Fantasy Football: Julian Edelman and Examination of Patriots Backfield - Sports Illustrated

Is It Safe to Draft Julian Edelman in Fantasy Football Without Tom Brady?

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In four of the last six seasons, Julian Edelman has eclipsed 90 catches. But now that he’ll be catching passes from Jarrett Stidham instead of Tom Brady, fantasy football players are questioning whether Edelman will still be the PPR powerhouse he’s been year-in and year-out in fantasy football. 

Given the Patriots' current set of receivers, Edelman still stands out as the most reliable option but is that enough to justify his drafting him in fantasy football? That’s the question we asked Sports Illustrated’s fantasy analyst Shawn Childs and PatriotsMaven Devon Clements. 

Read the full transcript from our conversation below:

Bill Enright: For years, the New England Patriots have produced a lot of fantasy football superstars. Will that continue in 2020 without quarterback Tom Brady? Let's bring on Shawn Childs, our fantasy football analyst here at Sports Illustrated, and also Devon Clements from Pitchers Maven. Shawn, I'll start with you. Let's talk about Edelman because in PPR formats, he's been as good as gold, as consistent as ever. Do you think that will continue with Jarrett Stidham under center for the 2020 season?

Julian Edelman in Patriots win over Bills

Shawn Childs: It's going to be really interesting because, even in the fancy market, he's dropped to a borderline back end wide receiver 3 which is a sharp decline in projections. I actually have him out of the gate. 81 catches, 900 yards, and about 5 touchdowns but changing a quarterback... You know, the chief has left the building. So, can Stidham do enough to excel in the passing game? We all know that the Patriots are going to probably try to run the ball more. They have a good defense. The whole foundation of the offense is going to change. So Edelman is basically just a steady receiver now that's going to get six or seven catches and a lot of games, 60, 70 yards and these touchdowns are not going to be that impactful. He's more of a steady veteran when you're shopping at the back end of the list. You would take him more than maybe a young upside receiver because you don't know where the floor is going to be for the other player.

Bill Enright: Shawn brought up a good point about the Patriots possibly running the ball more. So let's talk about their backfield. Devon, I'll go over to you for some analysis on Sony Michel and James White.

nfl dfs sony michel

Devon Clements: Yeah, so if you're looking for someone to draft in fantasy in the Patriots' backfield, it's going to be tough. I'd say if there are sure-fire options that backfield, it's going to be James White because of his PPR upside, his catching out of the backfield. That's definitely going to still be relevant, whether it's Jarrett Stidham or Tom Brady under center. In terms of early-down touches, that backfield is going to be really tricky. We know Sony Michel is going to be the guy early in the game to get the ball but with someone like Damian Harris becoming relevant but by some point in time, the Patriots have to use him. Rex Burkhead is also going to take touches away from him as well. So if you have to and you want to choose one guy in that backfield that's going to get touches, It's going to be Sony Michel, but it's not going to be by a whole lot because of that approach they have going on.

Bill Enright: Always a running back by committee approach in New England, indeed. Shawn and Devon, thank you for your analysis. We are going team by team and providing fantasy football insight. You can find it by going to SI.com/fantasy. 

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