So I am finally wrapping up my review of my pre-season predictions on every team in the NFL. Phew! Until free agency begins, there will not be any football news, and then it will be sparingly, and then the draft, and then random tidbits until we finally hit the time of year when rankings are back.
The AFC East featured a surprise (for awhile) Bills team, the Super Bowl Patriots, the disappointing Jets, and the uptick Dolphins. I suspect that the Dolphins could be a surprise team next year while the Jets could take a step back, however New York is known to make big moves in free agency and the draft and I won't be surprised if Rex Ryan shores up some of those holes. Most specifically, quarterback.
Here is a review on all four teams, as I saw it waaay back in August.
What I Said: He makes things happen even when he doesn't have a #1 WR and now he's got Chad Ochocinco, who I'll get to later. He'll throw more picks than he did last year, because he has to (right?), he'll toss 30 scores at least, and he'll top 4,000 yards.
What He Did: Brady, along with a lot of quarterbacks, surpassed everyone's expectations with crazy numbers. He was just one of the quarterbacks to surpass Dan Marino's yardage record. He finished with 5,235 yards, 39 TD/12 INT and 65.6% completions. He is entering his age 35 season, but I see no reason to think he can't have three more productive years as a top 5 quarterback.
What I Said: The Patriots are built around sharing the load and hooking up Brady, so it's hard to know what to expect from any "featured" back. The Pats drafted two running backs in the first 3 rounds this year, making any leash on BenJ G-Ellis even shorter.
What He Did: Green-Ellis just scores touchdowns and at this point that's practically literal. Despite only rushing for 667 yards, he scored eleven times. He's one of the most prolific scorers of the last three seasons.
What I Said: I'd expect him to get back around 1,000 yards and perhaps 6-8 touchdowns. Non-Welker Patriots WR's combined for 11 scores.
What He Did: LOL! I was just kidding you guys! :( Ochocinco is all but done-cho.
What I Said: Though scrappy white guys always seem really old, Welker is only 30 and he should be Brady's favorite target again and could top 100 catches and be an amazing #2 wideout in PPR leagues.
What He Did: Welker went off like crazy and caught 122 balls for 1,569 yards and 9 TDs. In this offense, he is unstoppable. As long as he's in New England, he'll be a number one WR. Well, not always.. but for at least a few more years.
What I Said: He is 32 now and I'm not sure that a player with that much of an injury history could be much of a threat this year. But these are the Patriots and you never know. Most likely he'll have a couple of good games, but isn't much of an option in fantasy leagues except for really deep ones.
What He Did: Branch had a mini-comeback of 51 catches and 702 yards. Not much left in him, but he's a good spot starter on occasion..
What I Said: He caught 42 passes for 546 yards and 10 TD's, making him a top scoring option for tight ends in fantasy last year. I'm always wary of repeat performances based on touchdowns, but as a rookie, there seems to be room to grow in the catches and yardage department. He's definitely a #1 tight end option for fantasy owners.
What He Did: He had the best season ever for a tight end. 90 catches for 1,327 yards and 17 touchdowns. I hate to say this guy is a first round pick next year, so I won't. I fear people will over-value those 17 touchdowns. I would be shocked if he ever repeats that. But he'd still be the #1 tight end in football with 12 scores.
What I Said: He had 3 more catches and 17 more yards than Gronkowski, it was just the 4 touchdowns that made all the scoring difference. What's to say that Hernandez won't be the 10 TD guy this year? He might be the better option a few rounds later. Might.
What He Did: No tight end was better than Gronk, but Hernandez was still one of the top tight ends in the league with 79 catches for 910 yards and 7 TDs.
What I Said: But which Sanchez will show up this year? The one that looked so good in those big games, or the one that completes barely more than half his passes, and less than a TD per game? Don't even consider making Sanchez your #1 QB just because he's a big name. I'd keep him in the middle tier of backup fantasy QBs.
What He Did: I have not been quiet about my dislike of Sanchez. I would rather have Tim Tebow in real life and in fantasy. He completed 56.7% of his passes for 3,474 yards, 26 TD/18 INT, and a QB rating of 78.2. Rating is not a great way to evaluate a QB, but neither is TD passes. In fantasy, 26 might seem like a good number, but looking deeper you see he has 6.4 yards per attempt. That's bad. Really bad. Three years in the league, and I have not seen Sanchez improve to the level of starting in the NFL.
What I Said: On average, Greene is going 47th in fantasy football drafts this season. That could be a major coup for one lucky owner. Or maybe LT will take over again. That's the risk.
What He Did: Greene ran for 1,054 yards and 6 TDs on almost the 300 touches (283) that the Jets said he would get this year. However, he didn't show up consistently and for that I can't consider him a RB2. He's borderline fantasy starter for me.
What I Said: I'd keep Burress as nothing more than a WR5. Don't get overzealous and draft him as your main WR backup, because you will probably regret it. There's a solid chance he doesn't play a whole season or put up really big numbers and there are young players with higher upside you could have as a WR4.
What He Did: Plaxico caught 45 passes for 612 yards and 8 TDs. The touchdowns are nice, but he doesn't make enough catches to be considered a starter, and he'll be turning 35.
What I Said: He couldn't play in the first 4 games of last season, and was getting acclimated to a new offense, but I admit I'm just a little nervous that he's just going to be a guy who gets between 900 and 1000 yards and 3-5 touchdowns.
What He Did: Holmes wasn't great either and had 654 yards and 8 TDs. With a good QB, he could still be a WR2.
What I Said: Considering the repertoire of Mark Sanchez's passing game, I'm surprised that Keller doesn't get 80-90 catches. He could seemingly dump it off to Keller at least 5 times per game. Instead, Dustin caught 55 passes for 687 yards and 5 scores last season.
What He Did: Keller did become Sanchez's go-to guy and caught 65 for 815 and 4 scores.
What I Said: There's a better and more interesting Matt Moore in Florida and he plays another sport. This Matt Moore lost his job to Jimmy Clausen. End of story.
What He Did: Didn't suck! in fact, Moore was quite good and looks interesting next season, though he's not a fantasy starter quite yet. He might make it as a fantasy backup with a few good games, a la Matt Cassel.
What I Said: In Miami, it seems apparent that he will take on about half of the workload, and it might be a better situation for him considering the Dolphins offensive scheme. He could be a good play in PPR leagues and you never know if he might break out for a big season. I'd feel okay drafting him as a RB4, I'd be a little worried if he was my primary RB3.
What He Did: Finally had the breakout season everyone was waiting for. Bush crushed all of his previous career-highs and finished with 1,086 yards rushing, 6 TDs, 43 catches for 296 and another score. I'd be wary of him next season but this could be the start of something. He's only 26 and has plenty of miles left.
What I Said: Indeed he went from 101 catches and 10 TDs in 2009 to 86 catches and 3 TDs in 2010. Marshall was an easy WR1 option before, but in Miami I'd keep him well in that WR2 range, and maybe WR3
What He Did: It was a very nice season for Marshall at 81 for 1,214 and 6 scores. The Dolphins consistently target him in the red zone but his inconsistent hands led to only six touchdowns.
What I Said: Fitzpatrick was shockingly efficient especially in his first four starts last year: 102.2 QB rating, 977 yards, 11 TD and 4 INT. Of course, the Bills still went 0-4 in those games, but Fitz did what he could. He didn't do as much over the next 9 games however, completing 55% of his passes with 12 TD and 11 INT.
What He Did: Similar pattern here as Fitz started hot, got a big contract extension, and then fizzled down the stretch while the Bills couldn't win a game. He's not a fantasy option.
What I Said: In the first 8 weeks he rushed 83 times for 313 yards and 3.7 YPC and just 12 catches for 28 yards. In the next 8 games he rushed 139 times for 614 yards, 3 scores, 4.4 YPC and 19 catches for 187 yards and 2 scores. He's a fringe RB2 for me, but a great RB3. Jackson is the top RB on the depth chart right now, but will be splitting some carries with..
What He Did: Jackson was atop the league before getting hurt, and that injury could really derail his career as he was already 30 years old. He finished with 934 yards and 6 TDs in 10 games.
What I Said: I don't if he'll break out this year or ever, but he's going to be someone I keep an eye on. If you're being safe, he's a last round kind of draft pick. If you're feeling frisky, you can take that chance based off of his unique ball skills.
What He Did: I was and still am a huge Spiller fan, having grabbed him in most leagues. It paid off very late when Jackson got hurt. He scored five times in the final five games. Random guess: I'd draft him in the fourth round next year if he's slated to start.
What I Said: I'm wary of having a one-year wonder in fantasy leagues, and I would target Johnson as a good WR2 and a great WR3.
What He Did: Johnson was very overlooked in drafts this year, and that benefited owners like me who snagged him late. He had 76 for 1,004 yards and 7 TDs. Stevie is a free agent and I suspect he'll leave the Bills for greener pastures.