Rex Burkhead
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The New England Patriots have been one of the most difficult teams to predict the fantasy value of their running backs. Dion Lewis led them in the Divisional Round with three touchdowns and 64 total yards. LeGarrette Blount had 31 yards and James White had just one touch (19-yard TD). In the Conference Championship Round Blount led the way with 55 total yards and a score. Lewis had 19 total yards and White had eight. In the Super Bowl it was White’s turn with 139 total yards and three touchdowns. Blount and Lewis each had 29 yards.
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Blount won’t return, but the Patriots will still have a three-headed monster with Lewis, White and newly signed Rex Burkhead. At first glance you wouldn’t expect Burkhead to take on a major role, but his contract suggests otherwise as he became the Patriots’ first $2 million runner since 2010.
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Burkhead had just 344 carries for the Bengals, sharing the load with Jeremy Hill and Giovani Bernard. Burkhead’s 4.6 yards per carry was better than Hill’s 3.8 and Bernard’s 3.7 respectively. He caught 17 passes for 145 yards, which was less than Hill’s 21 for 174 and Bernard’s 39 for 336.
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What is Bill Belichick thinking? For starters, he is not conventional. He saw something in Wes Welker, Chris Hogan, James White the list goes on and on. He has a great history of picking little known players and making stars of them. Danny Woodhead, Julian Edleman, again the list goes on and on.
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What would draw Belichick’s interest? He had 31 rushing yards and 143 receiving yards with a pair of touchdowns prior to last year. Why I wouldn’t call 489 total yards and a pair of touchdowns a break out year, he did show a little something. It couldn’t have been their 2016 meeting as Burkhead had just 16 yards on two carries. My guess is that his payday was in part to a fit that Belichick sees in their system and a 144 total yards effort to close out the season against the Baltimore Ravens.
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Should you trust Burkhead as your RB2? I would have to say no. The potential is there, but track record is not. Plus, with Dion Lewis and James White on roster, any hold on a starting job is pretty weak. If Burkhead coughs up the ball or struggles, Belichick will likely turn to the hot hand. I’d pencil him in as a RB3 with Lewis and White serving as RB4s.  It is going to be frustrating owning any of the Patriots backs. It may be worth letting someone else have that headache.

Bill Belichick Super Bowl
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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Keep an eye on this because of the fantasy football implications, but my money says Peterson will be landing elsewhere.

 sb51
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It was a tale of two halves. In the end, my pick of the Patriots came true giving me a 9-2 mark in the postseason.
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Regular Season Record: 151-103-2 (.594)
Playoff Record:  9-2 (.818)
Overall Record:  160-105-2 (.603)

 sb51
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I nailed the Super Bowl match-up. I am going with Tom Brady, Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl. Experience, coaching and defense should prevail.
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Regular Season Record: 151-103-2 (.594)
Playoff Record:  8-2 (.800)
Overall Record:  159-105-2 (.601)
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Super Bowl LI Pick
New England Patriots over Atlanta Falcons
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sb51
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The New England Patriots open Super Bowl 51 as three point favorites over the Atlanta Falcons.  This is the seventh time curing the Tom Brady/Bill Belichick era that the Patriots have played in the Super Bowl. A look back at how those previous Patriots Super Bowl teams did against the spread should give you some direction when you are sports betting online in this year’s Super Bowl.
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Before we look back, however, a quick look at how the Patriots and Falcons did this year. New England went an NFL best 14-2 while Atlanta went 11-5. Atlanta had the most prolific offense (540 points), scoring 71 more points that the next closest (New Orleans Saints). That Pats finished third at 441 points.  Defensively, New England allowed the fewest points at 250. Atlanta finished 27th with 406 points allowed. New England had the best scoring differential at +191 while Atlanta’s high-octane offense allowed them to finish second at +134. The numbers don’t lie. The top two teams are competing for the Super Bowl.
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Now that we dove deeper into this year’s numbers, let’s take a look back.
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Super Bowl XXXVI (2002) – New England Patriots vs. St. Louis Rams
Final Score:  20-17 Patriots
The Patriots entered the game as 14 point underdogs against the Greatest Show on Turf. They shocked the world and started a dynasty by winning the game outright.
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Super Bowl XXXVII (2004) – New England Patriots vs. Carolina Panthers
Final Score:  32-29 Patriots
The Patriots were favored this time by a touchdown. They won the game, but lost against the spread.
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Super Bowl XXXIX (2005) – New England Patriots vs. Philadelphia Eagles
Final Score:  24-21 Patriots
Again the Patriots were favored by a touchdown. Again they won, but lost against the spread.
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Super Bowl XLII – New England Patriots vs. New York Giants (2008)
Final Score:  17-14 Giants
The Patriots were heavy favorites in this one, but this time they were the ones that got shocked.
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Super Bowl XLVI – New England Patriots vs. New York Giants (2012)
Final Score:  21-17 Giants
Once again the Pats were favorites, but ended up losing yet again to the Giants.
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Super Bowl XLIX – New England Patriots vs. Seattle Seahawks (2015)
Final Score:  28-24 Patriots
The Seahawks were slight favorites and were a Malcolm Butler improbably goal line interception away from covering. He made the play and the Pats got the win.
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Overall the Patriots are 2-4 against the spread in Brady and Belichick’s six Super Bowl appearances. Past history suggests that the smart bet is Atlanta, but it’s hard to go against Belichick with two weeks to prepare.

James White
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New England Patriots Running Back Dion Lewis suffered a setback as he required a second procedure to his knee, which will sideline him two to three months. Lewis was effective last year for New England, running for 234 yards and a pair of touchdowns while adding 36 receptions for 388 yards and another pair of scores in seven games.
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The injury will help LeGarrette Blount will likely occupy the Patriots’ big back duties. He has been decent for the Patriots the past few years, but is a tough fantasy prediction. Blount ran for 703 yards and a touchdown last year.
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The real winner should be James White. He will get some carries, but should really be utilized in the passing game. White ran for 56 yards and a pair of touchdowns last year, but caught 40 passes for 410 yards and four scores. He will be a nice early season flex option, particularly in points-per-reception leagues.

Martellus Bennett
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Tom Brady got a new toy. Martellus Bennett was brought in to pair with Rob Gronkowski to give Brady two big, athletic red zone targets. He’ll also give defensive coordinator fits.
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Bennett caught 53 passes for 439 last year as he dealt with injuries, but in 2014 he had 90 catches for 916 yards. Bennett has averaged 65.8 catches over the past four seasons.
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Gronk had 72 catches for 1,176 yards and 11 touchdowns last year.
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The last time the Patriots had an embarrassment of riches at tight end was 2012 when Gronk had 790 yards and 11 touchdowns and Aaron Hernandez had 483 yards and five touchdowns. In 2011 Gronk had 1,3327 yards and 17 touchdowns while Hernandez had 910 yards and seven touchdowns. The addition shouldn’t hurt Julian Edelman. In 2011 Wes Welker had 1,569 yards and nine touchdowns despite the monster season by Gronk and Hernandez. Brady shined that year with 5,235 yards and 39 touchdowns.
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Gronkowski should remain the premier tight end in the league and Bennett is a high-end TE1. The Patriots offense should be as deadly as ever.

Matt Forte
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With news circulating that Matt Forte’s days are over with the Chicago Bears are over, the natural thought progression is to consider a landing place.
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The Seattle Seahawks, Dallas Cowboys and Green bay Packers come to mind, but the team that makes the most sense is the New England Patriots.
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The Patriots look for reclamation projects so much they should be on HGTV. If they can make a re-tread like Steven Jackson work, imagine what they could do with a player of Forte’s ability?
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Besides, his skill set fits perfectly with Tom Brady. Forte’s ability to catch the ball out of the backfield as well as move the chains in a more traditional way makes perfect sense for New England.
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The price will have to be right for Forte and New England to come to a deal, but from a fantasy perspective this makes perfect sense.


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There is some speculation that Chad Ochocinco could land with the Patriots when the lockout comes to a close. The Patriots have had success taking talented players with less than perfect pasts. Does he make sense for New England though?
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At 33 he is no longer the threat that he once was. Ocho has just one 1000 yard season in the past three year, and at 1047 yards it was well off the 1374 he averaged from 2003-2007. 43 (8.6 TDs per season) of his 66 career touchdowns came from that stretch giving him an average of. The past three years he averaged 806  yards and 5.7 touchdowns. He averaged 92.4 receptions from 03-07 and just 64 over the past three years.
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Everything depends on Ochocinco’s mental state. If he commits himself to the game, like he did in 2009, Ocho can put up solid numbers once again. He would have to limit some of the sideshow activities and focus on football.
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The thing the Patriots have going for them is they are not afraid to step on toes. Randy Moss was abruptly shown the door when he started to create tension in New England’s locker room. When players’ worth on the field no longer justifies their paychecks, the Patriots aren’t afraid to move on. With a strong-minded coach and quarterback, the Patriots simply wouldn’t put up with Ocho’s ways.
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Most of the drama is usually occurs when his team isn’t winning. When things were going good in Cincinnati, Ocho’s antics were cute and funny. When they were losing it was looked at as a distraction. If the Patriots were to continue their success, which is a strong possibility, then it should be less of an issue for Ochocinco to walk the line.
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While he would’t replace Randy Moss as a deep threat, Ocho would help. Deion Branch did an admirable job for the Patriots following his trade from Seattle, but he would likely have a hard time holding off Ocho for snaps.
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Ocho’s days of being a WR1 are long over. Mostly he would be a WR3 that could potentially produce like a WR2. We’ll just have to stay tuned to see where he lands.
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Tom Brady throwing
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I know it’s blasphemy for a Patriots fan like myself to not rank Tom Brady in the top five in fantasy quarterback rankings, but that’s how I roll. I try to look at things with an unbiased eye to give my most honest evaluations.
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In an actual game there aren’t many quarterbacks in the league, if any, that I would hand the ball to over Brady in a crucial spot, but you can’t play favorites when assembling your fantasy team.
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Brady is coming off a remarkable season that saw him toss 36 touchdowns to just four interceptions to lead all quarterbacks with a 111.0 passer rating. Oh, and he threw for 3900 yards to boot. Those numbers are sick.
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After averaging 38 touchdown passes over his past three full seasons I must be off my rocker to rank Brady sixth. Hear me out.
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The Patriots drafted a pair of running backs in the 2011 NFL Draft leading me to believe that Bill Belichick is looking to pound the ball on the ground more to take some of the pressure off of his defense.
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I know it didn’t affect him last year, but without Randy Moss, Brady does not have the means to stretch the field. Wes Welker and his young tight ends are nearly impossible to cover, but they aren’t deep threats. I think Brady has a hard time reaching 30 touchdown passes again.
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Brady owners also have to be concerned with Bill Belichick’s schemes. The only thing that matters to Belichick and Brady is the win. There were three games that Brady threw fewer than 250 yards with just one touchdown. There were five more games in which he threw for less than 250 yards and two touchdowns. In half of Brady’s games he was average or better. Three of his three touchdown games saw him pass for 258 yards or fewer.
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We all know he’s capable of putting up a huge game, but more often than not he’s not putting up the monster game.
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In my estimation there are six elite fantasy quarterbacks this year. Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, Philip Rivers, Michael Vick, Peyton Manning, and Brady.  Tony Romo and Matt Schaub are right on the cusp, but a notch below. Ranking Brady sixth is less a knock on him than a testament to the number of top tier quarterbacks.
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What are your thoughts on Tom Brady heading into the 2011 season?
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