Two potent offenses going at it in this year’s Super Bowl means we’re going to see a ton of fantasy relevant players who we’ll all be debating on where to draft in 2018. The game should be somewhat high scoring with a projected total of 48.5. Let’s take a look at those players one by one to try and figure out their 2018 fantasy situation, and how this game can be a data point in determining that.
It’s always tough to project Patriots’ players skill players on a per-game basis. Their game plan is unique each time, and Brandin Cooks’ game log reflects that. The Eagles secondary has played better as of late, but Jalen Mills can give up some big plays, and I would look for that matchup between him and Cooks. As far as 2018 goes, Cooks is one of those players where you should be treated as boom/bust without as much boom as he had in NO. There was a stretch in 2017 where he caught 5 balls and 65+ yards receiving in 6 of 7 games, so there was some sense of reliability, but then had 3 or less receptions in 4 of his last 7 games. He had a great game against a vaunted Jacksonville secondary in the AFC Championship last week, catching 6 of 8 targets for 100 yards, and also affected the game heavily with pass interference calls. In 2018, I would draft him as a complement to a high floor team, but he’s not someone I’ll be actively looking to draft unless he falls to the 4th round or 5th round, especially with Julian Edelman back.
Gronk will probably make his way back into the late first round or early second round in 2018 drafts because of his relatively healthy year. He suffered a concussion last week in which he appeared to tell Chris Hogan, “I don’t know where I am right now” as he got off the ground. Luckily for him and the Patriots, he’ll have two weeks to clear the concussion protocol, which is something he probably wouldn’t have been able to do if he only had one week. Part of the allure of Gronk in 2017 was getting him at a slight value later in the second round because of his injury history. Call me crazy, but I’m playing the odds and will probably not pay such a high price for Gronk in 2018. He started 6 games in 2013, 10 games in 2014, 15 in 2015, 6 in 2016, and 14 this past season. He takes a lot of big hits, so I rather spend that first round pick on someone more reliable and with less of an injury history. The better he does in the Super Bowl, the higher is price will likely be in 2018, in which case a better option might be passed up on and end up falling into my lap. If you do draft him, I would grab Amendola late as a handcuff; he’s been the one stepping up anytime Gronk has missed time this year, and plays a similar role in the middle of the field.
Even with James White and Rex Burkhead back, Dion Lewis has been a major weapon in the passing game over the last 2 weeks, and became a more consistent target for Tom Brady once the two other backs got hurt late in the regular season. He had at least 5 receptions in 5 of the last 6 games, and averaged 8 receptions over the last 2. Lewis has the opportunity to impress on the biggest stage to get paid as an unrestricted free agent this offseason. There’s a possibility he winds back up with the Patriots, as he fits their scheme and play style more than other teams and is the best back they have, but the Patriots aren’t known to pay a premium for any one running back. His role in the Super Bowl with the other two running backs completely healthy will be very telling, but don’t read too much into it; James White had 3 TDs in the big game last year, and was only a single cog in the Patriots backfield this year.
Hogan was a real red zone threat earlier this year when he was healthy, catching 5 TDs in 4 weeks at one point. He really hasn’t been much of a factor lately, but it doesn’t seem like he’s been completely healthy. With two weeks to heal up for the big game, we could see him get open in the end zone again. Keep in mind that Julian Edelman will likely be back next season, so Hogan won’t be able to get as many snaps out of the slot as he did this year, which is where he’s been doing a lot of his damage. If he’s a late round guy, I would handcuff Edelman with him to cover Edelman’s injury risk.
Ertz is going to be one of the top three tight ends taken in next year’s draft, and with good reason. The rapport Ertz showed with Carson Wentz towards the end of 2016 bloomed into a special connection this past season. He’s the main look on the offense, whether it’s Wentz or Nick Foles behind center, and he’s proved that he’s QB agnostic. The Patriots have struggled against tight ends early in the year, but really have improved against them recently. The real story is that they haven’t really played against any good ones. There’s nothing I would see in this game that would make me change my opinion on Ertz, but if he has a killer game, that might move the needle to someone choosing him as the first tight end off the board.
Alshon Jeffery got off to a slow start this year with only 2 TDs in his first 7 games, and had 3 or less receptions in 5 of his first 8. Once his familiarity with the offense and rapport with his QBs improved, he didn’t look back.I wanted to trade him away after Week 8! He was actually a buy low and not a sell high, but we didn’t see it coming. In the last 10 games that mattered (not counting Week 17), Jeffery caught 9 TDs. His talent came through, and now he’s getting it done and on his way to the Super Bowl after catching 2 TDs in the NFC Championship. There’s no doubt that he’s a real presence in the red zone, and the Eagles offense has started to use him properly. If he continues to be featured the way he has been lately, Jeffery’s 2018 ADP might make it to the beginning of the 3rd round.
Agholor really came into his own this year, nearly doubling his 2016 reception and yardage total. His TD total went from 2 to 8, and we can see that his transition into the slot really did wonders for the talented, young WR. He provided explosive plays early in the season, and started to have some solid stretches towards the end of the season in PPR leagues. Agholor will be a good late round addition to any fantasy team, as you can plug him in hoping for a big play. He’s not someone you can rely on a weekly basis with Ertz and Jeffery commanding targets, but he has put up 8-9 games this season that you would happy with in PPR. There’s much that I would see in the Super Bowl for me to change my opinion on him, but my hope is that he doesn’t go off and increase his ADP. I would love to get him late as a benchwarmer.
With LeGarrette Blount probably on his way out of Philadelphia in 2018, Jay Ajayi becomes the clear lead dog. Over Ajayi’s past four weeks prior to the NFC Championship, he averaged 16 touches per game – 14 carries and 2 receptions. Corey Clement has been somewhat of a red zone specialist for the Eagles, so we haven’t seen much of Ajayi on the field for those situations. We assume that it would be Ajayi who would get those presumed red zone carries that Blount had in the Divisional Round of the playoffs (he had 5), but Doug Pederson has proved over the last two seasons that his backfield remains unpredictable. If Ajayi comes out and gets 20+ touches and some red zone work in the Super Bowl, his price will go up, and if he’s successful, the Eagles have a sample to work with in deciding whether they want to re-sign Blount.