Most fantasy football owners who drafted Julian Edelman did so for his prowess with all-timer Tom Brady. Unfortunately for them, Brady won’t be playing for the first four weeks of the season, and double unfortunately for them, the Patriots travel to Arizona to take on the stout Cardinals defense.
Jimmy Garoppolo will lead the Patriots offense for the first quarter of the season, and the team with him at the reigns has been… uninspiring. In his 54 passes this preseason, he mustered only one touchdown and 406 yards. His first two games were against the terrible first-team pass defenses of the Saints and Bears. When he played a competent defense, Carolina, Jimmy G was only able to pull off 3.8 yards per attempt on a 60% completion percentage. He was dinking, he was dunking, and nothing was connecting. Given that this was in the third game dress rehearsal, that does not bode well for Edelman’s prospects Sunday night.
Now, this isn’t a knock on Edelman, who bided his time as a Patriots practice squander before becoming Tom Brady’s favorite WR target. He was among the best on a per-game basis, finishing last season on a 1,200 yard, 12 touchdown pace in 9 games played. The games played is one of the issues for Sunday night. Edelman is notoriously extremely fragile, and he takes on an extremely talented, hard-hitting defense. His short option routes across the middle put him firmly in the sights of not only Patrick Peterson but money linebacker Deone Bucannon and Tyrann Mathieu. Edelman will take his fair share of licks, and his injury history shows that he is a candidate to leave the contest early with an injury.
Even if Edelman plays the entire game, he is a massive regression candidate in 2016. In his nine games he played last season, only two were outside the top half of the league regarding fantasy point production to wide receivers (and he played four of the top third). He greatly benefitted not only from Tom Brady but the schedule. Unfortunately for Edelman, he won’t get the benefit of either Sunday, as the Cardinals were 26th in the league in opposing fantasy points per game from wide receivers last season.
Arizona’s fearsome defense is the main reason why Edelman will be a firm fantasy football sit for me Sunday. They boast the league’s best secondary alongside great linebackers and a very good pass rush. There are formidable opponents at every level of the defense for Edelman, and the DB-turned-LB Deone Bucannon will provide him with a daunting task of going over the middle. The Cardinals defense is ready to turn up hard and prove to their blowout playoff exit was a fluke.