Fear not loyal fans! I’m back with another installment of the rookies preview for your reading pleasure! This week we take a look at the typically offensively inept AFC East. For almost 15 years it’s been the Patriots…
…And then everyone else way back here. It seems like every year we cycle through the Jets, Dolphins and Bills as the team we all think can beat Brady. It usually doesn’t work out like we’d hope. Deflategate, while incredibly stupid and overblown, was a nice consolation prize for anyone hoping to see the end of the Pats reign.
The AFC East teams have spent years building defenses to stop Brady, but I think they forgot they need to score points too. This season there’s a pair of rookies who are coming in to the division and might be the chess pieces needed to help a new team win the AFC East Crown.
In typical Patriots fashion, they have made it nearly impossible to project any of their players’ future Fantasy value. The only offensive players they drafted were three lineman, so they won’t be involved in this.
Now on to business.
AFC East Rookie Preview
DeVante Parker, WR, Miami Dolphins
The Dolphins are at an interesting impasse. They have a stellar defense and have locked up their franchise quarterback, and his very attractive wife, to a long term deal. What they haven’t had is playmakers on the offensive side of the ball. After a few underwhelming seasons, Miami sent Mike Wallace off to Minnesota.
Across from him, the Dolphins started last season with Brian Hartline as their No. 2 WR…. Sorry I just threw up in my mouth a little bit. They hit gold with their second round pick Jarvis Landry last year, and he looks like he’ll have a promising future. What do people always say? If something worked the first time, just keeping doing the same thing forever? That’s a saying right? Whatever. The point is in this year’s NFL Draft, they went out and took another receiver, DeVante Parker.
The first thing you notice is his size. At 6’3″, he can go up and get the ball. Throughout college he made great plays in the air and has some of the softest hands in this draft class. He doesn’t have the blazing speed everyone wants in a receiver, but he rarely loses focus when the ball is in the air. If the pass is to him, he’s going to give you his best effort to come down with the catch.
He also doesn’t have to come in right away and be that dominant No. 1 receiver as they have put together a great trio with Landry, Parker and the newly acquired Kenny Stills. Those three guys should be able to keep defenses honest so no one gets double teamed. Parker also has at least three inches on both of those guys, which makes him the front runner for those red zone fade patterns NFL teams like to throw so much.
He did have some minor surgery done recently, so you’ll need to keep tabs on how his recovery is going. The team has said he’ll be ready for week one, so you may get a little bit of a discount on draft day.
Devin Smith, WR, New York Jets
The Jets have overhauled a lot of their team. Hopefully gone are the days when not a single Jet was rosterable in a standard Fantasy Football league. They brought in Brandon Marshall and already have Eric Decker from last season’s free agent haul. Both are great possession receivers, but what does every team need? A speedster. And that’s what the Jets got when they drafted Devin Smith in the second Round.
He is one hell of a big play threat and has drawn comparisons to DeSean Jackson. Hopefully he doesn’t do that stupid stuff like fumble at the one yard line. Twice. Or break the Giants heart while I’m at the game. He averaged an insane 28.2 yards per catch last season. He also should fit into that ever important slot receiver spot. With his explosive speed off the line, he’s going to be a problem to cover on option routes. The slot also suits him as he’s a little small and will probably have trouble with physical corners.
He does take a little bit of a hit as he has the unproven Geno Smith as his quarterback. But if he can master the option route, he could become a quarterbacks best friend underneath, which would be PPR gold. He also bobbled the ball a little more than you’d like on some of those deep balls in college. While those catches look great on tape, Fantasy owners would be happier if he just caught them smoothly.
Nick O’Leary, TE, Buffalo Bills
The Bills added some offensive depth in the draft, but Nick O’Leary has a slim chance of being Fantasy relevant. O’Leary was a great TE in college at Florida State, but most scouts have penciled him in as a H-back. If he gets consistent reps at TE, he could put up some points. But that’s a big if!
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