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New England Patriots Fantasy Football News | Shark Bites

Fantasy Football News 2023

Most Recent Fantasy Football News & Updates

Patriots insider Jeff Howe tweeted Wednesday that the “expectation” is Matt Patricia will call plays this season. As Howe points out, Patricia has called most of the Pats’ offensive plays in camp. However, the long-time assistant — who’s generally worked on the defensive side — has never been an offensive play-caller at any level. He’ll almost certainly prove to be a downgrade on Josh McDaniels.

Pats RB James White remains without a “clear timetable” to come off the PUP list, per insider Jeff Howe. The possibility remains that White, who’s rehabbing a hip injury, stays on the PUP list to start the season. Rhamondre Stevenson remains the favorite for passing-down work.

"My guess after being around this team a little is that Rhamondre Stevenson probably will get the bulk of the carries," NBC Sports' Peter King said after attending Patriots training camp. It's a tepid prediction -- and King reminded us that "you're not gonna have any Patriots RB run it 300 times. That's just not the way Bill Belichick wants to use his personnel in the backfield." But it's still noteworthy considering RB Damien Harris is going a round or 2 ahead of Stevenson in fantasy drafts. We'll be keeping a close eye on this backfield in the preseason.

WR DeVante Parker “looks like the Patriots #1 WR” through 2 days of training camp, per beat writer Mark Daniels. It’s obviously early, and players won’t be in pads until Monday. But the early word has been all positive on Parker, who’s performed “on a different level,” per Daniels. The 29-year-old is currently coming cheaply in FFPC best balls with an ADP of WR65.

Pats RB Rhamondre Stevenson has slimmed down to 225 pounds, per insider Doug Kyed. He’s listed at 230 pounds on NFL.com, so it’s not a drastic cut. The move is believed to be because of an increased emphasis on the passing game. Per Kyed, Stevenson said he has a better understanding of 3rd-down concepts entering year 2. With James White’s health a question mark, Stevenson looks like the Pats’ primary receiving back in 2022.

Patriots RB Rhamondre Stevenson ran with the 1st-team offense on Wednesday, while RB Damien Harris was with the 2s, according to multiple sources in attendance. It's the 1st day of Patriots training camp, so we're not overreacting or even adjusting projections for the backfield yet. But it's a situation to keep a close eye on through the rest of camp and preseason action.

Patriots HC Bill Belichick likes the progress he's seen from 2nd-year QB Mac Jones this offseason. "He's made tremendous strides," Belichick said Tuesday. "He did a great job last year, but he's starting from a much, much higher point this year from where he started last year. His offseason work has been significant, and I think everyone recognizes how well he prepares and how much further along he was than a year ago. ... And we have a much better feel for what he can do, what his strengths are, and how to try to play into those. He's self-aware, too. He knows what he does well. We want to try to feature those." Jones finished just 30th among QBs in fantasy points per game last year -- largely because he averaged just 30.6 pass attempts per game. Jones posted a 67.6% completion rate and 7.3 yards per attempt, though, and ranked 11th among 31 qualifiers in Pro Football Focus' passing grades. His lack of rushing ability caps the fantasy ceiling. But if the Patriots open up the passing game in 2022, Jones could certainly jump into mid-range QB2 territory.

ESPN's Mike Reiss highlights Patriots rookie RB Pierre Strong Jr. as a potential replacement for James White's passing-game usage if the veteran's hip doesn't allow him to begin the regular season on time. Strong's HC at South Dakota State called the RB's receiving "his greatest strength" and also lauded his ability as a pass protector. Strong also posted strong rushing numbers, including career highs of 1,686 yards and 240 carries (7.0 per rush) in his final season for the Jackrabbits. He then led all RBs at the Scouting Combine with a 4.37-second 40 at 5'11, 207 pounds. New England sports Damien Harris and Rhamondre Stevenson as primary rushers, with 6th-round rookie Kevin Harris joining the mix there. Strong's primary competition for a "3rd-down" role, though, looks like J.J. Taylor and Ty Montgomery -- if White's not ready. New England tends to lean away from giving significant work to rookie RBs but had Stevenson ranking 2nd on the team in touches and total opportunities as a rookie just last year. Strong is interesting as an end-of-draft consideration for fantasy. He'll get more interesting the longer White stays on the PUP list.

Patriots RB James White (hip) has been placed on the PUP list to begin training camp. It's no surprise after he missed all offseason workouts and was reportedly still walking with an "uncomfortable gait" at a recent charity event. 30 years old and coming off significant hip surgery, White's availability and effectiveness in 2022 are in serious question. He's not worth a pick in fantasy drafts right now.

ESPN's Mike Reiss reports that Patriots RB James White was "walking with what appeared to be an uncomfortable gait" at a recent community appearance. White is coming off a hip injury that ended his 2021 season in Week 3. It would obviously not be a good sign for his 2022 readiness if he's not yet able to walk normally. We'll see about his official status as training camp gets going, but we're not expecting much this season from White. Don't be shocked if the veteran doesn't even make the regular-season roster.

Patriots insider Alex Barth writes, "initial reports suggest [RB James White] may not be fully cleared to play by the start of the season." White is working his way back from a significant hip surgery last September and was limited in spring workouts. We'll track his progress throughout the summer, but he's not a very appealing pick in early fantasy drafts. Barth believes rookie RB Pierre Strong is the "best fit" to fill White's pass-catching role if he's not ready for the start of the season.

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

Patriots RB Rhamondre Stevenson said Tuesday that his focus this offseason was "route running and being a third down back." That doesn't necessarily mean that he'll be New England's primary pass-catching back this season. But it's certainly possibly, especially if he's improved in that department after a promising rookie year. Stevenson caught 14 of 18 targets for 123 yards in 2021, ranking 12th among 89 qualifying RBs in yards per route run. The Patriots re-signed RB James White in March, but the 30-year-old coming off hip surgery is a big question mark.

Patriots beat writer Jeff Howe writes that WR Tyquan Thornton looks “noticeably skinny” at OTAs. “It’s fair to wonder how he’ll hold up against physical corners and through the constant hits from the 17-game regular season,” Howe concluded. The Baylor product goes 6’2, 181 pounds. So there’s a chance he puts on a bit of weight before Week 1. Still, Thornton — a true burner — will want to remain relatively light to play fast. He projects to play a rotational role as a rookie.

Based on OTAs so far, Patriots insider Evan Lazar believes "the early-front runners to dominate reps at wide receiver in 11-personnel are [DeVante] Parker (X), [Kendrick] Bourne (Z), and [Jakobi] Meyers (slot)." That'd leave 2nd-round rookie Tyquan Thornton and veteran Nelson Agholor as the 4th and 5th WRs. Lazar suggests that Agholor could be a trade or cut candidate if he doesn't climb the depth chart. None of these Patriots WRs are super exciting in fantasy drafts.

Patriots TE Jonnu Smith is soaking up all the reps he can get in OTAs after missing time last offseason. “My [2021 offseason] was choppy and I missed some quality time here. I recognize how valuable that time is. I’m here to take advantage of that," Smith said Monday. After inking a 4-year, $50 million deal with New England last year, Smith's 2021 campaign was a disaster. He turns just 27 in August, though, and is at least worth keeping an eye on this summer.

Patriots RB James White (hip) was on the field for voluntary workouts late last week, according to NESN's Zack Cox. White is returning from last September's season-ending hip surgery that had him "bedridden for months," per Cox. It's still unclear when White will be cleared for full-team work, but it at least looks like he's trending toward being available for the start of the season. If healthy, White is the favorite for pass-catching duties in New England's backfield.

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.

WR Nelson Agholor said he’s feeling more comfortable entering year 2 as a Patriot. “Whereas a year ago, I was learning, so you do things at a certain learning tempo,” Agholor said. “You never get to go full speed, because you want to make sure you're doing it right, so you kind of move with caution. Now I know what it looks like and I get to just put my flavor on it.” The veteran signed a 2 year deal worth $22 million last March but posted only 37-473-3 on a 12.2% target share. With the Pats adding DeVante Parker and 2nd-round rookie Tyquan Thornton, odds are Agholor will remain off the fantasy radar.

Pats beat writer Khari Thompson believes the team won’t re-sign RB Damien Harris, unless both sides agree on a “very team-friendly deal.” New England has a promising RB already paired with Harris in Rhamondre Stevenson. And just last week, RBs Pierre Strong and Kevin Harris arrived inside the first 6 rounds of the draft. For 2022, Harris slots in as an RB3.

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