New England in 2020 will look a lot different than in years past. We look for the Patriots to be more reliant on their stout defense, which is no surprise as we saw last year this was already the case, with the offense notably taking a step backwards. We also should see an offensive scheme shift in favor of a more run heavy, power run approach. In a nut shell the 2020 New England Patriots will have a very old school look and feel to them. On offense the strength of this team coming into 2020 will be their backfield, and now more than ever will look to lean on that deep stable of backs. We look for the Patriots to try and create what they did in their last Super Bowl appearance when they pounded the rock with Sony Michel, who ran hard behind a bruising full back. We feel this is their thinking because they lost the above mentioned full back, James Develin, this offseason due to retirement and felt the need to replace him quickly with a similar player in Dan Vitale.
Cam Newton/Jarrett Stidham/Brian Hoyer (QB) - Josh McDaniels likes the former Auburn quarterback and will give Stidham every opportunity to be the guy in New England. When Stidham entered the league last season he illustrated many traits you want to see in a quarterback entering the next level. Stidham has good mechanics as a passer, he looks poised in the pocket, sees the field very well, appears to have good football IQ, and despite only being 6’ 3” he looks very tall in the pocket. All these traits were on display last year during the preseason when he was turning heads. Brian Hoyer returns to the Patriots for the third time in his career. At this point in the offseason Hoyer has just as good a shot to be the day 1 starter as Stidham, as this competition is wide open. So we thought, as the team just signed quarterback Cam Newton to a one year deal. Newton will likely assume the starting role for the Patriots. Cam is the polar opposite to what Tom Brady has been at the position for the team. Tom was not mobile and was a great ball distributor. Where Cam isn't known as a great passer, only throwing for 4,000 yards in a season once in his career as a rookie back in 2011, but offers upside as a runner to make up for the passing deficiencies. Josh McDaniels and Bill Belichick are great at getting the best out of their players by utilizing them and their skill set, so will no doubt do the same for Cam.
*Fantasy Spin: Cam Newton enters the Patriots as the likely starter in 2020. Cam Newton is a guy people love to hate in fantasy which will make him a value on draft day. WE know Cam won't throw for 4,000 yards but his legs make up for that. We currently have Cam ranked as a back end QB2 in redraft and dynasty formats as our 24th ranked quarterback. Stidham at this point is only appealing in dynasty leagues. With an anticipated heavy run attack neither Stidham nor Hoyer are appealing in redraft formats, and shouldn’t even be considered in standard size fantasy leagues in 2020.
Sony Michel/James White/Damien Harris (RB) - this group will be relied upon in 2020 to “carry” the load for an underwhelming Patriots offense. Sony Michel figures to be the back to do most of the heavy lifting. Michel will get the early down work and essentially be looked at as the teams RB1. There has been talk coming out of the organization about getting Harris more carries in 2020, which isn’t crazy because he only touched the ball 4 times on 5 snaps in 2019. Harris fits this projected run heavy attack very well, as he is a tough grinder kind of back. James White figures to be the change of pace back, who should be in the game on all passing downs.
*Fantasy Spin: despite the projected heavy reliance on the run we still are left feeling uneasy in investing in this backfield for the upcoming season, especially in redraft leagues. Sony Michel figures to be a great best ball back where he can be viewed as a RB3/RB4. James White’s value essentially went out the door when the goat left for the sunshine state. With Brady under center White was averaging 70 catches a year, we see him coming nowhere near this in 2020. White is a mid to late round target at best. As for Harris we wouldn’t even consider going to that well in 2020.
Julian Edelman/N’Keal Harry/Mohamed Sanu (WR) – this trio figures to be the starting wide outs for the Patriots in 2020. None really jump out as must grab in redraft leagues. Edelman figures to be the man to man the slot again in 2020, where he has been for years. If Jarrett Stidham is at the helm in 2020 Edelman will have a better chance to produce in 2020, as he seemed to favor the slot last preseason. Harry struggled in his rookie campaign, but like we should always do in dynasty fantasy with a struggling player with high draft capital we must buy. Sanu seems like a player more custom fit for the slot and with Edelman already being there not only does he feel redundant, but he feels out of place at times when on the field. All these guys lack speed hence the addition of guys like Damiere Byrd and Marqise Lee being brought in to rotate in and out with Sanu.
*Fantasy Spin: Edelman can be viewed as a high to mid-range WR3 in 2020, especially if Stidham is under center. Don’t forget about Jakobi Meyers who was a favorite target of Stidham last season during the preseason. With Edelman getting up there in age and dealing with injuries Meyers could be a sleeper in 2020. Harry is our WR52 coming into 2020. This whole receiving corps just seem like a fade in redraft as the questions at quarterback and a more run heavy approach seem to offer us fantasy owners little upside.
Devin Asiasi/Dalton Keene (TE) – New England needed to address this position this offseason as they got nothing out of it in 2019. Many thought they would target sexy free agents such as Austin Hooper, Eric Ebron, and Jimmy Graham. However in typical Belichick fashion they decided to pass on the big names and address the position in the draft. Devin Asiasi was the second tight end selected in the draft overall and is quietly a solid pick up by the team. Asiasi is a good pass catching tight end that is a team first guy and prides himself on his blocking ability as well, ala Georg Kittle. Many scouts at the combine loved this kid and pegged him as a better prospect then new Bears tight end Cole Kmet. The Patriots then drafted Dalton Keene who offers a different skill set as he is more of an H-back.
*Fantasy Spin: Neither tight end offers any value in redraft leagues for 2020. However, in dynasty leagues Asiasi makes for a great add deep in drafts. Asiasi could emerge as a very great pro tight end in a few years.
Defense- last season we saw this defense emerge as an elite unit. They ranked first in points allowed as well as 7th in points scored. Despite the fact that they are getting a little long in the tooth on the backside, they still project to be tough. The secondary features a top 3 cornerback in Stephon Gilmore.
*Fantasy Spin: if you are inclined to draft any piece of the Patriots in 2020 this is the piece. The Patriots defense offers you the safest floor and the highest ceiling week in and week out. The Pats are a top 5 unit for fantasy.
Strength of Schedule:
The Patriots wide receiver corps will face the sixth toughest schedule this season. Their playoff schedule does not get better as they are projected with the 8th toughest during weeks 14-16.Sony Michel and company will be looking at the 16th toughest schedule during the fantasy regular season. The backs will have the projected 3rd easiest schedule during the fantasy playoffs, however. Whoever is under center will face the 13th toughest schedule during the fantasy regular season, and the 3rd easiest during weeks 14-16. The tight ends have the 16th best schedule during the regular season, and the best fantasy playoff schedule.