Season-Long Fantasy Outlook - AFC East

Check out this post for a breakdown of my philosophy on each position

Why I’m Here

Fantasy Football Season is officially upon us and it’s time to start preparing. I have three drafts in the next week so it is officially time for me to give this wonderful sport the attention it deserves. I have a pretty tried-and-true system for preparing for fantasy drafts every year so I figured I would put it into blog form. Over the next few days, I will be walking through each division and giving an overview of each team’s fantasy outlook for the 2019 season. Let’s go.

Note: Everything written here will be concerning a 12-person, 0.5 point per reception, snake draft league with all other scoring being standard.

AFC East

New England Patriots

I am originally from Massachusetts so I am a Patriots fan (don’t hate me for it) and I have a pretty good understanding of this team without really looking. They should be one of the best teams in the league once again but they may not be the best team to target from a fantasy perspective.

Quarterback: You can absolutely take a shot on Tom Brady despite the fact that he’s turning 1,000 years old this season. Despite losing Rob Gronkowski to retirement, Brady might have the best set of weapons he’s had in his entire career.

Running back: These guys are all going to be overvalued because of the success of Sony Michel and James White last season, and I won’t be touching any of them. Early-season injuries to Jeremy Hill and Rex Burkhead in 2018 paved the way for productive seasons for the only two solid RB’s left on the roster. This year the workload will be split between White, Michel, Burkhead, rookie Damien Harris, and even Brandon Bolden. I have zero interest in this backfield barring some crazy change.

Wide Receiver: As much as I expect the RB’s to be overvalued, I expect these receivers to be undervalued. I will start by saying that there is no way to know who will be the breakout guy in this group, but I do know that somebody will be. Julian Edelman is the only guy with a clearly established role in this offense, and then it’s all up for grabs. These six guys are all worth taking a shot on:

Obviously we will want to see who makes the team before making a decision on any of these guys, but if they are available late in the draft and nobody is standing out to you, you can’t go wrong with taking a shot on any WR in this offense.

Tight End: Similarly to the wide receiver position, the Patriots tight end situation is very unclear. Ben Watson and Lance Kendricks will both be serving suspensions to start the season, and that leaves Matt LaCosse and rookie Ryan Izzo as the only available options. These guys might not be deserving of a fantasy roster spot early in the year, but if one of them gets 5+ targets in Week 1 he could be worth a considerable chunk of waiver money.

Miami Dolphins

The Dolphins are entering the 2019 season with a horrifically low 4.5 projected regular season win total. That is the lowest win total in the league. I didn’t know this until literally right now and I think it’s laugh-out-loud funny. Anyway, that tells me they won’t be great, but they should be trailing a lot which means they’ll be throwing a lot, so there should be some chances to target some high-volume, low-talent players on this roster.

Quarterback: No thanks. Neither of these guys are top-20 QB options for me.

Running Back: This backfield appears to belong to Kenyan Drake heading into the 2019 season, but my only concern is that he’s not all that good. He showed some flashes of being a good fantasy running back last season, but if this team is going to be losing a bunch of games then they might be more inclined to get rookies Kalen Ballage and Mark Walton some experience at the pro-level.

Drake projects as the 59th overall pick and the 25th overall RB. I have no interest in reaching on him but if he starts to fall he could be a serviceable guy early in the year. I think there are better options in this range. I’ll be more inclined to take a late-round flyer on Ballage or Walton than to spend a 5th round pick on Kenyan Drake.

Wide Receiver: This unit has three guys I have some level of interest in but mostly just because I think they’ll be losing a lot this season and that means they’ll be throwing the ball in the second half a lot. Devante Parker, Kenny Stills, and Albert Wilson are all somewhat interesting for completely different reasons.

Parker is a young guy who hasn’t stayed healthy enough to reach his full potential since being drafted 14th overall in the 2015 draft. It’s hard to believe he’s entering his 4th season, but both the Dolphins and I both believe in his talent level enough to think he could finally have a breakout year. Is he going to be a reliable option early in the season? Absolutely not. Is he worth a late-round flyer and a wait-and-see approach? I think so.

Albert Wilson is entering his 6th season in the league and has actually shown some signs of life lately. He was not nearly the prospect Parker was coming out of college but his body of work at the pro level is much more encouraging. If they’re throwing as much as they should be, Wilson could be a target machine and that could make him a very interesting pickup in the 10th-12th rounds.

Kenny Stills is Albert Wilson in my opinion. Same story.

Tight End: I’m half-assing my research because I don’t have a ton of interest in the Dolphins this year, but I think Mike Gesicki is the only guy worth mentioning on this unit. I’m not sure if he’s been a disappointment in camp and in the preseason, but for some reason he’s listed as the 3rd TE on this depth chart behind Dwayne Allen and Nick O’Leary. Both of those guys stink. Gesicki might have the most upside of any player on this Dolphins team if he reaches the potential he had coming out of Penn State last season.

New York Jets

I started with the AFC East to try to get all of my bias out of the way early on, so full disclosure: I hate the Jets. That being said, I’ll try to be completely objective here and just pretend these guys won’t be wearing those disgusting dark green jerseys that make them look like a bunch of complete assholes.

The regular season win total for this team is 7.5. So they’re pretty much expected to be an average team. There’s not much to learn from that total, however it’s not nearly as encouraging as it would be if it were up near 8.5-9. I think over 7.5 will be a trendy pick this season and I expect Vegas to cash in on the under.

Quarterback: You can take a shot on Sam Darnold. He’s young and unproven, but he has a ton of potential and I could see him being worth a late-round pick.

Running Back: Oh boy. This is probably the most debatable topic of conversation in fantasy football this season, and I am very strongly on the side of not picking Le’Veon Bell. These are my reasons why:

  • He projects to be a first round pick. That means he will be selected ahead of a bunch of incredible players who are much more established in their offenses. I want some safety out of my first round pick. You expect me to take this guy over Davante Adams and Julio Jones? No thanks.
  • RUNNING BACK VALUE IS NOT ABOUT TALENT. If you read my first post in this series, you know how strongly I feel about all running backs being relatively the same talent level. Just because Le’Veon was good in Pittsburgh does not mean he will just plug into this Jets offense and be good there. There is no good reason to believe this is going to be an offense that is run entirely through Le’Veon, therefore there is no reason to believe he is going to match the production he had in Pittsburgh.
  • Demarco Murray in 2014 vs. Demarco Murray in 2015. This guy set the NFL on fire in 2014, rushing for 1,845 yards on 4.7 YPC in a Cowboys offense that was perfectly tailored to his skillset. The next season he went to the Eagles and flat out stunk, averaging 3.5 YPC, while Darren McFadden averaged 4.5 YPC in the same Cowboys offense murray left. Fantasy RB value is about opportunity, not talent.

I am not saying that Le’Veon can’t or won’t have a good season, but I am saying that he is absolutely not worth a first round pick in my mind. Let other people take him. Let me have OBJ, Joe Mixon, James Conner, and Dalvin Cook.

Wide Receiver: There are stories flying around about Jamison Crowder lighting it up. Whatever. Take a shot on him if you so please, but don’t force it. This guy is always the next big thing until he’s not. Other than that, the Jets have Robby Anderson and Quincy Enunwa. I think Robby Anderson is the most talented receiver of this bunch, but with targets being split between these three guys, Le’Veon, and Chris Herndon, I think I’d rather just stay away from this offense all together in 2019.

Tight End: I spoke too soon. I may take a shot on Chris Herndon because he should be available in the late rounds. He qualifies as one of those 6-12 point tight ends that might be just good enough to start on a weekly basis.

Buffalo Bills

The Bills have a regular season win total of 7.5 this season, right alongside the Jets as an extremely average team. This one is actually more encouraging than the Jets because this team has had far less media coverage, so they are probably not as trendy as a pick. Could the Bills be good?

Quarterback: Take a shot on Josh Allen. He’s talented, he can run, and he’s ranked as the 22nd best QB this season. Guys like this always have the potential to take a step forward and if he is serviceable he will be a guy you can plug in when he’s in a good matchup. Visit DraftJoshAllen.com for more information.

Running Back: Disaster. Frank Gore, Shady McCoy, TJ Yeldon and rookie Devin Singletary will split the workload in this backfield and I don’t see how any of these guys can be consistent 10-15 point performers this season. If you’re taking a shot on anybody, make it Devin Singletary. He’s the only guy with any upside in this backfield.

Wide Receiver: There are a few interesting options in this Bills receiving group this year. My top option would be John Brown, a speedster who could hook up with Josh Allen for deep touchdowns on a regular basis. It’s been a while since John Brown had a decent quarterback situation, and I could actually see him being a top 25 fantasy receiver this year.

The rest of this unit is a mess. Zay Jones is too naked and too bad at football to really be on my radar. Robert Foster is a much more interesting option considering he ran a 4.41 40 yard dash coming out of Alabama before signing as an undrafted free agent with the Bills. He spent last year kind of learning the ropes and I could see him taking a step forward this season. I like Foster for the same reason I like John Brown this year. The combination of his speed and Allen’s rocket arm could result in some longggg TD’s.

The last guy worth mentioning here is Cole Beasley but we kind of know what we’re getting out of this guy. He could be a good player for this team but I don’t see him as a valuable fantasy asset.

Tight End: Nah.

About the Author

  • Matt Shanahan (mshanahan)

  • Matt Shanahan is an engineer by trade and firmly believes in data-driven analytics. He grew up in Pennsylvania and graduated from the University of Pittsburgh. His betting strategy is to develop theories, create models to test those theories, and then collect data to see what works and what doesn’t.

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