The New England Patriots don't have much in terms of a No. 2 tight end behind boom-or-bust Rob Gronkowski. One of the innovators of the "Hybrid 12" personnel, the Pats would love someone to step up and become a handy "Joker" tight end.
New uni, new role?
Maybe New England's next Aaron Hernandez (on the field, that is) could be … Brandon LaFell?
That's the early hint coming out of camp. Wallowing in the mediocrity (putting it kindly) of the Carolina Panthers' aerial game, LaFell … fell by the fantasy wayside last year -- stuck in limbo. The fifth-year wideout is overdue for that breakout many pegged for him.
Even with Tom Brady losing a hair of Superman powers, Josh McDaniels' system is a fine setting for any pass-catcher. At 6-foot-2, 210 pounds, LaFell doesn't profile as a fixed TE, but as a "move," he's qualified, especially with his reputation of being physical in run blocking.
It'll be interesting, if he officially lines up as a tight end, to see how his positional eligibility will change for fantasy football leagues. It's hard to count on Hernandez-level production, especially with the group of undeveloped but promising wideouts aching for targets behind Julian Edelman and (when healthy) Danny Amendola.
But if the experienced LaFell can find an outlet for more consistent production, he may provide serviceable TE2 value, at minimum. And if Gronk misses time (not a stretch), maybe LaFell will be in on more reps and almost starter-worthy for some fantasy games.
Something to watch....
About Tim Heaney
Tim's work has been featured by USA Today/Sports Weekly, among numerous outlets, and recognized as a finalist in the Fantasy Sports Writers Association awards. The Boston University alum, who competes in the prestigious LABR and Tout Wars, has won numerous industry leagues in both baseball and football.
He appears frequently, including every Sunday, on Sirius XM Fantasy Sports Radio, as well as every Wednesday on 1570 AM WNST in Baltimore.
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