Fantasy fallout of Patriots' trade for Martellus Bennett
For the first time since losing Aaron Hernandez, the Patriots have a viable tight end compliment to Rob Gronkowski after they acquired Martellus Bennett in a trade with Chicago.
Unfortunately for Bennett’s fantasy owners, this is much better news for the Patriots as a real football team than it is for his statistical production moving forward. The 29-year-old is transitioning from a Chicago offense where he was a primary option to a New England offense that has at least two (if not more) mouths to feed ahead of him in Gronkowski and Julian Edelman.
Bennett played in only 11 games last year due to injury, finishing as the No. 26 in standard leagues and No. 22 in PPR with 53 catches on 76 targets for 439 yards (8.3 YPR) and three touchdowns. Even on a points-per-game basis, he was still only a TE2 in 12-team leagues. His abysmal yards per reception can somewhat be explained by an extremely low 6.0 average depth of target, and Chandler’s 10.3 aDOT from this year in New England offers hope that Bennett will be used more downfield.
Still, it’s hard to see Bennett making much of a consistent statistical impact replacing Chandler, who only played 33 percent of New England’s snaps and saw 41 targets. Bennett should be on the field more than Chandler was, but his days as a fantasy TE1 appear to be behind him … short of an injury to Gronkowski. He is nothing more than a late-round flier or bye-week replacement for 2016, with his presence in New England being more of a benefit to the other players he creates space for than his own production. This is clearly a boost for Brady in the short term (Bennett only has one year remaining on his deal).
Casting even more doubt on Bennett’s ability to provide statistical production is his play compared to Zach Miller, who is easily the biggest fantasy beneficiary of this move. Miller went for exactly the same 439 yards that Bennett did last year, only he did it on 34 fewer targets and 19 fewer receptions with a similarly low aDOT (7.3).
In addition to being significantly more efficient, he also scored two more touchdowns than his former counterpart. Freshly signed to a new two-year deal, Miller now has the 118 combined targets from the two of them last year all to himself. He will be on the back-end TE1 radar based on potential volume alone, and given his 2015 efficiency (12.9 YPR), he does not lack for a little upside if he gets it.
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