Welcome back to the “Fantasy Stock Up, Stock Down” series (off-season edition). The NFL Draft is an afterthought at this point. Rookie minicamps have concluded. And we are approaching the slow season, as teams look to add veteran free agents in this next wave of free agency. There’s a ton of time before the 2022 NFL season gets underway before September. This is the time to shape up your Dynasty roster. Who do you want to trade for? Who are you willing to cut before the season? Who do you want to add to your taxi squad? As always, we will break down each NFL team one by one. Today is all about the New England Patriots.
STOCK UP – MAC JONES
|Year||Team||Games Played||Completion Percentage||Yards||TDs||INTs||Rushing Yards||Rushing TDs|
Last offseason, New England focused on spending and adding talent on the offensive side of the football. They added Jonnu Smith and Hunter Henry to solidify the tight end position. Nelson Agholor and Kendrick Bourne were also brought in during free agency to add versatility at the wide receiver position. Then of course they drafted Mac Jones in the first round but also drafted Rhamondre Stevenson to add more firepower to their running game. They took a GIANT step forward, and Jones’ future looks very bright already as Tom Brady’s successor. So what did New England do this offseason? They targeted offense once again, assuring to put Jones in the best situation to succeed and help him take the next step as a pro.
Before free agency began the Patriots, sitting currently at +4000 NFL Betting Odds, sent a 2023 third-round pick to the Miami Dolphins in exchange for DeVante Parker and a 2022 fifth-round pick. The 29-year-old wide receiver has put together a decent seven-year career, as he’s hauled in at least 40 receptions in a season five different times. He can become the Patriots’ short-term WR1 for now, but this move signifies that New England felt they needed more talent in a receiver room that also features Agholor, Bourne, Jakobi Meyers, N’Keal Harry, and now the fastest receiver out of the 2022 NFL Draft in Tyquan Thornton. Thornton brings elite speed to an offense that desperately needed it. He may not turn into a WR1-type of player, but he adds speed and depth to this offense.
The running game helped Jones in his first season as a pro. Damien Harris and Stevenson combined for 1,535 rushing yards last season. So what does New England do? They add more talent at the position by drafting Pierre Strong Jr. and Kevin Harris. All of these additions have been predicated on putting Jones in a great situation to succeed in Year 2. He’s the future for this team on offense, and he should be able to improve with the plethora of new weapons surrounding him in the offense in 2022. Sure, his fantasy numbers as a rookie weren’t jaw-dropping, but he seems like a QB2 type of player going into a pivotal season.
Other Notables: Jonnu Smith, DeVante Parker
STOCK DOWN – DAMIEN HARRIS
Do you know the last time a Patriot running back led the team in rushing for more than two seasons in a row? Corey Dillon accomplished that feat when he led the team in 2004, 2005, and 2006. Although Harris has yet to top 1,000 yards rushing in a season as a pro, he has led the team in rushing two seasons in a row now. History leans that his streak may end this season, as only three backs (Dillon, Antowain Smith, and Curtis Martin) have led the team in rushing in three consecutive seasons since 1991. Of course, you can’t base everything on history, especially in today’s game. But here’s what we know: the Patriots are quick to move off of backs, they hardly extend any of them, and they typically draft one (or two) each year.
Let’s start with the topic of moving off Harris. Rhomandre Stevenson started his rookie season last year in Bill Belichick’s dog house. He coughed the ball up after his first reception as a pro. To make matters worse, he got blown up as a pass-blocker the very next time he stepped onto the field after the fumble. But he eventually carved out a solid role in the offense and even accumulated 532 rushing yards between Weeks 9 and 18. During that same span, Harris only produced 412 yards in one less game played than Stevenson. Which leads fantasy owners to think, “is Stevenson going to eventually replace Harris as the RB1 for New England as early as this season?” Although the answer to that isn’t quite clear, we do know that Harris is entering his final season under contract.
It seems like the only running backs to ever receive contract extensions from New England are pass-catchers (James White, Dion Lewis, etc.). This leads to another strong argument as to why Harris’ dynasty value is diminishing. Not only is Harris hardly used as a pass-catcher (23 career receptions), but White is also set to return on a two-year extension after missing most of last season. He’ll have a big role in this offense next year, splitting time between both Harris and Stevenson. Oh and one more thing. Do you know how I mentioned above that New England likes to draft running backs? Well, they decided to draft two this offseason, selecting Strong Jr. in the fourth round and (Kevin) Harris in the sixth. This team is preparing to move on from (Damien) Harris after this season. If you have any of his shares, you might want to stash whatever you can get from him right now while he still has decent value.
Other Notables: Nelson Agholor, Jakobi Meyers
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