After an impressive training camp and preseason, rookie quarterback Mac Jones has officially been named the starting quarterback for the New England Patriots. With this news breaking earlier this morning, fantasy managers want to know what the true fantasy implications are going forward heading into their draft.
Below are my thoughts on each skill position group:
The biggest beneficiary of the Mac Jones news has to be starting running back Damien Harris. Last season, Harris had a decent season with Cam Newton under center.
In 137 carries, he ran for five yards a carry at a total of 691 yards. The problem was, he only ran for two touchdowns which is a number that should go way up with Jones as the starter.
In the red zone last year, the Patriots utilized QB power plays with Cam Newton in order to punch it in. In fact, he scored a whopping 12 rushing touchdowns. I expect most, if not all those carries to go to Harris now as Jones is not a running threat.
The one thing that could hinder Harris is Bill Belichick’s tendency to suddenly mix and match running backs on the roster. This includes rookie Rhamondre Stevenson and veteran third down back James White.
The good news for Harris, however, is that the team traded away their running back Sony Michel a few days ago to the Rams, which could show their confidence in Harris.
Overall, expect Harris’ stock to increase along with all the two other running backs on the roster.
The wide receiver room should be rejoicing as well. Nothing against Cam, but he was not particularly the most accurate passer.
He was a quarterback that relied on his legs throughout his career. One could make the argument that Steve Smith and Greg Olsen in Carolina were the only two pass catchers that were solid fantasy options week in and week out.
With an accurate pocket passer in Mac Jones, look for guys like Jakobi Meyers, Nelson Agholor, and Kenrick Bourne to have some value this year.
The one thing to watch is to see which wide receiver Jones targets the most this season. As of now, I would look to target Meyers first out of New England’s other wide receivers. He did form a nice connection with Cam Newton last year, and his stock should go up with Jones throwing him the ball.
If you are looking for a sleeper late in your fantasy drafts, I will encourage managers to take a chance on guys like Nelson Agholor and Kenrick Bourne, who could surprise this year.
Lastly, the tight ends should see an increase in value as well. This offseason, New England made the position a priority with the signings of former Titan Jonnu Smith and former Charger Hunter Henry.
Because the Patriots did not have this talent at the position last season, the tight ends on the roster did not have much value at all from a fantasy perspective, especially with Newton under center.
Now that they have two viable options, I expect the team to get back to their two tight end sets that they were famous for with Gronk and Aaron Hernandez.
If I had to pick a tight end to draft between Smith and Henry, I would lean towards Jonnu Smith due to his ability as a pass-catcher. While Henry is a talented pass-catcher in his own right, he has been injury-prone as of late.
Look to target Smith in the later rounds as a nice bargain. As they always say, a rookie quarterback tends to look the tight ends way as their “safety blanket” time and time again. Jones should be no exception this season.
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