Examining New England's uninspiring receiving corps

Examining New England's uninspiring receiving corps

Fantasy football player analysis tips and advice

Examining New England's uninspiring receiving corps


The New England Patriots’ struggles in identifying, drafting, and/or developing talent at the receiver position is no secret (just bring up names like Aaron Dobson, Taylor Price, or recently traded Chicago Bears receiver N’Keal Henry to longtime Pats fans), but they continue to try to find the right mix of players.

Quarterback Mac Jones enjoyed a solid rookie season, though the team leaned on the ground game and its defense while limiting what they asked of their young triggerman.

Things could be different this year after longtime offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels departed to become head coach of the Las Vegas Raiders. The position will remain vacant in 2022, and head coach Bill Belichick has yet to announce who will call the plays. While it’ll still be Belichick’s vision, one would expect the training wheels to be taken off Jones to some extent in Year 2.

He’ll have no shortage of targets with the team’s top three receivers returning while also being joined by a trade acquisition (DeVante Parker) and a high-round draft pick (Tyquan Thornton).

Jakobi Meyers

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Signed as an undrafted free agent in 2019, Meyers has been a nice find for the Patriots, leading the team in receiving each of the past two seasons, including an 83-866-2 line last year. He’s not much of a big-play threat, though, averaging 11.6 yards per catch in his career, and it took 39 games before he scored his first touchdown.

You can give Meyers credit for his durability and steadiness, but there’s no doubt that the Patriots would love to see some of their other options push the fourth-year pro down the pecking order a bit.

DeVante Parker

Credit: Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports

Acquired from the Miami Dolphins this offseason, Parker is the only wideout on the depth chart that boasts a 1,000-yard season on his NFL resume. That came in 2019, which also doubles as the only time in seven NFL seasons in which he has appeared in every game.

Injuries have been a frequent companion for Parker, including last year when shoulder and hamstring issues limited him to 10 games. There’s still plenty of talent in the former first-round pick, but he’s the (gingerly) walking embodiment of the adage about availability being the most important ability.

Tyquan Thornton

Credit: Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports

As often seems to be the case in recent years with New England’s drafts, Thornton was viewed by many as a reach when the Pats snatched him up with the 50th overall pick.

He’s a lithe target at 6-foot-2, 181 pounds, with small hands, but there’s one thing he can do and that’s flat-out fly. The Baylor product ran the fastest 40-yard dash of all the receivers at the combine and could be used to take the top off coverages this year. He’s surrounded by veterans, though, so we’ll see how many snaps he gets.

Kendrick Bourne and Nelson Agholor

Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

New England signed Bourne and Agholor at the start of free agency last season, and the duo provided mixed returns on those investments. Bourne probably overdelivered, finishing second on the club with 800 yards and five touchdowns, while Agholor failed to build on a strong 2020 in Las Vegas by finishing with a pedestrian 37-473-3 effort.

At this point, it looks like Bourne will join Meyers and Parker as the top three wideouts, making it unclear exactly how Agholor fits into the picture, especially after investing in the similarly skilled Thornton.

Fantasy football outlook

In terms of middling depth, the Patriots have things locked down. You could make a decent case for any of three wideouts (Meyers, Parker, and Bourne) potentially leading the team in receiving, and you might even throw Agholor into that mix if things broke the right way.

The problem with all the interchangeable pieces is nobody stands out. Meyers could have some late-round appeal in point-per-reception leagues. Parker actually goes about two rounds earlier, on average, though that seems like a stretch. Perhaps training camp will sort things out a little better, but at this stage there’s no airtight option to target, and all of them will be no more than a WR3 or flex consideration most weeks.


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