DYNASTY RELEVANT PLAYERS – AFC EAST

By Andy Moore (@Ajmoore21)

With the post rookie excitement dying down and the off-season lull now in full effect, it’s time for a deep dive into those dynasty rosters.

After a league chat about fantasy wastelands, we got thinking that surely every team has at least one fantasy relevant player. Looking back at 2019, this could mean a Joe Mixon, a Kenny Golladay, a Terry McLaurin – all players who put up points for fantasy owners on a fairly consistent basis, despite being on pretty rough NFL offenses.

The one criteria for these players is quite simple; they must have multiple seasons of fantasy relevance ahead of them.

We’ll be looking at each division individually, starting with the AFC East.


Buffalo Bills


Player: Stefon Diggs

Position: WR

Age: 26

2019 Fantasy Points (PPR): 212.1

The Bills sit as arguably the best team in a bad division at present, they’ve got a signal-caller whose big arm and escapability propelled them to the playoffs last season and a coaching staff that isn’t afraid to let loose on offense.

A seemingly underwhelming group of wide receivers stepped up to the plate in 2019, with John Brown and Cole Beasley both positing fantasy relevant numbers. But, as they look to make the jump to Division Champions, the Bills’ front office have decided to add another weapon to the arsenal.

Trading Stefon Diggs would be tremendously stupid
Hannah Foslien/Getty

Step forward Stefon Diggs. In 2019 with the Vikings, Diggs finished as WR20, posting 212.1 PPR points off just 63 receptions. And it’s easy to see why there were constant reports that the former 5th round pick was unhappy with target volume, as he was the only receiver in the top 20 of PPR ranking with less than 100 targets, despite playing in all but one game.

The move to the Bills has produced mixed views in the fantasy community, with some seeing less accurate quarterback play and the often-bleak conditions in Buffalo as a hinderance on Diggs’ upside.

Despite this, there’s a clear path to prolonged fantasy relevance for the Maryland product.

Firstly, Diggs comes into the Bills’ locker room as the clear WR1. Despite John Brown’s 1000 yard season in 2019, you simply don’t invest a first round pick in a 26 year old receiver to target him sporadically, especially a receiver who has a record for publicly demanding the football as often as possible.

Get 10% off at NFL Shop Europe with code FULL10

Then there’s the rocket arm possessed by the franchise quarterback. Diggs is a master at tracking the football as a downfield threat, it therefore makes perfect sense that Buffalo will marry Allen’s arm prowess with this ability as often as possible.

Finally, as previously noted, the Bills are a team on the up, they’re in win now mode, with their divisional rivals in rebuild mode or coached by Adam Gase and they’re putting everything in to winning with Allen, whilst he’s on his rookie contract. If they’re to do this then they need a player that they can rely on to drag them to narrow wins on occasion, with the capital invested in Diggs and his prior pedigree, it’s clear they see him as ‘the guy’.

You should too.


New England Patriots


Player: N’Keal Harry

Position: WR

Age: 22

2019 Fantasy Points (PPR): 39.4

Well, for the first time in more than a decade we’re looking to Foxborough with a real question mark in mind. The messiah is gone, there was no ‘star’ QB signed to replace him and it’s not an exaggeration to say the dynasty hangs in the brink.

Fantasy-wise, outside of Brady, the Pats have only really had Rob Gronkowski as a consistent weapon in recent years. Sony Michel has flashed in spells, but he finished as RB31 last year, James White is a good flex option in PPR leagues (RB18 last year) but outside of that, it’s been slim pickings for fantasy players.

Where Would Patriots' N'Keal Harry Rank In 2020 Draft? NFL Analyst Explains  | New England Patriots | NESN.com
Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

The struggle at receiver was all too publicised last season, with multiple reports suggest that Brady was desperate for better weapons in the passing game. That struggle came despite the drafting of N’Keal Harry out of Arizona State in the first round of the draft.

Harry was the first receiver drafted in the opening round by the Pats since 1996 and understandably the hype around him picked up early. Hopes of early chemistry with Brady were dashed when an ankle injury sent the former Sun Devil to the injured reserve prior to the season.

A late return was fairly unproductive, with seven appearances only turning into 12 receptions, 105 yards and 2 TDs. That unproductivity limited Harry to just 39.4 PPR points, with a high score of 9.7 points against the woeful Bengals in week 15.

So why is he on this list?

Well for starters, there’s a complete lack of competition surrounding Harry other than aging star Julian Edelman, and he is facing a fight to stay relevant without TB12. Mohammed Sanu is the only other competition of note on the Pats roster, and he didn’t exactly shine last year.

Get 10% off at NFL Europe Shop with code FULL10

Then there’s the physical tools that Harry possesses, at 6ft 2”, 228 pounds, the 2nd year pro has the height and build synonymous with the traditional X receiver. As a college player he specialised at high pointing the ball and dominated in contested catch situations, add to that a tendency to add yards after the catch and it’s not hard to see why Belichick and co invested high draft capital in Harry. They’re not giving up on him easily.

The coaching situation, player age and division strength all go some way to balancing the concerns that some hold because of the Pats’ QB situation, and it’s clear that there’s a path for Harry to become fantasy relevant this year and for many more to come.


New York Jets


Player: Sam Darnold

Position: QB

Age: 22

2019 Fantasy Points (PPR): 189.16

I think the Jets might be one of the hardest teams to scour for fantasy talent in this series, and I think this lies squarely with the coach.

Adam Gase’s offenses since he stopped working with Peyton Manning have ranked, 21st, 24th, 25th, 31st and 32nd. In other words, they haven’t been very good.

That being said, it’s not like this Jets roster lacks talent. At running back they’ve got a player who was once viewed as the best in the league in Le’Veon Bell, and believe it or not he’s still on 28. And, despite rarely dominating games in the way we’ve become accustomed to, Bell still managed a respectable RB16 finish last season. 

Sam Darnold to wear specialized pads to protect spleen in first game back  from mono - CBSSports.com
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

In the pass catching department there’s probably more concerns. Jamison Crowder, Breshad Perriman and Denzel Mims are the most likely to see the most snaps in 2020 , with Gase and Jets fans praying that Mims  can develop into the out and out WR1 that is desperately needed.

However, despite the mess, it feels like the Jets have got their franchise QB under centre already. Sam Darnold has had a pretty rough start to his pro-career, the infamous ‘seeing ghosts’ moment against a dominant Patriots defense perhaps best demonstrates that.

That being said, there’s reason to be hopeful for the former USC star. In both his seasons in the league so far Darnold has started 13 games, and last year he saw improvements in total yardage, total TDs, interceptions thrown and QB rating, as well as the all-important fantasy points, up from 168 to 189.

Get 10% off at NFL Shop Europe with code FULL10

With Gase seemingly on his last chance as a Head Coach, a Super Bowl winning QB as backup and an improved running game with the addition of Frank Gore, there is no reason why Darnold can’t continue that progress this year.

For me his real fantasy value comes in Super Flex leagues where the more flashy 2018, ’19 and ’20 QBs are demanding far higher start up picks. Darnold is sat there at ADP75 which is ridiculous value in SF for a QB who looks set to the be the Jets’ QB for many years to come.

Buy low now!


Miami Dolphins


Player: Devante Parker

Position: WR

Age: 27

2019 Fantasy Points (PPR): 246.2

If we’re scraping the barrel with the Jets’ fantasy options, then those in Miami are only slightly better at this stage. The difference however, is the upward trajectory of the team when compared to their rivals in New York.

The arrival of Tua Tagovailoa means it would have been easy to stick the Dolphins’ new franchise QB in this slot, but with criteria of ‘must be fantasy relevant in this and future years’, it feels like it’s slightly too soon. Despite reports to the contrary, it’s not clear cut as to who the starter will be in week one, with Ryan Fitzpatrick enjoying a strong end to last season that propelled him to QB17 overall.

With Kenny Stills gone, will DeVante Parker finally breakout?
Michael Reaves / Getty

At running back, the Fins have had a complete makeover with last season’s trio of Kalen Ballage, Patrick Laird and Myles Gaskin all being eclipsed by the running yardage of their 37-year-old QB. Ballage in particular was a dumpster fire both on the pitch and for those who picked him in fantasy.

Jordan Howard and Matt Breida have been added to Miami’s roster in the off-season, in what appears to be a significant upgrade. Howard brings a consistency to the run game, with two 1000 yard seasons and a 4.4ypc average under his belt in the four years he’s been in the league. Breida looks set primarily to feature as the third down specialist, with his explosive speed set to complement an offense which already has two of the quickest players in the league in Jakeem Grant and Albert Wilson.

Somewhat surprisingly Brian Flores and Chris Grier opted not to add another receiver to the mix in this year’s draft, perhaps paying testament to the fact that this is indeed a multi-year rebuild and the need was bigger on defense. That leaves the aforementioned Grant and Wilson alongside Preston Williams, who enjoyed a good rookie year after going undrafted,  Isiah Ford and Devante Parker.

Those who have been playing fantasy football for some time will be familiar with the term ‘break-out year’ and how Parker was about to have one every year since 2016. However, in 2019 it finally arrived! The former Louisville star caught 72 passes for 1202 yards and 9 TDs, by far his best season in the league (thanks Adam Gase).

Get 10% off at NFL Europe Shop with code FULL10

A four-year contract was the reward, and as with Diggs in Buffalo, there’s nothing standing in the way of Parker being a fantasy WR1 this year and for the next couple at least. He’s only 27, the clear WR1 on the team this season and coming off a year in which he put up 246.2 PPR points, finishing as WR11 overall.

The only concern I have with Parker is that this year’s draft has made it quite obvious that the Dolphins might go shopping at both WR and RB next year. With some high-quality talent in the WR class of 2021, there is the possibility that a big name comes in to take the WR1 spot. However, this shouldn’t impact Parker’s usage until at least 2022, so he’s still a safe buy now.

The Jury’s out: Should Miami Draft Tua Tagovailoa or Justin Herbert at 5?

As the 2020 NFL Draft draws ever closer, the chatter linking Justin Herbert with the Dolphins grows ever louder –  Are Miami no longer Tanking for Tua and changing plans at the last moment? Is it a case of somebody making something out of nothing, or is it a smokescreen created by the Dolphins?

We won’t know the answer until the pick is in but this is the theme for today’s piece – We have Lee (@Wakefield90), who is arguing the case for the Dolphins to take Tua and we have Dolphins fan, Andy (@AJMoore21) who is pulling for Herbert.

You can decide for yourself which path the Dolphins should follow… First up, we’ll hear what Lee has to say about Tua Tagovailoa.

Why should Miami draft Tua Tagovailoa over any other QB? This is what I am trying to convince you of today. I’m taking on our resident Dolphins fan, Andy Moore (@AJMoore21) who it seems is getting cold feet a little bit when it comes to Miami taking Tua in this month’s draft.

You can hear us talk about this a little bit on our podcast that we recorded on How Free Agency Affected the First Round of the NFL Draft – Available, like all Full 10 Yards Podcasts, in all the usual places.

Anyway, let’s get into this then and let me tell you why Miami should draft Tua Tagovailoa and live happily ever after… hopefully, at least.

First and foremost, let me address that all draft picks, whether that be a guaranteed top 5 pick who is coming off a decorated college career or a late round roster filler, all come with risk.

Tua’s risks, in my opinion at least are few and far between, there’s just one perceived risk that hangs over him and feels considerably larger than anything else, and that is of course, the small matter of a broken and dislocated hip that he suffered last year and perhaps his general injury history.

One thing I will say, is that this is obviously not an ideal situation and injuries are a concern. However, the hip is by all accounts healing well and Tua has been cleared for full contact again. Injuries happen, this was a bit of a freak injury and  injuries are part and parcel of playing football, and do you know what? Every QB in the National Football League aside from Tom Brady, Philip Rivers and Russell Wilson get injured. 

Teams still win and the world keeps turning.

Miami by all accounts has been angling to draft Tua for over a year, so why get cold feet now over an injury (yes, a severe one) when most QB’s and most players will likely suffer injury at some point? I don’t know if it’d be wise to deviate from a plan, 12 month or more in the making, which has a tangible end in sight.

Injury is almost inevitable in the NFL.

Why am I so calm about this? Well, for one, I’m not a Miami fan.

No, I’m joking.

I guess I do have a vested interest though, as a Chargers fan – If Miami does select Justin Herbert then the Chargers may pick Tagovailoa. Would I be ok with this?

Yes.

Why?

Because Tua Tagovailoa is one of the most talented quarterbacks to come out of college football in recent times and was rightfully being talked up as a potential number one overall pick until Joe Burrow came along.

The draft is about getting the best possible players for your football team and Tua is a potentially franchise changing QB – He’s mobile, he’s intelligent, he’s accurate, he’s a great leader… The list goes on. I’m not saying other QB’s aren’t but he’s been there, he’s done it and he’s done so at the highest level of college football. That’s why I’d want him on my team and why Miami should take him.

Why am I not worried? Because even if the injuries do get the better of him, it’s going to be fine. For two reasons:

Firstly, when Tua is on the field, he’s going to win you games. Miami is getting better and I think Brian Flores has got them moving in the right direction. Having a good QB, on a rookie deal allows you to put your money into other positions and gives you a shot at a championship window.

And lastly… What do smart people do when they see risk? They have a contingency plan to mitigate the risk.

If the injury tag weighs heavily on your mind as the Dolphins, have a backup plan.

Currently, in the NFL coming into this draft, the demand for QB’s is outstripping supply, there are good QB’s without jobs and you already have one of the better replacement level QB’s in the league on your roster in Ryan Fitzpatrick – You can find someone to come in for Tua if he’s hurt and because you’re not sinking too much money into the quarterback position overall, the rest of your team should be good.

If Tua is a failure and he’s too banged up to have a career, so what? He won’t have cost you too much money on a rookie deal and you just draft another QB. Simple.

However, wouldn’t it be better to know what could have been rather than play it safe?

And here is Andy with his case for Miami drafting the former Oregon passer, Justin Herbert.

Bill Parcells rules for Quarterbacks:

Be a three-year starter

Be a senior in college

Graduate from college

Start 30 games

Win 23 games

Post a 2:1 touchdown-to-interception ratio

Compete at least 60-percent of passes thrown

It’s obviously not a perfect formula, and some would even say it’s outdated. However, what is certain is that Justin Herbert ticks every one of those boxes.

The Oregon Ducks product is intriguing for the Dolphins, and indeed any other QB needy team in the NFL, he offers the traditional pocket passer option, and some see him as the safe, high floor, low ceiling prospect.

Herbert is a four-year starter after making his debut as a true freshman in 2016. Since then he’s shown remarkable adaptability, working under Mark Helfrich, Willie Taggart and Mario Cristobal as the Ducks churned through coaches. The versatility Herbert has demonstrated when learning new playbooks is testament to his all-round intelligence and work rate, something that translated into good grades in College and High School.

But all that doesn’t make you draft a man to be your franchise Quarterback.

On the field, Herbert possesses a cannon of a right arm, capable of stretching the field and finding his man with a rocket over the top of the defense. But his isn’t a wild approach, Herbert’s throwing technique is balanced and he is able to adjust the angle at which he throws to work around onrushing defenders.

His technical ability and arm strength often combine to produce ropes into tight windows or where only his receiver can come down with the ball (see below vs Stanford).  

In the pocket, there has been a lot of improvement, with Herbert’s Senior season tape showing light footwork in the pocket and showcasing his natural ability to climb the ladder and step into his throws.

Outside of it, Herbert isn’t a natural runner in the style of some of the modern QBs taking the league by storm, but he’s more than capable of getting out of the pocket and picking up the first down when needed. In this year’s Rose Bowl win over Wisconsin, it was Herbert’s legs that gave the Ducks the win as he rushed for 29 yards and 3 TDs.

Mentally, Herbert is up there with the best in this draft, he goes through his progressions without panic, he can read defences and adjust plays at the line, and he is extremely calm under pressure. The latter highlighted by his game winning drive against Utah as a true freshman, in which he threw the game winning play with 0:02 on the clock.

Beyond the praise, there are clearly still things to work on, a lack of leadership ability is often the first issue raised, Herbert and those around him maintain this isn’t the case, but whichever team takes him will probably want to see a more fiery side to him in the huddle. There’s also the need to work on escapability and anticipation, especially if he’s going to play behind a Dolphins offensive line that looks anything like last years.

So why should the Dolphins take Herbert, not Tua? For me, aside from the physical tools, it’s the partnership with Brian Flores that makes sense, the work he has put in through his college career is the prime example of the ‘culture’ which is being cultivated at Hard Rock Stadium.

Combine that with the prototype build, the rocket arm and the calmness under pressure, and it’s not hard to envisage Herbert in the aqua and orange and as the successor to Dan Marino that the Dolphins have been craving for twenty years.

It’s also worth considering the draft capital that Miami has built up, some see that as further evidence that the plan all along has been to accumulate whatever it takes to take Tua. On the flip side, with glaring holes across their roster, I see every pick on day 1 & 2 as being vital to the rebuild and fully expect the Dolphins to pick at least five times before we reach the third round.

It’s #HerbertSzn, right?

Tweet us, @Full10YardsCFB and tell us who you think who should be under center for the Dolphins.