Most fantasy owners valued Wes Welker as a WR1 heading into the season, but all you have to look at is the team’s target leaders from the first week to grow a little concerned:
- Brandon Lloyd – 8
- Aaron Hernandez – 7
- Rob Gronkowski – 6
- Wes Welker – 5
There are only so many balls to go around and, if this is any indication, Ton Brady is going to try and distribute things equally.
That’s not a surprising revelation. However, it gets even more complicated when you realize that Stevan Ridley was given 25 carries (and the team rushed the ball a total of 35 times). Obviously you only run so many plays so the more rushing attempts, the fewer passing plays. Fewer passing plays = fewer targets. It is pretty straight forward.
However, can we expect the Patriots to continue rushing the ball as much as they did in Week 1? BenJarvus Green-Ellis got 27 carries in Week 5 of 2011, and as many as 20 carries just one other time.
It is not the norm for he Patriots to have so many carries in a game and, while I wouldn’t expect it to be the case going forward, it is not hard to imagine Ridley getting 15-20 carries per game (with 20-30 runs overall). That is more than enough to keep defenses honest and open more potential plays for Brady and company.
Of course, the caveat again is that it means fewer throws overall.
Would I consider Welker a player to dump quickly? No, but I also think that his value has clearly diminished. With the emergence of the tight end duo of Hernandez & Gronkowski and now a running game, there is less focus on the wide receivers overall. With Lloyd now in place, it is just another obstacle for Welker to battle to get looks
Plus, don’t forget that Welker could be an unrestricted free agent after the season. Could the Patriots be preparing for life without him? It’s hard to imagine, but at the same time it’s not like the Patriots aren’t loaded with other weapons.
Week 1 was a disappointment. There is no arguing that. While I would expect better days for Welker, they likely won’t be as a fantasy WR1. There is too much risk of games like this one. If you are an owner and can get WR1 value, then I would explore it. Otherwise, I would move forward thinking of him as a WR2 with upside and plan your line-up accordingly.
What are your thoughts of Welker? Do you think he is going to perform as a WR1 this season? Would you consider trading him?
Make sure to check out our Week 2 rankings: