Week #12 New England Patriots Fantasy Football Rundown

Week #12 New England Patriots Fantasy Football Rundown

    Fantasy Projections for New England Patriots @ New York Jets

 

A sign of greatness is to be judged by your own standard. The Patriots entered their Week Eleven bye with a 7-3 record, a two game lead in the AFC East on the second place Miami Dolphins with a head-to-head win in their pocket. They are one and a half games behind the 9-2 Kansas City Chiefs for the best record in the AFC and potential home field advantage throughout the playoffs and are a half game behind the 7-2-1 Pittsburgh Steelers, whom they play in Week fifteen, for an opening week playoff bye and a home game in the second round of the playoffs. And yet, after an admittedly ugly 34-10 loss to the Tennessee Titans in Week Ten, Patriots fans and Boston media saw nothing but doom and gloom.

 

The media groused about how this team doesn’t stack up to past teams teams and how they aren’t coming together like we’re used to seeing from past teams and how their poor road performances, dating all the way back to 2017, are a disturbing sign of things to come. When you add it all up, the fans and the media believe that this Patriots team is vulnerable to a variety of AFC opponents and with one, if not two road playoff games likely, this just won’t be their year. Boston fans are known for being both knowledgeable, and at times, irrational, and with the history of the Boston Red Sox pre-2004 and Patriots pre-Belichick/Brady, I don’t think anyone blames us.

 

Rob Gronkowski was almost traded in the offseason and with his injuries and the way he has played this season, it’s looking more and more like Belichick was ahead of those of us who considered it blasphemous to even consider it.

 

Tom Brady ranks fourteenth in passing yards per game (274.8 Per Game) and tenth in Total QBR (65.6). If you believe in ESPN’s Points Added statistic, he has added 15.6 points, twelfth amongst qualifying QBs. He has added fewer points than Andy Dalton (17.1), fewer than half as many points as Mitchell Trubisky (32.3) and Matt Ryan (36.8), and 10.1 fewer points than Philip Rivers (25.7).  According to ESPN Carson Wentz has added 15.2 points, .4 fewer than Tom Brady, in four fewer games played.

 

With the exception of James White, who has played like an All Pro, an argument can be made that nobody on this offense has come anything close to what fans have come to expect from that side of the ball. A snowballing narrative is “Where is Chris Hogan?” It’s a narrative that is a little misleading. Hogan has been more or less the same player in 2018 as he was in 2017. It’s expectations that have changed. In 2017, Hogan played nine games, had 34 receptions, five touchdowns and 439 receiving yards. In 2018, he has played 10 games and has 23 receptions for 333 receiving yards and two touchdowns. He hasn’t been as good this season as last, but the discrepancy is minimal rather than drastic, as it is currently being portrayed.

 

Sony Michel has missed three and a half games and played at less than 100% for the majority, if not all, of the season. Rob Gronkowski has missed three games and hasn’t looked right since opening weekend against the Houston Texans when he scored his only touchdown and had his lone 100 yard receiving game. And, Julian Edelman was suspended for the first four games of the season, two of which were road games the Patriots have been criticised for struggling to play well in. None of this means that the criticism isn’t valid or lacks merit or that there isn’t cause for concern, but it does mean that maybe Patriots fans should concede the AFC to the Kansas City Chiefs or the Super Bowl to the Los Angeles Rams or New Orleans Saints.

 

Week #12 @ New York Jets

 

The Patriots have had issues on the road this season. All three of their losses have been away from Gillette Stadium in games that they scored 20 points or less. In their two road wins, they scored 25 points against the Buffalo Bills in a less than impressive performance against one of the worst offenses in the NFL and the Chicago Bears, who were able to pass for 333 yards, rush for 139 and score 31 points on a Patriots defense that wasn’t able to stop a relatively average Bears offense. And, they needed special teams help to put them away.

 

In the New York Jets, the Patriots face a mediocre team that ranks 16th or worse in all of the major categories on both sides of the ball and ranks 29th worst in the NFL in total yards gained per game and passing yards gained per game. They have a pedestrian rushing attack and a passing game that is one of the worst in football. They are one of only four teams that average fewer than 300 yards of total offense per game and one of only six that averages fewer than 200 passing yards per game. Defensively, they rank 16th and 22nd in passing and rushing yards allowed per game and 19th and 21st in total yards allowed and points allowed per game. They don’t defend anything all that well and they are one of only 13 teams with a negative turnover differential (-7), which ties them for sixth worse in the NFL.

 

Relevant Rankings:

 

New York Jets Defense

* Yards Allowed Per Game – 361.6Rank 19th

* Passing Yards Allowed Per Game – 242.1Rank 16th

* Rushing Yards Allowed Per Game – 119.5Rank 22nd

* Points Allowed Per Game – 25.4Rank 21st

 

New York Jets Offense

* Total Yards Gained Per Game – 299.4Rank 29th

* Points Per Game – 20.8Rank 24th

* Rushing Yards Gained Per Game – 107.3Rank 20th

* Passing Yards Gained Per Game – 192.1Rank 29th

* Turnover Differential – -7Rank Tied for 26th

* Interceptions Thrown – 16Rank Tied for 31st

 

Fantasy Points Allowed

* Tight End: 8.1 Points Per Game Allowed – Rank 2nd

* Wide Receiver: 40.8 PPG Rank 28th

* Running Back25.8 PPG Rank 16th

* Quarterback – 16.7 – Rank 13th

 

The Patriots offense should be able to move the ball extremely well in the passing game and relatively effectively on the ground, while the defense faces one of the worst offenses on their schedule, especially throwing the ball. Surprisingly, on defense, the Jets are tied for 5th in interceptions and they have been extremely good at shutting down the tight end, while they have been exploited by wide receivers. That tells me that while the Jets defense isn’t particular good on the whole, Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski have slightly unfavorable individual matchups and both have had disappointing seasons compared to prior years.

 

Fantasy Impact

 

New England Patriots

 

Rob Gronkowski, TE

 

Gronk hasn’t scored a touchdown or had a 100-yard receiving game since Week One and the Jets have shut down tight ends this season. He has announced himself “good to go,”making him a must-start in yearly leagues and a poor one in Daily Fantasy (DFS).

 

His name demands a high price while his performance, and this matchup specifically, makes him a poor percentage play.

 

Julian Edelman, WR

 

The Jets have been one of the worst defenses in Fantasy Points Allowed to wide receivers (40.8 per game) and Edelman is a high-volume target for Tom Brady. He continues to struggle to score touchdowns, but receptions and total yards mean reliable Fantasy points and there are likely to be a lot to be had in this for Patriots wide receivers. He is a must-start in yearly leagues, especially in Point Per Reception (PPR) formats and an intriguing one in DFS.

 

In DFS, touchdowns are crucial and Edelman is a below average player in the red zone, but reliable targets that result in high reception totals and yards from scrimmage make him an interesting anchor at an affordable budgetary cost to build a DFS lineup around, especially in Cash games. He is a contrarian play in a very good matchup and one I am leaning towards recommending.

 

Josh Gordon, WR

 

Gordon is a wild card. He has two touchdowns as a Patriot, he leads their receivers in receiving yards and is second in targets behind Edelman and third overall, with James White lapping the field.

 

He was brought in to be a big-play downfield threat and yet he only has two touchdowns and seven receptions of 20+ yards or more, tied with Gronk and Chris Hogan and only one more than Julian Edelman, a possession receiver.

 

The Jets are a matchup made for Gordon and he has been playing his best football recently. He has four receptions or more in five straight games and 81, 130 and 100 receiving yards in three of his last four, including a touchdown.

 

Gordon is a must-start play in yearly leagues as a low-end WR2 and as long as the price is reasonable, a strong buy in DFS. The matchup combined with his recent performance make a strong case for a five reception, 100 yard receiving game with potential for a touchdown and that is a 20+ point Fantasy day that you want shares of.

 

Sony Michel, RB

 

The Jets defense is weakest against the wide receiver and strongest against the running back. That suggests that the Patriots game plan will be to focus more on the pass and run off of that. That bodes well for James White, who is their best overall pass catcher and lead running back on passing downs, and means fewer snaps for Michel. That doesn’t mean Michel won’t have his chances.

 

When healthy, like he looked in Weeks four through six, Michel carried the ball 18 times or more in all three of those games and scored a combined four touchdowns. Coming off the bye week he should be as close to 100% as a running back gets during the season and against a pedestrian defense like the Jets, he has a chance for a solid touch total and plenty of red zone opportunities. He is a must-start player in yearly leagues and an affordable option with some upside in DFS.

 

My one concern in DFS formats is the lack of upside potential. Hr faces a Jets defense that is above average against the run while his yards per carry have been relatively average. But, I do like the overall matchup for the Patriots offense and that should mean plenty of red zone opportunities and that often translates into touchdowns for running backs. The Jets could smother Gronk like they have previous tight ends and both Edelman and White are less than effective red zone threats, making Michel the likely go-to-guy at the goal line.

 

New England Patriots Defense

 

The Jets passing attack has been brutally bad while their run game hasn’t been anything all that fantastic either. They rank 29th in total Yards Per Game and are one of only four teams to average fewer than 300 total yards from scrimmage per game. They rank 24th in Points Per Game (20.8) and they are tied for 31st in interceptions thrown (16) and 24th in fumbles lost (6). The Patriots defense isn’t very good, but whoever faces the Jets offense is a defense worth streaming and this weke that is your stout New England Patriots. Turnovers, sacks and potentially even touchdowns could come in bunches for this defense at the Meadowlands today.

 

New York Jets

 

Relevant Rankings

 

New England Patriots Defense

* Total Yards Allowed Per Game – 381.4Rank 24th

* Passing Yards Allowed – 270.3Rank 25th

* Passing Touchdowns Allowed – 21Rank 23rd

* Rushing Yards Allowed – 111.1Rank 16th

* Rushing Touchdowns Allowed – 5Rank Tied for 2nd

 

Fantasy Points Allowed

* Tight End: 15.4 Points Per Game AllowedRank 27th

* Wide Receiver: 35.6 PPGRank 13th

* Running Back: 24.3 PPG – Rank 16th

* Quarterback: 19.8 PPG – Rank 26th

 

The Patriots play a bend-don’t-break style of defense. They are relatively effective stopping the run between the twenties without being dominant and they are very good in the red zone. They allow a lot of total yards from scrimmage, especially to opposing passing offenses and they have allowed more than their fair share of passing touchdowns.

 

A statistical oddity about the Patriots is that while their pass defense has been subpar, they haven’t been a great matchup for Fantasy wide receivers.The Patriots defense ranks 13th in Fantasy points allowed to wide receivers in spite of ranking 25th in passing yards allowed per game and 23rd in passing touchdowns allowed.

 

Where the Jets matchup well today is at tight end and quarterback. Unfortunately for Fantasy owners, Josh McCown is not a viable starter in any format and therefore can’t be used to exploit the Patriots weakness against the quarterback with the possible exception of two-quarterback leagues. A very good matchup isn’t enough of a reason to start a quarterback that has played as poorly as McCown in yearly formats or in DFS, where you need big-time production to finish in the money. A place that the Jets can exploit the Patriots is at tight end where the position is thin and they often come at affordable prices.

 

Chris Herndon, TE

 

Herndon is a viable starter in both yearly and DFS formats more for ancillary reasons than his specific skills and ability at the position. Tight end is an extremely thin position with dozens of mediocre to bad options to choose from. Because of this fact the pricing of tight ends is often split between the exorbitantly expensive, Travis Kelce and Zach Ertz, and the extremely reasonable – Chris Herndon and Nick Vannett for example.

 

Herndon has scored 10 Fantasy points and has 40 receiving yards or more in three of his last five games with three touchdowns over that span as well. And he has three receptions or more in three of his last four games. Thats a low bar to evaluate “success,” but at tight end thats a fairly effective player and he has one of the five best matchups of the week. That makes him a prized commodity in DFS and a must-start in yearly leagues.

 

Wide Receivers

 

We have seen less-than dominant players have strong performances against this Patriots pass defense (Corey Davis for the Titans in Week Ten) and if I am a DFS player or an owner in yearly leagues I want shares of wide receivers in a matchup against the Patriots most of the time. Unfortunately, like the Titans, it’s difficult to feel comfortable starting a bad player just because they have a very good matchup and thats the issue we have once again this week.

 

Josh McCown and the jets offense was miserable against the Buffalo Bills in Week Ten. He threw for 135 yards and two interceptions. If you had to pick someone to like in this game it would be either Robby Anderson or Quincy Enunwa, but its an extremely risky play to make for Fantasy owners.

 

Anderson’s snaps will be limited due to an injury, but he had something of a breakout season and good chemistry with McCown in 2017. Thats a thin justification to start Anderson, but the Jets wide receiving core is one that should be avoided, not targeted, so thin is what you get.

 

Enunwa led the Jets in targets in Week Ten in with eight even though he caught only four for 18 yards with a long of seven. With the Jets coming off a Bye week, McCown will be more prepared and that could do wonders in comparison to the struggles they had against the Bills. That being said, McCown isn’t new to this offense and there are plenty of reasons why he lost the starting job to rookie Sam Darnold in training camp. A Jets wide receiver is going to have a 75 yard receiving day and probably a touchdown, but its too risky to start them and its almost impossible to predict which one it will be.

 

Running Backs

 

Isaiah Crowell, RB

 

The Jets haven’t been particularly effective in the running game and they haven’t overloaded any one player with all of the work, but they have given the majority of the workload to Crowell since the injury to Bilal Powell.

 

Crowell has had 11 carries or more in five of his last six games while only managing 40 rushing yards or more twice and scoring a touchdown once. The Jets game plan will be to run the ball and minimize the demands on their struggling passing attack and this is a game where Crowell could receive upwards of 18-20 carries and against a mediocre Patriots defense, that makes Crowell a Flex consideration. The downside and the reason why he isn’t a potential DFS play is that the Patriots are one of the best run defenses in football inside the red zone, allowing the second fewest touchdowns (5).

 

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