The Patriots have been the best team in football over the last 13 seasons (148-50) with Tom Brady as their starting quarterback and Bill Belichick as the head coach. As good as they have been, they haven’t won a Super Bowl in the last 9 years. New England has ranked in the top four in points scored over the last four seasons, but their defense has been in the bottom 25% in yards allowed over the last four seasons. Last year, the Patriots lost their explosiveness on offense due to weaker wide receiver play and injuries at the tight end position. Bill Belichick will return for his 15th season as head coach. Josh McDaniels returns as the offensive coordinator, while Matt Patricia will get one more swing at running the defense.
Rob Gronkowski – Gronk has been a frustrating player over the last couple of seasons. He is a huge edge at the tight end position and I have to believe New England would have won two more Super Bowl rings if he didn’t get injured. Last year, his timetable to return was much later than expected. When he returned to the field, he was a complete beast in five of his first six starts (37/560 and 4 TD’s). He is almost unstoppable when he is on the field. The Patriots offense averaged over 30 points per game with him in the lineup. He suffered a torn ACL in Week 14 that ended his season. He was on a pace for 89 catches for 1,353 yards and 9 TD’s. He had surgery in early January. The normal recovery time for a torn ACL is 8 to 12 months. Football is the most dynamic and physical sport, so it may take a player one full season before returning to 100%. Based on Gronkowski’s slow recovery from his arm injury last season, I expect New England to bring him back slowly. He has tremendous upside and his skill set is intriguing, but a fantasy player can’t overpay for 50 cents on the dollar.
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