2012 Team Outlook: New England
RB Stevan Ridley, DET - Sleeper (undervalued)
In his rookie season, Stevan Ridley was used as a change of pace. With BenJarvus Green-Ellis gone, look for Ridley's carries and stats to rise this season. If he ends up taking over the starting job - as of early August, that looks like the deal - you can expect very similar numbers that the Law Firm has put up the last few years. Follow Ridley throughout the summer and training camp and see how he compares with Shane Vereen and the other backs on the roster.
Update 8-11-2012 - Ridley seemed to be winning the battle for lead back vs. co-2nd year man Shane Vereen and got the start in the first pre-season game. While he looked good rushing 8 times for 40 yards, he seemed to have problem with blitz pick-ups, even getting a talking to by Tom Brady. If his lack of blitz pick-ups keeps up, he will lose playing time.
WR Deion Branch, IND - Low Potential
Adding Brandon Lloyd and Jabar Gaffney bumps Branch down the depth chart - and maybe right off it.Obviously he's not the same receiver from his Super Bowl MVP days, but his low status stems as much from the lack of opportunity for targets as the level of his declining skills. Unless he somehow turns into the Pats WR3, you can let Branch sit this one out.
Update 8-11-2012 - Branch has missed more than a week of camp and looks to be in a battle with Dante Stallworth for one spot. His familiarity with Brady and the offense might end up giving him a leg in the end, but don't count on him. Watch this battle throughout camp.
WR Brandon Lloyd, --- - Solid/Safe Pick
With Rob Gronkowski injured in the Super Bowl, the Patriots saw that they needed more weapons in the passing game. In comes Brandon Lloyd, who followed offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels to New England from their previous stops. Over the past two years (under Mcdaniel's watch), Lloyd has had the best 2 seasons of his none-year NFL career. Lloyd will help the Patriots stretch the field and while he is no Randy Moss, he should put up very solid numbers in 2012.
Update 8-11-2012- Lloyd has looked great in camp and looks like he will get along just fine with his new QB. The Patriots' newest receiver didn't take long to start making impressions as he showed his knowledge of the play book due to his years playing under OC Josh Mcdaniels. Look for Lloyd to have a bounce back season after he dropped off a little last year.
Update 8-11-2012 - Stallworth's speed has been evident in training camp and that is something the Patriots don't have alot of. He looks to be battling Branch for a roster spot, so watch this battle. Either way, don't expect much from him.
WR Wes Welker, LAR - Stud (low risk)
Plain and Simple, Wes Welker is a stud fantasy receiver. In PPR leagues, Welker is a top 5 fantasy WR and in non PPR leagues he is top 12. The 2011 campaign, stellar, catching 122 receptions and setting career highs in yards (1569) and TDs (9). As long as he is catching passes from Tom Brady, you can expect him to put up similar numbers. Draft as a top WR and don't let any lingering contract banter cloud your vision.
Update 8-11-2012 - Like Brady, not much needs to be said. Welker does what he does and does it well. Welker is a top 10 WR and top 5 in PPR leagues.
WR Jabar Gaffney, --- - Deep-league Only
Back with the Patriots after signing as free agent, Gaffney turned in a nice little season with the Redskins last year. There, he was high on the passing game food chain. In New England, not so much. Gaffney will have some good fantasy games, but he won't be consistent enough to warrant being a fantasy starter, not with all those weapons at Tom Brady's disposal.
Update 8-11-2012-Gaffney was signed to provide some depth at the receiver spot. Having played for the Patriots in the past might help him make the roster. Unless a few players higher on the depth chart go down with injury, don't expect much in the way of fantasy help from Gaffney.