22 Aug Fantasy Football Pre-Season Primer: AFC East
By: Mike Stromme – @stromme_93
Grown-ass men riding bikes built for children, pimped-out whips, heavy humidity and player “X” in “the best shape of his life” can only mean one thing… TRAINING CAMP! Click on the red text to find a list with breakdowns of all of the other NFL Divisions.
Click the blue text to check out our NFL Podcast where we break down the AFC & NFC West Divisions
Here are some training camp story lines with fantasy implications to keep an eye on this August:
With the QB, RB and TE roles seemingly established coming into camp, something we need to follow in Western New York is the wide receiver depth chart. Specifically, the second wide receiver spot on the depth chart.
Rick Dennison takes over as offensive coordinator in Buffalo. He was previously in-charge of calling plays for the Denver Broncos the past two seasons. He also called plays for Gary Kubiak in Houston in 2013. Something Dennison likes to do is call a lot of passing plays, his offenses have thrown the ball a WHOPPING 58% or higher over his last three season.
Not only does Dennison like his offense to throw the ball, he likes to concentrate the number of targets to two
receivers. In Denver, Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders averaged 10.05 and 8.85 targets per game respectively. In Houston, he fed Andre Johnson 11.3 targets/game while a rookie DeAndre Hopkins was thrown at 5.7 times a game on average.
The million dollar question in this offense is: what’s the true hierarchy of WRs on this team? The Bills went out and
traded for Jordan Matthews after shipping Sammy Watkins to Los Angeles. 2017 second round pick Zay Jones very well could be a potential top target, he certainly fits the profile. The team also signed veteran WR Anquan Boldin and brought in WR Andre Holmes from Oakland over the offseason.
Since entering the league in 2012, Holmes, a 6′-4″, 210 LB wideout, has caught 102-1,462-12 on 211 career targets. He had a career-high 47-693-4 on 99 targets for the Raiders in 2014. While these numbers seem underwhelming, Holmes is a big target with some speed who could push for playing time. He “consistently worked with the first-team offense” in OTAs.
Either way, WRs in this offense WILL get major volume, but it remains to be seen who those primary targets will be.
With Ryan Tannehill officially done for the season, this offense will now run through veteran signal-caller Jay Cutler.
Cutler, will come out of the broadcast booth to play one more season under HC Adam Gase. The two were paired together in Chicago back in 2015 where Cutler completed 64.4% of his passes for 3,659-21-11.
With Cutler making his Dolphins’ preseason debut this Thursday, it will be interesting who he targets. Will he follow Tannehill’s footsteps and look for slot-receiver Jarvis Landry? Or, is Smokin’ Jay going to be looking down field to the likes of Kenny Stills and DeVante Parker?
I’m interested to see how exactly the seemingly apathetic Jay Cutler fits into this organization.
New England Patriots:
Who are we kidding? HC Bill Belichick won’t show us ANYTHING until Sept. 7, when the Kansas
City Chiefs come to Foxborough. You won’t see Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski or Julian Edelman much in any of the preseason games. Nothing Belichick does on the ground this month will give anybody any indication which RB of Mike Gillislee, James White, Dion Lewis or Rex Burkhead will play a major role in this offense. Nor will he show
any indication as to how he’s really going to deploy his new weapons, Brandin Cooks or Dwayne Allen.
Just sit tight and wait until September to see what the 2017 New England Patriots have to offer. Nothing you see this month will be anything tangible.
New York Jets:
*Sigh*, I guess the QB “competition” between Christian Hackenberg, Josh McCown and Bryce Petty will be something to keep an eye on? I don’t know, this team seems pretty content to look towards 2018.
The RB duo of Bilial Powell and Matt Forte probably won’t see too many snaps in the preseason, given how important they are to keeping this team afloat next month.
Wideout Robby Anderson was a nice flash in the pan late last season, but can he build on that success? He did seem to have some chemistry with Bryce Petty last year. With Quincy Enunwa done for the season, he appears to be the “next man up” for targets.
The Jets took Alabama WR ArDarius Stewart with their third-round pick in 2017. However, he entered camp recovering from two separate surgeries to his thumb and groin and began training camp limited to individual drills.
Charone Peake, The Jets’ 7th round pick in 2016, has impressed the Jets’ brass enough this summer to be considered the favorite for the team’s third option at WR. At 6’2″, his size advantage could lead to a decent share of the few red zone targets this team will have in 2017.
The outlook might look bleak from a pure fantasy standpoint right now, but it was this time last year where we really got to see what Terrelle Pryor could do as a WR. Maybe a player or two down the depth chart; like RB Elijah McGuire, WRs Jalin Marshall and Marquess Wilson or TE Jordan Leggett can emerge this month. Hell, nobody really knew who Quincy Enunwa was going into last September. Let’s just wait and see.