The New England Patriots plan to use two former head coaches who made their mark as defensive and special teams coordinators, respectively, to run the offense in 2022 did not work out as planned. In fact, it was arguably the least functional offense we've seen during the Bill Belichick era.
The good news is that the Patriots brought on Bill O'Brien to coordinate the offense in 2023. While O'Brien flamed out in Houston, it was mostly due to his mismanagement of the roster. O'Brien should bring stability to this offense and his impact will be more significant than their loss of top target-getter Jakobi Myers in the passing game. The Patriots passing game pie is wide open and that will give players like talented second-year receiver Tyquan Thornton a chance to emerge. We'll also be keeping an eye on what Belichick and O'Brien have in store for free agent acquisition Mike Gesicki who has been mixing in with the wide receiver group in early OTAs work.
- AFC East: | |
Below the CBS Sports Fantasy staff will take a look into the Patriots' entire team outlook including a burning question for Fantasy Football managers that needs to be answered, key player projections, a review of their draft class, strength of schedule, and individual player outlooks for all of the notable Patriots players who may end up on your Fantasy rosters.
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Patriots 2023 team outlook
By Chris Towers
The Patriots are headed into 2023 with an actual offensive coordinator, so if nothing else happens, this should be an improvement over what was a pretty disastrous 2022. Whether it ends up being merely an improvement by default will likely be tied to whether they can get Mac Jones pointed in the right direction after his sophomore season regression.
Burning question: Will they commit to Rhamondre Stevenson?
Even in a pretty rough season for their offense, the Patriots still produced 389.1 PPR points from their running backs, the 14th-highest mark in the league. Stevenson was a solid RB1 for much of the season, though his usage dipped late in the season -- he averaged just 9.8 carries and 4.2 targets over his final five games. That did coinicide with an injury, but we've also got Bill Belichick's history with running backs to consider -- he tends to treat them as even more disposable than most coaches. If Stevenson is the unquestioned three-down back here, he could be one of the best values in drafts.
Key Patriots player projections
|QB||Mac Jones||PA: 550, YD: 3849, TD: 22, INT: 12; RUSH -- ATT: 43, YD: 130, TD: 2|
|RB||Rhamondre Stevenson||CAR: 238, YD: 1070, TD: 8; TAR: 83, REC: 64, YD: 450, TD: 3|
|RB||James Robinson||CAR: 130, YD: 545, TD: 5; TAR: 22, REC: 17, YD: 138, TD: 1|
|WR||JuJu Smith-Schuster||TAR: 121, REC: 81, YD: 867, TD: 5|
|WR||DeVante Parker||TAR: 72, REC: 43, YD: 584, TD: 3|
|WR||Kendrick Bourne||TAR: 44, REC: 32, YD: 383, TD: 2|
|TE||Hunter Henry||TAR: 60, REC: 39, YD: 520, TD: 3|
|TE||Mike Gesicki||TAR: 55, REC: 34, YD: 379, TD: 2|
2023 NFL Draft class
1. (17) Christian Gonzalez, DB
2. (46) Keion White, DL
3. (76) Marte Mapu, DB
4. (107) Jake Andrews, OL
4. (112) Chad Ryland, K
4. (117) Sidy Sow, OL
5. (144) Atonio Mafi, OL
6. (187) Kayshon Boutte, WR
6. (192) Bryce Baringer, P
6. (210) Demario Douglas, WR
6. (214) Ameer Speed, CB
7. (245) Isaiah Bolden, CB
Patriots 2023 schedule breakdown
Projected Strength of Schedule rankings by Dave Richard
- QB PSoS: 31st easiest
- RB PSoS: 26th easiest
- WR PSoS: 29th easiest
- TE PSoS: 22nd easiest
|1||Sep 10, 2023||vsPhiladelphia||4:25 pm||Gillette Stadium|
|2||Sep 17, 2023||vsMiami||8:20 pm||NBC||Gillette Stadium|
|3||Sep 24, 2023||@N.Y. Jets||1:00 pm||MetLife Stadium|
|4||Oct 1, 2023||@Dallas||4:25 pm||FOX||AT&T Stadium|
|5||Oct 8, 2023||vsNew Orleans||1:00 pm||Gillette Stadium|
|6||Oct 15, 2023||@Las Vegas||4:05 pm||Allegiant Stadium|
|7||Oct 22, 2023||vsBuffalo||1:00 pm||Gillette Stadium|
|8||Oct 29, 2023||@Miami||1:00 pm||Hard Rock Stadium|
|9||Nov 5, 2023||vsWashington||1:00 pm||FOX||Gillette Stadium|
|10||Nov 12, 2023||vsIndianapolis||9:30 am||NFLN||Deutsche Bank Park|
|12||Nov 26, 2023||@N.Y. Giants||1:00 pm||FOX||MetLife Stadium|
|13||Dec 3, 2023||vsL.A. Chargers||1:00 pm||Gillette Stadium|
|14||Dec 7, 2023||@Pittsburgh||8:15 pm||AMZN||Acrisure Stadium|
|15||Dec 18, 2023||vsKansas City||8:15 pm||ESPN||Gillette Stadium|
|16||Dec 24, 2023||@Denver||8:15 pm||NFLN||Empower Field at Mile High|
|17||Dec 31, 2023||@Buffalo||1:00 pm||Highmark Stadium|
|18||Jan 7, 2024||vsN.Y. Jets||TBA||—||Gillette Stadium|
Patriots 2023 player outlooks
By Jamey Eisenberg unless otherwise noted
QB Mac Jones
It's hard to have much faith in Jones as a Fantasy quarterback after a terrible 2022. He should not be drafted in most one-quarterback leagues, and he's a reserve in Superflex and two-quarterback formats.
The good news for Jones is Bill O'Brien takes over as offensive coordinator, and hopefully a competent system can help Jones in his third season. The bad news is New England only added JuJu Smith-Schuster and Mike Gesicki this offseason, and Jones doesn't have elite weapons to help him succeed in what should be a run-first offense. There's also the potential that Jones could be replaced by Bailey Zappe if he struggles.
If Jones starts hot, he could be a waiver add as an injury or bye-week replacement. But he has a lot to prove before Fantasy managers can trust him.
QB Bailey Zappe
Zappe will open the season as the No. 2 quarterback in New England, but if Mac Jones struggles, Zappe could get the chance to start this year.
Zappe appeared in four games in 2022, and he had 23 Fantasy points at Cleveland in Week 6. To put that in perspective, Jones had four games with more than 20 Fantasy points in 13 starts. Zappe could find himself as a waiver-wire addition if he gets the chance to start in 2023, but he's not worth drafting in one-quarterback leagues. In deep Superflex and two-quarterback leagues, you can take a flier on Zappe as a reserve just in case he replaces Jones at some point.
RB Rhamondre Stevenson
Rhamondre Stevenson had a breakout season in 2022, but he could be even better this season with Damien Harris no longer in New England. Stevenson is worth drafting as a top-10 Fantasy running back as early as the end of Round 2 in all leagues. In his sophomore campaign last season, Stevenson had over 1,400 total yards, six total touchdowns and caught 69 of 88 targets. He averaged 13.8 PPR points per game, but he could improve this season with Harris now in Buffalo.
The hope is Stevenson gets over 250 carries while maintaining his role in the passing game, and the Patriots offense will hopefully improve in 2023 with new offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien. Stevenson has limited competition for touches with Ty Montgomery, Kevin Harris and Pierre Strong Jr. as the backup running backs, although Montgomery could have a role in the passing game. However, given what Stevenson showed in 2022 and his potential role this season, he has top-five upside and should be the best offensive player for the Patriots this year.
RB Ty Montgomery
Ty Montgomery is back with the Patriots this season, and he will compete for the No. 2 running back job behind Rhamondre Stevenson. Based on offseason reports, Montgomery could have a surprising role in the passing game. In 2022, Montgomery was limited to one game because of a shoulder injury, but he had three catches on four targets in Week 1 at Miami. He could complement Stevenson, and Montgomery might end up as a potential flex option in PPR. You don't have to draft Montgomery in the majority of leagues, but he could be a waiver wire add during the season.
RB Pierre Strong Jr.
Pierre Strong Jr. will compete for a reserve role in New England's backfield this season, but he has minimal Fantasy value at the beginning of the year. He's not worth drafting in most formats.
The Patriots will open the season with Rhamondre Stevenson as the lead running back, but Strong could compete with Ty Montgomery, Kevin Harris and J.J. Taylor for the No. 2 job. Strong played sparingly as a rookie, but a strong performance in training camp could vault him up the depth chart. And he might have a surprising role in the passing game if things go right. Keep an eye on his performance, and Strong could be someone to add off the waiver wire during the year.
RB Kevin Harris
Kevin Harris will compete for a reserve role in New England's backfield this season, but he has minimal Fantasy value at the beginning of the year. He's not worth drafting in most formats.
The Patriots will open the season with Rhamondre Stevenson as the lead running back, but Harris could compete with Ty Montgomery, Pierre Strong Jr. and J.J. Taylor for the No. 2 job. Harris played sparingly as a rookie, but a strong performance in training camp could vault him up the depth chart. Keep an eye on his performance, and he could be someone to add off the waiver wire during the year.
RB J.J. Taylor
J.J. Taylor will compete for a reserve role in New England's backfield this season, but he has minimal Fantasy value at the beginning of the year. He's not worth drafting in most formats.
The Patriots will open the season with Rhamondre Stevenson as the lead running back, but Taylor could compete with Ty Montgomery, Kevin Harris and Pierre Strong Jr. for the No. 2 job. Harris played sparingly in 2022, but a strong performance in training camp could vault him up the depth chart. Keep an eye on his performance, and Taylor could be someone to add off the waiver wire during the year.
WR JuJu Smith-Schuster
Smith-Schuster joined the Patriots in the offseason, his third team in as many seasons. While it is quite the downgrade to move from Patrick Mahomes to Mac Jones, Smith-Schuster does have a chance to replace Jakobi Meyers in a role that has averaged about seven targets per game over the past two years.
Smith-Schuster has not produced a 1,000-yard season since 2018, but he was WR24 last year before he was sidelined by a concussion. He earned eight-plus targets in six of his first seven games with the Chiefs. Draft him as a low-end No. 3 WR in Round 8 or 9. For as long as he stays healthy he's likely to slightly outperform that cost. -- Heath Cummings
WR DeVante Parker
If you only saw Parker's final game in 2022, you might have thought he had a quality season in his first year in New England. In Week 18 at Buffalo, Parker caught six passes for 79 yards and two touchdowns on seven targets. But that game was the exception and not the rule. Parker only scored one other touchdown in 2022 and had just five games with at least 10 PPR points while also missing four games due to injury.
He turned 30 this offseason, and the Patriots added JuJu Smith-Schuster and Mike Gesicki to compete for targets. Tyquan Thornton could also see a bigger role, and Parker doesn't have much upside in this run-first offense led by Mac Jones. In deeper leagues, you can draft Parker with a late-round pick, but most likely he'll be a waiver addition if he starts the season playing well.
WR Tyquan Thornton
Thornton had a relatively quiet rookie season in 2022 with the Patriots, but hopefully more production lies ahead in 2023. He's worth drafting with a late-round pick in all leagues.
Thornton finished his rookie campaign with 22 catches on 45 targets for 247 yards and two touchdowns in 13 games. He had four games with at least five targets, and he scored at least 15 PPR points in two of them. Thornton could see an expanded role this year, and he should be at least the No. 3 receiver in New England. His main competition for targets will be JuJu Smith-Schuster and DeVante Parker, but hopefully the Patriots give Thornton an expanded role.
If he goes undrafted, keep an eye on him as a waiver-wire addition because he could emerge as a weekly starter in deep three-receiver leagues.
WR Kendrick Bourne
Bourne will likely be the No. 4 receiver for the Patriots this season behind JuJu Smith-Schuster, DeVante Parker and Tyquan Thornton. If he remains in that role, he has minimal Fantasy value in the majority of leagues and is not worth drafting, and he will likely compete with rookies Kayshon Boutte and Demario Douglas for playing time.
In 2022, Bourne had his worst season since his rookie campaign in 2017 when he averaged just 5.4 PPR points per game. It's hard to expect significant production in this passing game for the No. 4 receiver, and Bourne will likely have another season of down production in 2023.
WR Kayshon Boutte
Boutte is an interesting prospect to watch for the Patriots. The sixth-round pick out of LSU isn't expected to do much in his rookie campaign, but he could surprise New England fans and Fantasy managers if he gets consistent playing time.
At LSU, Boutte had two quality seasons to start his career with 83 catches for 1,244 yards and 14 touchdowns in 16 games. He struggled in 2022 with just 48 catches for 538 yards and two touchdowns in 11 games, which is likely why he fell in the NFL Draft. He'll likely open the year behind JuJu Smith-Schuster, DeVante Parker and Tyquan Thornton, and Boutte should compete with fellow rookie Demario Douglas and Kendrick Bourne for playing time.
Boutte is not worth drafting in most redraft leagues, but he could emerge as a waiver-wire option if he starts the season playing well. In rookie-only drafts for Dynasty leagues, Boutte is worth a fourth-round pick.
WR Demario Douglas
The Patriots selected Douglas in the sixth round of the NFL Draft from Liberty, where he was a top target for Malik Willis in 2021 with 52 catches for 701 yards and six touchdowns. He improved in 2022 without Willis, catching 79 passes for 993 yards and six touchdowns.
In New England, Douglas will likely open the season behind JuJu Smith-Schuster, DeVante Parker and Tyquan Thornton, and he could compete with fellow rookie Kayshon Boutte and Kendrick but will likely struggle for consistent playing time as a rookie. Boutte is not worth drafting in most redraft leagues, and in rookie-only drafts for dynasty leagues, Douglas is only worth a late-round flier. If he starts off the season playing well, then you can add him off the waiver wire in deeper formats.
TE Hunter Henry
Henry will likely remain the No. 1 tight end for the Patriots this season, but he has competition for targets in new addition Mike Gesicki. Henry is only worth drafting with a late-round pick in tight-end premium leagues.
In two seasons in New England, Henry has underperformed with 91 catches for 1,112 yards and 11 touchdowns on 134 targets, and he averaged just 6.1 PPR points per game in 2022. He should improve in 2023 with a better offensive system under new coordinator Bill O'Brien, but Gesicki should prove to be tougher competition for targets compared to Jonnu Smith. At best, Henry could be a red-zone threat for the Patriots like he was in 2021 when he scored nine touchdowns, and he averaged 9.7 PPR points per game that year. But if he plays to that level, just add him off the waiver wire.
TE Mike Gesicki
Gesicki, who gets a fresh start with the Patriots this season, will compete for playing time with Hunter Henry, and he has minimal Fantasy value even if he's the starter. Gesicki is only worth drafting in deep, tight-end premium leagues.
It seems difficult to expect Patriots quarterback Mac Jones to support both Henry and Gesicki at a high level, and Gesicki is coming off a down campaign in 2022 when he averaged just 5.8 PPR points per game. His best season was in 2020 when he averaged 10.6 PPR points per game for Miami, but he's unlikely to reach that level of production again this season. At best, target Gesicki off the waiver wire if he starts off the season playing well.
K Chad Ryland
The Patriots selected Ryland in the fourth round of the NFL Draft from Maryland, and he's expected to be the starter this season ahead of Nick Folk. If that happens, Ryland could be a starting Fantasy kicker in all leagues.
At Maryland in 2022, Ryland made 19 of 23 field goals and 39 of 40 PATs. The Patriots have averaged 34 made field goals and 37 made PATs over the past two seasons, and Ryland could be a sneaky option on Draft Day. Keep an eye on his battle with Folk in training camp, and Ryland might be a waiver addition if he's the starter in New England.
K Nick Folk
At the time of publication, Folk remains on the roster for the Patriots, but he could lose his job prior to the season. New England selected rookie kicker Chad Ryland in the fourth round of the NFL Draft, and it would be a surprise if Ryland is not the starting kicker come Week 1.
Folk could land a job with a new team, and he's coming off two solid seasons for the Patriots with 68 made field goals on 76 attempts, including nine from 50-plus yards, as well as 74-of-82 PATs. With the right team, Folk could remain a No. 1 Fantasy kicker, and he might shock us and beat out Ryland for the starting job. Folk could be worth a last-round pick in all leagues.
The Patriots DST had a big season in 2022 and should once again be considered among the best Fantasy options this year. The Patriots DST is worth drafting with a late-round pick in all leagues. In 2022, the Patriots DST finished as the No. 1 Fantasy unit with 54 sacks, 19 interceptions, 11 fumble recoveries and eight touchdowns. New England allowed 18.7 points per game and 322.0 yards per contest, and the Patriots defense should once again be tough in 2023. Safety Devin McCourty retired this offseason, but New England added talented rookie cornerback Christian Gonzalez to play opposite Jonathan Jones, giving the Patriots a formidable secondary. The Patriots DST should also be cheap on Draft Day, which adds to its value because of the upside.