Following up on this week's Team Notes
. ... Mohamed Sanu
hasn't solidified a shallow New England receiver corps as expected since the Patriots shipped a second-round pick to Atlanta for the veteran wideout.
As NFL.com's Kevin Patra noted, in seven games with the Pats, Sanu has generated just 23 catches for 172 yards and one touchdown. The 30-year-old knows he can still become a bigger part of the offense as we move into postseason action.
"I haven't really scratched the surface yet of what I know I can do," Sanu told ESPN's Mike Reiss. "Getting adjusted to things people have known for years, or months, you have to catch up. It's a lot of little details of things. I've been getting right up to speed. It's just little things you can't teach; they just have to be done. It's the difference between knowing and doing."
Sanu generated 10 catches for 81 yards and his lone score in his second game with the Patriots, in a loss to Baltimore. Outside of that game, he hasn't earned more than 24 yards or 4 catches in any of his other tilts with Tom Brady
An ankle injury seemed to be worse than originally projected, which has led to some of Sanu's struggles. He's also still trying to learn the system. Sanu said he's digging in as best as he can to make a difference in January.
"You have no idea. It's not something you can explain," he said. "You put a lot of work into something, a lot of time, a lot of sacrifices, and the time you put in, you want the same result from it."
Perhaps had Sanu ended up in San Francisco with his former coordinator Kyle Shanahan, the transition would have been easier. Alas, learning the nuances of the Patriots' offense and where Brady expects him to be every play takes time.
"Our system is different than the ones he's played in before, so he's done a great job of trying to acclimate to what that terminology is and what his role is each week. He is still continuing to grow in our foundation," offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels said. "I'm happy with what he's doing, the direction we're headed, and the progress hopefully we can continue to make with him. That's a big thing for us moving forward."
With a playoff bye coming with a victory over the Miami Dolphins on Sunday, there is still time for it to click for Sanu in New England this season. As Patra added, "Given the history of Patriots receivers making big plays in the playoffs, it should shock no one if, in a key moment, Sanu came through and washed away weeks of frustration."
That said, depending on Sanu -- at least from a fantasy perspective, probably isn't a championship sealing move.
DFS Tournament play?
Given the Patriots host the Dolphins and that New England can clinch a first-round bye with a win, that makes Sanu a viable dart toss.
Of course, it's safe to say all involved in the Patriots' offense fall into that category.
As ESPN's Mike Clay notes, Miami's "turnstile at cornerback" continued on Sunday with Tae Hayes taking on a primary perimeter role and Eric Rowe returning to slot duties with Jomal Wiltz injured. Miami was thrashed by Andy Dalton
and has now allowed the most fantasy points to wide receivers, including the fourth-most to the perimeter and third-most to the slot, over the past month.
Sanu and N'Keal Harry
weren't active when these teams met in Week 2 and, though Julian Edelman
was held in check (4-51-0 receiving line), note that both Josh Gordon
and Antonio Brown
were in the mix and combined for 13 targets in the game.
And there's an overlooked component here.
As ESPN's Matthew Berry suggested, you don't often think of Tom Brady as a sleeper
, but at home in an important game against a Miami team that has allowed multiple passing TDs in six consecutive games, he shouldn't be forgotten.
As Berry pointed out, Brady has thrown at least 30 passes in each home game this season, averaging 37.3 attempts per game in Foxboro while the Dolphins allow a TD on 7.2 percent of passes this season (highest in the NFL).
Meanwhile, Sony Michel
ran for 96 yards on 21 carries and added 5 yards on a pair of targets against Buffalo on Saturday.
As Clay conceded, Michel has disappeared from the Patriots' offense at times this season, but the second-year back has now reached 20 touches and 100 scrimmage yards in back-to-back games. He also led New England's backfield in snap share (44 percent) against the Bills, ahead of James White
(43 percent), Rex Burkhead
(26 percent) and Brandon Bolden
Michel hasn't scored a touchdown or eclipsed 14 receiving yards in a game since October, so even with the boost in rushing attempts, he remains a bit of a dart toss as well.
Burkhead, by the way, has back-to-back games with a rushing touchdown and is coming off of a career-high 77 receiving yards. Consider him the same.