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Fantasy Football News 2022

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ESPN’s Mike Reiss believes “there is potential for significant improvement in the deep passing game” for the Patriots this season. It appears Reiss bases this opinion primarily on how the deep-passing game has looked in early workouts. There’s certainly room for improvement. QB Mac Jones ranked just 26th among 31 qualifiers in deep-ball completion rate, according to ESPN Stats. He checked in above-average in on-target rate on downfield passes. In addition to more experience for the young QB and another off-season with his pass-catchers, New England added WR DeVante Parker via trade and speedy WR Tyquan Thornton in the 2nd round of the draft. Increasing his deep-ball production would be especially valuable for Jones, because he lacks rushing production and New England doesn’t figure to be a high-volume passing offense

Per league inside Jeff Howe, the Patriots “sound ecstatic” with QB Mac Jones’ “offseason dedication.” Jones exceeded year 1 expectations with 3,801 yards, 22 TDs and 13 picks across 17 games. He completed nearly 68% of his passes. A lack of rushing hurts his fantasy outlook, but the former ‘Bama standout at least projects as a bye week fill-in. Jones, 24 in Septmeber, finished as the QB18 in 2021.

The Patriots spent a 4th-round pick on Western Kentucky QB Bailey Zappe – notably ahead of North Carolina’s Sam Howell and Nevada’s Carson Strong. Zappe started 4 seasons for FCS-level Houston Baptist before transferring to Western Kentucky last year. He stuffed the stat sheet for the Hilltoppers, racking up 5,967 passing yards and 62 scores. Zappe is considered a refined and smart QB, but he lacks arm strength. He looks like an NFL backup, which is what he’ll be in New England behind Mac Jones.

The Patriots have surprisingly released QB Cam Newton, according to multiple reports. We wouldn't have been shocked to see the team name Mac Jones its Week 1 starter, but we certainly did not foresee New England unloading Newton completely. Jones graded out among the top passers across the league in preseason, according to Pro Football Focus. His ascension should be good news for the fantasy outlooks for basically everyone in the New England offense. It signals a more traditional scheme as opposed to last year's run-heavy approach. It returns lead status near the goal line to Damien Harris and the RBs. And it should mean more -- and more accurate -- targets for all pass-catchers. We're not overly interested in Jones as a fantasy football prospect, but Jakobi Meyers, Jonnu Smith, Hunter Henry, Nelson Agholor and James White all gain some late-round appeal. RB Damien Harris also gets a bump. Check out the updated projections for the Patriots.

Patriots QB Mac Jones capped off an impressive preseason by going 10 of 14 for 156 yards and 1 TD over 5 series in Sunday night's finale vs. the Giants. That came after QB Cam Newton got the start and struggled, completing just 2 of 5 passes for 10 yards and an INT on 2 series. Jones finishes the preseason with a 92.2 Pro Football Focus passing grade -- 2nd highest among 101 QBs that threw a pass. Newton finished 13th with a 78.0 grade. HC Bill Belichick declined to name a starter after the game. Newton might still get the Week 1 nod out of veteran deference. But expect to see Jones in there sooner than later. He looks ready.

Patriots QB Cam Newton returned to practice Thursday after spending 5 days away following a mixup in COVID testing protocol. According to practice observers, Newton jumped right back in front of Mac Jones for lead reps with the 1st team. We'll see whether anything changes by the regular-season opener, but continue treating Newton as the New England starter for now.

Patriots QB Cam Newton will be away from the team for 5 days after a misunderstanding with COVID protocols. Newton went to a medical appointment outside of the New England area on Saturday. Despite continuing to test negative for the virus, protocols now require him to go through a "5-day entry cadence process" to return to the team. He'll be able to participate virtually -- but Newton's absence will give rookie QB Mac Jones a chance to soak up 1st-team reps. We'll see if that changes the outcome of this QB competition.

The Athletic's Jeff Howe believes it'd be a "stunner" if Patriots QB Cam Newton isn't under center for the start of the season. After a choppy start to training camp, Newton reportedly had a strong week in joint practices with the Eagles. Then he completed 8 of 9 passes for 103 yards and a score in 3 possessions vs. Philadelphia in Thursday night's preseason game. Rookie QB Mac Jones has also looked good this preseason -- and we still expect him to hit the field at some point this year. But look for Newton to be the Week 1 starter.

Patriots QB Cam Newton got the start for the 2nd straight preseason game on Thursday night vs. the Eagles. He was sharp, finishing 8 of 9 for 103 yards and a TD to WR Jakobi Meyers in 3 series. QB Mac Jones played the next 4 possessions, completing 13 of 19 passes for 146 yards, 0 TDs and 0 INTs. The rookie earned a strong 93.2 passing grade from Pro Football Focus. Newton finished with a solid 85.5 grade. Newton remains the slight favorite to get the Week 1 starting nod, but there's still time for Jones to change that.

According to Jeff Howe of The Athletic, Patriots QB Cam Newton’s completion percentage and adjusted accuracy rate in training-camp practices have declined this year vs. last summer. The veteran has also thrown more INTs. That’s worrisome, given that he’s had more time within the offense, should be healthier than a year ago and finds improved talent among the pass-catchers. Howe sees a window for Mac Jones to potentially assert himself as 2021 starter over the next couple of weeks, though such a shift would obviously require HC Bill Belichick deciding to make it happen.

ESPN's Mike Reiss says that through their 1st 2 padded practices, the Patriots' offense looks like it's "running two separate attacks" with its top 2 QBs. Cam Newton's version obviously features plenty of read-option, while rookie Mac Jones "looks like he's running the more traditional Patriots passing offense." Pat Kirwan of Sirius XM -- and a former NFL scout and front-office man -- adds: "He's more what Josh [McDaniels] wants to do, and how he's done it in the past. ... I wouldn't be surprised if by October we see [him] under center." According to Reiss, this all followed arguably Jones' best day of camp, and a pair of days in which he garnered significantly more reps than Newton. The rookie beginning to work his way past the vet -- whom Bill Belichick has called the starter -- doesn't make Jones attractive as a fantasy option. But the switch would certainly add upside to Patriots receiving options. Jones would also likely be better for RB Damien Harris' goal-line outlook.

Update: We should note here that Ben Volin of the Boston Globe writes, "Anyone watching practice can tell Newton is the clear, unequivocal starter." Volin adds that Newton leads off every drill and that many of Jones' reps come with backups, rookies and scout-team players. We'll see where this situation goes.

Patriots HC Bill Belichick said Saturday monrning, "Cam's our starting quarterback," per Ben Volin of the Boston Globe. It's not surprising, of course, to hear that from the coach after Cam Newton has opened training camp taking 1st reps. And we'll expect Newton to keep the job until rookie Mac Jones overtakes him. We'll see how soon that might happen. It hasn't seemed as though either QB is wowing observers in early workouts. Newton presents more fantasy upside by virtue of his rushing. A switch to Jones, though, could boost target counts for players such as RB James White.

After watching spring practices, The Boston Globe's Ben Volin believes Patriots QB Mac Jones still has "a long way to go" to beat out QB Cam Newton for the starting job. Even with Newton sidelined the past week with his hand injury, Jones worked behind QBs Jarrett Stidham and Brian Hoyer. “There’s a lot going on in my brain,” Jones admitted. “You’re trying to see everything; sometimes you see too much or whatever, and then you see nothing. I have to figure out in this offense how I can break down the plays, what’s my job, what I have to do on this specific play and slot the plays individually. I did that obviously good in college or whatever, but this is the pros and I have to figure out how to do it here. So that’s what I’m going to do.” We'll see how much ground Jones can make up in training camp and preseason action, but bet on Newton being under center for New England come Week 1.

The Patriots sat at #15 and landed Alabama QB Mac Jones. A 1-year starter following the departure of Tua Tagovailoa, Jones went off for 4,500-41-4 last fall. His 84.2% adjusted completion rate led the nation. While Jones played with top-tier talent (Devonta Smith, Jaylen Waddle, Najee Harris), his accuracy was on point at all levels of the field. Per Pro Football Focus, Jones even led the nation in deep yards (1,355). The 6’3, 217-pounder brings below average athleticism, so don’t expect much rushing production in the pros. But his profile might have him as the 2nd most pro-ready passer in this draft, behind only Trevor Lawrence. Jones will battle QB Cam Newton for the starting job this summer. Our early money is on Jones being under center come Week 1.

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