“Brady” by Brook Ward (CC BY-NC 2.0)
In most years, the New England Patriots come into the season on the same page. Their offseason activities look organized and buttoned up, and they look poised to contend for another championship. This offseason, though, the team has looked disjointed and there is a palpable vibe of uncertainty surrounding the best team in recent NFL history.
One of the biggest things that has appeared strange this offseason for the Patriots has been their cutting short of offseason team activities. Bill Belichick isn’t someone who normally cuts his team’s workload short. To see that happen is strange, but feels even weirder given all of the turmoil surrounding the team over the last few months with regard to Belichick and his relationship with Tom Brady.
And Brady’s potentially frosty relationship with Belichick hasn’t been the only issue with the team this offseason. The team has also reportedly thought about trading tight end Rob Gronkowski. While Gronkowski has been an impact player during his career, his inability to stay healthy has hurt the team on a number of occasions. And while the team would want him to stay healthy, dealing the best tight end in the league only furthers the notion that there are some chemistry issues in New England.
The Patriots have also wasted some time on the quarterback position this offseason. They’ve done so by getting in touch with former Jets quarterback Christian Hackenberg. Hackenberg has been subpar throughout his entire career, and the Patriots clearly don’t need a quarterback given their reliance on Tom Brady. But with Brady prompting the team to trade Jimmy Garoppolo previously, it’s possible that they want backups who pose no real threat to him.
“Bill Belichick” by Steve Glass (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)
Heading into the next season, the Patriots will be one of the favorite to win the Super Bowl once again. But they have been notoriously slow starters over the last couple of seasons. As a result, it could well be worth using a free bet from Oddschecker to back their opponents over the first couple of weeks of the season as the team turmoil might make it even harder for them to get off to a good start.
Injuries and suspensions can also derail a season, and the Patriots are dealing with those too. Julian Edelman’s four-game suspension is going to make things difficult on an offense that was looking forward to having him back for week one. And Malcolm Mitchell being hurt thins the receiving corps even further. Even though Brady can make almost anyone into a star receiver, these losses make his job much more difficult.
The Patriots have a lot on their plate this offseason, with injuries, suspensions, and chemistry problems running rampant throughout the squad. Of course, all of the problems in the world can’t stop them from winning the AFC East due to the subpar competition presented by the Jets, Bills, and Dolphins. But come playoff time, these issues may lead to some problems when the Patriots face off with the best teams in the NFL.

Bill Belichick Super Bowl
Given Bill Belichick’s track record of plugging in veteran players, it is no surprise that Adrian Peterson and the New England Patriots have at least been linked in talks. Obviously Peterson would have to take a dramatic paycut, but as Karen Guregian mentioned in the article, he has already been heavily compensated. If a Super Bowl ring is high on Peterson’s wish list, the Pats are a nice landing spot.
If the Patriots are going to take a gamble on Peterson, they need to be sure that it is going to work out for them.
LeGarrette Blount ran for 1,161 yards on 3.9 yards per carry, but scored 18 touchdowns. His usage took a back seat in the Patriots’ Super Bowl run as both Dion Lewis and James White took turns as the star back. Blount finished with just 35 carries for 109 yard (3.1 ypc) with a touchdown in three playoff wins. Blount is a free agent, and could find himself too expensive for the Patriots’ tastes.
Enter Peterson to the equation. While All Day didn’t live up to his name last year thanks to injuries limiting him to three games and ineffectiveness (1.9 yards per carry on 37 touches), let’s not forget that he ran for 1,485 yards and 11 touchdowns on a 4.5 ypc the year prior. Peterson has 2,418 career carries for 11,747 yards (4.9 ypc) and 97 rushing touchdowns. The blame doesn’t fall entirely on Peterson. The Vikings’ offensive line was downright offensive last year. Plus Norv Turner’s play calling left plenty to be desired.
He will turn 32 this month, but he has had just 385 carries over the past three years because of injuries/suspension. Not to mention, there aren’t many players with his recovery ability or physique.
Whether or not Peterson has anything left in the tank is not my concern regarding a fit with the Patriots. They would get a good sense of the shape he is in early on. Again, as long as the injuries have healed, expect Peterson to be in great shape. The major roadblock for Peterson joining the Patriots is his fumbling issues. He has fumbled 39 times during his career, losing 23. The Patriots simply do not put the ball on the ground. When they do, an immediate trip to Belichick’s doghouse ensues. The Patrtiots were middle-of-the-pack with nine fumbles last year. They tied for second with seven in 2015 and four in 2014.
Keep an eye on this because of the fantasy football implications, but my money says Peterson will be landing elsewhere.

The Patriots should continue to be one of the better teams both in fantasy and reality, but they aren’t quite what they once were. Perhaps playing more of an underdog role is what they need.


Fantasy Playoffs Schedule:  Somewhat difficult
If the Patriots play like they are capable of, their opponent doesn’t really matter. However, facing the Bears in Chicago (Week 14), the Packers at home (15), and the Bills in Buffalo (16) means they could have three bad weather games in the fantasy playoffs. You should keep that in mind when deciding between Patriot players and someone you consider of equal value.


Five Star Fantasy Options
Tom Brady – Brady had a great season (65.7 completion percentage, 4398 yards, 28 TDs, 13 INTs, 96.2 passer rating), especially when you consider he was coming off a serious knee injury. Don’t look for another 50 TD season, but he remains one of the elite QBs in the league.


Randy Moss – He’s playing for one last big contract. He can disappear a bit when teams get physical, but you know what you’re getting with Moss. 1000+ yards and 10+ TDs.


Four Star Fantasy Options


Three Star Fantasy Options
Wes Welker – He can move up to four star option if he proves that his knee will be OK. He could also slide down to a two or one star option. It’s a matter of how he recovers, and you won’t know until down the road.


Patriots Defense/Special Teams – They always seem to be an opportunistic unit. They have some solid match-ups against the Bills twice (Weeks 3 & 16), the Browns (9), and the Lions (12).


Two Star Fantasy Options
Laurence Maroney – I don’t love Maroney, but he’s probably the best option the Patriots have. Draft him for RB depth and ride him if he gets hot.


Julian Edelman & Torry Holt – If Welker is slow to recover, Edelman can be used to fill the void. Once Welker is back, Edelman will catch the ball, but consistency will be an issue. I don’t think Holt has anything left in the tank, but Belichick somehow squeezes the last bit of production our of veterans.


One Star Fantasy Options
Sammy Morris, Kevin Faulk, and Fred Taylor – Each of them will probably show some value at different points of the season, but you can’t rely on any of them.


Taylor Price and Brandon Tate – Keep these guys on your radar, but don’t bother drafting them until they have defined roles.


Alge Crumpler, Rob Gronkowski, and Aaron Hernandez – The Patriots have little to offer at TE. Look elsewhere.


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