QB Tom Brady
Fantasy owners invested top dollar to get Brady in drafts and auctions, and for good reason. He’ll start to deliver on that investment this week, but it would be wise to temper expectations to 3 TDs and around 300 yards. The Titans could fall behind early, which might limit the number of pass attempts in the second half. However, if the Titans can hang around, their pass rush is weak enough to give Brady the time he needs for a gigantic day.
WRs Wes Welker, Brandon Lloyd
Welker is always good for a solid 6-7 catches, 90+ yards and a possible score. He may have a little rust in his first game after barely sniffing the field in the preseason, but he should still be worth a start for fantasy owners. Lloyd is a bit dicier. The Titans do a decent job of limiting big plays, but their pass rush is non-existent. I think Lloyd could get loose for a long score to finish with a line of 4 catches and 80 yards.
RB Stevan Ridley
I haven’t been shy about my bullish forecast for Ridley this offseason, and I’d feel very comfortable starting him against a Titans defense that allowed 4.5 yards per carry and 10 TDs on the ground last year. The Patriots have been a throw-first, throw-second, run-third kind of offense the past several years, but I look for him to get around 15-20 touches, close to 100 yards and a TD.
TEs Rob Gronkowski, Aaron Hernandez
After Gronk set every single-season receiving record for tight ends last year, I expect defenses to pay him a ton of attention this year. With that said, he’s a safe bet for 5 grabs, 70 yards and score. Hernandez will be the beneficiary of all that extra attention on the other side of the field, and I think he’ll easily haul in 6 balls for 70 yards, with a 50-50 shot of finding paydirt.
New England Defense/Special Teams
The Titans have a very good offensive line, and the offense will likely focus on keeping the heat off of Locker with quick passes and a healthy dose of Chris Johnson in the running game. While I don’t think the Titans will score more than 17 or so, I think it would be overly optimistic to forecast anything better than 1-2 sacks and 1-2 turnovers. They are no better than a middle-of-the-pack option this week.