The New England Patriots went 13-3 in the 2017 regular season and lost in the Super Bowl against the Philadelphia Eagles. The offense again led the way, as the team finished second in the NFL in team scoring, led the NFL in total yards, had the second-most productive passing offense and featured a top-ten rushing attack.
The Patriots are among the bottom 10 teams in the league in available cap space with about $20 million less than the league average to spend. They appear to be set in the passing game for 2018, unless Rob Gronkowski follows through on his retirement tease. Julian Edelman will return from injury to presumably fill his old role, or at minimum should be able to replace departing free agent Danny Amendola. Repeating the rushing performance will mean addressing the running back position — both Dion Lewis and Rex Burkhead are free agents. Lewis will likely command a larger salary on the open market and the Patriots could end up being priced out of competition for his services.
Three additions we want to see for fantasy
Rex Burkhead, RB: This is cheating a little, as it isn’t an “addition,” but it’s the move the Patriots need to make. 2017 was a frustrating year for the new Patriot, as he missed four games early in the season and thus did not carve out the meaningful role many in the fantasy industry had envisioned for him. Even after returning, he continued to struggle to maintain his health throughout the season and never became a central player in the offense, posting just five games with 10 or more touches. A second year in the offense (and potentially no Lewis to compete with) could lead to bigger things for Burkhead.
Tyler Eifert, TE: Eifert’s well-documented injury history will likely prevent him from receiving big free agent money. The Patriots have shown the ability to prop up two fantasy tight ends at the same time multiple times in Tom Brady era. Eifert and Gronkowski lined up in the same formation in the red zone would be borderline cheating. He could serve as a situational player if Gronkowski returns and potentially soften the blow if Gronkowski were to decide to retire between now and September.
Early-round QB: The Patriots traded away both of their promising young backup quarterbacks (Jacoby Brissett and Jimmy Garoppolo) in 2017. Brady has made it clear he intends to play for several more years, but another understudy is severely needed as Brian Hoyer is not a long-term development plan at this point in his career.