<
>
Insider

Looking back to look forward

3/17/2013

Sometimes it's important to look back in order to look forward. For instance, when Wes Welker was targeted just five time in the 2012 season opener and saw limited snaps again in Week 2, it was widely assumed that it was the New England Patriots' way of punishing him for their offseason contractual situation and/or that they were phasing him out of their offense. At that point, many frustrated fantasy owners traded the underachieving Welker before his role dramatically increased and he returned to his usual monster production in PPR leagues.

Mike Reiss of ESPNBoston.com believes the reasoning behind Welker's limited work early last season wasn't financially motivated but, rather, part of a long-term plan by coach Bill Belichick and offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels. It's something fantasy owners should keep in mind for the future; you should think twice before panicking early on about your fantasy players:

Mike Reiss

Quick-hit thoughts around NFL & Pats

"Can we also put one overblown Welker-based story to rest? When Welker's snaps were reduced in the first two games of the 2012 season, it wasn't because the Patriots were phasing him out of the offense. But somewhere along the line, this storyline grew so powerful that it almost became fact in the forum of public opinion. First, Welker admits he didn't have a great training camp. Also, part of the idea all along was to take a long-range view and limit some of the early-season wear and tear on Welker, who had slowed at the end of the 2011 season in part because of a high snap total. So when offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels called a running play that required a receiver to make a crack block or something of the like, if Welker could be spared that physical grind, why not? The other part of it was that Julian Edelman had earned more time in the eyes of the staff; his speed had improved markedly from 2011 to 2012, which added a different element to the passing game. So yes, Welker's playing time was reduced in the first two games (the Titans opener was a run-based plan), but only if you believe in conspiracy theories was it done in the context of phasing him out. The idea, first and foremost, was to preserve him for the long run."