Welcome to Fantasy Preview where we are taking a look at each team’s fantasy outlook. In this installment, we are focusing on the AFC East and AFC South.
The run-first Texan offense got key pieces back from injury, one of which is Matt Schaub. Consider him a high-end QB2 based on his lack of upside. Andre Johnson is also returning after he struggled to stay healthy last season. I expect him to be a top wide receiver, although I would pass on him due to his current second-round average draft position. The main value in the Texans offense comes in the running game. Arian Foster is a top-three running back this season, even though he will lose some touches to Ben Tate. Last season, Tate had an impressive average of 3.3 yards after contact. I expect him to get an average of 10-12 touches per game, making him a solid flex play.
After holding out most of the preseason, Maurice Jones-Drew is back. I still would not draft him in the second round based on his workload over the past three seasons combined with the holdout. Many fantasy owners were hoping Rashad Jennings would get a chance this season. I expect him to put up RB2 numbers in the first couple games but then become a bye-week fill-in. The other Jaguars offensive weapons have limited upside because of Blaine Gabbert. I see Justin Blackmon as a WR4 in PPR formats. I would pass on Laurent Robinson this season.
Out goes Peyton Manning, in comes Andrew Luck. The rookie out of Stanford looked impressive in preseason and could prove to be a sneaky QB1 option. Luck’s primary wide receiver Reggie Wayne is a great value in the middle rounds. If you are looking at a deep sleeper take a look at Austin Collie, who was featured as a sleeper here at the Cafe. The Colts drafted Colby Fleener, but his upside is limited because of fellow rookie Dwayne Allen. I would avoid the tight end situation all together. Take a look at Donald Brown, who should be a RB3 that can put up RB2 numbers this season.
Second year player Jake Locker leads the Titans offense. Locker was featured as a Cafe sleeper earlier this offseason. The Titans have other young weapons that have tons of fantasy potential including Kenny Britt, who avoided a long suspension after getting a DUI in July. I like him as a high-risk, high-reward WR3. A young receiver like Britt, Kendall Wright has impressed the coaches this preseason. He could emerge as a low-end WR3 later in the season. A fantasy disappointment last season, Chris Johnson is going in the top six in drafts this year. I would avoid him due to offensive line problems.
New York Jets
Will the Jets’ preseason struggles continue into the regular season? I think they will, to an extent. Mark Sanchez is a low end QB2 in fantasy with limited upside due to the run-first Jets offense. If he does get benched ,which I think he will at some point, Tim Tebow will be a fantasy starter. Until then Tebow has little fantasy appeal. I think Tebow does hurt Shonn Greene’s value this season. He will take red-zone looks away from Greene, who will struggle to hold off Bilal Powell. Santonio Holmes is the only wide receiver who is worth a roster spot. His health and quarterback play makes him a WR4 at best. Dustin Keller is a high risk fantasy pick with his hamstring injury he suffered this preseason.
New England Patriots
There are plenty of weapons in New England this season, led by Tom Brady. New addition Brandon Lloyd is undervalued around fantasy circles, as he can put up WR2 numbers this season. With the weapons the Patriots have, Wes Welker looks like he may not hit 100 receptions this season. He is a WR1 in PPR but a below-average WR1 this season in non-PPR. The tight ends have big fantasy upside. I think that Rob Gronkowski is overvalued as a round two pick. I would rather take Aaron Hernandez in round five. The running back situation looks clearer than it did at the beginning of the preseason. Stevan Ridley looks to be a high-end RB3 as the goal-line back.
The Dolphins have little fantasy appeal entering the 2012 season. Reggie Bush will struggle to repeat his 2011 campaign, and he looks to lose early-down work to second-year player Daniel Thomas. In addition, Bush has struggled to stay healthy in the past. Davone Bess, who was featured as a sleeper here at the Cafe, is the only receiver worth rostering, but the Dolphins do not have a stand-out wide receiver. There is no reason to draft rookie Ryan Tannehill this season either.
Ryan Fitzpatrick started hot last season but faded as the games progressed due in part to injury. His arm strength is a concern, making him just a QB2 this season. Fitzpatrick’s top receiver, Steve Johnson is a good value in the sixth round of the draft. The main concern when it comes to Johnson is health. Another concern for the Bills is Fred Jackson. A 31-year-old running back coming back from an injury carries a fair amount of risk. If he can stay healthy this season, he could be a steal in the third round. Look for C.J. Spiller to step up if Jackson is slowing down. A possible wavier wire gem is tight end Scott Chandler, who had an impressive preseason.
Stever is one of a growing number of fantasy experts who write for the Cafe. You can catch up with Stever in the Cafe's forums where he posts under the name of 11stever11.
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