, you can't count on him to produce consistently from week to week.  Ochocinco might be worth a late round flier, but shouldn't be taken in the early rounds.

Four more previews after the jump!

Aaron Hernandez, TE, #81

Verdict: Good bet

Projected Line: 68 catches, 855 yards, 6 touchdowns

Thoughts: Somewhat surprisingly, the Patriots actually have two tight ends that can produce #1 tight end stats.  If Hernandez' performance in training camp and last season was any indication, he will be in store for a big sophomore year, and will be on the field often at the same time as Rob Gronkowski.  Sure, one of the duo may be used more than the other on a week-to-week basis, but the bottom line is, both will be expected to contribute significantly.

Danny Woodhead, RB, #39

Verdict: Bad bet

Projected Line: 430 yards, 3 touchdowns running; 31 receptions, 300 yards, 2 touchdowns receiving

Thoughts: Like BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Danny Woodhead is likely to have his total number of carries limited somewhat in 2011.  And considering there are two other excellent receiving backs on the roster in Shane Vereen and Kevin Faulk, Woodhead's touches could drop in that facet of the game too.  He's not a player who's going to get goal line carries, so you don't know what type of fantasy points he'll put up week-to-week.  I would advise not drafting Woodhead, at least until the later rounds.

Wes Welker, WR, #83

Verdict: Good bet

Projected Line: 95 receptions, 975 yards, 6 touchdowns

Thoughts: Over the last few years, Wes Welker has proven that he can produce touchdowns in the red zone.  In addition, you can expect a rise in his catch production as he is now a full year removed from reconstructive knee surgery.  Welker won't dazzle you in fantasy production, but he will be a solid number two worth consideration in the middle rounds of the draft.

Patriots Defense / Special Teams

Verdict: Flip a coin on it, but a sleeper

Thoughts: The Patriots defense is still young, and as a result, will still have growing pains at times.  By drafting the Patriots defense, you're sacrificing yards allowed for turnovers, sacks, and defensive/special teams touchdowns.  But you can't predict big plays to come from the defense on a week-to-week basis.  As a result, there is some risk to drafting the Patriots defense.  Nonetheless, if the defense continues to progress, picking up the Pats' defense late could be a real sleeper pick.

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