Will Jakobi Meyers be a fantasy WR1 in the Patriots’ offense in 2021?

After a season full of offensive struggles, the New England Patriots made quick work reinventing their stash of offensive weapons. But will any of the new players take over the lead role, or is former UDFA Jakobi Meyers set to be the WR1 for the Patriots in 2021 and a potential value in fantasy football?

Jakobi Meyers led a stagnant 2020 passing attack for the Patriots

In their first season in the post-Tom Brady era, the Patriots struggled to move the ball through the air. As a result, they were 31st in attempts per game (27.5) and completions (17.6), 30th in yards (180.6), tied for last in passing touchdowns (12), and as an offense, were 27th in total points (20.3 per game).

Where the rushing game found moderate success, the receivers were a virtual afterthought, especially for fantasy purposes. It took until Week 11 for the first touchdown thrown to a WR, and as a collective, they recorded just 3 touchdowns all season. 

If there was a “bright spot,” that would have been the 2019 UDFA out of NC State, Jakobi Meyers. He led the Patriots’ receivers in virtually all categories, recording 59 receptions on 81 targets (19.2% share) for 729 yards but failed to score a touchdown. 

With that said, just because you are a WR1 on your team does not always translate to a high standing compared to the other 31 NFL teams. He was 53rd in targets per game (5.7), 42nd in receptions (4.2), and 48th in yards (52.0). In fantasy, Meyers was the WR53 in PPR scoring, averaging 10.2 ppg. 

A breakout could be on the horizon in 2021 for Meyers

First off, the offseason made it brutal for everyone. Add in a new QB and a whole new offense, and the Patriots were almost doomed from the start. 

When we look at Meyers, the 14 games played last season are misleading. In reality, Meyers played in only 11 games. Furthermore, he saw just 22 snaps in the first three games combined; he was inactive or DNP in Weeks 4 and 6. From a per-game basis, this is massive.

Meyers totaled 45 yards or more in 9 of 11 games (81.8%), including two with 110+ yards. From Week 7 and on, Meyers was the WR22 in PPR formats with 12.8 ppg while averaging 7.3 targets, 5.3 receptions, and 65.6 yards. These are not numbers to overlook. 

Will the addition of new talent hamper Meyers’ potential fantasy success in 2021?

In short, yes. It’s not like you go out and spend $136 million on pass catchers and not expect them to take over a massive role in the offense. 

Both Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith will see their fair share of targets as they rotate at tight end. The Patriots may even run more 12 personnel to get both on the field at the same time. Nelson Agholor should be the over-the-top target and pairs with N’Keal Harry on the perimeter.

We could see the most impactful competition for Meyers come from Kendrick Bourne. Bourne will presumably work from the slot for the Patriots. In 58 games for the 49ers (2017 to 2020), Bourne recorded 218 catches for 1,769 yards and 11 touchdowns. He missed one game in 2020 due to NFL protocols. Still, he posted new career marks in receptions (49) and receiving yards (667).

Meyers has shown the ability to be a viable option in the passing game. Yet, the potential low volume of the Patriots’ offense could hamper his fantasy production.

Can Meyers be the WR1 for the Patriots and fantasy football?

According to reports coming out of camp, Meyers looks like the WR1. He has been seeing sizeable reps with the first-team offense and has built chemistry with both Cam Newton and rookie QB Mac Jones. I think this makes a lot of sense when you consider the style of offense the Patriots are likely to run.

Neither Newton nor Jones are known for their arms. In 2020, Newton had one of the lowest average throw depths at 6.7 yards per attempt. Thus, players who will operate in short-to-intermediate passing windows will benefit the most. This is the area where Meyers thrived (10.1 average depth of target) after taking over for an injured Julian Edelman. 

If I were looking to select a Patriots receiver in fantasy this season, Meyers would be the player I target — he is the likeliest to be the WR1 on the team. On NFC (a high-stakes fantasy platform), Meyers is the WR82 with a 243.6 ADP. That is an incredible bargain for a receiver whose floor is a mid-range WR4 and could have a few weeks as a WR2. 

[su_button url=”https://www.profootballnetwork.com/top-9-fantasy-football-sleepers-2021/” style=”flat” background=”#540008″ color=”#ffffff” size=”5″ wide=”yes” center=”yes” text_shadow=”0px 0px 0px #000000″]Keep Reading! Top 9 fantasy football sleepers in 2021 include Laviska Shenault and Adam Trautman[/su_button]

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Tommy Garrett is a writer for Pro Football Network covering the NFL and fantasy football and a member of the FSWA (Fantasy Sports Writers Association). You can read more of his work here and follow him at @TommygarrettPFN on Twitter.

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