The fantasy season is well underway, and PatriotMaven is here to help you decide what to do with the Patriots stashed on your roster.
New England is now 2-4 on the season with a key divisional matchup against the first-place Buffalo Bills next up on the slate. The Bills have succeeded with offense as opposed to defense this year, while the Patriots’ offense has failed to score in double-digits for back-to-back weeks.
It remains to be seen whether or not the team can turn things around on that front, but there are still a couple of Patriots who are worth rostering in fantasy – but even more worth ditching completely.
All scores are calculated using half-point PPR, ESPN standard scoring
Start ‘Em: Damien Harris
In a week mostly devoid of bright spots on the Patriots offense, Harris was actually decent.
That usually isn’t a glowing review for a potential fantasy option, but it’s generous considering New England’s season-worst performance as a team.
Harris ran for 58 yards on 10 carries, nearly matching his 5.9 yards per carry mark from Week 4. Since joining the team in the Chiefs game, Harris has accumulated 203 yards from scrimmage on 35 touches, both of which lead Patriot skill position players in that span.
The Bills defense ranks 18th against opposing fantasy running backs, who have broken into the end zone against Buffalo seven times in seven weeks. Harris has averaged a respectable 7.1 fantasy points per game without scoring a single touchdown, so if he can finally get on the board this week, his value only goes up.
Harris was limited in practice Wednesday and is currently listed as questionable for Sunday’s game against the Bills. Stash a backup plan on your roster in case he’s ruled out or doesn’t ramp things up in practice, but if Harris is at full strength, he can be a solid flex option in Week 8.
Sit ‘Em: Cam Newton
Newton is still locked in as the Patriots’ starting quarterback for the time being, according to Bill Belichick, but that doesn’t mean he should be your starter in fantasy.
The former NFL MVP failed to break the 170-yard threshold for the fourth time in five games Sunday afternoon, riding 98 yards and three interceptions to a season-worst -0.3 fantasy points.
Newton was just as bad through the air the week before against Denver, but his 13.6 fantasy points as a runner saved him from an awful output at the end of the day. That wasn’t the case against San Francisco, as his five carries and 19 rushing yards were both season lows.
Watching a mobile quarterback throw almost as many interceptions as he had rushing attempts is not a good sign. There’s nothing that shows a turnaround will come against the Bills’ defense either, as they limited Sam Darnold – one of only two qualified quarterbacks with a worse passer rating than Newton – to 0.8 fantasy points last Sunday.
Newton’s leash has been shortened, and it isn’t even a guarantee that he plays all four quarters on any given Sunday.
At this point, fantasy owners shouldn’t touch any Patriot quarterback with a 10-foot pole.
Start ‘Em: Nick Folk
It says a lot about a team when one of their only startable fantasy players is a kicker, but Folk is genuinely reliable at that position.
In the time that Newton’s game has fallen off a cliff, Folk has become steady and reliable for New England and fantasy owners. Folk has drilled nine straight field goals dating back to the second half of the Seattle game, and he is 9-of-10 on extra points on the season.
The fact that the Patriots have been unable to finish drives in recent weeks has been both a blessing and a curse for Folk. He hasn’t even attempted an extra point since Week 4, but he is still averaging eight fantasy points per game in his last four outings.
Folk is tied with the Patriots’ defense as New England’s fourth-highest scoring fantasy player so far this season. His consistency is his best trait, and fantasy owners looking for an easy eight points this week should give him the starting nod.
Sit ‘Em: Julian Edelman
Edelman is coming off his worst fantasy performance of the season so far, and a matchup against the Bills won’t do him any favors.
Buffalo’s defense is ranked seventh in the league in limiting opposing fantasy receivers. They limited both the Chiefs and Jets wideouts to 10 catches and zero touchdowns each, and the Patriots’ passing game is trending more towards New York’s than Kansas City’s.
Even without a tough matchup, Edelman is still not worth a starting spot in fantasy.
Edelman has failed to score over five fantasy points in four straight games, and his eight total receptions in that span are his fewest in a four-game stretch since 2012.
Newton looked Edelman’s way multiple times over the past few weeks, but is late in delivering Edelman the ball and the slot specialist is suffering as a result. Edelman boasts a 38.1 percent catch rate since Week 3, and his 53.8 percent catch rate on the season is his worst since 2011.
Regardless of whose fault it is, Edelman is not a viable fantasy option for the time being.