The Fantasy Points staff recently welcomed NFL Films legend Greg Cosell and NFL Insider Adam Caplan to talk about the AFC East as part of our Virtual Pow-wow Series. I highly encourage you to check out the entire conversation by accessing our Livestream archives.
Greg and Adam joined John Hansen and company to break down the AFC East from front to back to help us get a deeper understanding of every roster heading into the summer. John has been holding these closed-door meetings with Greg and Adam for the last 15+ years. The Fantasy Points staff is proud to let the public peek behind the curtain during these exclusive Livestreams! Here are the notes I compiled from the AFC East meeting, and I included my biggest fantasy takeaways for each team.
Greg recently talked to Jordan Palmer who works with Josh Allen and Palmer told him that Allen is a laser-focused individual who is always looking to improve. Allen’s success from last season should be sustainable and they’re not going to change their offense after becoming a passing offense last season. The Bills were able to maintain their offensive coaching staff after last year’s breakout, and the big question is how will teams adjust to Allen after his huge season.
The pass-to-run ratio is unlikely to change much this season, but the Bills want to be more effective when they do run the ball. Greg thinks Zack Moss has foundation back traits but they don’t want that to be their offense.
Adam agrees that they’re putting the offense in Allen’s hands but they were also frustrated with their running game last season. Moss could be the grinder in this backfield but he struggled for much of last season after picking up a toe injury in September. They don’t want Devin Singletary to be a volume back and Singletary and Matt Breida are better off as change-of-pace options. Greg could see Breida as a potential 10 personnel back for the Bills this season since he can hit creases and get up the field in a burst.
Graham agrees that Moss is the back to own in this backfield since he has slightly more upside as a goal-line back and as a receiver. With that said, Allen is still the team’s goal-line back after he led them in carries inside the 10-yard line.
Adam said the Bills brought in Emmanuel Sanders to start across from Stefon Diggs, and they’re giving Gabriel Davis another year to get acclimated to the NFL. He’ll start the year as the top backup behind Diggs and Sanders on the perimeter.
Adam said the Bills were interested in Zach Ertz earlier this off-season but they added Jacob Hollister instead so they’re not going to overpay for him. They still like Dawson Knox but he’s a bit behind where they were expecting him to be at this point in his career. Knox is athletic and he can be a vertical threat for this offense, and he won’t have to deal with extra coverage.
Brolley’s Fantasy Takeaways
- It’s not usually my style to select aging WRs late in my drafts, but Emmanuel Sanders has my attention with his ADP sitting at 200+ over the last month, especially when I select Josh Allen in the fifth round. Emmanuel is essentially stepping into the role left behind by John Brown this off-season with the Bills giving Gabriel Davis another season to develop — Davis is going 50+ picks earlier than Sanders. Emmanuel finished as the WR44 with 11.8 FPG last season and he still has vertical speed to stretch defenses even though he didn’t get to show it much playing with Drew Brees last season. That shouldn’t be an issue in Buffalo this year with Allen’s howitzer at quarterback.
Greg described Tua Tagovailoa as a timing and rhythm passer. He likes to get out of his hands quickly and he’s not a pure second-reaction player. Tua isn’t viewed as a super high-level talent but he’s an excellent distributor who works well within the structure of the offense. Tua is also a rhythm deep thrower and they’ve added the vertical dimension to their offense in Will Fuller and Jaylen Waddle.
Graham thinks people were writing off Tua way too early after his rookie season. He was coming back off a devastating hip injury and he got thrown into the fire in the middle of last season for a team that was performing well for Ryan Fitzpatrick.
Adam said the league didn’t think it was close between Waddle and Henry Ruggs as prospects coming out of Alabama. He said some teams had Waddle as a top-five player and as the top receiver in this class, and the Dolphins moved up to No. 6 because they wanted one of these top receivers.
Greg’s plan for Waddle would be to move him all around the field while using him as a runner and as a receiver in the screen game to take advantage of his ability after the catch. Waddle can do more with the ball in his hands than Ruggs could when he came out of Alabama a year ago. He moves effortlessly at high velocity and Tua has the ability to push the ball downfield. It could be tough for him to be a high-volume receiver.
Adam would bet that DeVante Parker leads the Dolphins in targets this season. Greg said Parker has stretches where he’s a dominant X receiver.
Graham said Mike Gesicki is going to be a boom-bust option at tight end, and he’s curious if his role as a slot receiver is going to change with more bodies added this year. They also drafted Hunter Long in the third round whom Greg saw as a complete tight end. He had Long a notch below Pat Freiermuth in the pre-draft process and he could make Gesicki expendable in the final year of Gesicki’s rookie deal.
Myles Gaskin turned out to be a nice surprise last season, but there’s an opportunity for someone to come out of nowhere to be the top back.
Brolley’s Fantasy Takeaways
I’m not dying to get any pieces of Miami’s offense on my fantasy teams, but I have found myself taking some shots on these Dolphins receivers if they slip a bit in drafts. Will Fuller’s ADP is a bit steep at 76.3 (WR35) but I have drafted him when he’s slipped into the eighth round or later. Jaylen Waddle (116.3, WR48) and DeVante Parker (112.4, WR47) have been much more appealing three to four rounds later since targets could be distributed fairly evenly between these three WRs. I’m also out on Mike Gesicki at his ADP of 116 (TE11) with the Dolphins bringing in Fuller, Waddle, and third-round pick Hunter Long this off-season.
I thought I’d be drafting more Tua Tagovailoa this off-season but his price has gotten a bit out of control at 145.3 (QB20). The Dolphins have significantly upgraded his offensive weapons but Tua doesn’t bring rushing upside to the table. The defensive-minded Brian Flores would also love to limit his second-year QB’s impact if the Dolphins are going to have one of the league’s better defenses. I’m much more content to take Justin Fields, Trey Lance, and Ryan Fitzpatrick one to two rounds after Tua.
New England Patriots
Greg expects Cam Newton to play much better this year because he’s a proud man. Cam got ripped a lot for his play last year and the Patriots drafted Mac Jones in the first round so he’s got plenty of motivation. Cam and Mac couldn’t have more different skill sets but 12 personnel will still be their base offense no matter who is on the field.
Adam agrees that this offense is going to be dominated by Jonnu Smith and Hunter Henry, and Jonnu was heavily sought after in free agency. He thinks Jonnu could take a big step forward this season since he was never going to be a volume receiver in Tennessee. Henry is certainly going to be involved but Jonnu will be more of the focal point of the passing attack. Joe wouldn’t be surprised if Jonnu leads this team in targets and Greg thinks he’s a top-five tight end in terms of athleticism.
Adam sees them running a controlled offense and he doesn’t see them being pass-heavy at all. It doesn’t make a lot of sense for them to spend big on Julio Jones based on how they’re going to play after signing Smith and Henry.
Greg agrees that this is going to be a bit of an old-school offense since they have the backs and Cam to run the rock. James White is locked in as the passing back while Damien Harris and Sony Michel will vie for early-down snaps with Rhamondre Stevenson also potentially working his way into the mix. They haven’t been willing to commit to any of these backs.
Joe likes Harris more if Mac Jones is at quarterback even though they might be a little more run-heavy with Cam in the lineup. Harris would get more goal-line and check-down opportunities with Jones at quarterback than he would with Cam in the lineup.
Greg said Nelson Agholor was an effective vertical threat for the Raiders last year but he isn’t a volume receiver. Adam said teams loved how quickly Agholor gets vertical out of the slot.
Brolley’s Fantasy Takeaways
- Jonnu Smith has been crawling up my rankings all off-season after I initially buried him early with the Patriots signing both Smith and Hunter Henry. He’s going to move up a little more after our discussion with Greg and Adams. My biggest concern is still Cam Newton leading this offense for too long this season, but Smith has a chance to break out in New England if Josh McDaniels is ready to unleash him on the league. Smith ran just 20 routes per game last season with most of his passing-down snaps coming inline. He’s actually being drafted behind the bigger-named Henry (125.2 vs. 134.1) as the TE16. I’ll be making more of an effort to draft Jonnu the rest of the summer, especially since I’m going to have very few shares of other Patriots players.
New York Jets
Greg thought Zach Wilson would be effective in a Shanahan offense in the pre-draft process, and Mike LaFleur will be running a similar offense since he worked with Kyle Shanahan in San Francisco. The Jets upgraded their offensive line and their offensive weaponry to help Wilson succeed as a rookie. Right tackle is still a major question between George Fant and Chuma Edoga.
The Jets are in a great position with $27 million in cap space so Adam doesn’t necessarily think the Jets will move on from Jamison Crowder. Greg leans toward Crowder being cut if second-round pick Elijah Moore is impressing in August since they also added Keelan Cole this off-season.
Adam said the Jets are loaded with receiver depth but he worries that they don’t have A-list weapons. He thinks Moore could develop into their go-to receiver but it could take a year.
Denzel Mims will be the X receiver this year and Corey Davis has performed well as the Z receiver next to A.J. Brown the last two seasons. Adam said Davis is too much of a finesse receiver at times, which is why he’s more of a Z receiver. Mims had hamstring issues last season, which held him back as a rookie.
Adam said it doesn’t seem like the Jets have interest in a notable free agent running back at this time, and he was surprised they didn’t add a power runner this off-season. His money is on fourth-round pick Michael Carter to emerge as the top option because he’s the most gifted option in the group. Tevin Coleman can’t be trusted to stay healthy at this point of his career.
Greg said the Shanahans see the system as more important than the individual players in their backfields and, obviously, LaFleur and Robert Saleh are coming from San Francisco. Greg saw some similarities between Carter and Clyde Edwards-Helaire coming out of college.
New York’s cornerbacks are rough and its defense is still poor on paper, which could lead to more pass-heavy scripts than Saleh wants with a rookie quarterback.
Brolley’s Fantasy Takeaways
- I can’t say I’m infatuated with any of these Jets’ skill players, but I’m also not outright fading any of them either based on their ADPs. It doesn’t hurt that the Jets don’t have a single player being drafted inside the top-100 picks in the last month so you’re not risking a lot when you’re drafting a Jets player. I am making sure to get a few shares of Elijah Moore when he falls to the final couple of rounds since his ADP (170.0, WR65) would skyrocket if the Jets do trade or cut Jamison Crowder. I was out on Denzel Mims earlier this spring when he was being drafted in the 11th- to 12th-round range, but I’m going to start jumping in since ADP has recently fallen outside of the top-150 picks.