In life, there are several things that we can rely on. The sun will come up, leaves will fall, birds will sing … and the New England Patriots will be a fantasy gold mine. But this has been a very chaotic offseason in New England, and it has many guessing as to what will really occur in the land of Clam Chowder. I’ve taken a good look at the Patriots and will tell you what to expect in 2013.
Tom Brady is, well, Tom Brady. Year after year the man is a machine with how he can slice up his defensive opponents. He has proven it with such no-names or has-beens like Troy Brown, David Givens, Deion Branch, etc. …You get the idea. He has not needed a superstar like Randy Moss to play at an all-world level. To think that his play will decline this season because of the loss of some players is thinking at a grade-school level. Brady and coach Bill Belichick are masters at designing game plans each week that best suits their offensive skill players against that upcoming opponents’ defensive schemes. Don’t get cute and over think it – Tom Brady will be stellar once again this season.
Every Patriot fan seemed to drool at the thought of a steady running game ever since the departure of Corey Dillon. To be honest, the focus of the offensive game plan did not feature the running back much, but there was always hope, but no luck. That changed with a very much-improved Stevan Ridley leading the way. Ridley was a great, late-round pick for me last year and all he did was rush 290 times for 1,263 yards and 12 touchdowns. That will make any fantasy owner very happy.
With one of the best offensive lines in football blocking for him, and a renewed faith in the running game, can he do even more this year? There is wide-spread speculation that the Patriots will be a more balanced team this year and not pass so much. That should be music to Ridley fans everywhere. Do not think twice. He deserves to start in all leagues this season.
Much has been made about all of the players in the passing game that have departed this offseason. If the injuries to Rob Gronkowski keep him out of the early part of the season, the Patriots will be without their top five pass catchers from last season. One of the early favorites to pick up in the passing game figures to be Shane Vereen. Do you remember what he did in the playoffs last year against Houston? Vereen stepped in because of the injury to Danny Woodhead and he rushed seven times for 41 yards and a touchdown and also caught five balls for 83 yards and two touchdowns. That’s a total of 124 yards and three touchdowns. Don’t forget that Houston had a very good defense last year. He will now get more attention in the passing game with Woodhead gone and should be on your radar come draft day. He is rated much higher in points-per-reception leagues – remember that Woodhead was a top-24 back last year. Vereen should also get to run the ball more if the Patriots do indeed become more balanced on offense.