It is slightly too early for fantasy football analysis. We just found out who teams are playing against but with little to no injuries about injuries and contract holdouts or the like, it is hard to come up with cogent arguments.
This series will review the value of specific rookies and as we are far out I will focus on rookies who are the most likely to have a starting role, who will have one from the get go and how I believe that will project outward. At the end, I will indicate where I think the given player SHOULD be drafted. This way, if you miss out on the player because someone pulled the trigger too prematurely, you can smirk and pick someone more valuable when the pick comes around to you. Likewise, if the player no one believes in falls to you, it’s time for a mental fist-pump.
***before we get started each week I will remind everyone that the analysis in this series is based on regular, season-long point per reception scoring. It also assumes you play in a 12 team league***
Of all the previews I’m writing and have written for this fantasy season, this one scares me the most. Firstly, I have to say, I’m not a Mac Jones guy. I also truly appreciate Bill Belichick for his genius, and guile, his balls and also his flexibility. I bet the flexibility got you all thinking I was nuts but there are several examples that show he’s been an adaptable and malleable thinker.
Early on in his history as a coach he was touted as a defensive genius. He was later known as a play caller who could develop a sophisticated running game and playaction attack for his then young phenom, Tom Brady. When the Patriots acquired Randy Moss he opened up the playbook and allowed his future Hall of Fame quarterback to air it out. In the later years with Brady at the helm, with his arm strength diminished he designed a playbook that would allow for a lot of concepts that would feature Brady’s intelligence and ability to diagnose a defense. Finally, last season he dealt with having the most COVID-19 opt outs and Cam Newton joined the team late in free agency with no training camp. He still developed an option playbook that allowed the New England Patriots to be competitive each week.
Mac Jones himself doesn’t impress me. My professional comp was Sam Bradford. This isn’t a knock on Jones per se. Bradford played for nearly a decade and was plagued by injuries despite showing some promise when healthy. I think the main reason Sam Bradford catches so much heat is that he always looked like he was wearing his dad’s uniform to work. Provided that Mac Jones has a more tailored look he shouldn’t experience this.
However, I feel that despite the positives good ball placement, accuracy and decent movement in the pocket (many of the same observations were made about Bradford), he is also as risk averse, he has a small lower body frame and can get “ansty” when reads break down. It reads like a carbon copy of Bradford’s scouting report. He will be going into a pretty decent situation as th Patriots are a renowned front office, implement analytics to make decisions and he is playing for the aforementioned legendary coach.
I also don’t think he’ll play right away. First of all, beating out Cam Newton who is returning with a full year behind him in New England will be no small feat. Additionally, Belichick has not started a rookie quarterback easily in his career. Obviously he didn’t have two during the near two decades Tom Brady started for the Patriots but let’s not forget that Brady himself only earned that spot after an injury to the incumbent, Drew Bledsoe. Last season Jarret Stidham was a young and fairly highly drafted quarterback on the roster and the team signed Cam Newton.
So I don’t think he will get a start. Obviously, this is being written before the preseason and this can all change. However, for the time being the rationale behind drafting a guy who’s best attribute is that he’s safe with the ball doesn’t excite me and knowing that his path to starting is cloudy at best scares me.
Nelson Agholor and Kendrik Bourne were added to a roster of receivers that scare nobody. Additionally some reporting has indicated that receiver N’Keal Harry is unhappy and wants to be moved. That sentiment feels to me as though he’s someone who’s not living up to expectations and is seeing himself slide down the depth chart. Jonnu Smith and Hunter Henry kind of excite me as a revisiting of the Gronk/Aaron Hernandez days. This will help a team who’s red zone efficiency was ranked 24th in 2020. The RB trio of Damien Harris, Sony Michel and James White are a little underwhelming but all players have defined roles and will help an offense that I expect to be improved from last season if Jones does get the start at some point.
Summary: Bill Belicheck rarely trusts rookie quarterbacks and I’m personally not entirely impressed with Mac Jones’ college tape. He was on an overwhelming team and he started less than 20 games in college. The pass catchers are not particularly strong and the team has an incumbent who will be tough to get by on the depth chart.
Where should you draft Mac Jones: Probably not at all. Of course my analysis will change if he earns the starting job outright. If you want your last pick to be Mac Jones and you’re willing to waste a roster spot from 4 weeks-all season then go for it. Personally, my roster spots are too valuable to hang onto a player who may not get into a game this season.
Quick Analysis: Mac Jones may have value. I just think that the value exists more so in free agency later in the season if the trend is leading toward him starting. I’m more comfortable picking him up if Cam Newton struggle early in the season and holding onto him for 2 weeks rather than several. Even then I’d rather trade him to someone who has greater faith in him.