New England Patriots Sign Kendrick Bourne & Nelson Agholor: Fantasy Football Fallout

Bill Belichick New England Patriots

My first instinct when I see Nelson Agholor’s contract is to make a joke about drops. When the truth of the matter is that Agholor only dropped ten balls over the last two seasons (151 targets) which is fewer than Diontae Johnson had last year (11 on 151 targets). Move over Robert Persinger, there’s a new drop king in town. As a 49ers fan, I’m sad to see Kendrick Bourne signing with the New England Patriots. He’s a great WR3 to have around. Three years for over $7 million a year though? No thank you.

Let’s just say I am very happy that I waited to write this article. I thought the Patriots had something up their sleeve (at least that’s what I told myself). And ultimately, they did. The New England Patriots signed Hunter Henry on Tuesday, pushing Nelson Agholor and Kendrick Bourne’s values down even further from where they stood last night.

Now, the depth chart sits with some amalgamation of targets going to Hunter Henry, Jonnu Smith, Kendrick Bourne, Nelson Agholor, Jakobi Meyers, Damiere Byrd, N’Keal Harry (maybe), and the running backs. What does this information mean for 2021 fantasy football? Well, what if I told you that Cam Newton’s career-high in pass attempts is 517, what would you do then?

Well, if you were smart, you would run from this passing attack. You would run fast, and far.

Nelson Agholor is a deep threat guy. Among wide receivers with at least 50 targets, he ranked fourth in average depth of target (15.5 yards downfield). This put him ahead of Gabriel Davis and Mike Williams. That’s going to be a big problem for Cam Newton next year, who ranked 29th in intended air yards per target, throwing the ball just 6.8 yards downfield on average. That is such an insane mismatch for 2021 that you have to assume that there’s a new quarterback under center there in 2022 to take advantage of Agholor’s best trait. As for Agholor’s worst trait? I’ve been assured that Drops Don’t Matter by the Diontae Johnson heads… and Agholor has fewer drops in his last 150 targets than Diontae Johnson.

Now, what about Kendrick Bourne? Bourne is there to help Cam Newton over the middle in the intermediate game. Ultimately, that means his fantasy football potential probably gets squeezed out by targets to both Jonnu Smith and Hunter Henry. Bourne hasn’t been a useful fantasy football commodity at this point in his career, but that’s not why he is there. This is why he is there:

Kendrick Bourne is there to make the hard catches for Cam Newton to keep the ball moving downfield. He’s not there to help your fantasy football teams, and I don’t think he is going to do anything to help fantasy football squads in 2021.

Ultimately, this move doesn’t help anyone for fantasy football. It squeezes every other player on the Patriots, and Cam Newton is so close to fantasy football irrelevance that this will move him to barely usable from definitely not usable. I will have zero New England Patriots on my 2021 fantasy football rosters.

What about the situations they left behind? Let’s start with Nelson Agholor and the Raiders. Agholor, as previously mentioned, had one of the highest aDOT in the league last year. The same holds true for Agholor’s former teammates, Tyrell Williams and Henry Ruggs III. Williams is a Bill, but the Raiders have virtually nobody else to crank it deep with. That means Ruggs takes a step forward in the fantasy football ranks. And, let’s be clear here, by “takes a step forward,” I mean “goes from undraftable to an interesting dart throw.”

As for the 49ers… who cares, really? I mean, I loved Kendrick Bourne, he was a lot of fun to watch. He was a vital weapon for the 49ers in years past, but if the Niners can keep their core of George Kittle/Deebo Samuel/Brandon Aiyuk healthy, then Bourne is a superfluous piece. Bourne’s departure doesn’t change a lot for 2021 fantasy football, despite my affection for the guy. The 49ers lost their #4 passing option when they don’t pass the ball a lot, anyway. Maybe it can finally be Jalen Hurd SZN?

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About Jeff Krisko

You can follow me on twitter, @jeffkrisko for the same lukewarm takes you read here.

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