Dynasty BUY, SELL, HOLD: Dynasty State of the Union – AFC EAST

by Dan Williamson · Featured

This is the first in a series of articles that examines each division in football from a Dynasty perspective. This article examines the AFC East to see which players in Dynasty Fantasy Football we should BUY, SELL, or HOLD. This is the first installment of Dynasty State of the Union: AFC East!

Dynasty Fantasy Football BUY, SELL, or HOLD? Dynasty State of the Union:  AFC East

By: Dan Williamson

New England Patriots

GM: Matt Groh/Eliot Wold

Coach: Jerod Mayo

Salary Cap Space Available:  70M (No. 4 most)

Draft Slot: 3rd

Draft Picks: 1.03, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th

Unrestricted Free Agents: Hunter Henry, Kendrick Bourne, Mike Gesicki, Ezekiel Elliott, Pharaoh Brown, Jalen Reagor

It’s time to flush our memory banks on the Patriots after 24 years of “can’t draft WRs,” “Belitricks,” at the RB position, and whatever other impressions (favorable or not) we’ve built up during the Belichick era. While the Patriots moved quickly to hire Bill’s anointed heir-apparent, Jerod Mayo, and apparently plan to stay within the building for front office decisions, we should not assume that it’ll just be business as usual in 2024. While it’s fair to wonder if the latest branch on the Belichick coaching tree will wither and die as quickly as most of the others, it’s dangerous to assume anything at this point.

Quick Rebuild?

A couple of reasons to be cautious in making assumptions are the Patriots lofty draft position. Also, they have an enormous amount of salary cap space available. This combo platter could allow for a lightning -quick rebuild after bottoming out for only a year IF the Patriots can make the right choices in free agency and the NFL Draft. Picking at 1.03, the most likely outcome is the Patriots take the rare opportunity to grab one of the top 2-3 QB prospects. Then, they can use the remainder of their draft and free-agency capital to build the best supporting cast possible around him.

Better QB play should lead to longer drives and more fantasy points all around. I expect the Patriots to try to use some of their massive cap space to make a splash with a WR signing if they do use that top pick on a QB. Of course, they could flip that narrative on its head. The Patriots could draft Marvin Harrison Jr. with the 1.03. Then, they could use a big chunk of their cap space to sign a QB to throw to him.

Quarterback Conundrum

At least Bailey Zappe looks like a competent backup to whichever QB the Patriots bring in. Mac Jones is a hold-your-nose-and-ask-anyway piece that you might be able to get as a throw-in on a larger SuperFlex deal. He’s a strong bet to end up on a new team sometime this offseason. Additionally, Jones did at least flash competence as a rookie. Perhaps he hasn’t been completely ruined by the dumpster fire around him over the past two years and a change of scenery will help.

Rhamondre Stevenson who has a three-down skillset and potentially minimal competition in 2024 is the most likely beneficiary. The Patriots have plenty of bigger holes to fill. Therefore, they may only add ancillary RBs that don’t seriously threaten his workload for at least another year. Ezekiel Elliott is the longest of longshots to be re-signed. He’s a poor fit for a rebuilding team. 

The cupboard is quite a bit more bare of weapons in the passing game. Demario “Pop” Douglas is really the only WR we should consider targeting in dynasty. We can hope that he will indeed pop and defy the odds of being a sixth round draft pick by succeeding long-term. If you squint just right, you could imagine him becoming a poor-man’s Amon-Ra St. Brown. Deep dynasty rosters might have room for one-time devy darling Kayshon Boutte in hopes that he’ll eventually stop squandering chances and play to his talent again. It’s nearly certain there will be at least one big name added to the WR room.

Tight End

Mike Gesicki has a proven track record of quickly ceding playing time to every backup TE he’s ever met. Therefore, it’s wise let someone else roster him. Hunter Henry, though, has always had a good nose for the end zone throughout his career. As an unrestricted free agent, Henry is worth speculatively adding if you can get him for a reasonable price. This is just in case he finds a home on a competent offense in 2024.

Buys:  Rhamondre Stevenson, Hunter Henry

Hold: Demario Douglas (but sell if you can get a 2nd)

Sell: If you can sell anyone else on this team for anything of value, go for it

New York Jets

GM: Joe Douglas

Coach: Robert Saleh

Salary Cap Space Available:  7.56M (21st most)

Draft Slot: 10th

Draft Picks: 1.10, 3rd, 4th, 4th, 6th

Unrestricted Free Agents: Randall Cobb, Greg Zeurlein

The Jets are taking a mulligan on 2023. Their sixth snap of the season was actually Aaron Rodgers Achilles tendon rather than the snap of a football. They’ll run it back with largely the same cast of characters in the same positions. However, they will do so with some valuable intel on the depth and resilience of their front office, coaches, and players. With about $7.5 million in cap space plus the usual restructuring gymnastics available, the Jets can make a few key free-agent signings to help their cause in 2024. Ideally, some of that will be earmarked to improve an offensive line ranked No. 31 by PFF. They could also use a third offensive weapon to complement Breece Hall and Garrett Wilson.

Aaron Rodgers

Once again, the Jets plan to put their playoff hopes and dreams in the hands of Aaron Rodgers. However, it’s crystal clear they need a better backup plan than the 2023 plan of thoughts, prayers, and Zach Wilson. Look for the Jets to beat the bushes for a low-cost, competent backup QB capable of putting the ball in the hands of their playmakers and keeping the defense out of short-field situations. I expect the Jets will also aggressively shop Zach Wilson for anything they can get. This move would free up an additional $5.7 million of cap space for 2024. Additionally, it would free up $5.4 million in 2025 if they can consummate a deal. The rest of 2023’s revolving cast of QB flotsam and jetsam will be cast adrift when the new league year begins.

Much like the Patriots, the Jets should feel relatively set at the top of their RB depth chart with Breece Hall and Israel Abanikanda. Breece Hall is the No. 3 RB in PlayerProfiler’s own dynasty rankings and would massively benefit from competent QB and offensive line play. It would be hard to find worse play from either department than last year. Therefore, we should be aggressively looking to buy. Given the receiving chops he showed in 2023 and his youth (he doesn’t turn 23 until May 31), I’ve got him as my RB1 overall. Abanikanda looks to be a capable backup. However, tread carefully until free agency is past as Aaron Rodgers might look to add more old friends in the RB room.

Garrett Wilson

Garrett Wilson looks to be a star in the making with competent QB play. Assuming the Jets don’t do anything crazy like trading for Davante Adams, expect Aaron Rodgers to force-feed Wilson. This will give him a real shot at a top-5 WR finish if all goes according to plan. It’s gross to even consider rostering Allen Lazard. But as one of Rodgers’ pet WRs, he’s going to have some playable weeks in 2024. Additionally, you can probably get him as a throw-in on any trade, no matter how small. He’s a reasonable end-of-bench stash for Wilson owners who want a little injury insulation. Xavier Gipson is unlikely to ever become dynasty relevant. He might fetch you a fourth in the upcoming rookie draft. That’s a deal you want to make.

Garrett Wilson Advanced Stats & Metrics Profile

Tyler Conklin hovered around the playable threshold in 2023 due to the lack of other weapons and the relative safety offered by throws in his direction. Don’t expect a massive breakout with Rodgers at the helm. However, his playable status should remain unchanged. He’s a cheap option in deep leagues with large premiums for TEs or leagues where you must start two TEs. You can ignore the other TEs on the roster (Jeremy Ruckert, CJ Uzomah, and Kenny Yeboah) as none of them have shown any signs of a breakout.

Buy: Breece Hall

Holds: Aaron Rodgers, Garrett Wilson

Sell: Xavier Gipson

Miami Dolphins

GM: Chris Grier

Coach: Mike McDaniel

Salary Cap Space Available:  -42.9M (No. 29 most)

Draft Slot: 21st

Draft Picks: 1.21, 2nd, 5th, 6th, 6th, 7th

Unrestricted Free Agents: Cedrick Wilson, Chase Claypool, Braxton Berrios, Salvon Ahmed, Tyler Kroft, River Cracraft

Mike McDaniel enters his third year as head coach with the Fantasy-Friendly Stamp of Approval. What’s that, you say? It’s a head coach or offensive coordinator who runs an offense that feeds its main targets heavy touches and understands that nobody wants to see River Cracraft or Salvon Ahmed be remotely fantasy relevant unless all the usual offensive cogs are unable to play. With that said, the Dolphins must do some heavy lifting just to get under the salary cap, let alone add any free agents.

The Band is Back Together

The good news is that all our offensive favorites should be back in their same roles for 2024. Jaylen Waddle, Raheem Mostert, and Devon Achane are all on reasonable deals. Additionally, the straw that stirs the drink, Tyreek Hill, is earning every penny of his enormous salary. Extending Tua Tagovailoa would be one easy way to trim a sizable chunk off their cap as he is due $23 million on his fifth-year option. With only later first and second round picks in the draft, and no picks in the third or fourth rounds, we should expect that most of the draft capital will be spent filling holes created by getting under the salary cap.

After a concussion-ridden 2022 season, Tua Tagovailoa defied the expectations of most fantasy gamers and stayed healthy for a full 17-game season. This is no mean feat for a starting QB in 2023. Despite tossing the No. 5-most TDs last year, Tua isn’t a top-end fantasy QB. He severely lacks the necessary rushing points to pad his fantasy totals. He’s a hold in 2024. If you’re holding Tua though, consider adding some Mike White insurance. Now, after a full season of Tua staying upright, is the best time to make that move. If you’re actually considering rostering Skylar Thompson for some reason, you play in a real sicko league.

Devon Achane

People will be falling all over themselves to acquire Achane after his explosive 2023 games. Their reasoning will be that he should add some consistency to his repertoire in 2024. While that’s a great bet, don’t let FOMO goad you into overpaying for him. On the other hand, definitely send out some feelers on Raheem Mostert if you’re a win-now team. His current manager might be spooked by the twin terrors of an age-32 season for an RB and the specter of an Achane takeover. Never pay full price for a career year, but keep in mind Mostert was a TD-scoring machine who still has less than 700 career carries.

The cheapest solid play in this backfield, though, is anyone else. Every Miami RB should be on a dynasty roster somewhere as the attrition level at the position is always high, and Miami doesn’t change their offensive identity just because Mostert and/or Achane is out. Jeff Wilson is a likely cut or restructure candidate. Christopher Brooks is on the books for cheap. Salvon Ahmed could also re-sign for a team-friendly deal. Miami could add any number of other RBs late in the free-agency game. Be alert for opportunities to add any of these backup options as a cheap throw-in on a larger deal.

Wide Receivers

The bottom of the WR depth chart is going to get a major makeover as the ‘Fins currently only have three WRs under contract for 2024:  Hill, Waddle, and Erik Ezukanma. Potentially hitting the free agent streets are the eminently replaceable quartet of Cedrick Wilson, Braxton Berrios, Chase Claypool, and River Cracaft. Tyreek is starting to slip as a dynasty asset due to his age. However, he still makes plenty of sense for win-now teams because he still delivers massive weekly scores. Jaylen Waddle is more valuable for what he might someday become rather than what he is right now, making him an excellent sell. He could play out his entire first contract before he has point-scoring capabilities commensurate with his cost. Ezukanma is strictly a penny stock in the dynasty game.

Durham Smythe is the TE to roster here, but he really only has predictable value if Waddle or Hill miss time. Managers who must start two TEs can kick the tires on him, but otherwise let someone else carry him on a roster. Looking even deeper, Julian Hill was a buzzy name for a while last offseason, but honestly, that’s mostly because dynasty touts had run out of fresh players to hype.

Buys: Raheem Mostert, Tyreek Hill (win-now rosters only)

Hold: Devon Achane

Sell: Jaylen Waddle

Buffalo Bills

GM: Brandon Beane

Coach: Sean McDermott

Salary Cap Space Available:  -43.6M (No. 30 most)

Draft Slot: TBD

Draft Picks: 1st, 2nd, 4th, 5th, 5th (Green Bay), 6th, 6th, 6th (Houston), 7th

Unrestricted Free Agents: Gabriel Davis, Trent Sherfield, Damien Harris, Latavius Murray, Ty Johnson, Quentin Morris

Change is in the air in Buffalo this offseason. Firing the offensive coordinator midseason during a mad scramble just to make the playoffs shows this is a team with some work to do to keep the fantasy good times rolling. Being $43.6 million in the hole on the salary cap tells us Brandon Beane is going to have to make some big moves. But for a team still within a competitive window, restructures are a GM’s best friend, and he’ll worry about tomorrow’s problems, well, tomorrow. At least he has a solid store of draft picks to help him out as the Bills retool on the fly. 

Josh Allen

Josh Allen is an elite dynasty asset in any type of league and even more so in superflex or 2QB formats. He’s the QB1 overall for 2023, marrying 29 TD tosses with an NFL-record 15 QB rushing scores. Amazingly enough, 2023 was Allen’s worst fantasy season on PPG basis in the last four years. Managers who roster Allen should demand a king’s ransom if they ever decide to sell. Kyle Allen‘s the backup here (and a free agent), but if it ever gets to the point that the Josh Allen manager needs to know who is the 2024 backup, they’re guaranteed to be in a black hole of despair.

The RB room is likely to look different behind James Cook in 2024 due to expiring contracts and salary cap issues. Ty Johnson, Latavius Murray, and Nyheim Hines are likely gone unless one of them agrees to come back on a very cheap deal. But the more likely source of RB help will come on Day 3 of the NFL Draft where the Bills are well-stocked with picks. Cook feels safe for another year in the 1A role of a committee but will almost certainly continue to come up maddeningly small due to Josh Allen and other RBs hoovering up most of the rushing TDs.

Stefon Diggs

Stefon Diggs has opened a buying window between his advancing age (30) and stark drop off in fantasy production over the last half of 2023. This is not a move for the faint of heart, but it’s a good bet that Diggs rebounds strongly next year as most of the decline in his production was beyond his control. He’s still getting open. Diggs just needs more on-target passes.

Gabriel Davis is about to go out and make a boatload of money in free agency, but it won’t be from the Bills. He’s an interesting speculative trade target because nearly every time he gets 6+ targets, he puts up WR2 or better numbers. If a team drops a boatload of cash on him, and he lands in a situation where he’s more than just the ancillary piece he was in Buffalo, he could hit that WR2 threshold more often. Deonte Harty is an easy cut as he’s vastly underperformed his contract and Trent Sherfield is a free agent. Khalil Shakir thus looks to take a step up in the pecking order, but it’s a sure bet the Bills will add competition for him. Don’t make the mistake of chasing Shakir solely on the basis of vacated targets but he’s still a mildly intriguing hold.

Dalton Kincaid

Dalton Kincaid has a big opportunity in front of him with the shakeup of the receivers. He’ll never kick Dawson Knox completely to the curb. However, he can definitely keep him from ever being particularly fantasy-relevant again except in deep TE leagues. Kincaid has all the tools to become the No. 2 weapon in the passing game, so check and see if his fantasy manager in your league has soured on him at all. He’s a great bet for a Year 2 bounce.

Buys: Josh Allen, Stefon Diggs, Dalton Kincaid

Holds: James Cook, Gabriel Davis, Khalil Shakir

Sells: Anyone else in this offense