The Patriots are just not the same machine without tight end Rob Gronkowski. Since he has returned to the lineup, New England is averaging about 12 more points per game than they were without him. Yeah, he’s that good. But could he produce for fantasy owners in Reliant Stadium against the Texans?
The answer to that riddle is yes.
Don’t look now, but Tom Brady is beginning to put up those fantasy numbers we have been waiting to see out of him. During the first five weeks of the season, Brady averaged a rather weak 16.4 fantasy points per contest. The lack of weapons killed him. However, since Gronkowski returned to the lineup back in Week 7, Brady is posting almost 22 fantasy points per contest. On Sunday, he provided fantasy owners with his second consecutive 300-yard game, tossing for 371 yards and two scores. It is beginning to be much, much easier to trust Brady again in fantasy land.
The running game was the biggest fantasy storyline this week for the Patriots. After everyone apparently had popcorn butter on their hands last week, the team decided to name starter Stevan Ridley a healthy scratch. He did carry the football, however. He continuously carried it among the sideline in his street clothes, attempting to figure out how the concept of holding onto it works. With Ridley out, Brandon Bolden and, of course, Shane Vereen were expected to handle all of the work for New England. Of course, Belichick hates fantasy football, and when everyone thought Bolden would lead the team in carries, he finished the game with three. Vereen had a nice day, however, carrying the ball 10 times for 38 yards, while hauling in five passes for 37 yards and a touchdown. LeGarrette Blount was the other beneficiary of Ridley’s struggles, carrying a team-high 12 times, while also scoring. Vereen is clearly the guy to own in this backfield, and a top-20 back each week.
Are we seeing a fantasy resurgence of Julian Edelman? After a nine-catch, two-touchdown effort in that wild Sunday night game, Edelman hauled in another nine passes for 101 yards in this contest. It was his second consecutive 9-catch, 100-yard effort. Meanwhile, Danny Amendola continues to disappoint fantasy owners. The only receiving option you care about is Gronkowski, who, after six balls for 127 yards and a touchdown, has now scored in four straight games. I’ll say it again. Gronk smash.
A week after the Texans offense faltered in one of the best matchups possible, they faced a more difficult matchup, but were pretty fantasy relevant, especially Ben Tate. He was a top-15 option last week against the worst run defense in football in Jacksonville, but managed just one yard on seven carries. Because of that, as well as the emergence of rookie Dennis Johnson, I wasn’t quite sure how Tate would fare. Well, any doubt I had was silenced after he carried the ball 22 times for 102 yards and not one, not two, but three touchdowns. It was an outstanding effort for Tate, who, with Arian Foster out for the year, may be auditioning for a new starting job elsewhere next season. His fantasy stock would absolutely skyrocket if that is the case.
Case Keenum is talented, but the fantasy numbers haven’t been there lately. He had a solid outing this week, throwing for 272 yards and rushing for a score. With the bye weeks over and plenty of quarterbacks to choose from, Keenum shouldn’t be considered in too many leagues. Still, his receiver, Andre Johnson should. After a stinker of a performance, Johnson had his usual stellar PPR day, catching a healthy eight balls for 121 yards. Keenum’s gun-slinging mentality has been huge for Johnson’s fantasy value, and is a top-15 guy, at least.
Adam Pfeifer is a featured fantasy sports columnist for Rant Sports.
You cam follow him on Twitter @aPfeiferRS.