The defending champions are not slowing down and once again have restocked for a deep playoff run. It’s no use writing off Tom Brady until his production actually starts to fall. He will once again be one of the top quarterbacks in the game. Look for the Patriots offense to perform at a higher level than before, while the defense keeps pace.
You should be able to pencil in over 4500 yards passing from Brady this year and at least 35 touchdowns. With the addition of Brandin Cooks and core receivers Julian Edelman, Danny Amendola and Malcolm Mitchell returning, the Patriots air game is even better than last year. Rob Gronkowski is always a wild card due to injury, but when he’s out there he is still one of the best tight ends in the league.
New additions Kony Ealy, David Harris and Stephon Gilmore help solidify a defense that only had small issues last year. That being said, they will be playing a tougher schedule as defending champions and will have an even bigger target on their back than usual. Look for them to live up to the challenge and continue to be one of the best defenses in the AFC.
Fantasy players to watch
Tom Brady: Still a top 5 QB in the league.
Rob Gronkowski: May be the best TE in the game when healthy.
Malcolm Mitchell: Could be a solid number two WR in bigger leagues.
Julian Edelman: Reliable WR option in any league.
Mike Gillislee, Rex Burkhead, Dion Lewis: Their multiple RB’s could be nice sleeper picks in deeper leagues.
The new look 49ers start the season with a new head coach, new quarterback and a new outlook. Kyle Shanahan takes over the team after they finished 2-14 in 2016. Brian Hoyer looks to be the starting QB in 2017 and looks to help Shanahan install his offense. The team is clearly in rebuilding mode, but they are hoping to be more competitive with a fresh start.
The 49ers have solid running backs in Carlos Hyde and Tim Hightower, but neither one has ever rushed for over 1000 yards in a season. The addition of Pierre Garcon adds a good possession receiver and veteran presence. Jeremy Kerley will be a receiver to watch after he made 64 receptions in 2016.
Hoyer only has 31 career starts, but 13 of them were with Shanahan, so they should be familiar with each other. The 49ers might not light things up through the air, but they could be formidable and be able to move the ball. Look for Hoyer to have a similar performance level to what he had last year.
The 49ers pretty much had the worst defense in the league last year, so things shouldn’t get worse. With Navaro Bowman coming back from injury and the the additions of Reuben Foster and Soloman Thomas through the draft, there should be a big improvement. They may not be back to the glory days, but they should be able to get to a middle of the pack defense for both the run and pass.
Fantasy players to watch
Brian Hoyer: Low end starting QB.
Pierre Garcon: Veteran receiver coming off career year.
Jeremy Kerley: Possible sleeper, late round pick.
Carlos Hyde: Solid number two running back.