QB Tom Brady
The Jets defend the pass much better than they defend the run, and the Patriots are certain to exploit that weakness early and often. Even if the Pats lean on the run, I expect Brady to make the Jets pay with big plays off playaction. He won’t be airing it out 50 times this week, but he’ll still likely put up 275 yards and 2-3 scores.
RBs Stevan Ridley, Brandon Bolden, Danny Woodhead
Bolden has been nursing a knee injury all week, so you’re starting him at your own risk. That opens the door for Ridley to plow through the Jets shoddy run defense to the tune of well over 100 total yards and 1-2 scores. If Bolden can’t go, Woodhead becomes an interesting flex player, as he could easily rack up over 60 yards in a supporting role.
WRs Wes Welker, Brandon Lloyd
There should be no slowing down the Wes Welker train this week, as he should have no trouble racking up his 6-7 catches for 90 and a score this week. Antonio Cromartie will likely be covering Lloyd, and he also dinged his shoulder last week. I’d say he could slot in as a #3 WR this week, but shallow leaguers may well have better options. Given the amount of other mismatches the Pats can exploit here, forecasting anything more than 50 yards for Lloyd is optimistic.
TEs Rob Gronkowski, Aaron Hernandez
Gronk has a bunch of bumps and bruises, but it hasn’t slowed him down much. Both he and Hernandez (who practiced twice this week) should present enormous mismatches and will be targeted frequently. I think they’ll distribute around 130 yards and 1-2 scores fairly evenly, though I think it’s possible that Hernandez outshines Gronk by a slight margin.
New England Defense/Special Teams
The Jets have only given up nine sacks all year and turned the ball over 10 times. Against most teams, those stats would be enough to sit the New England D this week. But given the fact that Mark Sanchez is still Mark Sanchez, and considering the fact that they don’t have a viable NFL running back or #1 WR, I think it’s safe to play them this week as the Jets furiously try (and likely fail) to come from behind. Expect 2 sacks, 2-3 turnovers and a 50-50 shot at a defensive or special teams TD.