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New England Patriots Fantasy Football News | Shark Bites

Fantasy Football News 2024

Most Recent Fantasy Football News & Updates

ESPN's Mike Reiss notes that the Patriots offense has been inconsistent through training camp so far, featuring more "no chance" plays than usual. He opines that New England "experimenting with new things" has been partly to blame, but HC Bill Belichick (shockingly) also doesn't sound impressed. He said late in the week that the offense is "inching along" and that there are still "miles to go." Fortunately, the ADPs on nearly every member of the New England offense indicate that fantasy football drafters aren't especially excited. That means modest investment in whichever pieces interest you.

Those around Patriots 2nd-round WR Tyquan Thornton say he has showed impressive growth through his 1st training camp. "He's gotten better every single time he's stepped on the field," WRs coach Ross Douglas told ESPN's Mike Reiss. "He truly has a lot of gifts. It's not just his speed. His ability to change direction, ball skills. He has a good attitude and the guys in the room have embraced him. His development will be key and we'll get him there." Reiss adds that Thornton has been primarily working behind WRs Jakobi Meyers, DeVante Parker, Nelson Agholor and Kendrick Bourne, and that those 4 appear "locked in atop the depth chart." We're not betting on a big fantasy football return from Thornton in his rookie season. We'll see, though, whether he can buck the lackluster trend of early-round WRs under Bill Belichick over the next few years.

Patriots DB Kyle Dugger did not start in Friday night's simulated intrasquad scrimmage. NESN reports that he rotated in with slot CB Jonathan Jones on the "blue" team, which featured 1st-stringers. It's obviously early in the process, but this doesn't seem good for the playing time of the 3rd-year player. Dugger spent most of last season playing near full time. He came in short of 75% playing time just twice across the 1st 12 games, exceeding 80% 6 times. But his final 3 regular-season outings checked in at just 56%, 63% and 51%. Dugger rebounded to 83% in the playoff loss at Buffalo. If he continues to be more of a sub-package player through the preseason, Dugger might be hard pressed to reach 70% playing time consistently without injury to a teammate. That, in turn, would make it tough for him to deliver regularly useful fantasy points. We've knocked Dugger way down the IDP rankings for now.

NJ.com's Chris Franklin has Quez Watkins and Zach Pascal as the Eagles' 3rd and 4th WRs right now, behind the obvious lead duo of A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith. That leaves 3rd-year WR Jalen Reagor fighting Greg Ward, Britain Covey and Deon Cain for what's expected to be the final 2 spots at the position. Reagor should certainly hold an edge at that level, but this standing doesn't bode well for his chances of finding fantasy football relevance.

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.

"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 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.

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.

Eagles GM Howie Roseman commented on 3rd-year WR Jalen Reagor on Sunday. “Jalen Reagor is a Philadelphia Eagle and he's going to be here,” Roseman said. “He's worked tremendously hard to get in shape and come into this off-season program, and now he has an opportunity. We don't anticipate anything changing.” Positive words are great, but the reality is that Reagor will open the season no higher than 4th on the depth chart. The 23-year-old remains off the redraft radar.

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 traded up to select Baylor WR Tyquan Thornton with the 50th pick of the 2022 NFL Draft. Thornton goes 6’2, 181 pounds and blazed a 4.28-second 40 time at the Combine. No, surprise then, that he averaged 15.7 yards per catch across 4 college seasons. Thornton also has strong hands (3.1% drop rate last year) and a nice catch radius. We’ll see if he can develop into a more complete receiver, but Thornton at least has a shot to emerge as a downfield weapon. It’s a major surprise that he landed in Round 2, but his fantasy stock is certainly on the rise.

The Falcons on Tuesday announced that they have signed TE Anthony Firkser. The former Titan never reached 40 receptions in a season across 4 years with Tennessee, and actually saw his receptions per game and yards per catch dip in 2021. We're not expecting fantasy significance from Firkser in Atlanta, where #2 TE Hayden Hurst finished just 37th at the position in PPR scoring last year.

The Dolphins traded WR DeVante Parker and a 2022 5th-round pick to the Patriots for a 2023 3rd-rounder. Parker was on the outs after Miami traded for WR Tyreek Hill and signed WR Cedrick Wilson. In New England, Parker will battle for outside snaps with WRs Nelson Agholor and Kendrick Bourne. Parker has the most raw talent of that trio but has mostly disappointed since the Fins selected him 14th overall in the 2015 draft. Also hurting Parker's 2022 fantasy outlook is that the Patriots ranked 28th in pass rate and 27th in situation-neutral pass rate last year. They figure to throw more in QB Mac Jones' 2nd season, but this will still likely be a run-leaning offense.

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