Fantasy Division Update: AFC East

Its that time again, the Tuesday grind and what will someday be a fantasy weekly re-cap and suggested waiver wire pickup list...But today is not that day. No, today you get a quick look at the AFC East and what to expect from these teams for 2011 in fantasy football.

Who's in it? Buffalo Bills, Miami Dolphins, New England Patriots, New York Jets

2010: The Patriots took the division, but the Jets came in as a Wild Card and made noise, upsetting Indianapolis and New England to advance to the AFC Championship game before succumbing the the Steelers.

Buffalo Bills: Ryan Fitzpatrick was a decent #2 QB and had some darn good weeks. Fred Jackson's total points made him look like a #3 option, but that is mostly based on 3 weeks of inflated production (10-12). I for one was very disappointed with his limited touches and his limited game changing play...But what a year Steve Johnson had, eh?  What's New? Defense, they hope. Seriously though, NT Marcell Dareus, CB Aaron Williams, ILB Kelvin Sheppard and Strong Safety Da'Norris Searcy was the draft. So 2011... The Bills are sticking with Fitzpatrick (we can hope) and if he can show any improvement leading the team from start to finish in a season, he will be a great backup and maybe even push for starter numbers especially on good matchup weeks. I still hope Buffalo wakes up and lets Jackson carry the offense, because he has #2 RB written all over him if he can get the touches and some space. Steve Johnson might be a flash, but I suspect he is going to stick and will be targeting him as a high #2 receiver for 2011. Avoid the D/ST still.

Miami Dolphins: Henne was barely worth owning as #2-#3 option. Ronnie Brown had a very disappointing year, mostly because of inconsistency and injury again. Because of the before mentioned items, Brandon Marshall dropped down to low #2, high #3 status and disappeared at times...Though Devon Bess managed to have a solid #3-4 option scoring season in Miami he literally vanished too often for my liking. 5 weeks with less than 5 points. Anthony Fasano made an okay #2 TE option. What's New? RB Daniel Thomas and WR Edmond Gates. So 2011... I actually really like Daniel Thomas a #4, or even a really low #3 going into 2011. Brown and Williams may be gone from Miami, and they have a decent O-Line and lean heavily on the run. If that stays true in 2011, Daniel Thomas may end up getting 250+ carries, and that means he will get close to 1000 yards...Now that I said it, he will get 20 carries and break something. Until something changes with the QB situation, Marshall is probably a #3 receiver, but will be drafted as a high #2 and I won't pay that price. Watch for QB acquisitions or a trade for Marshall when the CBA works out.

New England Patriots: Tom Brady finished the season #1 atop the QB ranks, the D/ST finished 3rd in the league and BenJarvus Green-Ellis finished the season a good #2 RB option scoring wise while being rather consistent the last 5 weeks or so. Woodhead made a nice backup some weeks, as a #4-5 option. Deon Branch and Wes Welker both made solid #2 or great #3 options. Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez came in and both posted top 12 numbers in what became a very tight end friendly offense.  What's New? Thought BJGE and Woodhead had nice seasons? So did they...Yet on draft day, the Patriots added 2 backs in the first 3 rounds (Shane Vereen and Stevan Ridley). This is why I never trust a New England RB. So 2011... I would imagine Gronkowski and Hernandez continue to get good split targets, but I think Hernandez starts getting more of them. Its obvious he needed more work in the blocking department, so he gave ground to Gronk, but that may change going forward. Brady is a lock for your #1 QB spot. Wes Welker is my favorite #3 receiver in Fantasy football, except in PPR, where he is my top option for #2. Dunno what we will get from Branch this year, but I bet its at least #3 receiver numbers. The D/ST is probably only going to improve too, and that might get scary for the AFC East. Running Backs? Be careful. I would take BJGE or Vereen as a #4 option, and that's about it.

New York Jets: Sanchez made an okay #2, but was very erratic still while LT had a just under 1000 yard year. The D/ST unit was #2 overall. Green was disappointing in my book. Edwards qualified as a #2 option and was up as often as down this year. Holmes came back, had a couple good games, then tapered off. Dustin Keller had a quiet top 10 fantasy season as well. What's New? Defense? Yeah, Muhammad Wilkerson and Kenrick Ellis will help clog up the line so those pressure packages can actually get some sacks going forward. The Powell addition probably won't matter until LT is cut or retires. So 2011... Watch LT to be the starter, then give ground to Green later in the season. LT had a bit of a return to glory, but I don't trust that again. Age is a fact, not a perception. Because of that, and the Jets willingness to put him on a pitch count as the season goes on, count him as a #3 and a good matchup based option. Green disappoints me, and I hope he can turn it around this year, but he just doesn't have the speed to make noise beyond a #4 RB unless he gets the "Lion's Share" of the carries. Edwards and Holmes are both free agents, but my gut tells me the Jets bring back one (Holmes) and he becomes their #1, and thus becomes a solid #2 Fantasy option for 2011. Sanchez is never going to be a top 10 passer in this league from my perspective. The offense doesn't ask him to be, he isn't a deep strike big play guy, and he spends a lot of time outdoors in cold weather games. The D/ST is well worth the investment, and I have a hunch they may be #1 overall when all is said and done in 2011.

Final Thoughts: A lock at QB (Brady) and a sleeper (Fitzpatrick). A confusing mess of #2-#4 RB options (BJGE? LT? Greene? Woodhead? Vereen?) and the one who I think comes out the best is Daniel Thomas, Miami (as a #3-4 option drafting, but finishes the season with #2 numbers). Steve Johnson may be a #1 receiver next year, though I am drafting him as a #2. Welker, Branch, and Holmes should all be #2-3 receivers and Edwards may be there wherever he goes post-NY (Chicago? Your thoughts on that?). Keller, Hernandez, and Gronk will all be worth owning, but I doubt Gronk and Hernandez both finish top 12 again. Get some NE D/ST and some Jets D/ST while you can.

Next Up: AFC West, NFC North, NFC South, NFC East, NFC West

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