Fantasy Implications: AFC East Divisional Breakdown – by Matty Daniels

NEP

New England Patriots

Quarterback – Tom Brady

I really don’t think there is a whole lot of convincing needed here. Brady is arguably the greatest QB in the history of the NFL and 2017 showed no signs of slowing down. Although I don’t see 2018 being much different, I’m going to keep an eye on how much he gets hit throughout this season. If the additions they made to their offensive line do not pan out, I would be worried about his health since he enters the season at age 41. In dynasty, I would test what I could get for him. Before the 2017 season started, I traded him and Tevin Coleman for Todd Gurley. If you are not able to get something worthwhile then just hold until he retires.

Running Back – Sony Michel, Rex Burkhead, James White

A common myth about this backfield is that you never know who the back will be to start from week to week. Over the last 3 years, there has been a clear difference between the starter and the back-up. Check out the table below for the carry distribution 2015-2017:

RB1 RB2
2015 165 carries 63 carries
2016 299 carries 64 carries
2017 180 carries 104 carries

Before you say that there is a positive trend for RB2, in 2017 the RB2 was Mike Gillislee who received the bulk of his carries at the beginning of the season and then lost his starting position to Dion Lewis (RB1) mid-season. Therefore, Sony Michel should be the lead back in this group and definitely the guy to own. Dion Lewis finished the season with 63 carries and 12 catches in the last 3 games of the season and expanding that pace over an entire season will give you 336 carries and 64 catches. This probably won’t be the case this year, but the point I’m trying to make is that New England can and will produce a top ten fantasy relevant back.

With Sony Michel’s draft capital, the Patriots will get the most they can out of him, providing he does not fumble the ball as he was plagued with that issue in college. Rex Burkhead and James White will get enough work to be guys to target against weak opponents, but they should not be relied on to be a weekly starter.

Wide ReceiverJulian Edelman, Cordarrelle Patterson, Chris Hogan

Honorable MentionBraxton Berrios

In the past three years, the Patriots have had at least one receiver in the vicinity of 1,000 rec yards while the WR2 averaged about 650 yards. With Edelman starting the year with a 4-game suspension, it seems like the WR1 position is open for the taking. Hogan will have the same role in this offense as he did in 2017. Kenny Britt is an older guy and more than likely will not be in the starting line-up. I would imagine Phillip Dorsett and Eric Decker will split time in Edelman’s role as the slot receiver. My guess is that Decker will have the first crack at the job. So that leaves the big question, who replaces Brandin Cooks? My flaming hot take is Cordarrelle Patterson.

Cordarelle
Photo Credit: Elise Amendola/AP Photo

When they signed Patterson, they told him they were going to make him the WR he was supposed to be and according to recent reports from training camp, he has been impressive as well. So, my advice is to draft Patterson late, because nobody is drafting him according to Fantasy Football Calculator. In my experience with dynasty leagues, he should be widely available on the waiver wire. Speaking of dynasty, I would expect to see the transition to Berrios as Edelman’s contract expires in 2019. Not to mention, Braxton is the only WR mentioned that is signed past 2019.

Tight End – Rob Gronkowski

Gronkowski is the man. With Cooks gone and various wide receiver roles up for grabs, one thing is for certain, Tom Brady loves some Gronk. Gronk is definitely the #1 fantasy tight end as long as Tom Brady is quarterback and Gronk remains healthy. In fact, in seasons that he played 10 or more games, he has finished in the top 5 of TEs. He has finished as the #1 TE 4 times in his 8-year career. Other than that, there is not a lot that needs be said about him, you will be grabbing Gronkowski.

MIA

Miami Dolphins

Quarterback – Ryan Tannehill

Tannehill is going to be a decent quarterback in 2018 and should be very attainable in all of your fantasy drafts and leagues. What I find attractive about Tannehill is that he is currently going undrafted, his rushing ability, and his high potential for scoring a lot of touchdowns. With the addition of Mike Gesicki, Tannehill should finally have a reliable red zone target in Adam Gase’ offense, where the tight end is the difference maker in the red zone. While Gase was in Denver, he helped Julius Thomas get 12 touchdowns in back to back years in 2013 & 2014. Reports out of camp are that Geisicki and Tannehill have developed a solid chemistry, which should translate to touchdowns during the season.

Running Back – Kenyan Drake

I believe Frank Gore and Kalen Ballage are not going to be relevant in this backfield and it is solely Drake’s role. I want to point out Gore will be the short-yardage role and Ballage will be the third down back. Last five games as a starter, Drake absolutely exploded onto the scene when he had full control of the backfield. He showed he had reliable hands and he was an explosive runner. During this time, he averaged 18 carries, 89 rushing yards, 3 receptions, and 30 receiving yards per game. Drake will continue to be the guy going into 2018.

Wide Receiver – Danny Amendola, Kenny Stills, DeVante Parker

Stills has quietly put up numbers in this offense and I predict that will continue. Over the last two years, he has averaged 57 receptions, 98 targets, 787 receiving yards with 7.5 receiving TDs. Amendola will be the guy to replace Jarvis Landry’s role in this offense. Comparing contracts between Amendola and Albert Wilson, you would believe the team would give Amendola the first crack at the position and the chance to take over the offense. I believe he will succeed in his first year and is the guy to own this wide receiver corps.

20171106_AML_mtr_110617 DOLPHINS 5 TAKEAWAYS JUMP_MGS_45
Photo Credit: Andres Leiva/The Post

DeVante Parker has so much hype and talent yet has never lived up to any of the promise he is associated with. As a believer in Parker, I hope he finally takes a step forward this year but with recent reports from camp, he remains unimpressive. However, I have to acknowledge there is a chance he does take the step forward and becomes a top wide receiver. Unfortunately, the current reports and recent history are not in his favor, but due to his sheer talent and draft capital, he will be given every chance to succeed. If you have him in Dynasty leagues, try and trade him to anyone who is optimistic.

Tight End – Mike Gesicki

Gesicki has been all the rave in training camp. His one-handed catch in the red zone was fantastic; positive reports of his chemistry with Tannehill is encouraging and his draft capital will surely translate to his usage in his first year. All of these things lead me to believe he will be the 2018 version of Evan Engram. I believe Geisicki’s fame will come from red zone usage by scoring more than 6 touchdowns in 2018. For those who draft tight ends late in re-draft leagues, Geisicki is your guy.

NYJ

New York Jets

Quarterback – None

There will not be a relevant quarterback for the Jets because I believe all three quarterbacks on the roster will start at least one game. Josh McCown is a solid quarterback; however, I don’t see this Jets team winning many games. At some point in the season, they ought to see what they have in Teddy Bridgewater. By showcasing his abilities they could gain a highly valuable trade asset during the offseason.

If Bridgewater is successful, the Jets can gain a nice haul for the young quarterback. The third overall pick in the 2018 draft, Sam Darnold – will force his way into the starting line-up for at least one game at the end of the season to show off his abilities as well. My belief is that if Darnold plays well, Bridgewater will be traded by the Jets with no qualms.

Running Back – Isaiah Crowell, Bilal Powell, Thomas Rawls

Crowell will get the first crack at the starting job, however, his inability to read holes will have him quickly move down the depth chart which will open up opportunities for Powell and Rawls. The likely scenario will be that Rawls will step in as the early down back getting opportunities on first and second downs and Powell will be the third down back.

If Rawls returns to 2015 form, he could become the every down back for this offense. In my opinion, I would try and stay away from this backfield – but if I had to own any of these guys, it would have to be Thomas Rawls. Only as a late round draft pick or a waiver wire pick up during weeks 2 or 3. This is very much a backfield to wait and see with.

Wide Reciever – Chad Hansen, Robby Anderson, Quincy Enunwa

Robby Anderson will more than likely get a suspension for his off-season shenanigans. Although he was explosive while he was on the field in 2017, my prediction of the quarterback carousel that is to come in 2018 will limit his production. Quincy Enunwa is the most complete wide receiver on the roster and should be the WR1 on this team throughout 2018.

hansen
Photo Credit: Seth Wenig/AP Photo

Chad Hansen has the potential to play the Edelman role for the Jets offense as he should see plenty of targets working from the slot. I believe Hansen will take another step forward this year and become a reliable target for any of the QBs.

Tight End – Chris Herndon

The reports from training camp are that the Jets “absolutely love” Herndon. The difference between Herndon and Gesicki is draft capital with Herndon being drafted in the fourth round. I believe by the end of the season Herndon will be more involved in the offense, but at the beginning of the season, he will be splitting time with Clive Walford as he acclimates to the speed of the NFL.

BUF

Buffalo Bills

Quarterback – None

The Bills quarterback room is laughable from a fantasy perspective this season. None of them will be relevant because they lost 3 starting offensive lineman and their best offensive weapon, LeSean McCoy, is potentially facing a consequence from the league regarding the incident with his ex-girlfriend. With these situations, any quarterback would be affected negatively. These guys, however, are already worse than your average quarterback and these situations give them no chance to succeed. Reports from training camp have been comical in regard to the offensive drives. There has been little to no success even in training camp against their own defense.

The Bills organization drafted Nathan Peterman in the 5th round of the 2017 draft; traded their starting left tackle for A.J McCarron and most recently they over-drafted Josh Allen with the 7th overall pick in the 2018 draft. Yet, it looks like Peterman is the best QB on the team. Josh Allen is so bad he was not even selected as the best quarterback in his conference. For those of you who do not follow college football, he played for Wyoming; which is in the Mountain West Conference. That conference plays below average competition and Allen was only able to complete 56% of his passes. So why did the Bills pick Allen 7th overall? Because the guy can throw 70 yards. The Bills fell in love with the wrong passing trait as 94% of NFL passes over the last four years have been within 0-20 yards. To make matters even worse, all of the wide receivers have a career catch rate lower than 60%. Good luck Bills fans.

Running Back – None

My tangent about how the QBs will not be successful also applies here. If the passing game is ineffective, all the opposing defense needs to do is shut down the running game. The Bills OL lost 3 starters which will lead to ineffective blocking and little to no holes for the running game. Not going to lie, the Shady drama does not look good. If Zeke was suspended for 6 games, one can only guess what will happen in his case. In his potential absence, Chris Ivory will be the starter. Again, with all of the negative circumstances surrounding this team – it is highly unlikely that he will be successful and you’ll be overpaying for McCoy as he currently has a third-round ADP in PPR formats.

Wide Receiver – Zay Jones, Kelvin Benjamin, Corey Coleman

Obviously, I am not a fan of this team’s offense at all. I find it hard to believe any of these offensive players will be fantasy relevant. I even considered putting “None” for every position on this team, but realistically there will be at least one fantasy relevant receiver from this offense. Regardless of how bad this team is, they have to move the ball through air somehow, and the most likely options from the WR corps are Zay Jones and Corey Coleman. These are the guys most likely to move the ball up and down the field, while Kelvin Benjamin will be the red zone target. I do not think this needs to be said, but do not target any of these guys in your drafts.

Tight End – Charles Clay

See wide receiver explanation – I would group him with Jones and Coleman to move the ball up and down the field. But once again, I’d have reservations to draft him onto my fantasy teams.

By Matty Daniels – @MattyD285

ffb

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