Wes Welker is thirty-one years old and has made his mark in the NFL by being one of the premier slot receivers in a pass heavy offense led by quarterback, Tom Brady. Welker has excelled in this role since the Patriots obtained his services back in 2007. Since then, he has topped at least 1000 yards every year except once. Let’s take a look at Welker’s statistics since joining the Patriots in 2007.
Welker has produced reliable statistics both in the NFL and the world of fantasy football. Welker’s relationship with Tom Brady is undeniable. So why is it then, that Welker is being touted for an off year and a failure this season? Could it be that after week 1, where he notched a whooping total of 1 fantasy football point in standard scoring leagues, people are getting skittish? Welker played 64.2% of the snaps Sunday compared to his normal 85+% of the offensive snaps, a noticeable downtick in opportunities. Could Welker be in the process of being phased out due to contract issues or the emergence of Julian Edelman as a slot receiver? Could Welker be injured or concussed? Maybe, but only the Patriots know all the answers to those questions for sure and the Patriots are not telling. So what should we think of all this information? Personally, I think we should all relax. Yes, we, I own Welker in 3 leagues and still feel confident about his prospects for this season.
Wes Welker’s Statistics (2007-2011)
Last season, Welker notched a career high 206 fantasy points and this season is primed for big things again as the Patriots play the statistically easiest schedule of games. The Patriots will play only four teams with at least 9 wins in last year’s regular season. Additionally, the Patriots have started using running back, Stevan Ridley, to find a more balanced offensive attack. Ridley took advantage of a soft Tennessee Titans rush defense to the tune of 21 attempts, 125 yards, 5.95 yards/attempt and 1 touchdown. That is the type of efficient production that the Patriots have craved for years from a running back! The Patriots have truly become a scary offensive team to play with their balanced attack. (As if they weren’t before…) With this type of balanced attack though, some might be concerned that Wes Welker will have a down year and these concerns are justified.
With a verified rushing attack headed by Stevan Ridley and a All-Pro passing attack led by Tom Brady, will there be enough fantasy points to go around for Wes Welker owners? Well first I think it is worth looking at Brady’s other receivers. The Patriots have Rob Gronkowski, Aaron Hernandez, Brandon Lloyd, Stevan Ridley and Danny Woodhead. With so many options it is easy to see how the other weapons in the Patriots arsenal could diminish some of Wes Welker’s value, especially coupled with the questions that remain for an unproductive week against the Titans, age, contract issues and possible injury. But, remember you should still stay calm and here is why.
Wes Welker is the “heart and soul” of the Patriots according to Brady (and his opinion matters the most since he will be the one passing the ball). So let’s refer to Brady again on what we should think about Welker. He said earlier this week about Welker, “He’s a huge part of this offense and what we do on a weekly basis. I’m sure there won’t be too many games where he doesn’t get a lot of opportunity…There are different opportunities on different weeks for different players. I think the thing that’s important to remember is that it’s a 16-game season.” (ESPN) Brady’s quote sums it up quite nicely. For all Wes Welker owners, chill out, relax, go get a drink (or a few) Welker is still good and here to stay. Wes Welker will get the opportunities and with his consistency, expect him to take advantage of these opportunities. A fun statistic, Welker had his career year last year amassing 206 fantasy points, in five of those weeks, he scored 5 points or less, so this is not uncommon and Brady is essentially reaffirming that. He does caution that there is a plan each week that the Patriots plan to utilize for each team, so the opposing team’s strengths should be accounted for going forward for Welker owners. Unlike Andy Reid who will pass 50+ times a game against a strong pass defense, look for coach Bill Belichick and the Patriots to take advantage of match ups and opponent’s weaknesses.
Let’s look at the teams the Patriots will be playing and find some of the better matchups for Welker. Note that these statistics are after week 1 and are biased to only one game being played. I will try to account for this, but there will be some discrepancies. Bold matchups will be ones to watch for. Regular texted matchups do not mean that you should sit Welker, but rather play him with more caution.
Remaining Matchups for the Patriots in 2012
- Week 2- Arizona Cardinals- Led by CB, Patrick Peterson, this pass defense could be solid. The run defense could be suspect leading to more of a Patriot rushing attack.
- Week 3- Baltimore Ravens- 7th against the pass and 24th against the rush. Could be another rough week. The Ravens are a solid defense.
- Week 4- Buffalo Bills- Yahatzee. Expect a big game from Welker here.
- Week 5- Denver Broncos- Limiting Big Ben was good but I think Brady is a much better QB and Welker might have a big week here. Tough to say right now.
- Week 6- Seattle Seahawks- A seemingly stronger run defense could mean big things for Welker and the passing game here.
- Week 7- New York Jets- The Jets had the worst rush defense in the league week 1 against CJ Spiller. Expect more of running game here.
- Week 8- St. Louis Rams- Even with the addition of Cortland Finnegan, expect the Patriots to give the Rams a handful this week. Big numbers in the passing game should be expected.
- Week 9- BYE
- Week 10-Buffalo Bills- Same as above.
- Week 11- Indianapolis Colts- Big numbers here. Improvements on the offensive side of the ball does not equate to improvements on defense.
- Week 12- New York Jets- Same as above. Remember Revis and Cromartie are great CBs for the Jets.
- Week 13- Miami Dolphins- The Dolphins did respectably against Schaub week 1 but expect Brady and Welker to open that up here.
- Week 14- Houston Texans- A pretty solid defense after playing the Dolphins, it is tough to say how they will fare against the Patriots this far away.
- Week 15- San Francisco 49ers- If they can stop Aaron Rodgers, they can stop Tom Brady. Do not expect big things here.
- Week 16- Jacksonville Jaguars- Lights out. Do I even need to write a description?
- Week 17- Miami Dolphins- Same as above.
Final Verdict: It would appear that Wes Welker will probably have about 8 solid weeks of performance and 8 lesser weeks of performance. It is still only the aftermath of Week 1 and it is way too early to be completely definitive. Wait on Welker, he is worth it, he is proven, he has been consistently reliable and for many people who play in the championship games week 16 or 17, he could be a huge lifeline. Be patient with Welker, he will reward you with solid play eventually; he has simply been far too consistent not to perform at all.