After missing the entire 2017 season, Tom Brady and the Patriots will be without Julian Edelman for the first four games of the 2018 season after Edelman got popped with a four-game PED suspension. With our WR21 in timeout, it will not only be ‘next man up’ for the Patriots, but it also opens up larger roles for the other Patriots pass-catchers — primarily Chris Hogan and free agent signee Jordan Matthews.
The Patriots just can’t stay out of the news and that continued on Thursday afternoon when Field Yates dropped yet another bomb on Foxboro when he tweeted out that Edelman had a four game suspension looming (it’s under appeal) for PED use.
Looking at the Patriots wide receiver corps, there are a household names who will make an impact, a few who could make an impact and a few who will be cut during camp. Chris Hogan (our WR35) is a guy who we were higher on last season than most and was actually a solid fantasy option before injuring his shoulder mid-season. Once Brandin Cooks exited the Super Bowl, Hogan returned to his natural position and scorched the Eagles secondary to the tune of 128 yards and a touchdown on six receptions. Outside of Rob Gronkowski and James White, Brady has the most chemistry with Hogan and will look his way early and often through the first four games. He’s the clear winner here.
With Danny Amendola taking his talents to South Beach, the rest of the receiving depth chart is pretty questionable. Malcolm Mitchell is someone who flourished as a rookie and quickly gained Brady’s trust, but he missed all of last season and has yet to get out of the trainer’s room during OTAs or mini camp. If Mitchell can regain form, he’ll be one with fantasy appeal across from Hogan.
In the slot, the Patriots signed the talented, yet inconsistent Jordan Matthews — who now drips in Penny Stock appeal. Matthews is a bigger slot guy, standing at 6-foot-3, 212 lbs and would give Brady a different look from that position. Matthews had back-to-back eight touchdown seasons in 2014 and 2015, and has caught 67-plus balls in three of his four seasons. If he can get on the same page as Brady during training camp, then he’ll be the guy to handcuff to Edelman. Other young slot guys to keep an eye on during camp would be rookie stud Braxton Berrios and Riley McCarron — a player who the Patriots stashed on their practice squad last season and has garnered some positive attention lately.
As for Kenny Britt, Phillip Dorsett and Cordarrelle Patterson… it’s tough to expect much fantasy-wise from either three, as they’re all boom-or-bust players who won’t get targeted much from Brady. Rex Burkhead, James White and Sony Michel will also get target increases, but per usual it will be tough to guess which one will get that week’s share.
The Wolf hasn’t updated his rankings yet to reflect the suspension, but bookmark our Stock Watch to see who Brady has developed a connection with at camp.