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Brandon Tate Fantasy Update (Or Why You'll Want To Pick Up Aaron Hernandez)

Since SB Nation's Joel Thorman already touched upon what the Randy Moss trade does for the Vikings from a fantasy football standpoint, it's time to take a look at how it affects the Patriots (and those receivers "left behind"). 

The obvious replacement is Brandon Tate, he of the 103-yard kickoff return in Monday night's win over the Dolphins. Clearly he has speed, but the next Randy Moss he is not (although, he does have those dreaded "off the field issues" in his past). Tate was drafted in 2009, but only appeared in two games while he recovered from a torn ACL and MCL (suffered while at North Carolina in 2008) before being placed on injured reserve Nov. 14. 

In four games in 2010, Tate has 11 catches for 135 yards (12.3 ypc) and no touchdowns -- but he does have two scores on kickoff returns. While he will play No. 1 WR (with Wes Welker still No. 2), there's another Patriots pass-catcher who stands to benefit more: TE Aaron Hernandez

As much as the Patriots grew to love the spread formations and vertical passing attack the past three seasons, 2010 has seen them make a shift to a tight-end based offense: roughly 36 percent of their snaps this season have come with three or more WRs on the field, compared to almost 65 percent that have featured two or more tight ends. 

Indeed, Monday night in Miami, New England ran a total of 58 offensive plays: three or more wide receivers were used just 19 times, compared to 39 plays with at least two tight ends (the Patriots ran five plays with three TEs). And perhaps the biggest beneficiary of this is rookie Aaron Hernandez.

While the TE from Florida hasn't recorded a TD yet, he does lead the team with 240 receiving yards and yards after the catch. He's also third in yards/catch (13.3), and has the longest reception of the year (a 46-yard catch and run that set up the Randy Moss one-handed touchdown against the Jets). 

His size (6-1, 245), speed and elusiveness in the open field is enough to create matchup headaches for defenses throughout the NFL, and could quickly make him a favorite target of Tom Brady, especially in the red zone.