2018 was a roller coaster of a season for New England Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman. The former college quarterback started the season with a four-game suspension but ended up being one of the most reliable weapons in fantasy football throughout the regular season. He took his game to another level in the postseason, recording 26 receptions for 388 yards in three games while winning Super Bowl MVP honors. With Rob Gronkowski retired and Tom Brady getting another year older, what does 2019 hold for the three-time Super Bowl champion?
2019 Fantasy Football Outlook: Julian Edelman
Julian Edelman missed the first four games of the season, but was one of the most consistent receivers in the league once he was back on the field. During the final 12 games of the season, Edelman recorded 74 receptions for 850 yards and six touchdowns. He was the WR9 in half-PPR scoring formats from Week Five onward.
The 2018 Patriots didn’t have much in terms of consistent receivers, so Edelman was always a featured part of the offense. Edelman only had one game all season where he failed to record at least six receptions, 57 yards, or a touchdown. While he never had a top-five finish, he rarely burned you and always gave you a reliable performance.
Perhaps what’s most impressive is that he did all this despite tearing his ACL in 2017. Most players need some time to build up to full strength, but Edelman didn’t. He enters 2019 with a clean bill of health and a new contract, and New England still expects the 33-year old to be a featured part of the offense for a long time.
New England’s offense is going to look different in 2019 with Rob Gronkowski retired. Gronkowski wasn’t himself in 2018, but he still commanded a large share of defensive attention. With Gronkowski no longer there, does Edelman have what it takes to be the true top player in the offense?
In short, yes. Gronkowski battled injuries throughout his career, so we actually have a decent sample of Edelman games without Gronkowski. Gronkowski only started and finished six games in 2013 and seven games in 2016. Those two seasons happen to be the best of Edelman’s career, as he recorded 105 receptions for 1,056 yards and six touchdowns in 2013 and 98 receptions for 1,106 yards and three touchdowns in 2016. Additionally, Brady missed four games in 2016, so Edelman would have been even better had Brady played all 16 games.
Edelman’s more than capable of carrying an offense, and his production should increase with Gronkowski out of the way. New England’s offense is one of the most complex in the league, and Brady always favors receivers he can trust.
The biggest worry with Julian Edelman is injuries. Edelman first joined the NFL in 2009 but didn’t become a featured part of the offense until 2013. Since then, he’s only played two full 16-game seasons and missed 29 of a possible 96 games. Edelman’s entering his age-33 season, so he’s not likely to get healthier at this point in his career. Every player is prone to injury, but Edelman carries a higher risk than most.
Julian Edelman Average Draft Position
As of this posting, Fantasy Football Calculator has Edelman going off the board with the 39th overall pick in half-PPR scoring formats. This puts him in the same tier as guys like Stefon Diggs and Brandin Cooks, and roughly one round behind guys like A.J. Green and Amari Cooper.
Selecting Edelman here comes down to how much you value consistency. Diggs and Cook are both have higher odds of giving you a top-five performance on any given week. However, neither player offers the safety and stability of Edelman. Edelman will always give you a starting-caliber performance and might have one or two games where he goes nuts and delivers a top-five game. Personally speaking, I’d rather have the security of Edelman, but it all comes down to personal preference.
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