More blog banter from a fantasy perspective. Enjoy the holiday weekend!
QB Tom Brady
If you're investing in Brady this year, he won't come cheap. In most drafts, he's going in the middle to late first round, usually the first or second QB off the board. He's a safe bet for another 4800+ yards and somewhere in the neighborhood of total 40 TDs. While the potential exists for an even greater season, I don't think he'll have much better than that due to improvements on defense and questions on the offensive line. Still, the advantage of having a great QB in fantasy is overwhelming, so he shouldn't disappoint those who draft him early.
WRs Wes Welker, Brandon Lloyd
Depending on the format, Welker will likely be among the top 10 WRs off the board and 25th-30th pick overall. Lloyd is slotted just inside the top 20 WRs, usually a 5th round pick. Welker's amazing 2011 season will be difficult to replicate with Lloyd stealing targets. I think he hauls in close to 100 balls for north of 1100 yards and 7 scores. Basically a reliable break-even option for those who pay for his services in the 3rd round. Lloyd is tough to project in his first year working with Brady. I think a conservative estimate is around 55 catches for 900 yards and 6 TDs. I like him as a weak WR2 or strong WR3 in most formats. He offers reasonable upside in the late 5th or early 6th of most drafts.
RB Stevan Ridley
Ridley looked explosive in the preseason and handled a solid majority of the work with the first team offense. Belichick's wishy-washy history with RBs tempers his projected value among most experts, but count me as extremely bullish on The Riddler this year. The Patriots figure to be protecting a lot of leads, and the ridiculous number of weapons in the passing game should leave plenty of open running lanes. I think he has the potential to put up 1000 total yards and 10 or more TDs. If he meets my expectations, he offers upside of a top 10 RB at the cost of a 6th or 7th round pick. He's one of my favorite upside plays among all NFL players this year. There's a slight risk that he loses the job if his ball security isn't up to par, but for the potential numbers he could put up in a starting role, he's well worth that risk. He could warrant first round consideration in 2013 drafts.
TEs Rob Gronkowski, Aaron Hernandez
Last year, Gronkowski had the best season by a TE in NFL history. As such, he's now going in the 2nd round of most 10-team drafts. That is uncharted territory for the TE position, which rarely gets a call before the 5th round of most drafts. I expect a bit of regression from Gronk this year because of the presence of another viable threat on the outside and Hernandez carving out a larger role in the offense. I think Gronk finishes with around 75 catches for 1100 yards and 10 TDs. Look for Hernandez to finish just a tick below in the 55-900-8 range. Given the option between the two from a value perspective, I greatly prefer Hernandez in the 5th round to Gronkowski in the 2nd.