The Patriots, especially on offense, clearly aren’t operating at full speed. The new pieces still are gelling, and it might take a while for New England to string together consistently impressive scoring drives.
But from a fantasy football perspective, we already have a decent idea of what to do with certain Patriots players.
New England will host the New Orleans Saints on Sunday at Gillette Stadium. It’s a fascinating matchup that many are overlooking with Tom Brady’s Foxboro return looming in the background.
Ahead of the Week 3 contest, we came up with the Patriots players you should start, and those you should sit, on your fantasy teams.
Nelson Agholor, WR
Agholor, followng his impressive debut, was quiet against the Jets, but Mac Jones had opportunites to hit his top wideout for big plays.
New England players and coaches all week talked about wanting to be more aggressive on offense and taking more shots down the field. The Patriots probably will need to do both of those things if they’re going to keep up with the Saints’ explosive offense. On volume alone, Agholor should warrant at least FLEX consideration.
Damien Harris, RB
Harris should be in all fantasy lineups until further notice.
Any concerns you had about Harris’ Week 1 fumble should’ve been erased by his rumbling touchdown against the New York Jets last weekend. The third-year pro has established himself as one of the best young backs in football, and at minimum is a fantasy RB2. Harris has 162 yards and one rushing touchdown through two games.
Either tight end
Jonnu Smith and Hunter Henry still haven’t formed the explosive tight end duo many expect to see this season, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t fantasy-viable.
Tight end is a brutally shallow fantasy position. Unless you have one of the absolute studs, you primarily are working with high-floor options and hoping for a big day. It’s easy to envision a scenario in which Smith racks up around 50 yards on shallow crossers and YAC (yards after catch), and Henry, New England’s top red-zone threat, gets his first touchdown as a Patriot.
Mac Jones, QB
The rookie’s day as a fantasy-relevant quarterback will come. He might even have a big performance against the Saints.
But fantasy managers should keep the Alabama product on their benches for now. New England’s offense still is finding its footing, and Jones has yet to provide the kinds of explosive plays that would make him deserving of QB1 status. There needs to be more consistency.
If you want to start this unit and bank on Jameis Winston throwing a few interceptions, we wouldn’t blame you. That definitely could happen.
But don’t let the low-scoring games fool you: New England’s defense hasn’t played that well, especially against the run. Don’t be surprised if Alvin Kamara runs wild and Sean Payton dials up some big plays for his passing offense.
James White, RB
White looked like his old self in Weeks 1 and 2. He’s back to being a key player in the Patriots offense.
But the statistical production — 126 all-purpose yards, one rushing touchdown — is low-end RB2 quality. White’s do-anything-to-help-the-team-win abilties sometimes hurt fantasy managers, too. He’ll park himself in the backfield and pick up blitzes all day if he must.
Roll with White if you need a FLEX, but otherwise search for an option with higher fantasy upside than this veteran Patriots back.
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