Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve touched on how under the radar moves can help you win your Fantasy leagues. These key offseason moves can turn a late round flier into a cornerstone of your roster throughout the 2017 season and beyond.
The New England Patriots had a very busy offseason. The Patriots brought in a few new running backs, a new tight end, traded for a star receiver, and let a star tight end walk.
These moves have been talked about a lot this season but not much has been said about the Fantasy implications these moves had. This week I’d like to tackle the Patriots offseason and the implications each move will have on the upcoming offseason.
2017 Key Offseason Moves
The Patriots sign Mike Gillislee away from the Buffalo Bills
Currently, the Patriots boast a backfield of Dion Lewis, James White, Rex Burkhead, and Mike Gillislee. It is unclear as of right now who is the actual starting running back here, but I believe Gillislee will become the starting running back for the Patriots in 2017.
Lewis, White, and Burkhead all have something in common. They are all smaller running backs who are terrific pass catchers out of the backfield. None of these running backs stand out as a back who can run between the tackles.
Gillislee isn’t the biggest back but he excels at being a pure runner. Last season for the Bills Gillislee carried the ball 101 times for 577 yards and eight touchdowns … as a backup. That’s an average of 5.7 yards per carry. For comparison, LeGarrette Blount, who was the Patriots starting running back last year, averaged 3.9 yards.
I believe Gillislee will handle the early down work for the Patriots giving him tremendous Fantasy value.
New England sends a pair of picks to New Orleans for Brandin Cooks
This trade came as a shock to a lot of people. Cooks name was brought up a lot in trade rumors but it was never a thought that he would be dealt. In came the Patriots who added another weapon to a totally stacked offense.
Cooks is one of the fastest players in the NFL. His speed is incredibly impressive and that is a huge weapon. The Patriots offense is a bit of a dink and dunk offense which prioritizes in getting the ball into the receiver’s hands quickly to allow for yards after the catch. With the ball in Cooks’ hands, I don’t know if defenses will be able to catch him.
I love the Patriots acquisition of Cooks. Cooks adds a dimension of speed on the outside that hasn’t been in the Patriots offense in a while. The only concern I have with this acquisition is that there may be too many mouths to feed. The Patriots have four running backs, Julian Edelman, Chris Hogan, Rob Gronkowski, Malcolm Mitchell, and Dwayne Allen who will all be competing for targets.
I still believe Cooks is worth owning in Fantasy. He is an insane talent and Tom Brady will be able to find him and get him the ball.
Martellus Bennett leaves the Patriots for the Packers
The Packers haven’t had an impact tight end since Jermichael Finley. Finley retired in 2013 and his replacements have been players such as Richard Rodgers and Jared Cook. Those players don’t excite you? Yeah, me neither.
This offseason the Packers brought in former Patriot Martellus Bennett to give Aaron Rodgers a dominating force in the middle of the field.
I’ve heard it said many times this offseason that the Packers just don’t use the tight end in their offense. I disagree with this sentiment for two reasons. The Packers handed Bennett a $22 million-dollar contract. They didn’t give him that just to be a decoy in the middle. The Packers will find a way to get Bennett involved in their offense.
The other problem I have with that argument is that the Packers haven’t had a tight end worth using. Bennett gives Aaron Rodgers a star tight end to throw to. Bennett should become the number three target in that offense behind Jordy Nelson and Davante Adams.
The Patriots sign Martellus Bennett’s replacement
After losing Bennett to the Packers, the Patriots had a need for another tight end to play alongside Gronk. The Patriots offense runs a high amount of two tight end sets so adding another impact tight end was important.
That player is former Indianapolis Colt Dwayne Allen. Allen is a tight end who excels in both receiving and run blocking.
The reason I like Allen so much this year is due to how tight ends are used in the Patriots system. The Patriots constantly deploy a two tight end system, so even with Gronk on the field, chances are Allen will be too.
It’s also not a secret that Gronk is often injured. Chances are, Gronk will miss a game or two this season. Allen will then become the number one tight end for Tom Brady.
Like Bennett last year, Allen has value whether Gronk is on the field or not. Tight end isn’t a very deep position this year and you can certainly do worse than Allen.
All these moves highlight one team’s moves, however, all of them are relevant for the 2017 NFL season and for Fantasy purposes. Next week I’ll be back with a special NFL draft edition of the 2017 Key Offseason Moves column.
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