Editor’s note: Make sure you sign up for a fantasy football league with Yahoo! Fantasy before the season starts. I’ll be tracking our league all year and I’d love to be able to summarize all Pulpit leagues in a weekly post.
The New England Patriots offense needs everyone on the field and healthy, and they need them to be available sooner, rather than later.
Quarterback Tom Brady will be suspended for the first four games of the season and running back Dion Lewis will miss the next 8-10 weeks. Wide receivers Julian Edelman, Danny Amendola, Chris Hogan, and Malcolm Mitchell have all been banged up at various points of the preseason. Tight end Rob Gronkowski just returned to practice after suffering a lower body bruise.
The two key players in the offense that have been available for both preseason games are running back LeGarrette Blount and tight end Martellus Bennett. That’s it.
My question is whether or not this will impact the Patriots offense for the full season.
I’m not concerned with the rapport with Brady, Gronkowski, Edelman, Amendola, and Lewis, but I do think there will be an expected adjustment period when each player returns to the field.
Edelman will be returning from a foot injury, while Amendola and Lewis will be back from knee injuries, and I wouldn’t be shocked if all needed a couple weeks to regain their sea legs. The same applies for Brady and his return from suspension.
I also wonder if the timing will impact Brady’s development with Bennett, Hogan, and Mitchell. Over the course of the full season I wouldn’t be surprised if they all eventually reached the same page, but I wouldn’t be shocked if there were growing pains.
This will probably lead me to stay away from the non-Gronkowski members of the Patriots in fantasy football, but it possibly raises the value of Blount.
I wouldn’t be surprised if the passing attack seemed fairly disjointed until halfway through the fantasy season, but the Patriots will always have to rely on the run game. They’ll do it to set up the play action for Jimmy Garoppolo, they’ll do it to limit shootouts, they’ll do it to run out the clock, and they’ll do it as Brady jumps back into the line-up.
I don’t think I would rely on Blount for the full fantasy season, but I think he’s a prime candidate to show up well early in the year and would allow me to trade him at midseason as the rest of the offense regains their health and the fantasy playoffs begin.