2014 Team Outlook: New England Patriots
WR Brandon LaFell, NE - Bust (overvalued)
Brandon LaFell was brought in from the Carolina Panthers, and like most free agent receivers brought in, it will take time for LaFell to understand New England's complicated schemes (which is why many receivers have trouble in their first year in New England and often don't make it). LaFell has plenty of time to get in sync with Brady, working out of every receiver spot. He will also get some looks at replacing Aaron Hernandez's old spot in the offense. It is hard to peg where LaFell will fit in, we are going to have to keep an eye out for him during training camp. LaFell couldn't hack it as a No. 2 receiver in Carolina, so it's tough to imagine him putting it together buried on the Pats' depth chart.
WR Julian Edelman, NE - Bust (overvalued)
HIGH VOLUME OR BUST: During the 2013 offseason, Julian Edelman had a hard time getting a new contract. He eventually signed a one year with the Patriots and wasn't even assured at cracking the final roster. He did crack the final roster and had an unbelievable season, playing in all 16 games for the first time in his career and setting career- highs in most categories -- 105 receptions for 1,056 yards and six touchdowns -- becoming Tom Brady's go-to guy. This led to a four-year contract and he goes into 2014 as the clear-cut number one option. While the Patriots hope to have Gronk and Amendola healthy for a full season to take some of the load off, Edelman should have no problem catching at least 85 passes (if not more) this season. His value is obviously significantly higher in PPR leagues, so draft accordingly.
Editor's note: The planets aligned for Edelman in 2013. Injuries were abound at the position and he was thrust to the forefront due to necessity, not overwhelming must-start talent. Without the benefit of high-volume targets and receptions, Edelman is just another average receiver. If the targets decline at all, they will go to the Patriots' younger and upside-rich receivers.
WR Danny Amendola, NE - Gamble (high risk)
Danny Amendola was brought in to replace Wes Welker, but a Week 1 groin injury cost him playing time and he was never able to get fully healthy. This led to what became a very disappointing season. When the pads are off and the stakes are low, he has looked great during OTAs and the Patriots are crossing their fingers that he can stay healthy. A healthy Amendola would really do wonders for Brady and the passing game, but staying healthy has been a major obstacle for him his entire career. If healthy, he can definitely be a WR3 fantasy receiver in PPR formats, but that's a huge if.
For more fantasy insights, click here to read Miami Dolphins' team outlook.
WR Aaron Dobson, NE - Bye Week Fill-in
Aaron Dobson was one of three rookie receivers to make the Patriots roster last season. While he had an up-and-down year, he was the best of the rookies (finishing with 37 receptions for 519 yards and four touchdowns, while only playing in 12 games). Dobson is currently rehabbing from offseason foot surgery and his recovery is going slower than expected. He definitely has the most upside of the young kids, but his health will dictate how that goes. He needs to get back on the field to continue to gain Brady's confidence. As long he goes into training camp healthy, he should be in line to start the season as the Patriots' No. 1 receiver with potential for more. With how much the Patriots pass, he should be on the field a ton.Injury Status: Injured Reserve
WR Kenbrell Thompkins, OAK - Bust (overvalued)
The Patriots drafted two receivers in the 2013 NFL Draft, but it was undrafted rookie Kenbrell Thompkins who made the fast first impression. Thompkins started out the season real hot, but cooled quickly, even missing the last four games due to injury. Thompkins finished the season with 32 receptions for 466 yards and four touchdowns. He will be battling one of those aforementioned drafted rookies, Josh Boyce, for a roster spot. And like Boyce, Thompkins will need some things to fall his way to see the field.
WR Josh Boyce, NE - Dynasty Only
Josh Boyce was drafted along with Aaron Dobson in the 2013 NFL Draft, but he wasn't as successful. Boyce dressed for only nine games and caught just nine passes for 121 yards. At this point, he is likely fighting Kenbrell Thompkins for a roster spot and whomever wins will go into the season as the fifth guy on the depth chart. For Boyce to be a fantasy factor, he will need to make the roster and have some guys ahead of him go down with injury. At this point, he is not worth a roster spot (unless you want to hang onto his potential in a deep dynasty league).