The preseason outlooks continue, and I just finished the Patriots. Instead of focusing on one player like previous blogs with the Bills (C.J. Spiller) and Dolphins (Mike Wallace), here are some notes on four players of interest in New England -- Tom Brady, Stevan Ridley, Shane Vereen and Rob Gronkowski.
Tom Brady: Last year he finished outside of the Top 3 Fantasy quarterbacks for the first time since 2009 and was actually No. 13 in Fantasy points. Brady only had six games with 20 or more Fantasy points, and he finished with 15 points or less in eight games. But he gets, hopefully, a healthy Gronkowski, Vereen, Aaron Dobson and Danny Amendola, along with the addition of Brandon LaFell. Brady was drafted at No. 27 overall based on his ADP last year. This season, he will likely fall to Round 4 or later, which is a great value pick.
Stevan Ridley: I'm still a believer in Ridley depending on what the Patriots do in the draft. Letting LeGarrette Blount sign with the Steelers gives Ridley the chance to start again, and remember he had 1,263 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns in 2012. New England was No. 2 in rushing touchdowns last year with 19, so Ridley is easily a candidate for double digits in scores. If he can cut down on the fumbles -- a huge if since he had four in 2013 -- he will return to prominence. I'd look for Ridley starting in Round 4 as a No. 2 running back.
Shane Vereen: Here's the telling stat on Vereen: If you project his stats over 16 games he would have finished with 88 carries for 408 yards and two touchdowns and 94 catches for 854 yards and six touchdowns. Those stats would have made Vereen a Top 15 Fantasy running back last year, and that's what he's capable of producing if he can stay healthy all year. The wrist injury he sustained in Week 1 last year ruined his breakout campaign, but I'm buying in again this year. I'll draft Vereen in Round 4 in standard leagues and Round 3 in PPR formats.
Rob Gronkowski: The key for Gronkowski is health. He's only played in 18 games the past two seasons because of back, forearm and knee injuries, and he's coming off last year's torn ACL. But when he's on the field he's a beast. If you project his stats from last season over 16 games, Gronkowski would have finished with 89 catches for 1,353 yards and nine touchdowns. Those stats would have placed Gronkowski No. 2 at tight in Fantasy points behind Jimmy Graham in a standard league. I'll take him in Round 4 as long as he shows up for training camp at 100 percent.