Editor’s Note: In this fifth installment of the Red Zone Rick reviews of players rankings for each division, Rick aims his sites at the AFC East, anchored by the New England Patriots.
As with past analysis of this type, Red Zone Rick has chosen to rate the players in an Olympic-like fashion with top fantasy prospects earning a Gold level. From there, silver and bronze selections are identified. And, lastly, diamonds in the rough for those players with high risks, but corresponding high reward potentials.
Let’s face it, if we’re talking the AFC East, things start and finish – with an emphasis on “finish” – with the New England Patriots. After this perennial champ, take a close look at the New York Jets. The Dolphins and Bills bring with them a lot of question marks.
Fantasy Football Player Rankings: AFC East
Just as the Los Angeles Rams own the NFC East, the Patriots have a virtual lock on the top players in the AFC East.
The addition of Le’Veon Bell to the New York Jets adds a Gold Level player to this division, and he should be fun to watch. But, after sitting out a season, how quickly can he regain his form? Bell’s forte has always been patience. Fantasy owners who show some patience, will likely be rewarded in spades.
But, first, let’s take a look at those lords of the rings, the New England Patriots.
New England Patriots
A gronk-sized share of targets is opening up this year.
Tom Brady (QB)
TB12: “He’s old.” “He’s nothing without Gronk.” “Who are his receivers?” Tune it all out. It’s always TB time in NE. Brady never goes too early, but watch to see if he slides. If he does scoop him up. Play him, trade him, he’s REALLY good and everyone will remember that again once the season gets underway.
Sony Michel (RB)
There were some questions about if he was the workhorse or a jigsaw puzzle piece. Well, when it came down to the end of the season, Michel was the man.
As much as the Patriots like to deploy some funny-business when it comes to guessing who they will be handing off to in the backfield on game day, there shouldn’t be too many questions this year. Their best shot at winning games will be through involving Michel.
Julian Edelman (WR)
No Gronk, no problem. Julian Edelman is always up for any task. He lives to please Tom Brady, and that pleases his fantasy owners. He’s worth the price to have him on your squad. If Edelman’s a WR1 or a WR2, it doesn’t really matter. He’s going to be fantasy viable all season long.
Stephen Gostkowski (K)
In the modern era you just can’t win as many NFL games as the Patriots have without a great kicker on your roster: insert Gostkowski here. He’s a menace to his opposition, and he’s the guy you want kicking for you. Draft him a round early if you have to.
N’Keal Harry (WR)
We don’t know much about N’Keal yet, but the Patriots aren’t known to waste their first-round selections. It was clear that they needed help on the outside and getting Tom Brady a big target is the solution.
Maybe it takes him a few games to get going, but it is pretty safe to assume N’Keal will become a contributor sooner-than-later for the Patriots who are perpetually in “win-now” mode every game of every season.
Phillip Dorsett (WR)
A veteran presence for Tom Brady. I wouldn’t expect Dorsett to shine, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he becomes a decent piece of the offense. Probably not worth a draft pick but keep an eye on him as the season goes. Sometimes the Patriots have a way of revitalizing veterans.
Diamond in the Rough
James White (RB)
The true Super Bowl LI MVP. If you watched the game and know anything about football then you saw that James white was the most clutch, instrumental piece of the biggest comeback in superbowl history.
Almost every key to their comeback touched his hands. He had over 50 fantasy points in that game in PPR scoring formats. When the going gets tough, Tom Brady gets James White going. And this year might be the toughest year yet for the top-dog team.
It’s a nice place to go for a vacation, but not for your top picks in the draft.
Kenyan Drake (RB)
Kenyan Drake has RB2 written all over him. I expect him to be affordable and reliable. Miami isn’t a great option for fantasy starters right now, but I expect the waters to clear up and for Drake to be a steady producer once they get going.
Kenyan Drake’s 69-yard Game Winning TD Video
Kenny Stills (WR)
As good of a bet as Drake is to be the go-to RB, Stills is still the best bet for go-to WR. WR2 or Flex feels right. Stills has really shined at times in the past, but whenever there is a new quarterback (especially a young one like Rosen) it is never certain what you’re going to get and who his top-targets will be.
Dwayne Allen (TE)
Veteran tight ends: Pretty reliable blockers and pass catcher. I wouldn’t stake too much confidence in him for fantasy purposes, but I wouldn’t completely ignore him either. Keep an eye on him, who know what the offense will look like with Rosen at the helm.
Josh Rosen (QB)
All we know about Rosen is that we don’t know much about Rosen. He looked bad last year, but under the circumstances in Arizona, anyone would have looked bad. So maybe he actually looked good given the situation? They didn’t keep him around because Kyler Murray, which maybe says more about Arizona’s faith in Murray than is does about a lack of faith in Rosen. Either way, stay away until you have some reason to go in for him.
Diamond in the Rough
Albert Wilson (WR)
Acrobatic and Scrappy, Rosen will need to find his new guy. Kenny Stills is the obvious front runner, but with a new QB it’s never a for-certain thing who will be the go-to. Albert Wilson is talented enough and clutch enough that if the chemistry forms between them he could be a real asset from the bargain bin.
“The Little Jets” In almost every way, Buffalo’s offense seems to be similar to the Jets’, but in a slightly reduced capacity.
“No offense, Buffalo”, but at times last year there was literally no offense.
LeSean Mccoy (RB)
He’s still the most talented player on the team. He disappointed all of his fantasy shareholders last season, but not for lack of effort on his end. He’s a risky buy in 2019, but it’s hard to imagine the Bills fail to get their best player going two years in a row, right?
John Brown (WR)
He’s quick, he’s fast, he’s now in Buffalo. It’s difficult to think that this is going to be the year that Brown really delivers in fantasy though. In terms of Buffalo’s offensive options, he’s as good an option as any for Josh Allen, but does that make him good enough for fantasy relevance?
Tyler Croft (TE)
He wasn’t great filling in for Tyler Eifert in Cincinnati, but Buffalo does like to target their tight ends. He’s a bit of a wait-and-see selection that is bound to be available very late in the draft (if he goes in the draft at all). I’d probably wait. If you see something you like, then pick him up.
Frank Gore (RB)
The little Gore that could. He. Just. Keeps. Going. Year after year, Frank Gore continues to plow ahead– he’ll most likely plow right into the hall of fame one day. I don’t think I’d want to invest too much in his 2019 fantasy outlook, but Gore has proven me wrong before. He seems to be the one guy that you shouldn’t underestimate.
Diamond in the Rough
Cole Beasley (WR)
Beasley had a chance to be the guy last year in Dallas before Cooper came to town. He did alright but was never a reliable fantasy starter. He was more of the “risky flex” play. Well, he has a new team and a new chance to be that flex player, but only if you play in PPR format.
New York Jets
“The Big Buffalo”. Their receivers are bigger and faster, their big-name running back is better and badder, and their QB is more impressive. It really seems like the Jets’ fantasy options have the leg-up on Buffalo’s in every category.
Le’Veon Bell (RB)
Is he rested or is he rusty? Does someone take Le’Veon Bell early in the first round or somewhere in the second round? Does he get traded to a new team before we even find out what he looks like in a Jets uniform?
Lots of variables. I might not grab him right out of the gates, but don’t be afraid to take him (even if he burned you last year). Before the season is over, it wouldn’t surprise many for him to be a AFC East Fantasy Football all-star, if not a league-wide all star.
NYC, let’s do it ✈️ pic.twitter.com/uinxo3J3Se
— Le’Veon Bell (@LeVeonBell) March 13, 2019
It feels a little low ranking him Silver knowing what he is capable of. But also doesn’t see right ranking him Gold knowing how powerful of an expectation that would be. Robby Anderson is one of those guys that can be a real headache – for those fantasy managers starting him and those playing against him.
He’s the type of player that you look away from your phone for one minute then look back and see that your opponent has 14 more points than they did a moment ago. Or that you start and stare at all first half but nothing happens.
Jamison Crowder (WR)
I like Crowder. He is strong, he is slippery, he is sometimes unfortunately injured. His ability to stay healthy will determine how much he delivers this season. He’s a great addition to a Jets team that’s ready to finally have a real offense to challenge the Patriots.
Sam Darnold (QB)
If the Jets pull it all together this year, he could move up the ranks to Silver or even Gold really quickly with all the weapons they have. You probably want him on your bench to start the year. Wait to see some reliable results before you make any real decisions with him. I’m thinking he goes late in the draft, if he goes at all, but has a ceiling of a top-10 QB.
Diamond in the Rough
Quincy Enunwa (WR)
You didn’t forget about Quincy did you? It’s okay if you did, but make sure you remember the name for the draft. He will be cheap. And he has potential to really thrive with the new offense around him. The only problem might be that with all the mouths to feed there isn’t as many targets for Quincy as there were a few years ago.
The Year Ahead For AFC East Fantasy Football
So, there you have it, the AFC East Fantasy Football Player Rankings. The predictable success of the Patriots is offset by the many questions for the other teams in this division.
While a close watch of the early season might be telling, more likely than not, it might take several games for these other teams to find their stride – if they ever do in 2019.
— Red Zone Rick
Red Zone Rick loves his fantasy football and is a history buff. Diving deep into player rankings is as enjoyable as a hard look at the causes of World War II for this Minnesotan.
You’re on AFC East Fantasy Football Player Rankings 2019 page.
Red Zone Rick’s Player Rankings for Other Divisions:
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