We at Razzball realize that exporting our views across the country has damaging consequences on the blogosphere. To help make amends, we are reaching out to leading team blogs and featuring their locally blogged answers to pressing 2009 fantasy football questions regarding their team. We feel this approach will be fresher, more sustainable, and require less energy consumption (for us anyway). The 2009 Patriots Fantasy Football Preview comes courtesy of Pats Pulpit.
1) Quarterback Tom Brady changed the fantasy landscape with his huge 2007 performance. Many drafters in 2008 drafted Brady in the top 5 picks, so the biggest fantasy question surrounding the 2009 Pats is: What can we expect from Brady and his surgically repaired knee?
I had a chance to attend Patriots training camp and spent a lot of time watching Tom Brady. My initial impression was that he’s not moving any differently in the pocket than he used to, which is to say…slow. Brady’s never been a good scrambler, but he’s had very good pocket presence and I had a chance to see that first-hand. This impression came from a number of other attendees as well as the national media and football analysts. I think Brady is a good bet from a fantasy perspective.
2) Last season Randy Moss enjoyed a successful (1000+ yds, and 11 TDs) season even without Brady. Can Moss and Brady pick up where they left off in ’07? What kind of numbers do you project for Moss in ’09?
I’ve written many times that I have a lot of respect for Matt Cassel, but… he simply didn’t have the connection with Moss that Brady does. Moss is much more successful when you “stretch” him, when you make him go after the ball. Because he’s 6-4, that usually means it’s out of reach for defensive backs. Cassel never did this, preferring safer, higher percentage passes. Unfortunately, that translated to closer to the body, where DB’s could fight Moss for it.
Brady and Moss will pick up where they left off, but I don’t think we’ll see another ’07. I wouldn’t put it past Moss to collect TDs in the high teens, though. I say this because I believe many opposing defenses are keying on Moss and Wes Welker, so Brady will utilize Joey Galloway and Greg Lewis more. I’ve also seen increased usage of tight ends in the Patriots offense; this is something we haven’t had for a long time.
3) A slew of injuries kept the Pats from establishing a consistent running threat in ’08. Can Laurence Maroney stay healthy long enough to get 200+ rushing attempts, or does newly acquired free agent Fred Taylor receive a bulk of the carries? What should fantasy owners look for numbers-wise from the Pats rushing attack?
Interestingly enough, the Patriots as a total backfield, had the best running game in the AFC East. They may not mean much given their ease of schedule in 2008, but it’s something. Everyone who’s visited training camp says Maroney is a beast, that he’s bigger, stronger, and faster. He’s been making some nice cuts and has really progressed, in my opinion. Fred Taylor will get some touches, but nowhere near what Maroney will get; he’s the young buck and will be the primary back. Taylor is their mostly because he went through much of the same stuff early in his career that Maroney is going through. He’s a mentor and, by the looks of it, it’s working.
4) Veteran speedster Joey Galloway joined the Patriots this offseason, coming over from Tampa Bay. What type of impact will he have for the Patriots in 2009? Are there any other WRs on the roster that might surprise fantasy players in ’09?
Joey Galloway is the one question mark for me. I’ve seen decent production out of him, but nothing that warrants me not thinking he’s on the downside of his career. My best guess is Galloway will provide a decoy for other receivers, particularly Moss; throw Joey on the field and the defense has to cover him. I’m actually looking for very big things from Greg Lewis. I believe he’ll be the guy who can take the middle while Welker takes underneath and Moss takes downfield. I’ve also read Lewis has a very long stride, so we may see some downfield duty from him. Oh, and he’s not bad in the slot, too.
5) The Patriots quietly acquired two Tight Ends (Chris Baker, Alex Smith) who have shown flashes of playmaking ability early in their careers. Do either of these players emerge as pass catching threats in the vaunted Patriots offense?
Training camp has seen an enormous focus on tight ends from a reception standpoint. Yes, an argument could be made that the departure of FB Heath Evans created the need for “plows” in front of the running backs, hence the acquisitions of Baker and Smith, but Brady’s been tossing the ball to these guys a lot. With Moss, Welker, Galloway, and Lewis, you won’t see enormous production from the TE’s, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see Baker and Smith put up 400 yard seasons.