2017 Outlook: Gronkowski is one of the most dominant players in the NFL, but injuries continue to derail his career. The three-time top fantasy tight end has missed at least one game during each of the past five years, a total of 24 during the span. Gronkowski appeared in eight games last season, and led all tight ends in fantasy points during Weeks 6-10. He's finished in the top five in touchdowns, fantasy points and yards per target during the past four seasons in which he's appeared in at least 11 games. Gronkowski turns 28 this year and is expected to be back to full health, so although his durability is a major concern, his dominant production makes him worth consideration during the second round of your draft.
2017 Outlook: Cooks -- a first-round pick back in 2014 -- has three NFL seasons under his belt, but incredibly is only 23 years old. He adds an every-down speed component to a Patriots offense that has relied heavily on short and intermediate passing in recent years. Cooks joins New England having posted back-to-back 1,100-yard receiving seasons, including a total of 17 touchdowns during the two campaigns. He was fantasy's No. 13 wide receiver in 2015 and improved to 10th last season. Cooks needs to be downgraded in New England's crowded offense and he moves from the Superdome to icy New England (he's yet to play in an NFL game at a temperature below 55 degrees), but he's one of the game's top lid-lifters in one of the game's best offenses. He's a WR2 target with big upside.
2017 Outlook: Despite finishing no lower than seventh among wide receivers in receptions during three of the past four years, Edelman has never finished a season better than 14th in fantasy points. Last year, Edelman ranked third in targets and second in catches, but found the end zone only three times. He led the NFL with 10 drops for the second time in three years and, despite catching 98 passes, he finished outside the top-20 receivers during 81 percent of his outings. A whopping 51 wide receivers had a better rate. Edelman is entering his age-31 season and his target share is sure to dip with Rob Gronkowski healthy and Brandin Cooks in the mix, but he remains Tom Brady's go-to short-area target. He's a fringe WR2 who should be downgraded in non-PPR.
2017 Outlook: Brady was suspended for the first four games of last season, but he still managed to toss 28 touchdowns, which was seventh most in the league. Brady was absolutely dominant upon his return, ranking fifth in completion percentage (67 percent) and second in yards per attempt (8.2), while throwing only two interceptions. He posted a top-10 fantasy week during 58 percent of his outings and has ranked top-five in that category during five of the past seven years. The return of Rob Gronkowski and the team's addition of Brandin Cooks only add to Brady's appeal during his age-40 season.
2017 Outlook: Gillislee didn't last long in Miami after they selected him with a fifth-round pick back in 2013, but he resurrected his career during his time in Buffalo. Gillislee made a good first impression by averaging 5.7 YPC on 47 carries in 2015 and was actually able to match that mark on 101 attempts last season. He also scored a whopping nine touchdowns on 110 touches. Although he's played well, Gillislee has benefited from exceptional blocking. He was allowed 4.8 yards before contact per attempt in 2015, and his 3.9 rate in 2016 was second highest in the NFL. Gillislee was snatched up by New England as a restricted free agent and is positioned as the team's early-down and goal line replacement for LeGarrette Blount. Gillislee won't match Blount's 18 touchdowns from last season, but he has double-digit touchdown upside and can do more as a receiver.
2017 Outlook: White has quickly emerged as one of the game's premier pass-catching backs. Prior to racking up 139 yards and three touchdowns against Atlanta in the Super Bowl, White finished third among backs in targets, receptions and receiving yards during the regular season. He paces all backs with nine receiving touchdowns over the past two seasons. White's fantasy upside is capped by a near-nonexistent role as a rusher (career-high 39 carries last season) and he'll face competition for snaps from Dion Lewis and newcomers Mike Gillislee and Rex Burkhead. White is only a flex option in PPR formats.
2017 Outlook: Gostkowski is further proof that reaching on a kicker is rarely a good idea. After finishing five straight seasons as a top-three fantasy kicker, including No. 1 each of the previous three years, Gostkowski plummeted to eighth in 2016. He converted 84.4 percent of his field goal attempts, which was his worst mark since 2012, and missed three extra point attempts. Gostkowski's efficiency dipped, but so did his volume; his 32 attempts were his lowest mark since 2010. Gostkowski is a quality kicker in one of the game's best offenses and figures to see more volume in 2017 (the Patriots rank third in the NFL with 336 field goal attempts during the past decade). He's an obvious bounce-back candidate.
2017 Outlook: The Patriots benefited from an extremely light 2016 schedule, but their D/ST is one of only two units to rank top-10 in fantasy each of the past five years (Seattle). The Patriots allowed a league-low 250 points and forced 16 fumbles (seventh) last season. They ranked last in tackles for loss (60). New England added Stephon Gilmore and Lawrence Guy, but lost Logan Ryan, Jabaal Sheard and Chris Long during the offseason. Dont'a Hightower and Devin McCourty will again lead what should be a solid unit.
2017 Outlook: Burkhead was a 2013 sixth-round pick who played sparingly while primarily working as an H-back in Cincinnati during the past four seasons. Injuries forced him into a bigger role down the stretch last season, and he didn't disappoint. Burkhead averaged 4.6 YPC on 74 attempts, including 2.0 after contact, and he caught all but three of his 20 targets. Burkhead signed a one-year deal with New England and will compete for snaps with Mike Gillislee, Dion Lewis and James White. He's likely to be more valuable to New England than he is to fantasy owners.
2017 Outlook: A torn ACL suffered midway through the 2015 season cost Lewis all but seven regular-season games last season. He handled 22.0 snaps per game down the stretch, but his contributions were limited by the presence and success of LeGarrette Blount and James White. Lewis racked up 377 yards and no touchdowns on 81 touches, which was a massive drop from the 622 yards and four touchdowns on 85 touches he posted in seven games in 2015. Lewis is only 26 years old, but he's extremely injury-prone and will need to fend off White and newcomers Mike Gillislee and Rex Burkhead for snaps. New England's high-scoring offense makes Lewis a worthwhile draft pick, but he'll be a risky flex play.
2017 Outlook: The wide-receiver-needy Patriots signed Hogan as a restricted free agent last offseason. The ex-Bill was on the field for 83 percent of the Patriots' pass plays during the 15 games he was active, but managed to average only 3.6 targets per game. A boom-or-bust producer, Hogan averaged a position-high 12.6 yards per target. He caught 70 percent of his targets (18th) despite a 13.6-yard average depth of target (15th). Targets were obviously already an issue for Hogan, and he's a strong candidate for even fewer in 2017, with Brandin Cooks added to the mix and Rob Gronkowski back to full health. Hogan is more of a handcuff than he is a standalone fantasy asset.
2017 Outlook: Mitchell was a 2016 fourth-round pick, and, despite barely playing early on, he made a fantasy impact down the stretch. Mitchell handled 15 targets total during Weeks 1-10 before averaging 5.2 per game afterward. The rookie posted four consecutive top-26 fantasy weeks during Weeks 11-14 before seeing his usage dip down the stretch. Mitchell isn't a spectacular athlete but was effective in a small sample of work as a rookie. A second-year leap is possible, but targets will be hard to find following New England's acquisition of Brandin Cooks. Mitchell, who turns 25 this summer, is no more than a late-round lottery ticket.
2017 Outlook: Allen enjoyed a terrific rookie season in 2012 when he caught 45 passes for 521 yards and was dominant as a run blocker. The wheels fell off from there. He's missed 23 games during the past four seasons, including at least two in each season. Since that strong rookie campaign, Allen has seen his blocking fall off quite a bit, and he's caught a grand total of 81 passes for 930 yards and 16 touchdowns (half of which came in 2014). The 27-year-old now heads to New England to work as the team's No. 2 tight end behind Rob Gronkowski. Allen won't see consistent volume, but he'll score the occasional touchdown and obviously has some handcuff appeal as a result of Gronkowski's durability struggles.