Fantasy Sleepers

Julian Edelman Injury: The Fantasy Football Impact

Patriots Julian Edelman Lost for the Season

On Friday night, Julian Edelman suffered a torn ACL in a preseason game against the Detriot Lions. This indefinitely ended his 2017 football campaign. But just how much will the Patriots offense miss him?

Edelman a year ago not only led the Patriots in total targets (165), but he also led the team in red zone targets (15). Obviously, this leaves a massive target share up for grabs for the other Patriots’ offensive weapons. But which specific players does Edelman’s injury impact the most? Let us take a deep dive into the Patriots offense to find out.

Brandin Cooks

Wide Receiver | Patriots

[the_ad id=”72106″]The most popular pick to fill the void by Edelman, Brandin Cooks figures to be an even bigger player in the offense going forward. I was not interested in buying him at his current ADP 2.11 before, but now I think his price matches his value. I was concerned taking a player so high that would not even lead his team in targets, but now there is a chance that he could lead the Patriots in total targets. Though he has not done much in the preseason (two catches for 15 yards), it is not unlike Bill Belichick to show his hand in the preseason. Do not be surprised if Cooks comes out the gate on fire especially when the Patriots take on the Saints in New Orleans in Week 2. An exceptionally talented player Cooks is arguably the most dynamic wide receiver the Patriots have had since Randy Moss.

Chris Hogan

Wide Receiver | Patriots

A player that many thought would take a backseat in the Patriots offense this year; Hogan was the number one target for Brady on Friday night. With four receptions for 70 yards and two touchdowns, Hogan looks like a player that will remain a focal point in the Patriots offense. Hogan already has a year under his belt with Brady, so you know there is chemistry. Additionally, Hogan a year ago was second on the team in offensive snaps. Edelman led the receivers with 78.2 percent of offensive snaps with Hogan a close second at 74.1 percent. Even with Cooks on the field as well, Hogan looks to be a large part of the offense going into 2017. If you have not already put a waiver for this guy right now. He has massive upside in the Patriots offense with Edelman out.

Malcolm Mitchell

Wide Receiver | Patriots

Which returning Patriots player led the team in red zone targets a year ago? Well, with Edelman on injured reserve and Martellus Bennett in Green Bay the answer would be Malcolm Mitchell. His 12 red zone targets from last year are the highest of any returning player. He has been dealing with injury issues this off season, but if he can get healthy, I could see him being slotted in as the number three wide receiver behind Cooks and Hogan. Similarly to Hogan, Brady has shown trust with Mitchell. Not many quarterbacks would target a rookie wide receiver in the Super Bowl has often has Brady did with Mitchell.

Danny Amendola

Wide Receiver | Patriots

Fantasy Football T-ShirtsThe obvious one-man replacement for Edelman, Amendola is a true slot receiver. However, throughout his career, he has shown that he cannot handle the role of being a full-time featured player. In four seasons with the Patriots, he has only played 16 full games once. The slot player for the Patriots is abused week in and week out, and I do not believe Amendola will go the distance in that role. Yes, he still will be a serviceable player, but I see him being used more as in conjugation with other players, rather than being Brady’s go to guy. Not to say that he is not a talented player, but I fear he cannot handle the hits over the middle like Edelman could. Still, while he is healthy now, expect him to take the majority of the snaps from the slot.

James White

Running Back | Patriots

Who was second on the team in total targets last season? You guessed it, James White. With 94 targets White only trailed Edelman in total passing targets. With Edelman out it would not surprise me at all to see White line up in the slot more often. I also see him getting an uptick in passing targets. Rex Burkhead and Dion Lewis also have a chance to be used more in the passing game as well. In terms of running backs especially in a PPR format, I believe James White is the back to own. They signed him to a nice contract extension in the offseason so it would only make sense for the Patriots to utilize him as the primary pass-catching back.

Rob Gronkowski

Tight End | Patriots

Rob GronkowskiThe injury to Edelman may only slightly affect Gronkowski. Besides the fact that he has lost his main homie to party during the bye week with it is interesting to look at Gronkowski’s splits with and without Edelman. Looking back at 2015 when Edelman missed the last six games of the season, Gronkowski’s production on a fantasy point per game basis fell from 14.2 to 10.6 fantasy points. Now I would not overreact to these numbers too much as Gronkowski’s value is 100 percent tied to his ability to stay healthy. He is still the number one tight end in fantasy and Edelman’s injury does not change that status.

Dwayne Allen

Tight End | Patriots

This a guy that you want to avoid until further notice. Apparently, he has been struggling to learn the ins and outs of the Patriots’ offense. For now, he does not need to be on the fantasy radar, but if Gronkowski goes down…well, you know the drill by now.

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Tom Brady

Quarterback | Patriots

Brady will not move in my personal QB rankings as the number two overall quarterback, but it should not be ignored that he is losing his favorite target. However, Brady at the age of 40 is still the best in the business and will still probably finish as a top five quarterback in fantasy. Still, these numbers are worrisome if you do decide to take Brady earlier in your draft. According to Ben Volin of the Boston Globe:

  • Brady in 2015, nine games with Edelman: 338.1 passing yards per game, 67.8 completion percentage, 24 touchdowns, three interceptions, 33.7 points per game, 9-0 record.
  • Brady in 2015, seven games without Edelman: 246.7 passing yards per game, 59.4 completion percentage, 12 touchdowns, four interceptions, 23.1 points per game, 3-4 record.

Not great numbers for Brady without Edelman of course, but there are a lot of other factors that go into this as well. Not to mention that Brady will have Cooks and a healthy Gronkowski going into the regular season, so I think he will be fine.

Austin Carr

Wide Receiver | Patriots

More of a dynasty pickup than anything else Carr is an interesting player because he fits the mold of an Edelman type player more than anyone on the current roster. Carr has made plays in both training camp and preseason games. These plays were also made mostly out of the slot. With Edelman on the backend of the age 30, he is no lock to be the same slot receiver we have all come to known in the future. Perhaps the torch of the Patriots slot receiver is passed once again to another underappreciated wide receiver.

Friday Night Snap Count

So what happened on Friday after Edelman left the game? Well, in a piece done by Doug Kyed of NESN, he had this to say when it came to review of the Patriots’ film from Friday night.

Brandin Cooks was in the slot for five plays and Danny Amendola in the slot for 12 plays after the Edelman injury. This the breakdown of the first-team skill position players:

  • WR Brandin Cooks: 32 snaps
  • TE Rob Gronkowski: 33 snaps
  • WR Chris Hogan: 29 snaps
  • FB James Develin 16 snaps
  • WR Danny Amendola: 16 snaps
  • RB Dion Lewis: 15 snaps
  • TE Dwayne Allen: 14 snaps
  • RB Mike Gillislee: 13 snaps
  • RB James White: 12 snaps

When the Patriots went five wide, White was the lone running back alongside Hogan, Gronkowski, Amendola, and Cooks.

When I look over this specifically, it matches with what I predict. Cooks and Hogan will lead the team in snaps at the wide receiver position. Amendola will take the majority of the snaps in the slot, and running backs White and Lewis will be used as the pass-catching backs.

Main Takeaways

No one player will be able to replicate Edelman’s production on the field. I truly believe that it will be a group effort on all the offensive players on the Patriots offense to make up for his loss. I personally like the value of Hogan the best, as he is a player that you can still get later in drafts. His potential is very intriguing. And if you are still not convinced that Hogan can have a huge year look at what Belichick said before Friday’s game about the wide receiver.

“He’s way ahead of where he was last year,” Belichick said. “And he’s taken on more of a leadership role just because of his experience in the system and the amount of respect he has earned from his teammates. You come in when you first get here, or get anywhere, and try to establish yourself, figure out what’s going on, fit in and all that. He’s done that. Now, it’s at a different level. It’s like when (Julian) Edelman started (his career). That’s where he was, but he’s grown into a different…I mean, most players do that, but I think that’s happened for Chris because of his role on the team and his day-to-day work ethic, attitude, and toughness.”

So, go submit that waiver claim for Chris Hogan before it too late! And if you still have not drafted, grab him in a later round. His stock will rise this week of course, but I do not imagine it getting too high where you still are not getting him at a value.

– Andrew Erickson is Fantasy Writer for Gridiron Experts. Like and follow on Twitter

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