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Fantasy Players on Each Team to Exceed Expectations: AFC East Edition

The majority of the AFC East isn’t fantasy relevant, but there may be a few diamonds in the rough.

Photo courtesy of Boston Herald

Buffalo Bills

There isn’t much fantasy optimism in Buffalo, but with a young, exciting quarterback in Josh Allen, the Bills’ skill position players have a chance to emerge in 2019. In the offseason, the Bills acquired Cole Beasley and John Brown to improve their receiving core, a weak spot a season ago. The combination of Brown’s speed and Allen’s arm strength can be effective this season.

Before Lamar Jackson took over as the starter in Week 10, Brown was a top-20 receiver with Joe Flacco throwing the ball. Flacco is similar to Allen in terms of arm strength and throwing the deep ball, so Brown has an opportunity to thrive in an offense that lacked a strong first option in 2018. With that being said, the Bills have enough weapons to free up Brown, and while none of them are superstars, Beasley, Zay Jones, and Robert Foster are all capable receivers, who can handle their workloads and take the pressure off Brown. Brown is certainly not going to be drafted high, but I think Allen improves this year, which bodes well for Brown, his top receiver.

Miami Dolphins 

Miami is home to yet another fantasy wasteland. The answer here is no one.  I don’t think anyone on this team is in for a good fantasy year. However, there could be some optimism surrounding Devante Parker this season. He has been a fantasy disappointment year after year, and yet he might be worth a late-round flyer (real late). 

Miami signed Ryan Fitzpatrick in the offseason, a quarterback that you may not want on your NFL team, but one that is competent in fantasy. In 2018, Ryan Fitzpatrick played five total games in which he played start to finish. In those five games, he averaged 28.2 fantasy points per game. Over the course of a full season, he would have been the best quarterback in fantasy. Am I saying Fitzpatrick is the best fantasy quarterback? Absolutely not. In fact, he played games last season in which he was so bad that he got benched. 

The point is that in terms of having a Miami receiver, I trust Fitzpatrick’s ability to get them the ball. Now back to Parker. Fitzpatrick has always liked throwing to big-bodied receivers (Mike Evans and Brandon Marshall), and Parker’s 6’3” stature may make him a popular option for Fitzpatrick. Parker has been a disappointment throughout his career, but through the first few days of minicamp, Miami beat reporters have talked about how he has been the best offensive player on the team. You won’t be happy about it during the draft, but he may be a late-round pick with some upside. 

New England Patriots

Julian Edelman has never been a top-15 receiver in fantasy. He’s 32 years old, and his quarterback is going to be 42. He’s only played two full seasons in his entire career. And yet, I’m going to say that he will be a WR1 in 2019. Sure, he is a talented player, who has a knack for getting open, but my optimism is due to his massive target share. In 2018, Edelman had 108 targets in 12 games (due to a four-game suspension). If he had played an entire season with that pace, he would have had 144 targets, which would be the 12thmost in the NFL. 

With Rob Gronkowski’s retirement and uncertainty surrounding Josh Gordon, there are plenty of targets to go around. Some targets will be taken by rookie N’Keal Harry, but the chemistry between Edelman and Brady is undeniable. In a point per reception league, Edelman is about as safe as it gets. With added volume, Edelman has a chance to be a WR1.  

New York Jets

Sam Darnold will most likely not be drafted in many leagues, and rightfully so. In 2018, he was just the 26thbest quarterback in fantasy and was unplayable. With such low expectations, I think Darnold has a chance to become a bye week fill-in option (that doesn’t mean I like him as much as Colin Cowherd). The addition of Le’Veon Bell can’t be overlooked. His ability to turn a screen into a 50-yard touchdown is something that Darnold didn’t have his rookie year. Bell is one of the best receiving running backs in football, and with his great hands, route running and ability to line up outside, he serves as a deadly weapon for Darnold.

The New York Jets’ receiving core isn’t great, but it is good enough and fairly deep. Jamison Crowder joins Robbie Anderson and Quincy Enunwa to fill out Darnold’s top three options. This is more of a gut call with the assumption that Darnold improves. I think he is too talented, and I believe the offense will improve from last year. They were 26thin plays per game, but with the addition of Le’Veon Bell, they should be able to extend drives and give Darnold a chance to throw more. I wouldn’t expect much out of Darnold, but look for him to take a leap. 

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