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New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady celebrates one of his team’s five first-half touchdowns against the Los Angeles Chargers during the first half of an NFL divisional playoff football game, Sunday, Jan. 13, 2019, in Foxborough, Mass.
New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady celebrates one of his team’s five first-half touchdowns against the Los Angeles Chargers during the first half of an NFL divisional playoff football game, Sunday, Jan. 13, 2019, in Foxborough, Mass.|Charles Krupa | Associated Press
NFL

Fantasy Life NFL Preview: 2019 New England Patriots – Can Tom Brady turn back father time without Rob Gronkowski?

Will the Dynasty Continue?

John Hamelers

The AFC East is the Patriots’ division. Not just the division the Patriots call home, the AFC East BELONGS to the Pats. A lot of that has to do with their consistency at quarterback.

Ever since replacing an injured Drew Bledsoe in the second game of 2001, there has been one quarterback making the league bow to his will, Tom Brady. He is 237–70 as a starting quarterback since taking over for Bledsoe. This has allowed for 16 division titles. Eighty percent of the past TWO DECADES has seen the Pats coming out as the lead dog of the division.

The Patriots are the most consistent team in the NFL over the past 18 years, but Brady is getting older, and the team has made some changes in both players and staff. Will the Patriots still rule the NFL this season?

Off-Season Changes

The clock clicked forward another year on Brady. Typically the only thing that can slow down a top end quarterback is time. The hits add up and they get happy feet in the pocket. It gets harder to get out of bed each day. The amount of ice it takes to get the swelling down grows as quickly as the time it takes to stop hurting. Eventually they’ve just had as much as they can take.

Brady will turn 42 on August 3rd. This is no only old for a quarterback, this is old for a professional athlete in any of the big three sports. By 42, most players are retired or have the mentor role coming from the bench. This is not something the Pats are having a problem with as Brady has played in two and won one Super Bowl as well as winning one league MVP over the past two years.

Brady lost his favorite target this off-season in Rob Gronkowski. This is a huge blow as Gronk will surely be a first ballot Hall of Famer. The only thing that diminishes the impact is that Gronkowski has had a hard time staying healthy over his career, so the Patriots know how to play without him.

Replacing Trey Flowers with Michael Bennett on the end of the line is not a downgrade by any means. Both brought a similar skill set and produced roughly the same numbers for their respective teams. Bringing Jamie Collins back will also help fill the hole left by the defensive line shakeups.

Left tackle Trent Brown leaving for the Raiders might be the most painful change. The job of protecting Brady from those career shortening hits will probably fall to Isaiah Wynn, a first round 2018 pick who missed last year with a torn Achilles.

With Josh Gordon’s situation still up in the air (editors note: since publication Josh Gordon has been reinstated by the NFL), the receiving corps was boosted by the acquisition of Demaryius Thomas. This has not gone as well as hoped as Thomas has not fully recovered from a torn Achilles and will miss valuable time to gain familiarity with Brady. While Thomas is past his prime, he would still be a very important piece to an offense looking to replace Gronk. Drafting N’Keal Harry and Damien Harris should inject the offense with some youth as well as depth.

Fantasy Prospects

In the dynasty drafts I have been a part of so far, Brady is being drafted as the 20th to 25th QB off the board. There should be no reason Brady doesn’t perform to his spot considering there is no end in sight for him. Re-draft should definitely inflate his value some, but he will probably not be Top 10. He’s a great add with his ADP for a second QB in superflex leagues.

There is an old adage that we in fantasy have passed down year to year — never draft a Patriots running back. The Pats lost nothing here from last season. Sony Michel, James White, Rex Burkhead and James Develin all return. Add in the return of Brandon Bolden and the third round pick used on Harris and you have an incredible log jam. Draft at your own risk.

The wide receiver group is under-whelming, but that never seems to stop them from rolling. Drafting Harry to pair with Julian Edelman will be intriguing. Harry has the hops and physical make-up to be a huge factor in the end zone. Edelman is still going to be a PPR machine. I see them both having weekly WR2 upside in a PPR, but I don’t see that being where they finish the year.

The rest of the receiving group are question marks. Phillip Dorsett had a small role last season and was re-signed this off-season. As mentioned, Thomas was brought in, but we don’t know what’s left in the tank after his significant injury. The Pats also brought in Dontrelle Inman, but without serious injuries, he is going to be irrelevant in all formats.

Season Prediction

Never bet against the Patriots. I see this group as gelling after a couple games and winning the AFC East by a handy margin, though I can see the Jets starting to become contenders for that crown. The Pats should finish with the second best record in the AFC and make the Super Bowl as usual. Unless some big things go right for their NFC opponent in the big game, I see Brady walking away with another ring.

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