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 2010 fantasy football questions regarding their team. We feel this approach will be fresher, more sustainable, and require less energy consumption (for us anyway). The 2010 New England Patriots Fantasy Football Preview comes courtesy of Pats Pulpit.
1. Last season Laurence Maroney had a nice stretch of six games where he scored 8 touchdowns, but his yards per carry didn’t top 4 and he lost some of Belichick’s trust with fumbling issues. Will we see Maroney given the chance to be the lead back or will there be a committee approach?
I think we will see Laurence Maroney get one more shot as the lead back for the Patriots. I believe that his fumbling issues were an overplayed story line, and they won’t be a problem in 2010 (he hadn’t fumbled since his rookie season). He was finally able to stay healthy in 2009, and he got rid of his “dancing” style that plagued him his first three seasons in the league. I’m probably in the minority, but entering a contract season, I think that Laurence Maroney may finally break the 1,000 yard mark for the first time in his career.
While there will be some semblance of a committee, I think Fred Taylor and Sammy Morris are going to become less effective, while Kevin Faulk will retain his role as third down back. Down the stretch, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Maroney carrying the ball 15-20 times a game, which should make him a good #2 back, at the minimum.
2. Wes Welker surprised a lot of people by participating at OTA’s and making hard cuts. Do you believe he’ll end up on the PUP list or start the season on the team?
If you asked me two weeks ago, I would probably say that I thought Wes Welker would start the season on the PUP list. However, now, I think he’ll be ready for the start of the regular season. You can just never doubt this guy. That being said, I would expect a slight drop-off in production from Welker in 2010. With targets like Torry Holt, Taylor Price, Rob Gronkowski, Aaron Hernandez, Alge Crumpler, and a healthy Brandon Tate in the mix, there’s only so many catches one man can make.
Stemming off the last question, the Patriots added a lot of new targets at the receiver position. Moss is your number one outside receiver and vertical threat. After that, it’s a bit unclear. I think Welker will be back, so he immediately becomes your slot receiver. After that, the Patriots need another outside target. Based of mini-camp and the start of training camp, it looks like that player could very well be second year man Brandon Tate. Julian Edelman would be your #4, or backup slot receiver. If Welker isn’t back to start the season, Edelman immediately becomes the #2, top slot option. After Edelman, you’ve got veteran Torry Holt, rookie Taylor Price, as well as Sam Aiken as the top options at the position. The Patriots could keep seven, but the only lock for a spot is rookie Taylor Price, who was a third round pick. Torry Holt adds value as an experienced veteran who can do a lot of things for the offense, but his spot may be challenged if the young receivers can step up their games. Sam Aiken is a very valuable special teams player, but may be tough to keep around considering all of the draft picks the Patriots brought in who may hold special teams value as well.
4. The Patriots drafted two good tight ends in Hernandez and Gronkowski, but it looks like Alge Crumpler will be the starter. Do you see either rookie making a contribution this season?
Actually, to the contrary, I believe that Rob Gronkowski is going to be the starter. I like Alge Crumpler as a blocking tight end in short yardage packages, but I believe that Gronkowski will be the in-line starting tight end from opening day on. With his tremendous size (6’6″, 265lbs), he looks like he will be a solid goal line tight end. I also think that Aaron Hernandez will have a big impact his rookie season. While the comparisons are certainly premature, there has been a lot of talk that Hernandez could be a Dallas Clark-esque weapon for Tom Brady, and he should certainly see some run this season. He will have a variety of roles, from fullback, to h-back, to tight end, even to a big wide receiver. He could also become a threat near the goal line. While it’s still early, I would expect big contributions from the Patriots’ rookie tight ends this season.
5. Two years removed from his surgery Tom Brady should be ready to move back to elite status, but he still isn’t going as high in drafts as he once was. How confident are you in Brady and the Patriots’ ability to return to their passing dominance?
I believe that now, two years removed from knee surgery, Tom Brady will be back to form in 2010. With the weapons the Patriots have added, as well as the boost in confidence Brady has gotten the last few months as his knee regains strength, the sky is the limit for Brady and the Patriots’ offense in 2010. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Brady put up 35-40 touchdowns this season. After all, in his first year back from his injury, he threw 28 touchdowns with Sam Aiken and Joey Galloway as the outside receivers.