Every year we give our premium content members a team-by-team, player-by-player look at the NFL season that was. The coverage will be in-depth, but because the Dynasty Capsule series begins immediately after the season, we won’t use it to discuss free agency or the draft. Come see us in early May once Mr. Irrelevant is off the board for another 32-article series giving you the same detailed discussion you’ll see below.
Buckle up dynasty fans, because you’re about to be reminded why our motto is, “There is no off-season.”
Tom Brady (JAN ADP: 130.0, QB14)
Tom Brady is New England’s quarterback of both the present and the future. The certainty of the all-time legend’s Patriots career was cemented with the trade of Jimmy Garoppolo to San Francisco. Nobody knows exactly how much longer Brady will play, but he’s among the better fantasy starters still playing.
The 40-year-old MVP led the NFL with 4,577 passing yards, throwing for 32 touchdowns and just eight interceptions. He had just two games without a touchdown and protected the ball well as usual, although he threw at least one interception in each of the last five games of the fantasy season and playoffs. Brady had been dealing with an Achilles issue, which may have hindered his ability to drive the ball deep rather than a byproduct of his aging.
With a January ADP of 130, Brady ranks 14th among quarterbacks. Our composite staff QB rankings pit Brady 13th. Nobody knows how much longer he will play for, but now the Patriots traded Garoppolo away, Brady should have at least a couple of years left. He will continue to be a buy for contenders because of his discounted price and advanced age.
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Brian Hoyer (JAN ADP: N/A)
32-year-old Brian Hoyer is the only other quarterback on the Patriots roster. We’ve seen Hoyer be a serviceable fantasy quarterback before, but he’s barely rosterable behind a durable Tom Brady even in deeper superflex formats. He’s under contract for one additional season in New England, but almost certainly will not be their backup of the future.
Currently ranked as the 40th best quarterback by our staff, he’s someone to monitor in case of injury to Brady, but that’s it. He may resurface as a bottom-tier starter elsewhere in the league at age 34 once his contract expires, but that’s a long time to hold a low-upside asset.
Dion Lewis (JAN ADP: 81.2, RB24)
His issue has never been talent. Lewis is one of the most underrated running backs in the NFL, but his downfall throughout his career has been his durability. At 27 years old, 2017 was his first career 16-game season, but it was a career-best by a considerable margin.
Lewis rushed 180 times for 896 yards (5.0 yards per carry) and six touchdowns, adding 32 receptions for 214 yards (6.7 yards per reception) and three touchdowns. He added a kick return touchdown, bringing his season total to ten. Despite his status in a committee backfield, he averaged 16 PPR points per game over the last seven weeks of the season.
His January ADP was 81.2, pitting him in the seventh round of startup drafts. Our rankers are all over the map on Lewis, with some ranking him as high as RB21 and some as low as RB74 (RB42 overall). Likewise, his highest mark in our Top 200 ranks is 85th overall, whereas his lowest rank is 187th (126th overall).
As talented as he is, Lewis is an impending free agent, and I’m avoiding him at his current cost until some clarity emerges around his situation. For what it’s worth, Lewis is reportedly excited to test free agency and has not negotiated with the Patriots.
Rex Burkhead (JAN ADP: 98.7, RB32)
Burkhead averaged 13.9 PPR points per game in games that he both started and finished (and did not exit early due to injury). He had six touchdowns in his last four games before he suffered a knee injury that knocked him out of the rest of the regular season.
Our rankers are all over the map on Burkhead too, with some ranking him as high as RB26 and some as low as RB77 (RB40 overall). Likewise, his highest mark in our top 200 ranks is 92nd overall, whereas his lowest rank is 193rd (155th overall).
Like Lewis, Burkhead is also an impending free agent. It’s unlikely that the Patriots will shell out significant money to both players unless they move on from Mike Gillislee. Again, similar to Lewis, Burkhead’s cost is pricey without the assurance that he will remain in New England. I think he’s more likely to return to the Patriots, and his price would increase if Lewis walked.
James White (JAN ADP: 165.2, RB49)
White saves his best performances for the playoffs every year, but it’s clear that he’s improving as an interior runner. This may play a sizable role in Belichick’s decision on which running backs to retain. If either Lewis or Burkhead walk – or Belichick opts to cut Gillislee – White could find himself with an increased role.
White has yet to carry the ball more than 43 times in a season, but he has surpassed 70 targets in each of the last two campaigns. He’s a decent floor play with some potential upside baked into his role, depending on how the off-season plays out.
I like to explore the price of buying players with some uncertainty surrounding them. I prefer to do this with receivers, as backfields tend to be more fickle – but White is cheap enough where it’s unlikely you’d have to spend significant capital to acquire him.
Mike Gillislee (JAN ADP: 191.8, RB60)
Gillislee’s value spiked throughout the summer and after Week 1 of the 2017 season, when he appeared poised to capture LeGarrette Blount’s old goal line role. That scenario failed to play out, as Gillislee is a less complete player than White, Lewis, or Burkhead. He seems like a logical cut candidate if the Patriots choose to re-sign either Lewis or Burkhead (or both).
Gillislee, who was a healthy scratch for most of the second half of the season, rushed for 383 yards and five touchdowns this year. It’s unclear where he fits into the Patriots’ plans for 2018, and if cut, he’s unlikely to land a starting job on a team this offseason due to the influx of running back talent in this year’s draft class. If you hung on, you missed the window to sell a while ago.
Brandon Bolden (JAN ADP: N/A)
Bolden isn’t worth a roster spot, even in deep dynasty leagues. He’s a core special teamer that seems to be safely entrenched on the Patriots roster, but he plays extremely sparingly on offense and doesn’t return kicks.
James Develin (JAN ADP: N/A)
The fullback plays a healthy amount of snaps but is not worth rostering in any leagues.
Brandin Cooks (FEB ADP: 22, WR12)
Cooks is a premier dynasty asset. His game-to-game production is somewhat volatile, which makes him far from the most consistent option at the position, but after this year’s 1082-yard campaign, he now has three consecutive 1000-yard seasons despite playing on two different teams. He began to gel with Tom Brady as the season progressed.
He was utilized as a deep threat more than he was in New Orleans, leading to an increased YPR and a decreased catch rate. His numbers took a minor dip this season, but he’s still being drafted towards the end of the second round.
He’s under contract in New England for another season, and his value should remain intact for as long as he’s tied to Tom Brady.
Chris Hogan (JAN ADP: 107.8, WR50)
Chris Hogan was an undervalued asset in dynasty immediately following the injury to Julian Edelman in the preseason. He was the top option in the Patriots’ passing offense before he suffered a shoulder injury and missed the most of the remainder of the season.
Hogan’s value is difficult to assess moving forward. It’s likely that Cooks and Edelman will return, and Gronkowski is still under contract. A healthy Malcolm Mitchell will be back, and playoff performer Danny Amendola could return to the Patriots as well.
The window to sell Hogan has likely already passed. He could continue to play a decent role, but he won’t be a consistent asset week in and week out.
Julian Edelman (JAN ADP: 117.3, WR53)
Edelman will be 32 years old and coming off of a torn ACL, but he’s long been Brady’s security blanket. Edelman has never been a touchdown scorer, but he has at least 92 catches for 970+ yards in his last three fully healthy seasons, including two 1000-yard years. Assuming he doesn’t take get cut for salary reasons, he’s probably a value at his 117.3 ADP.
Malcolm Mitchell (JAN ADP: 152.3, WR69)
Malcolm Mitchell developed a nice rapport with Brady towards the end of his rookie season but missed his entire sophomore campaign. His January ADP is 152.3 and he’s a worthwhile buy if you can acquire him for cheap.
Having said that, he’s probably nearing the end of his chances. He was an older prospect entering the league and will be 25 entering the 2018 season. Mitchell is a talented player, but the knock on him coming out of Georgia was his tendency to suffer recurring injuries, which has continued to hold true.
Phillip Dorsett (JAN ADP: 222.3, WR100)
The trade of Dorsett to New England gave his owners hope that he’d flourish with a fresh start. Instead, Dorsett had the worst season of his career, struggling to find the field despite a litany of injuries to pass catchers and failing to draw targets or attention once he received playing time.
He’s still only 25 and was a former first-round draft pick. It’s unlikely that he’ll ever amount to anything of value in the NFL and to dynasty teams, but I tend to hold onto players with draft pedigree unless there are no other options worth dropping at the end of my bench.
Danny Amendola (JAN ADP: 224.8, WR104)
Amendola is a player far more valuable in real life than he will be to fantasy teams. He can return WR3 or WR4 value in weeks where multiple Patriots pass catchers are inactive, but he’s not a player you’d want to start in any other circumstances. Despite his chemistry with Tom Brady, he’s an impending free agent, which could actually increase his value if he can find a more stable role.
Amendola is the definition of a low-ceiling player. He has five career seasons with at least 50 receptions and 600 yards but has never surpassed 689 yards in any season. He’s a reliable player on the field, but not in your lineups. Look for the Patriots to make an effort to retain Amendola if possible.
Kenny Britt (JAN ADP: 238.7, WR124)
Britt theoretically has some upside remaining if he can stick on the Patriots roster through 2018, but there’s no guarantee that happens. He looked disinterested in playing football earlier in the season on the Browns, and his dynasty value is essentially zero just one year after posting 1000 yards on the lowly Jeff Fisher-led Rams.
Rob Gronkowski (FEB ADP: 37, TE2)
The leader in receptions, yards, and touchdowns on the 2017 Patriots, Gronk is one of the best tight ends in the history of the NFL and, when healthy, is still the most dominant force at the position. But amongst concerns about his potential retirement and his perpetual injury issues, Gronk has fallen to the fourth round of February’s startup drafts.
If you’re willing to roster risk, Gronk currently represents a massive buying opportunity. If he chooses to play at least one more season, this is likely the cheapest he’ll be for months.
Dwayne Allen (JAN ADP: 231.0, TE33)
Allen carried a January ADP of 231.0, ranking as the 248th player off the board. He’s lost most of his luster, and rightfully so. Allen caught fewer than half of his targets this season, contributing just ten catches for 86 yards and one touchdown.
A change of scenery could be nice, as he saw his playing time significantly decrease this season, but he may simply not be very good anymore.
Martellus Bennett (JAN ADP: N/A)
Bennett was mostly ineffective in 2017 for the Packers before getting unceremoniously released and signing with New England. He has previously stated his desire to retire at year’s end, but it’s possible he returns for another season (or more).
Bennett caught more passes (six) in his two games in New England than Jacob Hollister did (four) in his 15 games. Bennett is outside the top 297 players in January’s ADP, so it appears as if most dynasty players assume he hangs up the cleats.
Jacob Hollister (JAN ADP: N/A)
Hollister isn’t worth a roster spot in your typical 12-team league, but has a moderately athletic profile and is tied to Tom Brady. If you believe that Gronkowski may retire, Hollister is worth a speculative add in deeper leagues, but that’s still a long shot at this point.
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