This is fairly new territory we’re messing with here. Tom Brady has not missed a game since his ACL tear back in 2008. From a fantasy perspective, the Patriots more than survived that season. They had two receivers with over 1,000 yards receiving (Randy Moss and Wes Welker). Moss hauled in 11 touchdowns that year, as Wes Welker grabbed 111 passes as well. Ever since Tom Brady stepped in when Drew Bledsoe went down, the Patriots have a history of having backup quarterbacks that can step up.
The evidence is shown that there is strong history of the Patriots producing great starters and backups, but can Jimmy Garoppolo be that guy? I think he can. Granted, we have only seen a small sample size, but in three games he has completed 19 passes on 27 attempts, thrown for 182 yards, with one touchdown and no interceptions. Listen to the experts on ESPN and the NFL Network, they’ll echo the same tone. I think Garoppolo will be able to step up to the plate. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not going to be the same as Tom Brady, but it’s not like they’ll wind up 0-4 without Brady.
We’ve looked at the history of backups coming in for the Patriots and looked at Garoppolo specifically. In my opinion, Edelman owners will be in good hands. In my personal rankings I have Edelman going as the No. 44 overall, and will be a good WR2 option and a very strong FLEX option. If you look at the Patriots first four games, you’ll see they play only one team in the top ten passing defense last year, which is the Buffalo Bills. Their other three games are the Steelers, Cowboys and Jaguars, who finished 27th, 26th, and 22nd in passing defense respectively. Julian Edelman played well against the Bills last year. In their first meeting he caught nine passes for 91 yards, and didn’t play much in Week 17 against them since they were resting their starters prior to the playoffs.
Even if the ruling stands on the Tom Brady suspension, there is no reason to pass on Edelman. Outside of Rob Gronkowski, Julian Edelman is the top pass catcher on this team. When Brady does come back, he is going to be playing with a chip on his shoulder. No matter what signal caller is under center, Edelman will have solid numbers.