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Blind Comparisons: New England Patriots

Blind Comparisons: New England Patriots

Welcome Dynasty Owners to another Wednesday article. The New England Patriots will be the focus today. It would be an understatement to say the Pats had a bad 2020 season. And it’s not even that it was that terrible of a season. It’s more that NFL fans are so used to seeing New England succeed that their failures get overblown. At any rate, a 7-9 record is not what we are used to seeing out of a Belichick run team. Here are some stats about how rare it is to see this type of season.

The Patriots had won the AFC East for 11 consecutive seasons dating back to 2008
The Patriots had not lost more than six games since 2002.
The Patriots had not finished below .500 in the regular season since 2000.
The Patriots had not finished lower than second in the AFC East since 2000.

All of these stats are true, and all of these streaks were snapped this past season. Would I be disappointed if I were a Pats fan? Sure, I wouldn’t be happy with the season’s result, but I also wouldn’t trade anything that my team had accomplished in the past for an average year. Dynasties aren’t put together in a season, and eventually a two decade long “win now” mentality will catch up with a franchise. There is nothing wrong with that. It happens to every team.

I’m a Cardinals and Blues fan (as most of you know I live in St. Louis). I’ve always said that I would sacrifice an entire decade of success for one dominant, championship winning season. Many cities go multiple decades without a championship in any of the major four sports. If I can get one a decade, then I’m happy. This is probably a radical opinion, but I feel it’s also realistic. I’m not going to recap everything that the Patriots have accomplished over the past 21 years because I think everyone reading this is well aware, but it is worth stating that a rebuild was inevitable. Obviously, Tom Brady’s departure and subsequent title with the Bucs doesn’t sit well with most New England fans, but that’s a discussion for a different article. Today, let’s talk about some comparisons.

Comparison 1

Who would you rather own in Dynasty Owner?

Player A (Alpha):
Damien Harris 2020 stats
8.9 fantasy points/game (142.5 for 16 game season)
156 rush / 38 rec / 955 total yards / 2 TDs
He missed no games in 2020

Player B (Bravo):
23 years old
2021 projected stats
9.1 fantasy points/game (154.7 total)
154 rush / 36 rec / 957 total yards / 2 TDs

So, what are your initial thoughts? My thoughts are that Harris did not have as good a season as Bravo, and that is true. That statement is also a little misleading. Bravo played all 16 games in 2020, but Harris played only 10. Here’s how their 16 game average season would have looked had they both played all 16 games and kept the same production…

Player

D. Harris

Player Bravo

Age

24

23

Points/Game

9.6

8.9

Rushes & Yards

219/1,188

156/955

TDs

3

2

Salary

$907,784

$974,500

When you look at each player’s average fantasy production per game, Harris outperformed Bravo. It’s also worth noting that Harris’s salary is slightly less than Bravo’s. In my opinion, Harris actually had a very productive 2020 season. Keep in mind, in 2020 he ranked third among all NE running backs in terms of total fantasy points. (He was third behind James White and Rex Burkhead.)

In the end, Bravo is Devin Singletary. Singletary was regularly drafted in the second or third round of 2020 startup drafts. His stock has fallen over the past year, and I’ll be surprised if he goes before the fourth round in most 2021 drafts. I would draft Harris over Devin this year. The slightly lower value of his rookie contract helps as well as the idea that Harris will command more of a lead-back role now that he is expected to come into the new season 100 percent healthy.

Comparison 2

Player C (Charlie):
26 years old
2020 stats
8.7 fantasy points/game (139.7 for 16 game season)
57 rec / 535 total yards / 5 TDs
He missed three games in 2020
2021 projected stats
9.8 fantasy points/game (166.1 total)
65 rec / 661 total yards / 5 TDs

Player D (Delta):
Jonnu Smith

Jonnu Smith had a better season than Charlie. This is almost entirely due to the fact that Jonnu put up eight receiving touchdowns and one rushing touchdown. I’m not trying to take those away. He earned them, but we all know how fluky red zone targets and touchdowns can be. Regardless, Smith scored more points in the 2020 season when compared to Charlie. Jonnu Smith finished as TE 15 on the season while Charlie finished as TE 21. This isn’t a great outcome for either player especially when you take into account their salaries. Here is the full breakdown…

Player

Player Charlie

Jonnu Smith

Age

26

25

Points/Game

8.7

9.3

Rec & Yards

56/535

44/478

TDs

5

10

Salary

$10,500,000

$12,500,000

You may be saying, “wow, these are some high prices to pay for average tight ends.” You are absolutely correct. You are paying a premium price for middle-tier tight end production. Not great value at all. Charlie is Austin Hooper. Hooper missed three games last year, but even in the games he played, he was unable to be a startable fantasy asset in about half of those. He had 6.3 points or less in six games last year. So, the question stands. Who would you rather own in Dynasty Owner? I hate to say it, but I’d rather have Hooper, and it comes down to two major factors.

The first is the elephant in the room. Jonnu is now playing for the Patriots who also signed Hunter Henry. What do you suppose is the most optimistic split between these two above-average tight ends? I would say that the best-case scenario is a 75/25 split in favor of either player. If this splits in Jonnu’s favor, then he will be a startable Dynasty Owner tight end. This, however, is a big “if.” I see their tight end committee working more like a 50/50 split. If that is the case, I see no reason how Smith can be confidently taken over Hooper. I realize that neither of these tight ends will see the field as much as Waller, Kittle, or Kelce and that’s exactly why they are low-value players.

The second factor is simply the fact that Jonnu costs 2 million dollars per year more than Hooper. While this may not seem like a lot, it is when we’re talking about similar type production over the next couple of years. I take Hooper in this comparison, but truth be told I hope I can draft a better option than either of these as my TE1.

As always, thank you for reading. Check out my video that pairs with this article. Take care and be safe.

TheJerk

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