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New England signs Nelson Agholor: Fantasy football fallout for 2021

Following a breakout season with the Raiders, Nelson Agholor joins the Patriots as the de facto No. 1 wideout and heightened expectations.

Las Vegas Raiders wide receiver Nelson Agholor (15) is defended by Miami Dolphins cornerback Byron Jones (24) on an 85-yard touchdown reception in the fourth quarter at Allegiant Stadium. The Dolphins defeated the Raiders 26-25. Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

After a breakout season with the Las Vegas Raiders, wide receiver Nelson Agholor struck a two-year, $26 million agreement with the New England Patriots during the legal-tampering period preceding free agency. Agholor will arrive in Foxborough as the de facto No. 1 wideout and heightened expectations.

Nelson Agholor signing: Fantasy football impact

While Agholor tied or set career highs in receiving yards (896) and touchdowns (eight) as the Raiders’ second-most targeted receiver, the Patriots won’t necessarily give him significantly more looks despite the contract. Recently re-signed Cam Newton attempted just 368 passes last season — the fewest among quarterbacks with at least 15 starts — and he has the inside track to start for New England again in 2021. Even if Newton plays better, the team might still prefer to run the run-oriented offense that initially produced good results this past year.

The rest of the Patriots’ free-agency spending spree further complicates Agholor’s outlook. The team also signed wideout Kendrick Bourne and a duo of tight ends, Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith. That group will each take a chunk of New England’s available targets, a pool that Agholor must also share with Julian Edelman if he returns.

Of course, Agholor could also see his numbers drop off as a matter of regression. The wideout averaged nearly 19 yards per reception last season, more than 6 yards greater than his career average. Even before Newton arrived, the Patriots favored a quick-passing game that didn’t attack downfield as often as most teams. Agholor can operate in such a role, but the big plays that characterized his breakout season in Las Vegas seem less likely to materialize.