The New England Patriots may be quite under-manned when they begin their season against the Pittsburgh Steelers roughly two weeks from now. Already almost certainly without star quarterback Tom Brady, the Pats could now be without starting wide receiver, Brandon LaFell.
LaFell has missed a good deal of time this summer thanks to a foot issue that kept him out of OTAs and put him in a walking boot. LaFell has remained off the practice field and numerous whispers have suggested he could begin the year on the reserve/PUP list. Such a label would render one of New England’s top passing weapons inactive for the first six weeks of the year.
Per reports, LaFell has been out of his walking boot and is walking without a noticeable limp, but there could be something here New England doesn’t want to let out. Regardless, a Patriots beat write suggesting LaFell could start the year on the reserve/PUP list is worth noting, and should impact how he’s looked at in fantasy football drafts.
LaFell certainly has a good amount of upside going into 2015, as he was able to put up 74 receptions, 7 touchdowns and nearly 1,000 yards in his first season with the team. For what it’s worth, New England’s system is a difficult one to grasp and LaFell’s production runs circles of a failed Chad Johnson try many would like to forget.
As solid as LaFell was last year and as good as he could still be in 2015, a six-game absence would make him undraftable in most leagues. A late-round flier wouldn’t be the worst idea, but six weeks is a long stretch for anyone to soak up a roster spot, so fantasy owners will probably be better served taking a chance on someone else in their drafts and just plucking LaFell off the waiver wire later this year. New England is notorious for their lack of information sharing when it comes to injuries, so this situation could change by the end of the day. Be sure to keep tabs on LaFell and refrain from drafting him until the situation is clearer.
Should LaFell indeed sit out the first six weeks, Julian Edelman and Rob Gronkowski would get nice boosts, while the likes of Danny Amendola, Aaron Dobson and Reggie Wayne could all be in for a spike in fantasy value. Backup quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo would be even less enticing early in the year with one less weapon to use.