Fast Connections, Week 10: Brady, Edelman make Pats go


This week's edition of Fast Connections examines veteran quarterbacks and a receiver that makes their respective offenses go.

Tom Brady to Julian Edelman, New England Patriots

With the Patriots defense taking up most of the oxygen in New England this season, Julian Edelman's steady play can go mostly unnoticed. He remains Tom Brady's most trusted wideout, but unlike in past seasons, Edelman has no true peer within the Patriots' receiving corps. He leads the team in every major receiving metric with 63 receptions on 90 targets for 663 yards and four scores. Other than touchdown receptions, he has at least 50 percent more than the No. 2 player in each category.

Though the Patriots' passing game lags behind its predecessors, the connection of Brady and Edelman provides a safety net that few other teams possess. Though Edelman lacks the elite physical traits of many lead receivers and Brady has lost some of the zip on his passes with age, the two have an intuitive sense for how to run plays and adjust on the fly.

Next Gen Stats says ...

Whereas other wideouts including in this week's edition of Fast Connections create yards after the catch largely via their speed and how their offenses use them, Edelman does so by creating separation from defenders before the ball arrives and maneuvering around defenders after the catch. His YAC success rate comes in at 37.1 percent, highest among New England's wide receivers with at least 10 targets.

Matthew Stafford to Kenny Golladay, Detroit Lions

While the Lions liked Kenny Golladay enough to draft him in the third round, even they could not have expected the former Northern Illinois wideout would eventually become the consistent big-play threat he has proven to be. Golladay leads the NFL in touchdowns while averaging more than 18 yards per reception, the rare combination of scoring dominance and efficiency.

Golladay's development, along with a change of offensive coordinator and scheme, have helped Matthew Stafford produce the best season of his career. Stafford currently throws a touchdown on 6.5 percent of his pass attempts and averages 8.6 yards per attempt, both his best marks in their respective categories since becoming the Lions' starting quarterback.

Next Gen Stats says ...

Unsurprisingly, Golladay leads Lions receivers with at least 10 targets in air yards per target with 17.0. But the Lions don't just throw deep balls to the third-year wideout. Golladay also leads the team with 13 targets in the end zone, among the highest totals in the NFL this season.

Russell Wilson to D.K. Metcalf, Seattle Seahawks

Though Tyler Lockett ranks as the No. 1 receiver in Seattle, rookie D.K. Metcalf has provided Russell Wilson with the high-volume deep threat he hasn't truly had since the days of Paul Richardson. Metcalf's size and vertical speed make him unique even among the superhumans of the NFL, and the Seahawks have deployed him in accordance with his strengths as a receiver.

Though far from the only reason Wilson looks like an MVP front-runner, Metcalf has stepped into one of the biggest roles of any rookie wideout this season. He ranks second on the team in targets (54), receptions (29), receiving yards (525) and touchdown catches (five). For a player many teams passed over due to concerns about NFL readiness, Metcalf has made an immediate impact and still has room to develop further.

Next Gen Stats says ...

Similar to how the Lions deploy Golladay, the Seahawks throw to Metcalf deep and when they reach the end zone. The rookie averages 14.2 air yards per target, the highest mark on the team. Metcalf also has totaled 13 end-zone targets so far, the most in Seattle.

-- Jason B. Hirschhorn is a fantasy analyst for Follow him on Twitter: @by_JBH