Edelman was once again Tom Brady's top target by a mile in 2016 -- Edelman's 159 looks were third in the NFL, ahead of Antonio Brown and T.Y. Hilton, despite Brady missing four games. Don't expect a repeat in 2017, especially with the wideout having suffered a potentially season-ending injury in late August. Here's what Edelman is looking at if he managed to avoid an ACL injury: With Rob Gronkowski slated to return and former Saint Brandin Cooks likely to have a significant role, there are simply too many mouths to feed in this offense. At 5-10, 200, Edelman has only average size, and he's not especially fast (4.52 40). But he runs great routes, has good hands, is quick, tough and competitive and most importantly, has a great rapport with Brady, who relies on Edelman for short, quick throws. Edelman isn't much of a red-zone threat (15 targets, two scores) and he's not going to score from long range, either (only one catch of 40-plus in each of the last two seasons), so his value is higher in PPR formats. The question is to what extent Cooks, who has game-breaking speed, but also short-area quickness, runs Edelman's routes. Cooks will stretch the field at times, cutting into Chris Hogan's role, but if Cooks proves more effective as Brady's safety valve, Edelman's targets would drop more significantly. Moreover, running backs James White, Dion Lewis and Rex Burkhead are all capable short-pass catchers, and Gronkowski should siphon off at least 100 targets, if he stays reasonably healthy.
Edelman was off to a great start before breaking his foot in the first half of the team's ninth game. Double his production from his eight full games and he would have had 114 catches for 1,278 yards and 14 touchdowns. He also had 17 red-zone looks, prorating to 34 (easily the most in the NFL), and he had a (modest) career-high 7.9 YPT. At 5-10, 200, with only average speed (4.52 40), Edelman makes his living on quickness, toughness and his rapport with Tom Brady. Rarely will he beat anyone deep (six catches of 40-plus over the last three seasons), but the target volume and red-zone work ensure a high floor, especially in PPR leagues. That should remain the case in 2016 as the Patriots did little to shore up their receiving corps - Brandon LaFell and Scott Chandler are gone, and Martellus Bennett and Chris Hogan are the favorites to absorb their targets. Of course, Rob Gronkowski is still around, but Edelman has co-existed harmoniously with Gronkowski for years. The bigger concerns are Tom Brady's looming four-game suspension and Edelman's history of concussions, as well as last year's foot injury which required a second surgery in February. At press time, Edelman is expected to be ready for the start of training camp, however.
Once such an afterthought he saw most of his snaps as a reserve defensive back, Edelman has been quarterback Tom Brady's No. 1 target the last two years. While Rob Gronkowski will reprise his role as the team's touchdown catcher, Edelman's sure-handedness and reliable route running provide a high-floor in PPR formats — he's racked up 197 catches over his last 30 games. Don't expect many big plays from the 5-10, 200-pounder. While Edelman has good quickness, his small stature and average (4.52 40) speed have limited him to a possession role (only 16 catches of 20-plus yards on 285 targets the last two years.) Edelman also poses some injury risk as he has a history of concussions, notably one suffered in December that cost him two games last year, and he seemed to play through another in the Super Bowl, though the injury was never confirmed.
With Wes Welker gone and Danny Amendola and Rob Gronkowski often hurt, it was Edelman who did his best Welker impression and became Tom Brady’s most reliable target. The pedestrian per-play numbers (10.1 YPC, 7.0 YPT) are somewhat beside the point as Edelman was running short routes and lacked the speed (4.52 40) to turn them into big gains (only nine of his 105 receptions went for 20-yards plus). While the 5-10, 198-pound Edelman saw 21 red-zone looks (T. 6th), only six of those were from inside the 10. He signed a four-year deal to remain in New England with $8 million guaranteed so it’s likely he’ll be Tom Brady’s security blanket again. But he’ll have to compete with a healthy-for-now Danny Amendola, and Aaron Dobson, Brandon LaFell and a few others could get into the mix. Moreover, a healthy Shane Vereen and Rob Gronkowski would command a big portion of Tom Brady’s targets.
The Patriots have retooled their wideout corps in 2013, adding Danny Amendola, Michael Jenkins and rookies Aaron Dobson and Josh Boyce. At minimum, Edelman provides the Pats with good insurance in the slot behind Danny Amendola, similar to Edelman's role when Wes Welker was in town. If he can stay, healthy this coming season, Edelman has the playmaking ability to make an impact in the team's transitioning offense.
Edelman made his mark as a jack-of-all trades last season, returning punts and kickoffs and seeing part-time work as a defensive back. His role in the New England offense has been limited, however, by the good health of Wes Welker, who he essentially backs up. The team brought in reinforcements at wideout this past offseason, so Edelman must fight to retain his spot on the team, with his versatility his best defense for sticking.
With Wes Welker staying healthy, Edelman was limited to seven catches for 86 yards overall during the regular season in 2010. When given touches, as he was as a rookie when he caught 37 passes for 359 yards in 11 games, Edelman can make plays, but heading into 2011, his fantasy value will clearly be dependent upon the health of those ahead of him on the Patriots' wideout depth chart. His best bet for fantasy relevance would be another Welker injury, as Edelman demonstrated in 2009 that he can do many of the things his veteran counterpart does, albeit in a less polished fashion.
After Wes Welker tore his knee in Week 17,
Edelman stepped in and performed like his
clone with 10 catches for 103 yards and a
touchdown. Edelman also had an eight-catch
game in Week 2 when Welker was out. All told,
in the three games of which Welker missed
substantial parts, Edelman had 21 catches for
221 yards and two scores.
At 6-0, 198, the former quarterback isn’t
quite as quick as Welker, but he’s more stout,
able to break tackles and run through defenders
who don’t square up on him. Edelman also
showed an excellent rapport with quarterback
Tom Brady and is likely to line up again as the
team’s slot man this year — at least until
Welker’s able to return.
The signing of Torry Holt complicates things
as it’s unclear to what extent the 34-year-old ex
Pro Bowler will cut into Edelman’s targets. But
the slot receiver gets a lot of work in New
England’s offense, and so long as Edelman has
the role to himself, he should be a factor.
The Patriots like Edelman's athletic ability (think Wild Cat formation potential) and if they can keep him away from other teams, he's an intriguing project who they can develop on the practice squad if he doesn't make the cut.