At first glance the AFC East may appear to you as a barren wasteland of fantasy talent. Look closer and you’ll notice the AFC East is full of buried treasure just waiting to be discovered. With plenty of booty to be found within this division, you’re going to need a treasure map to sort through all of it.
Out of fear that I may use yet another poorly placed pirate phrase, let me not call this your ‘AFC Treasure Map,’ but instead we will go with your ‘AFC Treasure Guide.’
There we go, much more subtle.
Let’s start with the quarterback position!
Most people are probably suggesting to you to avoid Tom Brady this year, and I ask you calmly, ‘Why?’ Show me a year Brady didn’t produce at this position regardless of the talent he has. It was 2001 (his first full season), when he last threw for less than for 20 touchdowns and 3,000 yards. Brady will find ways to go for 4,500-plus yards and 30-plus touchdowns. Ryan Tannehill is your clear No. 2, which isn’t saying much. The added weapons the Miami Dolphins have given him are a nice bonus, and in all honesty he could be relied on to bomb it down the field enough to produce solid fantasy numbers. If you’re in a bye week bind, look him up and see who he is playing. Whoever the Buffalo Bills pick at their quarterback spot will have a tough year. Mark Sanchez is worth a first-round pick in any league we are in together.*
*Don’t draft Mark Sanchez.
The running back position in the division is a little deeper than the quarterback, with C.J. Spiller leading the way as the top talent this year. However, Stevan Ridley deserves a good look as a potential draft day steal. He won’t go early this year, but if he can simply duplicate last year’s solid season he will be a top-10 running back this year. I will put Miami’s Lamar Miller ahead of New York’s Chris Ivory simply thanks to a better team, and more upside. Miller could be a huge pick up for whoever has the balls to take the plunge on him in your draft. Don’t waste a seventh-round or earlier pick on him. Ivory looks to be the man in New York, and, thanks to the way coach Rex Ryan likes to try and run the ball, he should put up solid numbers.
Mike Wallace has to be the best wide receiver in the AFC East this year. His only problem is his unproven quarterback, and possible lack of ability to run in anything other than straight lines. Stevie Johnson would be your next best bet out of this division. He has been a proven talent and can be a steady WR2 or flex for you. Danny Amendola would be the next guy I would like, but his injury issues will bump him down the draft. However, his similar style of play to Wes Welker could mean numbers similar, too. If you look at Welker before New England, he wasn’t a superstar. He was a no one. The Patriots turned him in to the guy you know. Amendola has upside thanks to how well the Patriots turn a no one in to a Pro Bowler. Beyond this you have talent like Santonio Holmes, Brian Hartline, Jeremy Kerley, and a low key sleeper from New England in Aaron Dobson. Those last few are decent pickups if you need a bye week replacement, especially if they’re playing a low-end defense that week.
As for the tight end position, it’s clear Rob Gronkowski has to be your best bet out of the division. Even if he’s hurt, even if he has one arm, he’s the best in the division. Dustin Keller, much like Mike Wallace, appears to be primed to have a good season as the Dolphins have revamped their offense. Scott Chandler is the other option in the division, and could prove a nice target in the red zone for whichever quarterback Buffalo goes with.
You can’t see me doing it, but I’m fist pumping right now thanks to my avoidance of poking fun at the Aaron Hernandez situation while discussing AFC East tight ends.
That’s my breakdown of the important parts of the division. Here are my quick rankings that don’t include as many words, because, let’s face it, no one wants to read this much anyways!
1. Mike Wallace
2. Stevie Johnson
3. Danny Amendola
4. Brian Hartline
5. Jeremy Kerley (replace this name with Santonio Holmes if Holmes does well in the preseason while coming back from a foot injury.)
1. New England
2. New York