New England Patriots Top 5 Fantasy Players to Target

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Top 5 Fantasy Targets for New England Patriots

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Stew Milne-USA TODAY Sports

The New England Patriots have found themselves in some... less than desirable places within the news lately. Of course, we have all heard about Aaron Hernandez' predicament, but the Patriots have actually handled that situation with great class. They've said very little except that they were sorry for the people effected by Hernandez' actions and that they were completely unaware of what was happening. Everyone surrounding the team has declined comment as well. PR at its finest.

Aside from that this offseason, the team has lost a considerable amount of weapons from last year that were used in Fantasy, and many question marks remain today. Who will be the starting receivers, other than the obvious one? Will Rob Gronkowski be healthy this year? Do the Patriots have enough weapons for Tom Brady to still be effective at QB?

They are legitimate concerns for sure. However, if there is one thing that we do know about the Patriots, it's that when there's change, it usually ends up working out for them because of one man: head coach Bill Belichick. I mean, I'm not all gaga over the guy like New England fans, but there's no denying he's one of the best in the business. The Gregg Popovich of the NFL, if you will.

And even though the cast surrounding that offense is much different than the past few seasons, there's no reason to think the Pats won't be right in the thick of things come playoff time, and once again, have one of the most dynamic offenses in the league.

Here are the top five fantasy targets from the Patriots for your 2013 Fantasy Draft.

Brian Neal is an intern at Rant Sports and senior mass communications major at Lewis University. Follow him on Twitter @brianneal23 and "Like" him on Facebook.

2 of 6

5. Patriots Defense

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David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

Surprisingly, their defense is one of their best fantasy options and comes in at No. 5. Last year, their defense was the second-best fantasy-wise thanks to being second in the league in turnovers with 41, as well as scoring eight touchdowns -- six off of turnovers and two from special teams -- and a safety. In standard scoring, they put up 185 points. The only team that was higher was the Chicago Bears, who had an astronomical (by fantasy standards) 223.

Now, will they be able to repeat that? Probably not, as they gave up a ton of yards and points. They were fortunate enough to be able to create a lot of mistakes, but they aren't consistent overall. Nevertheless, they should be drafted near the end of the draft and are projected as the sixth-best defense available by NFL.com.

3 of 6

4. Danny Amendola

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Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Danny Amendola had a breakout season, or at least half season, of sorts in 2012 for the St. Louis Rams. Had it not been for a broken collarbone, his numbers of 63 receptions, 666 yards and three touchdowns would've been much better. Of course, if he didn't play for the Rams, that would've helped too. Fortunately for him, he comes to a team with Tom Brady as the quarterback and guess what? They don't have any receivers ahead of him on the depth chart. With him as the No. 1 target at that position, he's sure to have a fantastic year.

His ADP (average draft position) currently has him going in the fifth round. Obviously, if he's still available there, you should snatch him. However, I wouldn't reach for him because he hasn't proven that he can stay healthy all year as a No. 1 target.

4 of 6

3. Rob Gronkowski

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Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

Rob Gronkowski is the best tight end in the league, hands down. Jimmy Graham is a close second, but he isn't the all-around, natural tight end that Gronk is. The issue with him is that we don't know how healthy he is, or if he'll even be ready to go when the season starts. All indications are that he will, but you never know with a guy who has back problems (he also had multiple surgeries on his forearm, but that shouldn't really be an issue anymore as no one has ever had chronic forearm issues).

However, as I've said, if he is healthy, Gronk is without question the best receiving option on the Patriots this year, and you should expect him to be flat out dominant once again. His ADP has him going between the second and third rounds, and that's just about right -- though I wouldn't go any higher for a tight end -- for a guy who is pretty much guaranteed double-digit touchdowns.

5 of 6

2. Tom Brady

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Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

Tom Brady comes in at No. 2. A surprise, I know, that he isn't No. 1, but there are a couple of reasons for this. First, his position in fantasy isn't as important as the next guy. Also, he doesn't have the same weapons that he's had in the past. Does that mean he's not an elite fantasy quarterback this year? Definitely not, but it will be tougher and we may see a slight decline in production from him -- though very slight.

The reason I'd still draft him in the first three-to-four rounds is because Brady has proven that he can still be amazing with nobodies at wide receiver. Granted, he still has two great targets in Amendola and Gronk, but whoever lines up on the field with them will benefit tremendously from Brady. He's made guys like Deion Branch, David Givens and Troy Brown look like Pro Bowl receivers, something that not many quarterbacks can do.

6 of 6

1. Stevan Ridley

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Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

The third-year back out of LSU comes in as the top Patriot in fantasy football for 2013. Last year, surprisingly, New England was in the top 10 in rushing in the league, and Stevan Ridley was the biggest part of that. He rushed for 1,263 yards and 12 touchdowns, giving the Patriots a steady force in the ground game which they haven't had in years.

Now, Ridley's value goes down quite a bit in PPR leagues as he isn't much of a receiving back -- nine receptions in two seasons -- but in standard leagues, he's easily a top 15 back and second-round selection. Expect him to improve in all areas this year, especially as New England continues to focus more on the ground game to keep their aerial attack viable with less options available.

Brian Neal is an intern at Rant Sports and senior mass communications major at Lewis University. Follow him on Twitter @brianneal23 and "Like" him on Facebook.

1 of 6

Top 5 Fantasy Targets for New England Patriots

.
Stew Milne-USA TODAY Sports

The New England Patriots have found themselves in some... less than desirable places within the news lately. Of course, we have all heard about Aaron Hernandez' predicament, but the Patriots have actually handled that situation with great class. They've said very little except that they were sorry for the people effected by Hernandez' actions and that they were completely unaware of what was happening. Everyone surrounding the team has declined comment as well. PR at its finest.

Aside from that this offseason, the team has lost a considerable amount of weapons from last year that were used in Fantasy, and many question marks remain today. Who will be the starting receivers, other than the obvious one? Will Rob Gronkowski be healthy this year? Do the Patriots have enough weapons for Tom Brady to still be effective at QB?

They are legitimate concerns for sure. However, if there is one thing that we do know about the Patriots, it's that when there's change, it usually ends up working out for them because of one man: head coach Bill Belichick. I mean, I'm not all gaga over the guy like New England fans, but there's no denying he's one of the best in the business. The Gregg Popovich of the NFL, if you will.

And even though the cast surrounding that offense is much different than the past few seasons, there's no reason to think the Pats won't be right in the thick of things come playoff time, and once again, have one of the most dynamic offenses in the league.

Here are the top five fantasy targets from the Patriots for your 2013 Fantasy Draft.

Brian Neal is an intern at Rant Sports and senior mass communications major at Lewis University. Follow him on Twitter @brianneal23 and "Like" him on Facebook.

2 of 6

5. Patriots Defense

.
David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

Surprisingly, their defense is one of their best fantasy options and comes in at No. 5. Last year, their defense was the second-best fantasy-wise thanks to being second in the league in turnovers with 41, as well as scoring eight touchdowns -- six off of turnovers and two from special teams -- and a safety. In standard scoring, they put up 185 points. The only team that was higher was the Chicago Bears, who had an astronomical (by fantasy standards) 223.

Now, will they be able to repeat that? Probably not, as they gave up a ton of yards and points. They were fortunate enough to be able to create a lot of mistakes, but they aren't consistent overall. Nevertheless, they should be drafted near the end of the draft and are projected as the sixth-best defense available by NFL.com.

3 of 6

4. Danny Amendola

.
Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Danny Amendola had a breakout season, or at least half season, of sorts in 2012 for the St. Louis Rams. Had it not been for a broken collarbone, his numbers of 63 receptions, 666 yards and three touchdowns would've been much better. Of course, if he didn't play for the Rams, that would've helped too. Fortunately for him, he comes to a team with Tom Brady as the quarterback and guess what? They don't have any receivers ahead of him on the depth chart. With him as the No. 1 target at that position, he's sure to have a fantastic year.

His ADP (average draft position) currently has him going in the fifth round. Obviously, if he's still available there, you should snatch him. However, I wouldn't reach for him because he hasn't proven that he can stay healthy all year as a No. 1 target.

4 of 6

3. Rob Gronkowski

.
Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

Rob Gronkowski is the best tight end in the league, hands down. Jimmy Graham is a close second, but he isn't the all-around, natural tight end that Gronk is. The issue with him is that we don't know how healthy he is, or if he'll even be ready to go when the season starts. All indications are that he will, but you never know with a guy who has back problems (he also had multiple surgeries on his forearm, but that shouldn't really be an issue anymore as no one has ever had chronic forearm issues).

However, as I've said, if he is healthy, Gronk is without question the best receiving option on the Patriots this year, and you should expect him to be flat out dominant once again. His ADP has him going between the second and third rounds, and that's just about right -- though I wouldn't go any higher for a tight end -- for a guy who is pretty much guaranteed double-digit touchdowns.

5 of 6

2. Tom Brady

.
Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

Tom Brady comes in at No. 2. A surprise, I know, that he isn't No. 1, but there are a couple of reasons for this. First, his position in fantasy isn't as important as the next guy. Also, he doesn't have the same weapons that he's had in the past. Does that mean he's not an elite fantasy quarterback this year? Definitely not, but it will be tougher and we may see a slight decline in production from him -- though very slight.

The reason I'd still draft him in the first three-to-four rounds is because Brady has proven that he can still be amazing with nobodies at wide receiver. Granted, he still has two great targets in Amendola and Gronk, but whoever lines up on the field with them will benefit tremendously from Brady. He's made guys like Deion Branch, David Givens and Troy Brown look like Pro Bowl receivers, something that not many quarterbacks can do.

6 of 6

1. Stevan Ridley

.
Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

The third-year back out of LSU comes in as the top Patriot in fantasy football for 2013. Last year, surprisingly, New England was in the top 10 in rushing in the league, and Stevan Ridley was the biggest part of that. He rushed for 1,263 yards and 12 touchdowns, giving the Patriots a steady force in the ground game which they haven't had in years.

Now, Ridley's value goes down quite a bit in PPR leagues as he isn't much of a receiving back -- nine receptions in two seasons -- but in standard leagues, he's easily a top 15 back and second-round selection. Expect him to improve in all areas this year, especially as New England continues to focus more on the ground game to keep their aerial attack viable with less options available.

Brian Neal is an intern at Rant Sports and senior mass communications major at Lewis University. Follow him on Twitter @brianneal23 and "Like" him on Facebook.


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