Garoppolo's most extensive NFL action came against the Buffalo Bills in the regular-season finale last December, a meaningless affair for the Patriots in which the rookie entered for Brady in the second half. He completed 10-of-17 passes for 90 yards and was sacked three times.
Drawing conclusions from the 32 snaps that Garoppolo played that afternoon can be dangerous, because the Patriots sat out two key receivers that Garoppolo will have at his disposal this season (Rob Gronkowski and Julian Edelman) and held out his two best offensive linemen (tackles Nate Solder and Sebastian Vollmer).
Yet the Bills, even having been eliminated from the playoffs, treated the game as if it had meaning -- they scratched only injured defensive tackle Marcell Dareus and cornerback Stephon Gilmore -- so the contest serves as a fair indication of how opposing defenses might attack Garoppolo in September.
Garoppolo is roughly the same size as Brady but is more mobile, however the story said the Pats can expect defenses to blitz Garoppolo often. The story also said don't rule out the Pats trying to find more ways to take advantage of Graoppolo's mobility instead of simplifying the playbook. Graoppolo will face two pretty tough defenses in Pittsburgh and Buffalo to start the season before seeing Jacksonville in Week 3 and Dallas in Week 4. Matt Flynn will be the backup.
There are plenty of ways to break down just how bad the Jaguars' offense has been the past several seasons, but the best way to illustrate the ineptness is by looking at how the unit has performed in the red zone.
According to ESPN Stats & Information, the Jaguars scored an NFL-low 13 touchdowns and completed an NFL-worst 39.1 percent of passes on an NFL-low 85 snaps in 32 red zone possessions in 2014. They were still last in TDs and completion percentage if you include the 2013 season, too.
The blame is spread between the quarterbacks, offensive line, backs and receivers, and play calling. Not much the Jaguars have tried the past two seasons has worked consistently and as a result the team has averaged just 15.5 points per game the past two seasons.
Things could be significantly better in 2015, though, thanks to the addition of tight end Julius Thomas. The 6-foot-5, 250-pounder was not only one of the league's better tight ends the past two seasons – catching 108 passes, including 24 for touchdowns – he was one of the NFL's most effective players in the red zone.
Thomas had 13 catches in the red zone in 2014, including nine for touchdowns. Only Green Bay receiver Randall Cobb had more (10) and Thomas had the same number as New England's Rob Gronkowski, Miami's Mike Wallace, New Orleans' Jimmy Graham, and San Diego's Antonio Gates, the story said. Obviously potential owners of Thomas need to keep in mind the situation is now a little bit different. The Jags don't have the same weapons Denver had a year ago that also needed to be accounted for in the red zone, and don't forget about Peyton Manning as the QB. Still, Thomas will be looked at as a big red zone option, and if the Jag WRs can step up as threats, that should also help Thomas' chances to continue his success. Thomas is ranked eighth among our TEs and is available in the middle of drafts.
Saturday, June 20, 2015, 10:53am
Fred Davis’s tenure in New England didn’t last long.
Davis, the tight end who signed with the Patriots last month, was released by the team today. The Patriots apparently decided after this week’s minicamp that Davis simply didn’t fit on a tight end depth chart featuring star Rob Gronkowski and veterans Michael Hoomanawanui and Scott Chandler.
"No. 1, with maybe multiple tight end sets, that's gonna just open it up," Seahawks TE Jimmy Graham told the Seattle Times. "These last couple of years for me, playing against guys who aren't concerned about the run at all. They know I will try to do a double move and run this go route. It makes it more difficult. So this will just make my job easier when it comes to the passing game."
Graham's height and downfield ability have made him a feared weapon, but now paired with Russell Wilson, the tight end foresees a new dynamic in his game, which could lead to increased production.
"Russ’s ability to extend a play is unbelievable. Out there in New Orleans, everything was about timing so when you hit that step, that ball is coming ... And now when you hit a step and look back, maybe he saw something and now he’s scrambling so there’s a second opportunity.
"This offense and this team is dangerous on those second opportunities. When he gets out of the pocket and he’s able to work and kind of play street ball, which I’ve always been pretty good at, the offense is extremely explosive.”
Graham finished with 85 catches for 889 yards and 10 touchdowns, but his season was somewhat disappointing, especially down the stretch. He averaged 4.0 catches for 44 yards and 0.2 TD in his final five games, including a weird zero-target goose egg in Week 13 against Pittsburgh. Now he heads to Seattle, where the Seahawks have been looking to upgrade at tight end for a while. Graham's value takes a minor hit as he heads to the run-oriented Seahawks, though he'll continue to be a target hog given the current state of the Seattle receiving corps. His 14.6 PPR fantasy points was second at his position to Rob Gronkowski, and he's likely to be the second tight end off the board in 2015 fantasy drafts.
The Seahawks newest addition on offense was practically unstoppable near the goal line in the team’s first workout open to the media with Graham participating since the trade to acquire him from New Orleans in March.
Graham caught four touchdown passes in 7-on-7 drills and added another in full team drills. Any time Graham got singled up on a defender, Russell Wilson was throwing Graham’s direction and finding success in doing so.
“He’s a superstar, he’s going to be one for a long time, and my goal is to help him continue to grow,” Wilson said. “He looked great today, as you guys saw, and that’s how he looks every day, so it’s a spectacular thing.”
Graham finished with 85 catches for 889 yards and 10 touchdowns, but his season was somewhat disappointing, especially down the stretch. He averaged 4.0 catches for 44 yards and 0.2 TD in his final five games, including a weird zero-target goose egg in Week 13 against Pittsburgh. Now he heads to Seattle, where the Seahawks have been looking to upgrade at tight end for a while. Graham's value takes a minor hit as he heads to the run-oriented Seahawks, though he'll continue to be a target hog given the current state of the Seattle receiving corps. His 14.6 PPR fantasy points was second at his position to Rob Gronkowski, and he's likely to be the second tight end off the board in 2015 fantasy drafts, especially if his shoulder injury is fully behind him.
Scott Chandler isn't a "move" tight end, though. At 6-foot-7, 260 pounds, he's similar to Gronk. He's a massive in-line tight end and a matchup problem for all safeties.
The addition of Chandler could mean more snaps at wide receiver for Gronk. The Pats offense was particularly effective a year ago when both Gronk and Julian Edelman were split together on one side.
Keep an eye on Fred Davis here, too. In the midst of the Deflategate madness, the Pats signed the troubled tight end to a one-year deal. It's a flier, for sure, but Davis is a "move" tight end with plenty of talent and plenty of past off-the-field issues.
Chandler is no slouch. He produced in spots for the Bills and while he doesn't fit the profile of a typical "move" TE, the Pats could elect to use Gronk in that role while leaving Chandler inside.
The NFL took deflate-gate very seriously, hammering the New England Patriots with unheard of punishment in the matter of deflated footballs.
The league announced Monday that quarterback Tom Brady was suspended four games, the team was fined $1 million and will lose its 2016 first-round draft pick and a fourth-round pick in 2017.
If Brady doesn't win his (probable) appeal, his fantasy value will take a huge hit. The Patriots have a Week 4 bye, so he wouldn't be available to owners until Week 6. Jimmy Garoppolo will likely get the start in his place. One potential strategy would be to stream the position until his return, but it depends on how far his ADP falls. With a four game suspension, he won't be ranked in the top 25 in our initial projections. This will be a case of where his season-long ranking won't jibe with what he'll produce on a per game basis upon his return. The loss of Brady for four games will negatively impact the entire New England offense, though they have survived before without him (in 2008 with Matt Cassel). Rob Gronkowski, Julian Edelman and Brandon LaFell all take a small hit.
Davis was suspended in 2014 following multiple off-the-field incidents. The Patriots have been aggressive at the tight end position this offseason by signing Scott Chandler and now Davis. It appears the team would like to get back to more of those two-TE sets they ran with Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez. The 29-year-old Davis has receiving chops -- he caught 59 passes for 796 yards and three touchdowns in 12 games in 2011, and had a 48-509-6 season in 2009.
Adam Schefter guesses that Patriots QB Tom Brady will face 'some sort of suspension' for DeflateGateThursday, May 7, 2015, 1:15pm
So what comes next for Tom Brady and the New England Patriots?
That's up for the NFL to determine. The Wells Report didn't find absolute evidence that the Patriots tampered with footballs. It found reason to believe they did.
ESPN's Adam Schefter appeared on WEEI Thursday morning to offer his take.
"If I had to guess, and I want to emphasize this is a guess, my guess is that Tom Brady is going to get some sort of suspension, a short suspension," Schefter said, via WEEI.com. "He's going to appeal it. He's going to have grounds to appeal it. He may even waive the appeal and this whole thing about air pressure in footballs continues to go on and detract from a sport and a defending world champion in a completely unnecessary way."
Jimmy Graham’s two-touchdown performance at the Pro Bowl could ease fears that his shoulder problem would linger and potentially require offseason surgery. Graham also caught a 23-yard pass in his third Pro Bowl.
“It made a big difference, just having some rest,” he said.
When asked whether his performance would rule out surgery, Graham said, “It should, which is really exciting.”
Graham finished with 85 catches for 889 yards and 10 touchdowns, but his season was somewhat disappointing, especially down the stretch. He averaged 4.0 catches for 44 yards and 0.2 TD in his final five games, including a weird zero-target goose egg in Week 13 against Pittsburgh. Still, his 14.6 PPR fantasy points was second at his position to Rob Gronkowski, and he's likely to be the second tight end off the board in 2015 fantasy drafts, especially if his shoulder injury is fully behind him.
The Ravens have only allowed five touchdowns to tight ends in the regular season, and they held Jimmy Graham to 47 yards receiving. Do the Ravens have a chance of slowing down Rob Gronkowski, or do you throw out those numbers because he is on a different level?
Patriots beat writer Mike Reiss: They can definitely slow Gronkowski, but it will come at a cost. One of the most impressive things about Gronkowski’s season to me is how his 82 catches for 1,124 yards and 12 touchdowns hardly tell the whole story. It’s plays like touchdown catches by Julian Edelman and Shane Vereen against the Broncos on Nov. 2 that highlight his true value because there were three to four defenders swarming around Gronkowski in the end zone, creating those one-on-one opportunities for Julian Edelman and Shane Vereen. That was pretty commonplace this season with Gronkowski, who is a pure combination tight end in the sense that he can also dominate as a blocker when he wants; it's not just catching the ball. So I’d be surprised if the Ravens can slow Gronkowski consistently with just one player like safety Will Hill. But if they want to devote extra resources to it, they can probably dictate the ball going elsewhere, and the Patriots have shown the ability to capitalize when that happens.
Mark Kizla of the Denver Post: I'm not certain Thomas will be 100 percent healthy until given the offseason to heal.
"We don't always get the opportunity to let things recover the way a doctor would want you to," he said. "When you know you're this close to our goal and you've worked all year to be in this place, you tell yourself: 'Man, we have three games left. Can you get through it for three games? Can you do whatever you can?' "
Thomas was tied in standard fantasy points with Rob Gronkowski through 10 weeks. From Week 11 on, he managed just five catches for 66 yards while appearing in four of his team's seven games.
The Ravens are one of the tougher run defenses in the NFL, ranking fourth this season in holding opponents to an average of 88.3 yards per game and not allowing a 100-yard rusher in the past 27 games. They are a sturdy front seven and with this in mind, it's hard to imagine the Patriots go with a heavy diet of bigger personnel and a power-running approach. Instead, a more likely scenario is that the Patriots attempt to manipulate matchups in hopes of lightening the box and getting the Ravens into sub packages to test their overall quality and depth in the defensive backfield, which is their primary area of vulnerability. For the Patriots to do this, adding a second tight end with more of a pass-catching profile, third receiver, or second running back makes sense. This is where Wright, a "move" tight end, could be a bigger factor. When blocking-based tight end Michael Hoomanawanui is paired with Rob Gronkowski, it usually results in opponents playing base defense. But when Wright is paired with Gronkowski, it has sometimes been sub because he's more of a pass-catching threat. The Patriots have had success going up-tempo with that grouping as well, so we could envision Wright being a bigger part of the plan Saturday, with receiver Danny Amendola and running back Brandon Bolden (in a two-back set with Shane Vereen) as other options.
Wright's production has been spotty, but when the Patriots have called his number, he has usually delivered.
This is just Volin's opinion but there's probably something to it. There's no need to risk your best offensive weapon with nothing to play for this week. With a bye next week to open the playoffs, perhaps Gronk gets a series or two but he's probably not a safe fantasy option to start.
Patriots beat writer Mike Reiss on the possibility that the team rests its starters: I view this game as being similar to a fourth preseason contest when the third preseason game doesn’t go as well as planned. I could envision a scenario where the Patriots want to develop a little momentum on offense, and if that comes early, they start making some personnel changes such as Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski taking a seat. On defense, key players such as cornerback Darrelle Revis and linebackers Jamie Collins and Dont'a Hightower, among others, figure to be "protected" as well. The team also has the luxury of allowing some of its injured players extra time to recover, which I’d expect them to do. So their approach preparation-wise won’t change, but I do believe their personnel-related approach will be different than the norm. How significant, and if Brady and Co. play at all, is obviously something we'll be watching closely.
New England has locked up the #1 seed, but the offense isn't exactly clicking, so they may want their starters to play extensively to see if that momentum returns. It's a guessing game as to how long they'll play. At this point were expecting 2-3 quarters from Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski.
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