ESPN Boston believes if the season started today, Kenbrell Thompkins would be a starting receiver for the Patriots.
ESPN notes that Aaron Dobson is expected back for training camp, and is also expected to win the starting position over Thompkins. But what’s interesting is that ESPN doesn’t suggest Danny Amendola, Brandon LaFell, or Josh Boyce as potential starters. It looks like Thompkins has at least got a leg up on those three.
Thompkins got some preseason love from our own Matthew Freedman last season (here and here). He played well in stretches, most memorably hauling in the winning touchdown against New Orleans. Let’s take a quick look at what New England has in its stable at wide receiver. This table shows their current positional and overall ADP from My Fantasy League, and their Low, Median, and High projections from the WR Sim App. Because he’s outside the top 100 receivers at the moment, I didn’t include Boyce.
LaFell is trying to carve out a different role than he’s had previously, which may or may not work. At least we already know Thompkins can play in New England’s offense. Julian Edelman is the class of New Englands’ WRs, and for now nobody is supplanting him. Thompkins’ projections are nothing special, but his ADP is ridiculously cheap, especially if you compare him to Amendola, whose projections are essentially the same but is being drafted 130 picks earlier. Dobson looks better, but then he ought to, as a second round pick. But notice that Dobson doesn’t look that much better.
Let’s take a look at how these WRs performed last year. This graph comes from the Career Graphs App.
Excluding Edelman, there’s not a lot of separation, really. Thompkins also has the best TD rate of anyone this side of Edelman. Again, he looks a lot like Dobson. Not saying they’re similar talents, but the farther away from their collegiate resumes we get, the more important their NFL production becomes. After just one season, their collegiate pedigrees probably still matter. But their rookie seasons matter too, and Thompkins’ was virtually equal to Dobson’s.
Finally, let’s look at things from Tom Brady’s perspective, using the AYA App.
|Tom Brady||Danny Amendola||WR||83||54||633||2||0||8.11|
|Tom Brady||Kenbrell Thompkins||WR||69||32||466||4||0||7.91|
|Tom Brady||Aaron Dobson||WR||72||37||519||4||1||7.69|
|Tom Brady||Julian Edelman||WR||151||105||1056||6||1||7.49|
|Tom Brady||Rob Gronkowski||TE||66||39||592||4||4||7.45|
Thompkins finishes second on this list, which is terrific, but what’s notable is how closely together these WRs are. Perhaps, as Fantasy Douche has recently noted regarding Cam Newton, this is a reflection of the skill of the quarterback. But in that case, if the skill of the QB makes the WRs largely interchangeable, then shouldn’t we be interested in the cheapest available receiver?1
Obviously we’ll learn a lot about this situation in training camp and the preseason, but for now, Thompkins is a cheap way to get some exposure to the Patriots’ offense, and to “short” the stock of Dobson and Amendola in particular.
- Hint: Yes. (back)