I have been a Patriots fan for as long as I can remember. Growing up my family had season tickets and I started going to games when I was in the first grade, watching Drew Bledsoe, Ben Coates, Curtis Martin, Shawn Jefferson and Terry Glenn. I was fortunate enough to experience the entire dynasty from 2000-to-2019 and it is too bad that 2019 is where we have to end it. Tom Brady left and took his talents to Tampa Bay after a spat with Bill Belichick and Cam Newton was brought in to be the QB during the 2020 season.

What can be said about the 2020 New England Patriots? A few phrases come to mind, mostly disappointment, some confusion on where it all went wrong and questions as to what is to come for the once highly successful franchise? With 2021 the Patriots were aggressive in the offseason in an effort to bolster the offense around sub-standard quarterback play and improve upon the lackluster receiving options in the organization. The Patriots also spent their first-round pick on a quarterback which many are already clamoring to see take over the starting spot. But what does all this mean for 2021 and more importantly what kind of impact will the New England Patriots make when it comes to fantasy football? Let’s dive in! 


Cam Newton – Alright, listen, nobody championed Cam Newton more than me last season. Was most of that me being a homer? Maybe, but I also trusted the Patriots offense to put Cam in the best position to be successful and for the first few weeks he really as advertised, rushing for four touchdowns while being efficient enough as a passer that the offense was capable of moving the football and scoring points. Unfortunately, things really just went downhill from there from an actual football perspective. From a fantasy standpoint however, Newton actually was fairly viable most weeks due to his rushing prowess. The Patriots quarterback had 12 rushing touchdowns on the season and finished as QB16 while missing one game due to covid. Newton averaged nearly 18 FP a game for the season which would bump him up to QB13 if you account for the game he missed. Am I advocating for you to draft Cam Newton again this season? Meh, not really, Mac Jones is waiting to take his job and will likely do so at some point but with the additions of Jonnu Smith, Hunter Henry and Nelson Agholor to this Patriots offense, along with a full training camp, I don’t hate the idea of taking a dart throw on Newton at the end of your draft to see if he can improve upon last year’s efforts. ** UPDATE Cam Newton was released **

Mac Jones – The Patriots used a first round pick on a quarterback for the first time since drafting Drew Bledsoe with the first overall pick in 1993. Jones comes from a pro ready offense in Alabama and has looked fantastic through two preseason games with many feeling like he is ready to overtake Cam Newton for the starting job. Now, don’t get me wrong here, I have LOVED what I have seen from Mac Jones so far and the offense looks like the “old” Patriots offense with Jones under center than when Cam Newton is back there, but the problem is that Bill Belichick doesn’t seem to think the kid is ready to go. If he isn’t getting the first crack at the starting job, then it is impossible to draft and stash because there is a chance, he doesn’t see the field if Newton gets hot. If playing Best Ball or in a Superflex league, then maybe you give him a look but otherwise he is probably going to burn a hole in your roster spot for half the season at a minimum. 

Running Backs

Damien Harris – Harris is going to be the feature back in this offense, but his fantasy value has a wide range of outcomes due to the quarterback position. Last season Harris appeared in 10 games, rushing for 691 yards and two touchdowns. He had a per 16 game pace of 1,106 yards rushing and three scores. The three scores is what is concerning here because in any sort of PPR format, the lack of involvement Harris has in the passing game needs to be made up by him finding the end zone. As I mentioned, Cam Newton rushed for 12 touchdowns last season. Harris may be the lead back and should approach 1,000 yards here once again this season but if Newton is going to be the starting QB the touchdown upside he has will really hurt his value. Now, IF Mac Jones starts OR IF at some point Mac Jones becomes the starter then we need to look at Harris in a completely new light because then not only would he have 1,000-yard rushing upside but we could also be looking at 8-to-10 touchdowns as well. Much more appealing. 

James White – White had the worst season of his career in 2020 and off the field issues likely played a big reason for it as White tragically lost his father in a car accident prior to the Patriots Week 2 game against the Seahawks. The Patriots offense also struggled throwing the football and there seemed to be no real chemistry between White and Cam Newton. The Patriots brought White back this season but there has been some chatter that he may be a roster bubble player. White’s skillset is purely to catch the football and he will be more valuable in fantasy if Mac Jones is starting over Cam Newton.

Sony Michel – Many have written Michel off this season after the team failed to pick up his fifth-year option and then went ahead and drafted Rhamondre Stevenson in the fourth round but throughout training camp something interesting has started to develop and that has been Michel’s involvement in the teams passing attack. Coming out of Georgia many touted Michel as a dual threat back that could catch the football but when featured as the teams lead back the Patriots had no reason to throw to Michel with James White available to them. What did see the Patriots do however was use Rex Burkhead in a hybrid role where he would fill in for either Michel or White when needed. With Rex Burkhead now in Houston it is looking like this is the role Michel has picked up. He has the ability to be the early down back to spell Damien Harris but is also proving capable of catching the football and therefore potentially being the fill in for James White as well. Now, there is still plenty of risk here with Michel and the value he has is more likely useful in Best Ball or even DFS much in the way Burkhead was but if he makes this roster and has this dual threat role in the Patriots offense then he will likely be worth the pickup much like Rex Burkhead was last season as well. 

Rhamondre Stevenson – The preseason darling has rushed for 193 yards and four touchdowns through two games. He is a power back that has looked good against second and third string defenses, but I am pumping the breaks here a little bit. It wasn’t too long ago that the Patriots used a third-round pick on Damien Harris and essentially gave him a red shirt season while Sony Michel, Rex Burkhead and James White carried the workload. It wouldn’t shock me if Stevenson landed on some level of IR as a stash if the team doesn’t have a plan to use him on special teams in place of someone like Brandon Bolden. It feels unlikely that Harris, Michel, Bolden, White and Stevenson all make the roster. If you want to take a dart throw on Stevenson in Best Ball, then maybe that’s the platform but for the most part you can just watch the preseason highlights and wait for next season.

J.J. Taylor – Now, here is the interesting one, I told you that James White may be on the roster bubble and the reason for that could very well be J.J. Taylor. Taylor was signed as an undrafted free-agent last season out of Arizona and found his way into some playing time last year, totaling 23 carries for 110 yards while adding one catch on two targets. Now, I won’t hold the two targets against him because he had a lot snap share and well Cam Newton sucked. BUT Taylor has looked good during preseason, this is his second full year in the league and has a skillset similar to James White. IF White ends up being cut I look for Taylor to take over his role.

Wide Receivers

Jakobi Meyers – On the surface this position looks pretty bleak when it comes to fantasy relevance, but I have been touting some Jakobi Meyers pretty heavily in recent weeks as it seems clear that he will be the top receiver coming out of camp. Last season was a strange one for Meyers as he struggled to see any type of playing time until Week 7 but from that point on he lead the team in receiving and finished with 59 catches on 81 targets for 729 yards and zero touchdowns.  Yes, the zero touchdowns are a concern, but the quarterback only threw eight touchdowns all season so, it’s not as if he had many chances to catch one. His per 16 game stats from Week 7 through Week 17 put him on pace for 84 catches and 1,050 yards. Pretty good for a player that is going in round 14. The lack of touchdowns is very much a concern but that’s why he isn’t overly expensive to draft.  In full PPR I think there is pretty solid upside here even in a run heavy offense. While some will point to the team adding Nelson Agholor, Jonnu Smith and Hunter Henry as a negative for Meyers I actually think it could be beneficial as defenses now have to actually worry about talented players and not an offense that was trotting out Damiere Byrd as the WR2 and Ryan Izzo as the TE1. 

Nelson Agholor – Agholor was the free agent “splash” the Patriots opted to make during free agency. In 2020 Agholor shocked everyone as he set career highs with 896 yards and eight touchdowns while catching 48 passes on 82 targets for the Raiders. He is a perfect option to take the top off the defense for this Patriots offense while the two tight ends and Jakobi Meyers work the intermediate levels. Agholor is a fine player; I doubt he surpasses his production from last year however unless there is a change at QB from Newton to Mac Jones as the Patriots figure to run the ball a ton with Newton under center.

Kendrick Bourne – Bourne was another offseason signing by the Patriots as Bourne is coming off a career best 2021 which saw him catch 49 passes on 74 targets for 667 yards and two touchdowns. Bourne was a popular red zone target with the 49ers in the two seasons prior to 2020. There have been mixed reactions to Bourne during training camp and he is the clear WR3/4 in this offense with very little fantasy upside.

N’Keal Harry – Things have not worked out between Harry and the Patriots since the team drafted him in the first round back in 2019. This offseason began with Harry requesting a trade but to date that move has yet to happen. Despite the trade request, Harry has been opening eyes during training camp, making contested catches and being a red zone threat. Unfortunately, none of that has shown up during the preseason games to this point and Harry is now injured following the contest between the Eagles last Thursday. It seems unlikely that Harry gets cut but there is no real fantasy value here. 

Tight Ends

Jonnu Smith – The Patriots have had a glaring hole at the tight end position since the retirement and subsequent trade of Rob Gronkowski and that hole was addressed this offseason in a big way with the Patriots signing the top two tight ends on the market in Jonnu Smith and Hunter Henry.  Smith brings a versatile skillset to the Patriots offense and based off training camp videos it looks like the Patriots plan to use him in a bunch of different ways which not only include him lining up as the inline tight end but also split out wide and even as a running back in certain formations. In 2020 Smith set career highs with 41 catches, eight touchdowns and 448 yards receiving. He moves to an offense that is very run heavy but one that should be looking to utilize the tight ends more in the passing offense to simplify things for Cam Newton in the offense. I can see a scenario where some of Cam Newton’s rushing touchdowns may turn into passing touchdowns given Smith’s red zone prowess. 

Hunter Henry – Henry caught a career high 60 passes on 93 targets in 2020 for 613 yards and four scores. He figures to play a more traditional tight end role in this Patriots offense which was very successful for Rob Gronkowski during his tenure in New England. Now, it is obviously unfair to mention Gronk in comparison to another tight end because Gronk is a generational talent but Henry, when healthy, is an impact receiving tight end. The production of this position will rely heavily on the quarterback play.