HOW THEY RUN
New England takes the running-back-by-committee approach to a whole new level by using a plethora of backs based on their strengths. Laurence Maroney would be the feature back if not for health problems. Free-agent pickup Fred Taylor brings 11 seasons of hard running to the Pats and is the leading candidate for goal line carries and maybe more. Sammy Morris seems to be the third wheel here, despite leading the team in rushing yards and touchdowns last season. And there's also Kevin Faulk, who excels out of the backfield with his great hands.
Overall, the Pats implement a solid ground game, having gained 2,278 yards last season (No. 6 in the NFL) with 21 touchdowns (No. 4). But keep in mind that Tom Brady's return could mean less running and more passing.
HOW THEY PASS
The attack was not the same last year without General Brady, and even though former offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels is gone, Brady's knowledge of the offense will allow for a seamless transition to the next play-caller. Wes Welker is still the most reliable target on slants and other quick routes, while Randy Moss is the top threat downfield and in the red zone. Joey Galloway brings his long speed, and Greg Lewis is yet another target at Brady's disposal. The tight end competition will be intense with Chris Baker and Alex Smith joining the team to challenge incumbent Ben Watson.
The difference between good fantasy options on this team and great ones will depend on a healthy Brady. Moss and Welker are elite receivers when Brady is leading the offense. Meanwhile, the running backs are a crapshoot, due to health risks and competition, so don't invest too early.