Mike Tanier

Going Deep

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Patriot Gains

Wednesday, September 29, 2010


Sammy Morris
Morris had six carries for 19 yards last week and got two touches inside the Bills 10-yard line. A Bill Belichick favorite who can do all the little things (like pass blocking), Morris could sneak away with the goal line job. Remember, though, that the Patriots are more likely than most teams to go to an empty backfield in goal-to-go situations, so the "goal line back" could end up with very few opportunities. Keep Morris on your radar, though he'll probably just be the team's designated leech.

Fred Taylor
Taylor has just 11 carries in the last two games and suffered a toe injury against the Bills. If you drafted him, hold onto him until you know the full extent of the injury; he could still play a significant role if he returns. Otherwise, stay away from him.

Aaron Hernandez
Florida Gators fans know Hernandez well: he was Tim Tebow's favorite receiver over the middle, catching 68 passes for Florida in the 2009 season. Hernandez is a superb all-purpose athlete who averaged 180 receiving yards per game and scoring 24 touchdowns as a high school senior while racking up 12 sacks at defensive end. He has become one of Brady's favorite targets, with 15 passes thrown to him in three games. Hernandez is a great fit in the Patriots offense because he not only works the middle of the field well but can block for Welker and others on screens. That means he will be on the field a lot, which will give him many opportunities. This is a great time of year to address your tight end depth, and Hernandez should be affordable.

Rob Gronkowski
The other Patriots rookie tight end. Gronkowski is bigger and a better blocker than Hernandez, and he already has two touchdowns. Gronkowski caught 10 touchdown passes while battling strep throat and mono during his junior year at Arizona (let's hope they let him keep the ball) but missed his senior season with a back injury. Gronkowski has only been thrown to six times, and chasing those goal line touchdowns by second tight ends is a great way to wind up with Matt Spaeth on your roster. If you are itching for a tight end, pick Hernandez instead.

Brandon Tate
A talented runner-receiver-return man whose college career was cut short by an ACL injury, Tate has a kickoff return touchdown this season but also fumbled a reception away against the Bills. The Patriots are using him on reverses and as an alternative deep threat to Moss, but Tate has no real fantasy value.

Julian Edelman
Last year's Welker clone has been targeted five times and caught four passes for 14 yards. If you drafted Edelman as Welker insurance, he's worth keeping around. Otherwise, he's just another "work the middle" threat on a team that has a glut of players vying for that role.

Meanwhile, in Denver
If you are holding on to Maroney hoping that he will emerge as a goal-line specialist in Denver, last week's performance was a bad sign. In one series, Maroney got the ball on the one-yard line three times but failed to punch it in (the final attempt was called a touchdown, then overturned). On their next trip into the red zone, the Broncos elected to throw two passes to Gaffney on 2nd-and-1 and 3rd-and-1. Both passes were incomplete.

Maroney scored seven touchdowns in goal-to-go situations last year, but he also fumbled near the goal line twice and was stuffed at the one-yard line twice. In a game against the Jets, he needed three tries to punch the ball in. In other words, he's not much of a goal line runner. When Knowshon Moreno returns, Maroney will probably find himself filling the same role he occupied in New England: talented disappointment who rarely plays.

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