Hernandez, Connolly among Pats out Sunday

Posted Dec. 26, 2010 @ 11:04 a.m.
Posted By PFW staff

The Patriots ruled six players, including four starters, out for their Week 16 game against the Bills.

TE Aaron Hernandez, ORG Dan Connolly, OLB Jermaine Cunningham, DL Brandon Deaderick, DL Mike Wright and DT Myron Pryor will not play in Buffalo on Sunday.

Pryor (back) and Wright (concussion) have not played in a month. Connolly, who was the AFC's special-teams player of the week for his 71-yard kick return, is out with a concussion.

Hernandez is battling a hip injury and also had the flu last week. Deaderick is out with a shoulder injury, and Cunningham has a calf issue.

The way we see it

Hernandez is one of the leading rookie receivers in the league, but luckily the Patriots have plenty of depth. Expect to see a lot of Rob Gronkowski. Without Connolly, second-year player Ryan Wendell will likely get his first career start. Wendell plays guard in short-yardage situations when Connolly lines up at fullback.

Ron Brace is questionable with a concussion and the Pats will need him healthy with three D-linemen already out. Recently acquired Landon Cohen could see some playing time. Without Cunningham, Tully Banta-Cain will likely start at OLB while Eric Moore will get some snaps there as well.

As many injures as the Patriots have dealt with this season, they have never been without this many starters. A win in Buffalo and they clinch home-field advantage throughout the playoffs, and New England will have to avoid a letdown in addition to making up for the injuries.

Fantasy Spin

Gronkowski's fantasy value goes way up with Hernandez out and Tom Brady's tendency to target the tight ends often, especially in the red zone.