If last season is any indication, the New England Patriots will have to turn up the gas on offense to outpace the Jacksonville Jaguars defense. Tom Brady expressed some frustration about how his offense performed in week one against the Houston Texans, so the pressure is doubled against a true AFC threat. After some additions to the roster this week, it’s time to examine the New England Patriots receiving weapons and how they might hold up moving forward.
Rob Gronkowski was a shoo-in to headline this list. The unstoppable tight end caught seven of eight receptions in week one for 123 yards and a score. But Jalen Ramsey‘s recent comments about Gronkowski’s effectiveness against cornerbacks has cast some doubts going into Sunday. In last years AFC Championship Game, Gronkowski saw just three targets. Of those three targets, he only hauled in one reception for 21 yards. According to ESPN’s Mina Kimes, Gronk’s catch rate drops from 71 percent to 56 percent when he lines up against corners. That’s below the league average for corners. According to FiveThirtyEight, Gronkowski is also targeted significantly less when facing a crowded defensive backfield, which doesn’t bode well for Gronkowski’s production headed into this week.
Phillip Dorsett. Who would have thought? The speedster caught all seven of his targets last week for 66 yards and a score. Although a 66-yard game isn’t impressive in and of itself, he averaged 9.4 yards per reception. With wide receiver so uncertain, Dorsett could be Brady’s most reliable wideout.
Fantasy owners across the league are bemoaning taking Chris Hogan above his ADP. Hogan was supposed to emerge as the top wideout with Julian Edelman in the league’s doghouse. But number 15 caught only one of his five targets for 11 yards against Houston. He posted similar numbers against Jacksonville last year, catching two of four targets for 20 yards. Granted, Hogan was playing underneath Brandin Cooks and postseason Danny Amendola at the time. He should see a serious uptick in targets this week with Josh McDaniels scheming him open. Look for a lot of rub routes as Jacksonville focuses on Gronk and Dorsett.
Cordarrelle Patterson only finds himself here because of a lack of targets. He caught his only target last week against Houston. Expectations are pretty low for Patterson’s receiving this season, but the Patriots have a habit of subverting expectations when it comes to players. He proved himself a capable playmaker in the preseason, so he’s worth keeping an eye on as the season progresses.
Coleman has an incredible amount of upside that never manifested during his time on the Cleveland Browns. He was cut just before the start of the season by the Buffalo Bills, who have to be questioning that decision after their beat-down in Baltimore. Fortunately for Coleman, Bill Belichick has a history of turning former Bills into stars. Unfortunately for Coleman, he hasn’t had much time to learn Josh McDaniels‘ offense. As a result, Coleman might play a similar role to that of Dorsett and Kenny Britt last season: get on the field and pretend like you might catch something so the real stars can do work.
Coleman caught some criticism from Browns offensive coordinator Todd Haley for inconsistency, failure to finish out plays and lack of mental toughness on the field. Cleveland relegated Coleman to second-team in practice before arriving in Buffalo. However, Coleman finally has the benefit of a consistent, quality quarterback who should be able to get him the ball. He won’t crank out great numbers in Jacksonville this weekend, but he should be good for a deep shot or two up the sideline with his 4.37 speed.
Fowler is a huge question mark for the Patriots moving forward. He doesn’t return punts or kicks. He doesn’t necessarily have elite speed. In his career, he has a 53.3 percent catch rate. He bounced between the Denver Broncos practice squad and game day rosters for a little bit and wound up being cut from the Chicago Bears roster before the 2018 season. Fowler probably won’t see many targets, especially given his unfamiliarity with the playbook. He’ll be little more than a disruptive presence on the field if he even sees the field at all.
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