AFC East Divisional Dive

by Jason Allwine · NFL
AFC East Divisional Dive

The NFL Draft is over, most free agents have been signed, and trades have been made. Barring any more major trades, we now know what each team will be working with in 2022. Before we move completely onto the next year, it is important to remember what players and teams found success in 2021. After all, a player’s fantasy success is largely tied to their team’s success. This series will serve to function as a reminder of last year’s performances and also take a look at who may breakout in 2022. Each division will have its teams dissected and I will find a player who should be a more valuable asset in 2022 than they were in 2021. Every relevant player leaving, every relevant player coming, and every draft pick is here. So without further ado, let’s take the AFC East Divisional Dive.

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Buffalo Bills

2021 Record: 11-4

Offense: Points For – No. 3, Yards For – No. 5

Defense: Points Allowed – No. 1,  Yards Allowed – No. 1

Top Fantasy Players

1. Josh Allen, QB – 402.58 points

2. Stefon Diggs, WR – 285.5 points

3. Devin Singletary, RB – 197.8 points

Fantasy Relevant Players Leaving

1. Matt Breida, RB – Giants

2. Emmanuel Sanders, WR* (still a free agent)

3. Cole Beasley, WR* (still a free agent)

Fantasy Relevant Additions

1. Jamison Crowder, WR

2. Duke Johnson, RB

3. O.J. Howard, TE

Draft Results

R1: Kaiir Elam, CB, Florida

R2: James Cook, RB, UGA

R3: Terrel Bernard, LB, Baylor

R5: Khalil Shakir, WR, Boise State

R6: Matt Araiza, P, SDSU / Christian Benford, CB, Villanova / Luke Tenuta, OT, Virginia Tech

R7: Baylor Spector, LB, Clemson

Potential Breakouts

Gabriel Davis, WR

With Emmanuel Sanders and Cole Beasley leaving the team, Gabriel Davis will be the only other WR besides Stefon Diggs that was a starter on the offense in 2021. Yes, the Bills are bringing in Jamison Crowder and O.J. Howard. Yes, Dawson Knox demands red zone targets. But still, Davis ended the year on a four-touchdown performance in the AFC divisional round against the Kansas City Chiefs.

Davis has a connection with Josh Allen, and it makes sense for the Bills to use him more often than they did last year. He only had a 10.9-percent (No. 87 among qualified wide receivers) Target Share, so that will definitely go up even with the new targets coming to town.

New England Patriots

2021 Record: 10-7

Offense: Points For – No. 6,  Yards For – No. 15

Defense: Points Allowed – No. 2,  Yards Allowed – No. 4

Top Fantasy Players

1. Mac Jones, QB – 224.94 points

2. Damien Harris, RB – 210.1 points

3. Jakobi Meyers, WR – 186.3 points

Fantasy Relevant Players Leaving

1. Brandon Bolden, RB – Raiders

Fantasy Relevant Additions

1. Ty Montgomery, RB

2. DeVante Parker, WR

Draft Results

R1: Cole Strange, G, UT-Chattanooga

R2: Tyquan Thornton, WR, Baylor

R3: Marcus Jones, CB, Houston

R4: Jack Jones, CB, Arizona State / Pierre Strong, RB, SDSU / Bailey Zappe, QB, WKU

R6: Kevin Harris, RB, South Carolina / Sam Roberts, DT, NW Missouri State / Chase Hines, C, LSU

R7: Andrew Stueber, OT, Michigan

Potential Breakouts

Hunter Henry, TE

Hunter Henry finished last year tied for No. 1 among all tight ends with nine touchdown receptions. He finished as a top 10 tight end and he will look to repeat the same level of success. In my last series about TE surprises in 2021, I wrote about Henry and said that he will probably be boom-or-bust as most of his points came from touchdowns. If he does find consistent usage in this offense though, he will be a much better fantasy asset than “just a top 10 TE.” He has averaged at least 9.7 Fantasy Points Per Game in all five of his years in the NFL. If the connection between Mac Jones and Henry continues to grow, then lookout for a breakout season from the 28-year-old tight end.

Tyquan Thornton, WR

This is definitely for deeper leagues as the Patriots are known for spreading the ball around. But what is exciting about this Tyquan Thornton draft pick is that he was the fastest WR in the 2022 NFL draft and the fastest WR that Bill Belichick has had.

When you think of burners on the Patriots offense, your mind immediately goes to Brandin Cooks. He had 1,082 yards and seven TDs in 2017 with the Patriots. Thornton is even faster, but he is still a rookie on an offense that doesn’t historically lead to fantasy success.

Miami Dolphins

2021 Record: 9-8

Offense: Points For – No. 22, Yards For – No. 25

Defense: Points Allowed – No. 16, Yards Allowed – No. 15

Top Fantasy Players:

1. Jaylen Waddle, WR – 245.8 points

2. Tua Tagovailoa, QB – 180.92 points

3. Myles Gaskin, RB – 173.6 points

Fantasy Relevant Players Leaving

1. Jacoby Brissett, QB – Browns

2. Duke Johnson, RB – Bills

3. Phillip Lindsay, RB* (still a free agent)

4. Will Fuller, WR* (still a free agent)

5. Albert Wilson, WR* (still a free agent)

Fantasy Relevant Additions

1. Tyreek Hill, WR

2. Cedrick Wilson, WR

3. Chase Edmonds, RB

4. Raheem Mostert, RB

5. Teddy Bridgewater, QB

Draft Results

R3: Channing Tindall, LB, UGA

R4: Erik Ezukanma, WR, Texas Tech

R7: Cameron Goode, EDGE, Cal / Skylar Thompson, QB, Kansas State

Potential Breakouts

Tua Tagovailoa, QB

Tua Tagovailoa averaged 14.7 (No. 21) Fantasy Points Per Game last season. In fact, he wasn’t very good in almost any metric last year, except for various completion percentages.

Now the Dolphins have added Tyreek Hill to the receiving department. An excellent option for Tua, and an even better compliment to Jaylen Waddle. The Dolphins now have the league’s fastest WR corps. They also brought in a new head coach in Mike McDaniel, who was the offensive coordinator for the 49ers. Hopefully his offensive mindset and the improved WR corps can help Tua take a dramatic next step.

Mike Gesicki, TE

The tight end who had a 100.0-percent (No. 1) True Catch Rate last season and had the most slot snaps will be demoted from the second target to the third target on the offense. That is actually great news for Mike Gesicki. Take a look at his profile, and then remember that defenses will also have to cover Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle every play.

Mike Gesicki Advanced Stats & Metrics Profile

Gesicki should be open more often than not next year which should bode well for his fantasy stats.

New York Jets

2021 Record: 4-13

Offense: Points For – No. 28, Yards For – No. 26

Defense: Points Allowed – No. 32, Yards Allowed – No. 32

Top Fantasy Players

1. Michael Carter, RB – 154.4 points

2. Zach Wilson, QB – 151.86 points

3. Elijah Moore, WR – 138.2 points

Fantasy Relevant Players Leaving

1. Jamison Crowder, WR – Bills

2. Keelan Cole, WR* (still a free agent)

3. Tyler Kroft, TE* (still a free agent)

4. Ryan Griffin, TE* (still a free agent)

Fantasy Relevant Additions

1. Tyler Conklin, TE

2. C.J. Uzomah, TE

Draft Results

R1: Sauce Gardner, CB, Cincinnati / Garrett Wilson, WR, Ohio State / Jermaine Johnson, EDGE, Florida State

R2: Breece Hall, RB, Iowa State

R3: Jeremy Ruckert, TE, Ohio State

R4: Max Mitchell, OT, Louisiana / Michael Clemons, DE, Texas A&M

Potential Breakouts

Zach Wilson, QB

The New York Jets drafted so well that any single weapon will probably have a hard time breaking out next season unless there is an injury. But that is excellent news for Zach Wilson. He will be able to throw to Garrett Wilson, Elijah Moore, Corey Davis, and Denzel Mims. Wilson will also have some pressure taken off of him by a solid run game provided by Breece Hall and Michael Carter.

Remember that Wilson was drafted No. 2 overall last year. If that potential is truly tapped into, then he will be a very valuable fantasy QB. He has all the supporting cast he could need.