10 bold predictions for the New England Patriots in 2022

Latest bold predictions for the Patriots

By: Jake Rajala

The New England Patriots aren’t pulling their foot off the pedal in the brutal AFC East. The cyborg head coach, Bill Belichick, has talent on his roster (such as QB Mac Jones, WR DeVante Parker, TE Hunter Henry, OLB Matthew Judon, and FS Devin McCourty) & he also has assistant coaches: Matt Patricia and Joe Judge back at this lab. With that said, I’m going to take a fun angle and untwine 10 bold predictions for the Patriots in 2022.

  • Mac Jones throws 30+ passing touchdowns

Mac Jones is no longer a rookie in the league and he clearly has a stronger taste of the NFL speed in his second season. Furthermore, Jones has new ammunition in his sophomore season – such as the new WR1 DeVante Parker. The former Phins wideout is still a year under 30 and I believe his ability shown in 2019 (1,202 yds and 9 touchdowns) isn’t too far behind him.

  • Hunter Henry makes the Pro Bowl

The former Los Angeles Chargers TE ousted a personal-best 9 TDs last season. I expect him to blossom in year two with the Pats – especially from a wiser QB1. I believe Henry can make his first Pro Bowl in 2022.

  • Josh Uche records double-digit sacks

BB shipped away the former Michigan Wolverine Chase Winovich and the new OLB starter is none other than Winovich’s former teammate at Michigan, Josh Uche. The young edge rusher has shined this off-season and I believe he is due for his best season in 2022 – which could absolutely be a double-digit sack campaign.

  • Devin McCourty makes the Pro Bowl

The Pats safety Devin McCourty is like fine wine – as he continues to shine in his old age (and he recently turned 35). He ousted three ints last season and PFF also gave him a potent 76.0 grade. I believe the three-time Pro Bowler will leave everything on the line in potentially his last season and garner a PB berth.

  • Matthew Judon is second-team All-Pro (at least)

Matthew Judon proved to be a monster pick-up by the Pats GM – as he recorded a personal-best 12.5 sacks in 2021. I believe he slightly improves – which will result in second-team AP honors (at least).

  • Christian Barmore is a Pro Bowler

The Pats x-factor on defense is Christian Barmore in my opinion. The Patriots 2021 second-round pick has freakish physical gifts and he also got his feet wet in year one. In year two – I foresee Barmore being unstoppable in the run game and improving in the passing game – which could lead to him obtaining Pro Bowl honors.

  • Ty Montgomery has 5+ TDs

The Pats inked the RB/WR Ty Montgomery in free agency – who has been with the Packers and Saints in his NFL journey. I believe he will be utilized best in New England & Mac Jones will stay efficient by hooking up with him in the red zone. I trust that he can unveil 5+ TDs in 2022.

  • Belichick smiles a few times

I know Belichick is an old-school philosopher & a bit of a hard-ass. However, he has tended to be more laid back in his older years. With that said, I believe he will be happy & even smile a few times in his 22nd season with NE. Yes, you read that correctly.

  • Nick Folk converts 40+ field goals for the Patriots

The Pats really leaned on their kicker Nick Folk to be a star in 2021 – as he had a career-high 39 attempts (and which he converted a personal-best 36 FGs). I believe he will be called on more than last season and he will shine by converting a whopping 40 FGs.

  • Damien Harris runs for 1,200+ yards

The 2019 third-round pick Damien Harris registered an impressive 15 rushing TDs and 929 rushing yds last season. I believe the future will only be brighter for the physical RB that is entering a contract year — hence, I believe he will up his single-season rushing yard tally to 1,200+ yards.

Fantasy Football: Week 8 Start/Sit

Start Hunter Henry in Week 8

By: Matt Gruber

Week eight is upon us and it is time for the weekly starts and sits. This is the eighth installment of the 17-piece series aimed to help you make the roster decisions to give you an edge over your opponent. Let’s jump into it and win some championships.

Quarterbacks

Start: Teddy Bridgewater – Denver Broncos

In seven games this season, Teddy Bridgewater was thrown at least two touchdowns in five of those games. He has also hit at least 250 yards in four of these games. This week he has a juicy matchup against the Washington Football Team. Ranked last against the pass, Washington has allowed opposing quarterbacks to throw for at least 250 yards in each game this year. Furthermore, they have given up at least two passing touchdowns in five consecutive weeks. Start Bridgewater with confidence this week.

Honorable Mentions: Daniel Jones @ KC, Kirk Cousins vs. DAL, Carson Wentz vs. TEN

Sit: Mac Jones – New England Patriots

Coming off his best week of the season, I am tempering my expectations for Mac Jones in week eight. He is going up against the Los Angeles Chargers who are ranked fifth best against quarterbacks. Allowing an average of just 15 fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks, I expect New England to focus on running the ball in this one. Look for other options at quarterback this week.

Honorable Mentions: Taylor Heinicke @ DEN, Tua Tagovailoa @ BUF, Jared Goff vs. PHI

Running Backs

Start: James Robinson – Jacksonville Jaguars

Fresh off a bye, look for James Robinson to pick up right where he left off. He has put up at least 17 fantasy points in four consecutive weeks. This week, he faces the Seattle Seahawks who have been awful against opposing running backs. Allowing at least 23 fantasy points to opposing backs in six of their seven games, start Robinson this week and don’t think twice.

Honorable Mentions: Chuba Hubbard @ ATL, Joe Mixon @ NYJ, Darrel Williams vs. NYG

Sit: Leonard Fournette – Tampa Bay Buccaneers

After a slow start, Leonard Fournette has been impressive these last few weeks. However, this week he plays against a stout run defense in the New Orleans Saints. Bottling up Seahawks running backs this past week, the Saints have yet to allow more than 85 rushing yards to opposing running backs. I think it will be a long day for Fournette. Look for an alternative at running back this week.

Honorable Mentions: Mike Davis vs. CAR, Myles Gaskin @ BUF, James Conner vs. GB

Wide Receivers

Start: Courtland Sutton

I am expecting a big game from Courtland Sutton this week. If the blurb on Teddy Bridgewater was not enough for you, then continue reading here. Facing the Washington Football Team, the matchup does not get any better. Washington is allowing an average of 38 fantasy points to opposing wide receivers. Giving up at least two touchdowns to receivers in three consecutive games, Sutton is in line to win some weeks.

Honorable Mentions: Emmanuel Sanders vs. MIA, Michael Pittman vs. TEN, Tyler Lockett vs. JAX

Sit: Tee Higgins – Cincinnati Bengals

While his 15 targets last week were an encouraging sign, I still need to see more from Tee Higgins to plug him into my lineup. Since returning from injury, he has yet to score double-digit fantasy points. Additionally, he has not eclipsed 65 receiving yards all season. To make matters even worse, fellow wideout, Ja’Marr Chase is popping off. I am looking for better options this week.

Honorable Mentions: Robert Woods @ HOU, Jakobi Meyers @ LAC, DeVante Parker @ BUF

Tight Ends

Start: Hunter Henry – New England Patriots

Hunter Henry has scored a touchdown four weeks in a row. While his receptions and yards may be a bit low, scoring is everything. I think there is a good chance he finds the end zone again this week. Not only is fellow tight end Jonnu Smith dealing with a shoulder injury, but he is going up against the Los Angeles Chargers. This is good news considering the fact the Chargers have allowed a touchdown to opposing tight ends in five of their six games. In a position lacking playmakers, you could do worse this week.

Honorable Mentions: Tyler Higbee @ HOU, C.J. Uzomah @ NYJ, Tyler Conklin vs. DAL

Sit: Ricky Seals-Jones – Washington Football Team

Facing the Denver Broncos this week, Ricky Seals-Jones will be staying on my bench this week. Ranked fourth best against tight ends, the Broncos have not allowed a single touchdown to opposing tight ends. I think for Seals-Jones to have a productive week, he will need to find the endzone. I am not too confident that he will be able to this week. Look elsewhere for tight end options.

Honorable Mentions: Dalton Schultz @ MIN, Jared Cook vs. NE, Mo Alie-Cox vs. TEN

If you enjoyed this piece, feel free to find more of my content on Twitter @FF_Worm. I am always available to talk fantasy football and answer any questions.

Dynasty TE Outlook For New England Patriots

What is the dynasty outlook of the Patriots TEs?

By Jesse Moeller (Twitter: @JMoeller05)

What a week it has been for the Patriots. Spending money as if it was going out of style. As of March 18th a whopping $222 million spent in free agency, over $70 million more than anyone else this offseason. Jonnu Smith was the first domino, as he signed a four-year $50 million contract on Monday. The Patriots then double-dipped one day later signing Hunter Henry to a three-year $37 million contract. The team has spent a combined $87 million on the tight end position alone in free agency. $56 million of that was guaranteed.

The instant comparison for anyone familiar with fantasy football within the last decade is to harken back to the 2011 season. The pinnacle for tight end stands, as Gronkowski and Hernandez finished top three at the tight end position. I wanted to take a look back at that historic tight end season and see how it compares to the Patriots for 2021 and beyond.

Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez revamped how we feel about tight ends in fantasy. Gronkowski was the main attraction of the two and put up the greatest individual tight end season. To the tune of 90 receptions for 1,327 yards and 17 touchdowns on 124 targets. This translates to 324.7 fantasy points in full Point Per Reception (PPR) Leagues. Hernandez was no slouch himself, as he finished with 79 receptions for 910 yards and 7 touchdowns on 113 targets. That reached 212 fantasy points and would have put Hernandez as the TE3 last year right behind Kelce, and Waller.

Now there is an elephant in the room when trying to translate the 2011 season to the 2021 room. Tom Brady is no longer the quarterback of the Patriots. The Patriots were a top 10 in passing play rate during the 2011 season in 58% of plays called ending in a pass. Fast forward to the 2021 season with Cam Newton as the quarterback and the Patriots passed it 47% of the time. That percent difference is equal to the team calling 107 fewer passing plays over the year. Broken down that is 6.7 fewer passes a game to go around, the equivalent of going from Roethlisberger who was 3rd in attempts to Bridgewater who was 16th in attempts last year.

These types of numbers cannot be denied when evaluating players moving into new situations. Let us break down both Smith and Henry as players, and how they will be used by the Patriots in 2021 and beyond.

Jonnu Smith

Jonnu has been a tantalizing athlete at the tight end position. A player who had a breakout age of 18.0 (100th) paired with a speed and burst score above 84% screams one of the more talented players at the position. What has been perplexing about Jonnu is his lack of usage in the passing game in Tennessee. Jonnu was stuck behind Delanie Walker his rookie year, learning the ropes of the position. The following three years saw him struggle to make an impact while competing with the likes of Luke Stocker, and Anthony Firkser. (That’s not ideal)

What has been clear is his lack of usage in the passing game throughout his career in Tennessee. Jonnu averaged a 15% snap share in special teams his first three seasons. Last year it dropped to 3% as he became a much more important part of the offense. If a team values a player on offense they will minimize the number of snaps played on special teams. Look at any tight end snaps played. If that player is over 10% of special teams snaps, they are not viewed as an essential part of the offense.

Hunter Henry

While Hunter Henry is not the supreme athlete that Jonnu Smith is, he is no slouch. Henry has been one of the more productive tight ends in the league since his rookie year. The issue has never been talent, as Henry also broke out during his age 18 freshman year at Arkansas. Injuries are the worry, as Henry has never played a full season. Playing only 68% of his career games due largely to an ACL tear that cost him the entire 2018 season. His production has been constant In his young NFL career Henry has played he has averaged 49 receptions for 580.5 yards and 5.25 touchdowns on 71 targets. Henry had a career year in 2020, he was a top ten tight end in numerous categories this year such as targets, receptions, routes run, snap share, and slot snaps.

What to make of the Tight Ends Moving Forward?

The outlook for both players may seem murky at the moment, so let us help dispel that for fantasy players. Hunter Henry is your prototypical In-line tight end. He is set to emulate the role that Gronkowski dominated in his early years with the Patriots. He had not yet evolved into that “Big Slot” role that he dominated as later in the league. Henry has plenty of experience in the slot role, as he will spend some time off of the line, but the majority will be spent as an in-line tight end. He will be one of Newton’s primary passing options in 2021.

Jonnu Smith is a superior version of Aaron Hernandez in the Patriots’ offense. Hernandez lined up wide over 500 times during the famed 2011 season. He was the “Big Slot” before Gronkowski. Jonnu Smith has the ability to lineup everywhere on the field. As we have seen him used in the backfield, out wide, and in line with the Titans. Expect Josh McDaniels to deploy him everywhere during his tenure in New England. The Patriots will utilize both players a heavy amount this upcoming year.

Between them expect above a 40% target share. Why is this that easy to project? The lack of top-end receiving talent will make it easy for New England to highlight both players. Do the names of Harry, Meyers, Agholor, Borne, and Edelman scare you away? While everyone is worried about the ceiling for Henry and Smith, I would acquire either player with the intention of them being a backend TE1 in fantasy. Both players will have a 40 reception 500-yard floor in the Patriots offense. The change actually helps out each player. If all falls into place this year they could both finish as top 6 options at the tight end position. They are a much safer bet than the likes of Irv Smith, Adam Troutman, or Cole Kmet to make a jump to the tier 1 of dynasty tight ends.

Of the two, Henry does have the higher ceiling in my opinion. I see him being the number one option followed by Smith. Do you remember the Patriots receiving core of 2011? It was a Prime Wes Welker putting up 122 receptions. The trio of Chad Johnson, Deion Branch, and Julian Edelman combined for 1,012 on 70 receptions. Gronk and Hernandez were 2 of the best 3 options on that team. I see something similar for both Henry and Smith. They will be feature role of this offense., The receivers will be the supporting actors in this iteration of Belichick’s offense.

Buy both players in dynasty, and know your tight end position is secure for the next two to three years. Let everyone else overpay for the younger Hockenson or Fant, and while they wait for the breakout know you are getting top 12 tight end production from day one.

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