Christian Karayannides (@CKarayannides)
Here we stand after two unsurprising injuries, a sight that has become more and more prevalent in the preseason. Are preseason games necessary to prepare teams or are they simply a way for the league to squeeze more games/cash out of each season?
Either way, on the most popular weekend for fantasy football drafts we have two big shake ups that are sure to affect rankings. I’ll hit on the Spencer Ware injury in another post.
Here is my rapid reaction to the Julian Edelman injury.
The Patriots have confirmed that Julian Edelman suffered an ACL tear in their 3rd preseason game on Friday, which ruled him out for the rest of the season. Edelman was set to man a reliable role as the slot receiver in a top-3 offense this year. We hope for Julian’s sake that he makes a full recoveryEmbed from Getty Images
Edelman played in the slot, which is the underneath receiver in 3 WR sets. In preseason games we saw a starting lineup of:
Outside WR: Brandin Cooks
Outside WR: Chris Hogan
Slot WR: Julian Edelman
With the Edelman injury, I would expect Danny Amendola to take over the majority of his snaps in the slot. We could also see an increase in the number of 2 Tight End formations utilizing both Rob Gronkowski & newly acquired Dwayne Allen.
Edelman’s injury vacates 159 targets from last year, and I expect the fallout to translate to bigger workloads for Brandin Cooks, Chris Hogan, Danny Amendola, James White, and Gronk.Embed from Getty Images
I love the projected role for Cooks in this offense. The outside receivers tend to run a lot of deep routes, which Brady uses to stretch the defense and open up space underneath. I see Cooks getting more snaps now in the slot (19.3% of snaps from the slot in NO last year), which should improve the consistency of his numbers. Fantasy Football Calculator has him at the 24th overall pick as the WR10, but the injury pushes him up 5 picks in my rankings as the WR8, right behind Michael Thomas and before Amari Cooper & Dez Bryant.
Expect finishing numbers that reflect his totals from 2016:
Gronk was already being taken 19th overall in the bottom of the 2nd round according to FF calculator. I think he gets a few bumps up, passing Dez Bryant & maybe Todd Gurley, especially as he’s looked healthy this preseason. I think you’ll see Gronk run more routes and see an uptick in targets, especially as he shares the same area of the field where Edelman was usually targeted.
Hogan had a great preseason, but his role does not change that much. Hogan is a streaky deep threat and I don’t expect him to play much more out of the slot this year (26% of snaps from the slot in 2016). He does move into draftable territory for 12-14 team leagues and has the opportunity to provide streaky but inconsistent value as a 4th/5th receiver.
Last year, Hogan finished with 38 catches for 680 yards & 4 TDs. Expect that number to increase to at least 60 catches & 900 yards.
No change for the GOAT.
I’m personally trying to avoid Pats running backs because coach Bill Belichick is infamously unpredictable and the crowded backfield has the opportunity to cause massive migraines on game day.
BUT, the designated 3rd down pass catching RB James White figures to see a larger share of underneath targets that represent a major part of the West Coast offense the Pats run. Still unpredictable, but we can maybe start thinking about White in the Theo Riddick/Duke Johnson range where the value is very dependent on scoring format (PPR vs. Standard).
White is entering his prime and is still coming off of a year in which he saw 86 targets for 60 catches, 550 yards, and 5 receiving touchdowns. I wouldn’t be surprised if he repeats or exceeds that this year.Embed from Getty Images
From back in his days with the Rams, Amendola could never stay on the field. He goes from afterthought to vaguely interesting waiver add with this injury. Amendola should see the majority of Edelman’s snaps in the slot, but I can’t see him being a big part of the offense and have no trust in his ability to stay healthy.
In PPR leagues Amendola has the opportunity to provide low ceiling value as the starting slot receiver in a high scoring offense, but he is not someone I would rely upon.