For years, we have seen the headaches of what should be a dream job: catching passes from Tom Brady. How many times have you heard someone say something like this about Brady:
"He expects you to be exactly where he wants you to be every route. Not a yard off, not a yard too deep, not a yard too short. He expects you to be exactly where he wants you to be because he's going to put the ball placement exactly right."
That quote comes from wide receiver Brandon LaFell, but it could easily have come from any receiver to walk through the halls of Gillette Stadium. Learning the Patriots offense can be difficult for receivers because of the heavy verbiage, the importance of understanding coverages, and the range of factors that can determine a receiver's assignment on a given play.
"First things first, you've got to learn formations," said LaFell. "Man, we've got a million formations, and we've got a million personnel groups. I was just trying to get all that down pat, because at least if I know where I'm lined up, I can kind of figure out what everybody else is doing based on the concept of the play. And second, learning the terms of the plays that we use and different code words we use, because one play I can be the X receiver and if we go to a hurry-up offense, depending on where the ball is spotted, I can be the Z receiver the next play. I have to know the whole play, but first, learning the formations, personnel groups, second, learning the plays and the concepts and just go from there with it."
It could be why predicting success in terms of fantasy is often difficult with the Pats offense in general. The story went on to say that receivers can be asked to carry out multiple assignments based on alignment, coverage, personnel groupings, where the ball is spotted, and myriad other factors. That's why last year was such a struggle for then-rookies Aaron Dobson, Kenbrell Thompkins, and Josh Boyce. You can even throw in Danny Amendola into that mix, who was a free agent but then got hurt early in the season. Knowing all of this should increase the fantasy value of any of these WRs, but now it's waiting to see who gets how many snaps. It also could mean a bigger year for Brady.