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2018 fantasy football outlook: AFC East

Here’s what I expect from the top fantasy football options on the Bills, Dolphins, Patriots and Jets this year.

USA TODAY Sports/Peter Rogers Illustrations

Death, taxes and the Patriots winning the AFC East.

Hate to break it to all you Dolphins/Jets/Bills/rest of the NFL fans, but I don’t see things changing too much this year. The Patriots still have Tom Brady under center and Bill Belichick on the sideline and even with a mildly improved AFC East, that’ll be enough to win the division this year.

But don’t leave here thinking the rest of the AFC East is destined for another solid shellacking this season. The Jets might finally have found their quarterback of the future and with the young talent they’ve already amassed, they might be able to shock some teams and excite some fans this year. I would be all for seeing the Patriots vs Jets rivalry of old (and of like 2008) return to football. Every sport needs to have their Boston vs New York rivalry. With Red Sox vs Yankees back full steam ahead in baseball, it only feels right that Patriots vs Jets be back with a similar vengeance. (Don’t get your hopes up Knicks fans. This doesn’t mean that the Knicks are going to suddenly get good just so Celtics vs Knicks becomes a thing.)

In Miami, the Dolphins are getting back their franchise quarterback Ryan Tannehill just in time to figure out for the hundredth time if Tannehill is in fact their franchise quarterback. We all await with baited breath.

Meanwhile in Buffalo, I guess Josh Allen is the answer at quarterback. Call me a pessimist, but this doesn’t instill a whole lot of confidence in me:

And neither does Nathan Peterman/A.J. McCarron backing him up. Bills might be in for a tough season.

Here’s how I see the AFC East playing out this year:

  1. New England Patriots: 13-3 (shocka)
  2. Miami Dolphins: 8-8 (Ryan Tannehill is better than Jay Cutler right?)
  3. New York Jets: 7-9 (Darnold is good, that should count for two extra wins)
  4. Buffalo Bills: 4-12 (I have zero faith in this Bills team)

Now, let’s get to the fantasy content. I’ve decided to do four different tiers of players for each team: Love, Like, Eh, NOOOO. I feel like those are all pretty self explanatory. Also, let it be noted, not every team will have all four categories AND I likely will not talk about all the players on each team. I don’t want this to be a 3,000 word dissertation so I’m going to try and talk about players who I have strong feelings towards either positively or negatively.

(Each player has their current non-PPR ADP via Fantasy Football Calculator if applicable)

Buffalo Bills

LIKE: LeSean McCoy (RB17, 3.03)
EH: Every pass catcher on the team
NOOOO: Josh Allen

Before I just spend 100 words just ripping the Bills apart, let me quickly touch on the only decent fantasy option they have. We’re still unsure if McCoy will be suspended this season but if he does play all 16 games, we know we’ll be getting a top 10 fantasy back. I am curious to see how the Bills offense looks with out Tyrod Taylor behind center. Contradictory to what the Bills’ management tried to convince you, Taylor was actually a good quarterback and opened up a lot of rushing lanes for McCoy both by being able to throw the ball but also being able to run. I think McCoy might find running a little more difficult when defenses don’t have to worry about the QB keeping it and honestly the QB throwing it.

Now to the Bills’ quarterback situation. On paper, the Bills have some pass catchers who could be intriguing in fantasy. Kelvin Benjamin is a massive receiver who could be a go-to in the redzone and easily put up double digit touchdowns. Zay Jones, despite having a bumpy rookie year, is still a talented receiver who can run routes and make plays with the ball in his hands. Even newly acquired Corey Coleman can do something when he’s healthy. (Never forget the game where Coleman torched the Ravens for 104 yards and two touchdowns and looked like a young Steve Smith out there.)

But who is throwing these guys the ball? Are you confident in any of their signal callers? The correct answer is no.

Obviously someone has to catch the ball in Buffalo and I’m sure Benjamin will be a decent fantasy option and Jones or Coleman will generate some mild waiver wire interest but I just can’t in good conscience sit here and tell you that any pass catcher in Buffalo is worth drafting. I just don’t see it.

Miami Dolphins

LIKE: DeVante Parker (WR42, 9.10), Kenny Stills (WR54, 12.05), Mike Gesicki (TE21, 14.05)
EH: Ryan Tannehill
NOOOO: Kenyan Drake (RB22, 4.04)

I’ve been struggling with why I don’t like Drake this entire offseason and sadly I haven’t really come up with any good headlines. Something in my passionfruits just tells me he won’t be able to take controlla the flashes he showed last year and put them into a full season of productive football. Maybe it’s seeing the same fake love happen with Jay Ajayi or maybe it’s just me not understanding why anyone would draft him over Royce Freeman or Dion Lewis or CARLOS FREAKING HYDE! I’ll happily eat my words if Drake follows God’s plan and plays with the same energy this season but if you draft him and he doesn’t perform, don’t come to me saying, “I’m upset”.

In the receiving game, I like a lot of the options because they all fall under the “low risk, high reward” category. Parker at some point you hope puts it all together and I’m willing to take a flier on him in the ninth to see what he can do with a healthy Tannehill. Stills has been a solid top 25 wide receiver the last two years and is coming off a year in which he caught 58 balls for 847 yards and six touchdowns. Getting that kind of production in the 12th is a win. At tight end, never forget Adam Gase was the man who turned athletic Julius Thomas in Denver into a matchup nightmare. Who’s to say he won’t do the same with Gesicki?

Draft Ryan Tannehill if you want to I guess. I won’t stop you.

New England Patriots

LOVE: Rob Gronkowski (TE1, 2.11), Chris Hogan (WR24, 5.09)
LIKE: Tom Brady (QB3, 5.04)
EH/SPRINTING HEAD FIRST INTO THE BOWELS OF DESPAIR: Sony Michel (RB25, 5.02)

I’m going to type this in caps lock to show just how much I mean what I’m about to type, so heads up.

DRAFT GRONK WHERE EVER, HOW EVER, WHEN EVER, WHOM EVER YOU CAN IN EVERY LEAGUE YOU CAN POSSIBLY IMAGINE AND THEN DOUBLE THAT AND DRAFT HIM AGAIN.

Let’s list the passing targets Tom Brady will have to throw to this year, shall we?

  • Julian Edelman, who’ll be missing the first four games of the season and is going way higher in drafts than he should be
  • Chris Hogan, who will score every touchdown that Gronk doesn’t score, mark my words
  • Kenny Britt. I literally dare you to draft him in any fantasy league
  • Philip Dorsett, who’ll get 20 yards on one play then be down for three weeks
  • Cordarrelle Patterson, who has caught 0 balls from Brady before

The Patriots offense is going to run through Gronk and Brady is going to force feed him over and over and over again. I am writing this down so you don’t have to: Gronk will have a career year in targets this year. That tends to lead to career year in many other categories.

Chris Hogan’s ADP is also certainly climbing but I’m totally ok with that. Hogan may not see as many touches on a per game basis as say Edelman or Gronk, but Hogan makes his bread and butter in the redzone. He finished second on the team in redzone targets last year (14) despite only playing in nine games. Brady’s next two redzone targets—Danny Amendola (14) and Brandin Cooks (13)—are of course no longer with the Patriots, meaning even MORE redzone targets for Hogan (and Gronk who of course led the team).

Also pour some out for Malcolm Mitchell, hate to see a guy’s career go off the rails due to injury.

New York Jets

LOVE: Isaiah Crowell (RB38, 8.03)
LIKE: Sam Darnold, Terrelle Pryor
EH: Robby Anderson (WR37, 9.01)

Let’s start with Isaiah Crowell who I was UBER high on last year after the Browns improved their offensive line and had no quarterback to move the offense. Alas, somehow the Browns flubbed that up and failed to fully utilize Crowell despite the fact that he’s a good running back. Over the last two years, Crowell has averaged over 900 yards on the ground and a solid 4.5 yards per attempt. He also can produce in the passing game, something that the Browns again failed to take full advantage of. Crowell is just a year removed from posting RB2 numbers and it wouldn’t surprise me at all to see him right back up in the top 15 this year as well. Love him in the eighth round.

Robby Anderson in the ninth round I’m less fond of. Anderson is a talented receiver and we certainly saw glimpses of what he can do last year, where he posted 941 yards on 63 catches and seven touchdowns. However, he’s a knucklehead off the field and is currently facing a possible suspension to start the year and it’s still unsure if he’ll be available in the season opener. With him likely missing time, Quincy Enunwa returning from injury and now Terrelle Pryor in the fold, I’m not sure Anderson builds upon his success last year.

Speaking of Terrelle Pryor, have I ever mentioned that I love that man? I haven’t? Well, either you’re just playing along with me or you didn’t read this site last year. I was fully aboard the Pryor hype train only to be tossed off the train at high speeds. While his time in Washington was less than stellar, he still is the man who managed to catch 77 balls for over 1,000 yards in Cleveland with five different quarterbacks throwing him the football. He could be worth the last round flier.

I included Sam Darnold on this list because maybe you’re the person who likes to pick their quarterback off waivers and if so, Darnold might not be the worst choice. He’s talented, has decent weapons around him and very likely will be starting day one.

Poll

Which receiver will have a better fantasy season?

This poll is closed

  • 0%
    Kelvin Benjamin
    (0 votes)
  • 14%
    DeVante Parker
    (5 votes)
  • 61%
    Chris Hogan
    (21 votes)
  • 23%
    Robby Anderson
    (8 votes)
34 votes total Vote Now