Drake Maye's Fantasy Football Outlook as a Patriot: The Weapons Maye Need Improvement

Apr 28, 2024
Drake Maye's Fantasy Outlook as a Patriot: The Weapons Maye Need Improvement

With the third overall selection of the NFL Draft, the New England Patriots look to start all over with a new franchise quarterback in Drake Maye. Someone had to find themselves in the unenvious position of rebuilding the offense in Massachusetts, and Maye will attempt to do what Mac Jones could not: find and create fantasy success.

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Drake Maye’s Prospect Profile

The No. 9 quarterback recruit in the 2021 class, Drake Maye, briefly committed to Alabama before the school brought on Bryce Young, forcing the North Carolina native to reconsider his decision. He wound up making the switch to UNC, where he backed up Sam Howell for his freshman season.

Maye took over the starting role in 2022 and finished in the top five in program history in passing yards (8,018) and passing touchdowns (63). He also added over 1,500 yards on the ground with 16 more touchdowns, eclipsing 50+ yards on 15 occasions.

Drake Maye 2023 UNC Stats, Draft Class Rank
Yards Per Att. Adjusted Comp. % aDOT Turnover-Worthy Play Rate Big-Time Throw Rate* Rushing Yards
8.5 (7th) 75.3 (10th) 11.0 (3rd) 1.9% (3rd) 7.7% (2nd) 582 (9th)

*Via PFF: Big Time Throws - a pass with excellent ball location and timing, generally thrown further down the field and/or into a tighter window

Maye was actually a more prolific rusher than you would assume when you consider most of the narrative around him points toward more of a pocket passer. It’s unavoidable to look at this QB draft class and not compare a player to Jayden Daniels on the ground, and if you were to do that in this instance, it’s a far cry from the current Washington Commanders signal-caller. However, Maye is more than just a prototypical-size, big-armed statue.

At 6’4”, 223 pounds, seeing his large frame in the open field is one reason why people have comped him to Josh Allen (we’ll touch on another reason shortly), and he has enough speed to gobble up the open areas of the field when he breaks the pocket. Maye finished the 2022 and 2023 seasons ranked third in this draft class in runs of 10+ yards (32 and 24, respectively).

In addition to some added fantasy goodness with his legs, Maye profiles as someone we can depend on to test the defense deep. He ranked just behind Michael Penix Jr. among drafted quarterbacks, with 19.8% of his pass attempts traveling 20 or more yards down the field, finishing with the fourth-best adjusted completion percentage (56.0%).

These numbers followed a 2022 season when he ranked sixth in deep attempts (16.5%) and second in adjusted completion percentage (52.9%) among this year’s drafted QBs.

When watching Drake Maye or reading scouting reports on him, the common thread of reckless decision-making will emerge at some point. This is where we get our second comparison to Josh Allen—at least early-career Josh Allen. Though Maye’s season-long turnover-worthy play rate sits at the third-best in this class (1.9%), there is clearly some sort of “panic” that can seep into Maye’s play, and it’s even more apparent when we contrast the numbers between his first and second halves of games.

Drake Maye 1st Half v. 2nd Half, 2023
Half Dropbacks TDs TD% INTs INT% Sack% QBR EPA
1st Half 268 14 6.3% 3 1.4% 5.2% 113.6 28.17
2nd Half 233 10 4.9% 6 2.9% 6.4% 101.3 17.44

Unless you’re in a specific league type that scores interceptions more aggressively, this is hardly an issue in Fantasyland unless he gets to a point where he gets benched for Jacoby Brissett or sixth-round selection Joe Milton. Maye profiles as someone who can work on overcoming this chink in his armor, and we should see him take the field immediately for the New England Patriots.

What To Expect from Drake Maye and the Patriots Offense in 2024

There’s not much of an argument against the prevailing thought that Drake Maye landed in the worst possible spot for immediate fantasy returns. Caleb Williams? He has a ready-made 3WR set. Jayden Daniels? Terry McLaurin, Jahan Dotson, and the rushing acumen to score points regardless. J.J. McCarthy? Justin Jefferson, Jordan Addison, and eventually T.J. Hockenson.

Hell, even Bo Nix has Courtland Sutton, Marvin Mims, and former college teammate Troy Franklin.

But at the time he was drafted, Maye was looking at a depth chart headlined by return specialist/slot option DeMario Douglas, Kendrick Bourne, Tyquan Thornton, and the ghost of Juju Smith-Schuster. To the Patriots’ credit, they did address the situation later on in the draft, grabbing Washington’s Ja’Lynn Polk near the top of the second round and doubling down with UCF’s Javon Baker in the fourth.

Polk will, at the very least, offer a perimeter presence that has been lacking in recent New England history and could very well operate as the team’s WR1, even though he played second-fiddle to Rome Odunze (and, to a lesser extent, Jalen McMillan) in college. For Baker, he will likely start out the season as part of a rotation, but he will offer Maye and the offense as a whole with some explosiveness. His 21 catches of 20+ yards in 2023 ranked fourth in this draft class.

It’s not often that non-elite tight end talents absorb a ton of target share in the college ranks, but it is worth pointing out that Maye targeted the position at less than 10% in 2023, and we already mentioned how much of a prolific deep-ball passer he is. There is a chance that Hunter Henry and the newly-acquired Austin Hooper cannibalize each other to the point that we want to be avoiding the entire situation.

With the relative lack of talent still a glaring weakness in the Patriots pass-catching corp, it’s likely that our fantasy attention shouldn’t be digging much deeper than running backs Rhamondre Stevenson and Antonio Gibson. This includes Maye’s standalone value in typical 1QB leagues.

As for the backs, a consistent presence at quarterback will raise the floor for each of them, making Stevenson a low-end RB2 and Gibson an RB4 who will occasionally pop up for usable games.

Bottom Line

  • The Patriots weren’t a great landing spot for any of the rookie quarterbacks, but Drake Maye should be taking starting snaps from Week 1 onwards.
  • Maye has some wrinkles to iron out before we’re excited for him in fantasy, but we’ve got a decent rushing floor in SuperFlex leagues while he works out the kinks.
  • The supporting cast in New England certainly still needs some work, and it’s hard to get excited about having any of them in our lineups. Nearly all of them can be outright ignored for now, though Ja’Lynn Polk is an interesting addition as fantasy drafts wind down.
  • In pre-Draft Underdog drafts, Maye was coming off the board as the QB22 in the 13th round. We can safely assume that will be dropping after the Washington Commanders bypassed him in favor of Jayden Daniels. If he does not drop, he will be one of the easier fades at the position. Wait to load up until he falls into the 15th-round range.
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