As the mercury rises and we inch closer to training camp openings, our resident fantasy football aficionados, Brad Evans and Derek Brown, profile their favorite Booms, Busts, Breakouts and Bets for every NFL team. Giddy up, gamers. Today’s topic: The New England Patriots.

Fantasy Football Booms - Patriots

Nelson Agholor, WR

New England’s frantic free-agent spending made us all belly laugh when Nelson Agholor was anointed as the 23rd highest-paid wide receiver in total cash behind Mike Evans. Now that the midsection soreness has resided, the reality is Agholor could provide some delectable points for our fantasy appetites this season. 

Agholor seemingly came out of nowhere last year in Las Vegas to finish 21st in yards per route run (among 84 wide receivers with 50 or more targets) immediately behind Allen Robinson and Brandin Cooks. He excelled as a deep threat, ranking 12th in deep targets (22) with a 115.5 passer rating on throws 20 yards or farther down the field. This could be a quietly productive marriage with Cam Newton or Mac Jones. For as erratic as Newton was in 2020, he ranked fifth in deep adjusted completion percentage (among all quarterbacks with 20 or more deep attempts). 

With Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith in town, the Patriots could lead the league in 12 personnel. Agholor excelled last year while operating outside on 66.3% per his snaps. As the WR58 (133.9) in best ball currently, he can easily pay off his draft cost. — Derek Brown 

Jakobi Meyers, WR

Through last season’s wreckage, a hidden gem emerged — Meyers. On a team overflowing with unreliable fantasy options, the slot man, for a time, rose to WR3 prominence in deeper PPR leagues. Targeted 77 times in Weeks 7-17, he grabbed 58 passes for 722 yards. Though the end-zone was elusive, his resulting 131.1 fantasy points over the stretch finished WR25, tied with D.J. Moore. Most interestingly, he also landed inside the top-10 in yards per route run (2.41) and air yards share (37.5%). 

Some will view the arrivals of Nelson Agholor, Kendrick Bourne, Jonnu Smith and Henry as significant deterrents, but Meyers very well could be the franchise’s most consistent week-to-week box score contributor. Eventually, Mac Jones, who was highly accurate on short-to-intermediate routes last season with Alabama (No. 1 among Division I QBs in adj. cmp%), will overtake fading Cam Newton, possibly in time for the Pats’ opener against Miami. If/when that occurs, the slippery and sure-handed Meyers stands to benefit. TDs will again be few and far between, but steady 4-6 catch games are likely. 

Available in the tequila fuzzy hours of bestball drafts (WR78, 207.9 ADP), the wideout is a potential hidden gem. — Brad Evans

2021 Fantasy Football Busts - Patriots

Hunter Henry, TE

This offseason, the Patriots hoarded tight ends as though they were Chick-fil-A sauce packets at peak supply-chain shortage. Jonnu Smith’s arrival with Henry signals a highly competitive environment, one which surely negates the upside of the once trustworthy TE1s in 12-team formats. Mac Jones’ highly accurate arm and superb processing skills fuel this offense’s potential, however, it’s unknown exactly when the former Alabama QB will force his way into the starting lineup. 

Cam Newton ranked respectfully in adjusted completion percentage last year (QB13), but his glaring inconsistencies don’t alleviate worry. Henry, top-13 in air yards share, target share and red-zone targets a season ago with the Chargers, is bound to take a step back. Similar to moving from sunny Los Angeles to Nor’easter impacted New England, going from Justin Herbert to Cam/Jones isn’t idyllic. At his TE13 ADP (121.7 overall), bestball drafters are overpaying. — Brad Evans

Jonnu Smith, TE

Jonnu Smith’s immense talent finally culminated in fantasy goodness last year, as he was tied as the TE10 in fantasy points per game (10.0). Anyone buying into him continuing this breakout into his fifth season isn’t reading the room in New England. 

Last year with Tennessee, Smith’s lifeblood was his red-zone role, as he led the team in targets (17) inside the 20. On a team that led the NFL in red zone rushing rate (69%) and with increased target competition near paydirt, his production is going to take a dip. 

Smith is being drafted as the TE15 (138.7), which is not an exorbitant price, but that’s likely the ceiling for his production this season. — Derek Brown 

Fantasy Football Breakouts for the Patriots

Rhamondre Stevenson, RB

Mr. Evans and I are shopping in the same bargain bin on this one. I’m going with the burly option for those cold winter months in New England. Stevenson and his 5-foot-11, 231-pound frame can help accent various point-scoring wardrobes for the Patriots. 

Last year, he flashed the ability to grind out tough yards on the ground at Oklahoma, ranking 27th (among 146 running backs with 75 or more rushing attempts) in yards after contact per attempt (3.89). Stevenson also possesses pass game skill that ranks behind only James White on the running back depth chart. In his final year at Oklahoma, he finished seventh in yards per route run (2.32) among all collegiate running backs with 15 or more targets. 

Stevenson is the late-round best-ball pick (RB58, 202.7 overall) or last pick of your redraft roster that could yield huge dividends this year. — Derek Brown 

Damien Harris, RB

As always, the Patriots' RB room is unnecessarily crowded. Joining Harris are James White, Sony Michel, Brandon Bolden, JJ Taylor and rookie hotshot Rhamondre Stevenson. Heck, by the time training camp rolls around, Laurence Maroney and Jonas Gray will probably re-sign. There’s ample competition, complexities that surely trigger unnerving feelings for fantasy drafters. Emperor Palpatine (Belichick) definitely likes his backs. 

Harris, however, should emerge as the primary between-the-tackles power back and red-zone option, roles he seized last season. Over 10 contests, he averaged a respectable 69.1 rush yards per game. More promising, he slotted in at RB19 in YAC per attempt (3.02), RB18 in total breakaway runs (7) and RB9 in yards created per touch (1.70), numbers achieved in a mostly inept offense. Given New England’s expected plus run-blocking line and roster sprucing this offseason, Harris could wind up in the 1,150-1,250 total yard, 5-7 TD range. That’s not too shabby for a RB sporting a RB36, 100.1 ADP. — Brad Evans

Best Bets for the Patriots 2021

(Use the FTN Prop Shop to uncover the best lines across legal sportsbooks) 

New England to make the Playoffs (+137, DraftKings)

New England’s defense is primed for a bounceback with the offseason additions and could carry them to the postseason facing seven quarterbacks in the bottom 20th percentile in EPA per play. — Derek Brown 

New England UNDER 9 wins (+130, William Hill)

Yes, it may be a 17-game season and the Pats own the sixth-easiest projected strength of schedule, but eight wins are a strong likelihood. Seduced by the juice? Absolutely. — Brad Evans