Okay, full disclosure I’m a Patriots fan and have been for a long time. The first professional sports team I can remember caring about was the Pats. My father had molded me into a football fan from an early age. The problem was the Patriots were terrible and a lot of their games would be blacked out. Even though I grew up 25 miles from Foxborough, I rarely saw a televised home game. Instead I filled my Sundays watching the 49ers and Joe Montana or the Giants in the Phil Simms and Bill Parcells days. We’d typically get away Patriots games and almost always they’d get smoked. It got so bad there was talk of the franchise moving. A preposterous thought nowadays. At one point it seemed as though they were headed to St. Louis. It sucked being a Pats fan. Then Bob Kraft swooped in bought the team, hired Bill Parcells, drafted Drew Bledsoe with the top overall pick, and started rocking the hell out of two toned collected shirts. So what I’m getting at is, I’m sort of bias.
The funny thing is, I planned on writing this when Tim Wright was in Tampa. I loved the converted wide receiver’s ability to get open and make catches. His physical attributes of NFL size and speed. I even thought he would be the number 2 or 3 option behind fellow sycamores Vincent Jackson and Mike Evans. When he was acquired by the Patriots that all changed. Now I’m having daydreams of Wright taking over the “Move” role formally filled by Aaron Hernandez, catching passes in the flank from Tom Brady, and filling a void dearly missed last season. I just hope he’s not a psycho gangsta who kills for fun. My expectations are pretty low after the last guy.
The best part of this move is the natural fit for Wright. As I mentioned he’s a converted receiver and let’s just say blocking is not his strong suit. That’s fine in the Pats system he’ll be asked to do very little for a sustained period of time. The Patriots typically run three step drops and any 5’s they run are typically in the shotgun. So he won’t have to hold his blocking assignments for long. He produced last year in Tampa Bay in a much worse situation. As long as he can come in and pickup the infamously difficult playbook, he’ll be putting up relevant fantasy numbers by week 3. He had a line of 54/571/5 last year and I don’t see any reason why he can’t exceed those numbers in a far superior offense.The Pats are great at providing fantasy relevance to 3-5 pass catchers a season in their good years. I don’t see why Wright couldn’t slide into his place as the 4th option in the pecking order behind Rob Gronkowski, Julian Edelman, and Shane Vereen.
Let’s not over look the significant injury history of the name above him on the depth chart. In the last two seasons Gronk has missed 14 games. He’s had three injuries dating back to the 2011 playoffs and his position and style of play make him vulnerable to more. Another bad Gronk injury and Wright is one of Brady’s top two options. Simple as that. Seems like a stretch? Maybe, but he’s got the ability and if the history of the Pats and Gronk tell us anything it’s that all of this is realistic. His value has gotten a slight bump since his move to New England but he was going undrafted or in the last couple of rounds before the trade. Now he’s going as early as the 12th but still late enough to be a TE2 value. On leagues with 6 or more bench spots I’ve been stashing Wright all over.
Many of the concerns over Wright’s lofty expectations since the move are silly. I heard one pundit go as far as to say the Pats “eliminated” the Aaron Hernandez role in the offense last season. I mean of course they eliminated it, who on the roster could have filled the role? Michael Hoomanawanui? Was he going to be the “Flex” end? I heard someone else say that he’s not as talented as Hernandez. I beg to differ Wright and Hernandez’s rookie years looked similar statistically, they both had similar numbers at the combine, and both came from college football programs with Belichick connections. This is well illustrated by the graphic below.
I think Belichick knows exactly what this kid can do and he traded the Best Offensive Lineman he ever coached to do it. It’s not everyday a talented 24 year old player in a great situation is available in the last few rounds of your draft. I say hop on Wright’s price and watch as the rest of your league talks about you’re genius.