It’s the Fourth of July, which means that it’s high time we turn our attention to fantasy football sleepers, breakouts, and busts for every NFL team. The ADP is per 4for4’s ADP data, pulled in the last week of June. We started with the AFC East, and what better team to post on the Fourth of July than the Patriots? Mostly because they’ll grant you independence from your fantasy football trophy if you dive too deep into their offerings. Can Bill O’Brien fix Mac Jones? Will Bill Belichick finally smile? What dirt, exactly, does DeVante Parker have on Bill Belichick? We answer none of those questions, and more, with the New England Patriots’ sleeper, breakout, and bust!
Sleeper: Mike Gesicki, Tight End (TE23, Pick 186 Overall)
Now, hear me out. I was out on Mike Gesicki last season, but he’s the latest in the New England Patriots’ efforts to get a two tight end set going that will make Bill Belichick briefly forget that he’s supposed to be scowling. With Hunter Henry & Gesicki together, I feel as though Bill will finally have the 2TE sets he so desires. But, here’s the thing: he will be their slot receiver. Gesicki is a terrible blocker, and one of the best pure pass-catching tight ends in the NFL. The Dolphins tagged him last offseason to put him into a Kyle Shanahan/Mike McDaniel offense that forces a tight end to block. Predictably, it didn’t work. In the three seasons prior to 2022, however, Gesicki averaged 101 targets, 63 receptions, 727 yards, and 5 touchdowns per 17 games, while finishing as TE11, TE7, and TE11. Even in his disastrous 2022 campaign, he still finished as TE17. TE23 is an easy scoop, at cost.
Breakout: Rhamondre Stevenson, Running Back (RB8, Pick 25 Overall)
With the Patriots moving on from James Robinson early in the offseason, there’s no real competition for Rhamondre Stevenson. Sure, guys like Pierre Strong and Kevin Harris will get touches, but neither are contenders to the throne or even to be court jesters. Stevenson finished as RB11 last season, with over 1,400 yards, 210 rushes, and 69 receptions. That’s right, 69 receptions. Stevenson is the bell cow back in New England, and he’s a dual-threat force after finishing fourth in running back receptions last year by a wide margin (#5, Joe Mixon, had just 60). Stevenson’s breakout is priced into where you need to take him… except it isn’t.
Stevenson finished last season with just six touchdowns on 279 touches, or a touchdown every 46.5 touches. The league average for this is a touchdown every 31.4 touches. So, if he just gets a league-average touchdown rate on the same number of touches he had last year, he would have had three extra touchdowns. If you factor in the talent around him, he’s a shoo-in for 300+ touches, meaning he is going to waltz into double-digit touchdowns in 2023, no matter how messy the offense is around him.
Now, this isn’t to say that I don’t think that the New England Patriots will struggle to produce, quite the opposite. Everybody knows that the Patriots will struggle to produce an offense worth an investment in 2023. Rhamondre Stevenson is RB8, but then you get down to pick 102 and WR50 (JuJu Smith-Schuster) before another player goes. After that, it’s Tyquan Thornton and WR72/Pick 161. This offense is getting body slammed into the core of the earth by ADP, and I truly believe in Rhamondre Stevenson and Mike Gesicki, so there’s nobody on this roster that I’m seeing as overdrafted.