With half of the season completed, here is an offensive skill-position snapshot of player value through the lens of playing time stats (including penalties, small margin for error):
Tom Brady (631 of 638) – 98.9 percent
Ryan Mallett (7 of 638) – 1.1 percent
Quick hits: Protection up front has limited big hits on Brady, which was a concern in the preseason. … Mallett’s lone action comes at the end of the 45-7 blowout win over the Rams.
Stevan Ridley (287 of 638) – 45.0 percent
Danny Woodhead (212 of 638) – 33.2 percent
Brandon Bolden (72 of 638) – 11.3 percent
Shane Vereen (50 of 638) – 7.8 percent
Dan Connolly (9 of 638) – 1.4 percent
Lex Hilliard (8 of 638) – 1.3 percent*
Quick hits: Ridley’s season-low for snaps was 26, against the Ravens in Week 3. Otherwise, he’s had the majority of snaps in every game. … Vereen is coming on, with 36 of his 50 snaps coming in the last two games now that he is healthy and has built some momentum. … Bolden remains out with a knee injury, having missed the last two games. … Some wondered about Woodhead keeping the third-down back role entering this season, but he has a firm grip on the job and has been a valuable member of the attack. ... Connolly was a lead-blocking fullback in the power package, but that role has most recently been taken by TE Michael Hoomanawanui.
Rob Gronkowski (598 of 638) – 93.7 percent
Aaron Hernandez (165 of 638) – 25.9 percent
Daniel Fells (143 of 638) – 22.4 percent
Michael Hoomanawanui (74 of 638) – 11.6 percent
Nick McDonald (9 of 638) – 1.4 percent
Marcus Cannon (8 of 638) – 1.3 percent
Kellen Winslow (4 of 638) – 0.6 percent*
Quick hits: Gronkowski has been playing in pain, and hasn’t practiced much, which makes his team-leading total that much more impressive. … Hernandez has played in four games, and in one of them, he only played three snaps after injuring his ankle. Getting him back to as close to 100 percent is naturally a big priority for the second half of the season. … Fells has been a solid blocker since integrating more into the mix in Week 4. … Hoomanawanui is getting more snaps as a fullback in recent weeks. … For this accounting, McDonald and Cannon get credit for tight end snaps when they come into the game, even if they aren’t always eligible receivers. … Winslow hasn’t hooked on with another team after his one-game stint.
Brandon Lloyd (574 of 638) – 90.0 percent
Wes Welker (528 of 638) – 82.8 percent
Deion Branch (276 of 638) – 43.3 percent
Julian Edelman (164 of 638) – 25.7 percent
Matthew Slater (13 of 638) – 2.0 percent
Quick hits: Take away the Jets game, and Lloyd has been the outside receiver the team lacked in 2011. His presence has put Welker in the No. 2 spot for snaps played, as Welker isn’t called upon in the 1 WR/3 TE/1 RB package like he often was in 2011. … Branch is averaging a hefty 46 snaps per game, as he wasn’t with the club until Week 3. He’s played a lot, in part because of tight end Aaron Hernandez’s ankle injury and the Patriots going to more three-receiver packages, with Branch as the No. 3. … Edelman had early momentum, with 136 of his 164 snaps coming in the first three weeks, before injury altered the picture (Edelman missed games in Weeks 4-6). Where Edelman and Welker were splitting some snaps the first three weeks, it’s going to be hard for the team to go away from Welker after his stellar first half.
* No longer with team.