Julian Edelman had one of the most productive seasons of his career with 100 receptions for 1117 yards. The 34-year old wide receiver continues to prove critics wrong with his grit and uncanny ability to find the ball. Even more impressive is that the undersized receiver continues to have elite seasons past the age of 30, where his lack of size and limited athleticism was supposed to catch up with him. As of today, Edelman continues to dominate with no sign of slowing down. However, I believe that these signs will emerge in the 2020 season, hurting his fantasy production.
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2019 was a great season for Julian Edelman. The 5-10 receiver once again displayed his chemistry with Tom Brady, making spectacular catches in tight windows and propelling a terrible wide receiver group to mediocrity. Edelman finished the season with 100 receptions for 1117 receiving yards and six touchdowns. The 34-year old collected 251 fantasy points for a total of 15.69 points per game. This productivity came in the midst of a disjointed Patriots offense that struggled to move the ball downfield. Injuries plagued the offensive line, preventing the running game from getting moving. Rob Gronkowski retired, leaving a void at the tight-end position. The wide-receiver group outside of Edelman failed to get separation and struggled with drops. It’s amazing that Edelman had the season he had given the circumstances.
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Despite the excellent, career-year for Edelman in terms of receiving yards, I struggle to find a scenario where he repeats this season. Lineups agrees projecting the receiver to finish with 73 receptions for 799 receiving yards and four receiving touchdowns. In fantasy, Lineups projects the receiver to finish with 177 fantasy points for 11.06 points per game.
The main hindrance to another 1000 yard season is the departure of Tom Brady. Replacing the hall-of-fame quarterback with former 4th round pick Jarrett Stidham is a huge shift and obstacle for Edelman to overcome. Edelman made a name for himself because of his unique chemistry with Brady, most notably his anticipation of Tom Brady’s passes. This departure and lack of an offseason to develop chemistry with Stidham could hurt Edelman’s production in 2020.
Edelman is also getting older. The wide receiver just turned 34 and will regress in the years to come. Last year, he showed no signs of regression but at some point, he will start regressing. Also, with age comes injuries and Edelman is no exception. In fact, his entire career has been plagued with injuries. In nine seasons, the receiver has only played three complete seasons. Of these seasons, he hasn’t started all 16 games. With Julian Edelman, it is more a risk to assume he will play a complete season rather than stay healthy. Because of this injury history, I agree that the receiver will not match his 2019 numbers.
SI Fantasy's @JaimeEisner and Patriots reporter Devon Clements @DevclemNFL discuss the very slight margin of error that separates a good or poor fantasy season for PPR sensation Julian Edelman. https://t.co/1TBHuT7SvA
— SI Fantasy (@SI_Fantasy) May 16, 2020
ADP: 83 WR: 31
Auction Value: $13
At an ADP of 83, fantasy owners are assuming a decline in production due to age and the departure of Tom Brady. I agree with this assessment but also caution against drafting Edelman at the position entirely. At an ADP of 83, you are drafting Edelman as a flex or early bench receiver. However, I don’t think the pick is worth it given the risk and the guys potentially still available. At this ADP range, guys like Marvin Jones, Davante Parker, and Darius Slayton are still available. I would much rather take one of these safer picks than Edelman.
The reason I would pick guys like Marvin Jones, Davante Parker, and Darius Slayton at this position is due to Edelman’s low floor. With Jarrett Stidham expected to start at quarterback next year, fantasy owners are gambling that Stidham will be a competent starter. However, we’ve seen very little of this quarterback and cannot safely make an assumption on his productivity. These kinds of variables make me scared to take Edelman unless I have other high floor guys at the wide receiver position. I have a lower floor in non-PPR leagues because of his touchdown numbers. While he finds the endzone, it isn’t at an elite level. Non-PPR leagues would be taking an even bigger gamble on Edelman.
Because of the quarterback situation, age, and injury history, I have a low ceiling for Edelman. The receiver could struggle from one or all of these issues next year. I find it riskier to bet that he won’t suffer from any of these issues next year. Edelman will come to camp prepared. But will he find chemistry with Stidham? Can Stidham excel in the redzone? These are questions that can’t be answered until the season starts.
The Patriots offensive line and running game should be better if both units stay healthy. I expect the Patriots to lean on this running game with the lack of experience at the quarterback position. This will almost certainly hurt Edelman’s production.
The Patriots receiving core should be better. The addition of Marquise Lee could bring some experience and insurance against injury. Mohammed Sanu is a valuable possession receiver and N’Keal Harry showed flashes as a rookie. However, I believe that this core will take targets away from one another. If Stidham establishes chemistry with Harry, it could lead to a decline in Edelman’s production or vice versa.
Strength of Schedule
The Strength of Schedule is more important for the Patriots given their inexperienced quarterback. Sadly, their schedule is tough, playing defenses such as Buffalo twice, the 49ers, Ravens, Chargers, Rams, Broncos, and Jets twice. I could see many struggles for the Stidham, which will again hurt Edelman’s production. The Patriot’s tough schedule and previously mentioned scenarios have further soured my opinion on the receiver.
Overall, Julian Edelman should still produce because he is Julian Edelman. I don’t foresee the regression this incoming season, but at his age and mileage, I could see more injuries. I also struggle to find a scenario where he shines under Jarrett Stidham. Because of these factors, I worry about his value even at an ADP of 83. I am inclined to take a chance on Marvin Jones, Davante Parker, or Darius Slayton all of which provide a bit less uncertainty.