It wasn’t the kind of the night that would reinvigorate confidence in the New England Patriots offense from fantasy football GMs Thursday night. In fact, it was downright ugly. In their first five possessions versus the Detroit Lions, they turned the ball over four times.
Does this elevate the current stat of the Patriots’ offense to DEFCON 1? Should we get the President on the line and ask him to call in the National Guard (as per Shannon Sharpe in a 1996 regular season pounding of the Pats by Sharpe’s Denver Broncos)? And most importantly, should fantasy GMs look elsewhere during their league drafts?
In a word – no. Sure, you’re going to listen to and probably read several rants over the next several days by the Chicken Little folks about the sky falling in New England. Just don’t buy into the hype, use your own common sense. Remember it is still Tom Brady, it is still Bill Belichick and they are still the Patriots.
The hype you should buy into is the noise surrounding rookie receiver Kenbrell Thompkins, who padded his early resume with eight receptions for 116 yards. He certainly wasn’t a high-profile rookie for New England in the offseason; in fact, he wasn’t even drafted. But he has been used the most of his time, he has locked up a Patriots roster spot, and Brady will be looking to him early and often this season.
Zach Zudfeld is another rookie name to keep an eye on. If Rob Gronkowski begins the 2013 regular season on the PUP list (as is expected), Zudfeld will be fantasy relevant. He took a step back Thursday night after fumbling the ball on the Patriots first drive, but he will be a weapon in Week 1.
The best part of Thompkins and Zudfeld is that they are being drafted in the bottom rounds – if at all – in all draft formats. They are very low investment picks that will surely yield high returns.
If you are a member of a PPR League in 2013, think Reggie Bush. On Thursday night, Bush caught five balls for 103 yards. As this Fantasy Football season progresses, you will find these stats the rule as opposed to the exception. Matt Stafford uses running backs a lot, and Bush is a gifted receiver out of the backfield. Go get him in PPR drafts.
Speaking of Stafford, he rebounded nicely against the Patriots’ defense, finishing the game 12 of 25 for 166 yards and a touchdown, this minus Lions superstar receiver Calvin Johnson. Stafford is a value pick. In some cases, he is drafted at or outside the top-10, but has top-five quarterback potential.
Quarterback Kellen Moore was a big story on the night, finishing 9-of-12 for 150 yards and two touchdowns (156 quarterback rating). It will be interesting to see if Moore’s performance forces Detroit to keep three quarterbacks on this season’s roster.
If not, Moore should find employment elsewhere after Thursday’s performance. For anyone that finds themselves rooting for the under dog, you’ll want to follow Moore’s preseason journey. He is one of the true good guys and a top-notch class act. One cannot help but cheer his performance on Thursday night knowing it was a huge step in the right direction towards permanent NFL employment.