A look at the fantasy relevant players in the AFC East in 2010:
New England Patriots
Tom Brady: He is still one of the best in the business at his position. Many people feel he had a disappointing season last year. That’s only because it was not realistic to expect another 50 TD season. Those are once in a career seasons. Brady still posted his second best fantasy season of his career despite the fact he started the year slowly as he was still getting used to moving around on his previously injured knee. He is still a top 5 QB without a doubt.
Laurence Maroney, Fred Taylor, Sammy Morris, and Kevin Faulk: The ultimate RBBC is in New England. For how much these carries are spread out among the 4 of them, I am not sure any of them are really fantasy relevant. Based on the past I would expect them to use mostly Taylor on the early downs and Faulk on third and passing downs. They should solely be used in your fantasy lineup in case of injury only.
Randy Moss: Moss still posted a decent season last year despite playing with a separated shoulder for most of the season. I give him a lot of credit for playing through the pain for the first time in his career for the benefit of the team. Randy is in the final year of his deal with New England and rumor has it he will not be resigned by the Patriots. Look for Randy to put his best effort forth and have a big 2010 season as he realizes this may be his final shot at achieving that elusive championship ring.
Wes Welker/Julian Edelman: I put these 2 in the same category because they are pretty much interchangeable in the Patriot slot receiver position. Edelman should see a lot of the action early on during the season while Welker recovers from his injured knee. Welker will resume his starting role though once the doctors give him a clean bill of health again. If you have these 2 both on your fantasy roster you will have a stud PPR receiver on your hands.
Brandon Tate/Torry Holt/Taylor Price: Tom Brady has said that Tate has improved a tremendous amount over his rookie season. Torry Holt showed last year that his knees prevent him from being anywhere near the threat he once was. Taylor Price is a promising rookie but will be overmatched by Tate’s extra year of NFL experience. I believe Brandon Tate will start as the third receiver in New England in 2010 although he still won’t be a major fantasy factor just yet.
Rob Gronkowski/Aaron Hernandez: The Patriots addressed an area of weakness in the offense in the 2010 draft here. Either Gronkowski or Hernandez could emerge as a decent red zone threat as Brady seems to find the TE a lot in the red zone. I would use either of these guys as a bye week filler only.
Stephen Gostkowski: Gostkowski should be a top 5 fantasy kicker in 2010.
The New England defense I would project to finish in the middle of the pack for fantasy points in 2010.
New York Jets
Mark Sanchez: Looks like the Jets may have a decent developing QB in Sanchez. He seemed to mature as a player the longer the season progressed. After only playing a season and change in college he played about as well as one could expect him to play. His continued maturation is the key to getting the Jets over the hump and being legitimate Super Bowl contenders.
Shonn Greene: Greene showed down the stretch of the season and once again in the playoffs that he can handle the bulk of the carries for the team. He is a power runner that puts me to the mind of Michael Turner. He should be a force behind that awesome offensive line that the Jets have put together.
LaDainian Tomlinson: LT2 comes in to serve as a complimentary back and most likely play on most receiving down situations. I am not sure he has much left in the tank after his dismal 3.3 YPC season a year ago. He still remains a force down by the goal line however.
Joe McKnight: The rookie McKnight might be sprinkled in on a few running plays, but look for Greene and LT2 to get the bulk of the work in 2010.
Braylon Edwards: Edwards played well in spurts during the course of the 2009 season with the Jets. The Jet brass hopes that he returns to the form he had with Cleveland the year he posted 16 receiving TD’s.
Santonio Holmes/Jerricho Cotchery: The Jets made a big splash acquiring Holmes from Pittsburgh in the offseason. Santonio figures to challenge or even surpass Edwards as the number 1 target in New York once he serves his four game suspension. In the meantime, Jerricho Cotchery is a nice possession type receiver in the offense. He has found a niche with Sanchez and plays well together with him.
Dustin Keller: Keller was another spurty type player in 2009. Some of that can be attributed to inconsistent QB play in Sanchez’s rookie season. Once Sanchez matures, Keller may become one of the better TE options in the league. Do you hear that all you dynasty league owners?
Nick Folk: Currently Folk holds down the position but that is simply by default because everyone else has been worse than him. Even Folk has not kicked well in OTA’s and minicamps so far. This position could be addressed with a signing of another player before the season begins. Jay Feely was a top 10 fantasy kicker last year and the one that settles here could figure to fall in that same category if he can make all the necessary field goal attempts. This is an area of concern right now for Rex Ryan.
The Jets defense only got stronger in the offseason and figures to be the most dominating unit in 2010.
Chad Henne: Henne is one of my personal favorites that I believe will be a solid NFL QB now that he has some quality targets to throw the ball to. I can remember too many times how he led last minute drives to beat my Penn State Nittany Lions several times in his career. Now he is still the QB of the arch nemesis Miami Dolphins. What irony?
Ronnie Brown: I am not sure how many times I have to say this about Ronnie Brown. He is a fantasy stud for part of the season and then gets injured and misses the remainder of the season. Seriously, I cannot remember this guy being the lead dog RB for this team for a full season ever. Ride him early on in the season, but at some point, make a move to acquire Ricky Williams.
Ricky Williams: Ricky played admirably well in place of Brown later in the season. He is a nice back to stash away for the fantasy playoff run.
Brandon Marshall: Despite hip surgery this offseason, Marshall figures to play a prominent role in returning the Dolphin passing attack to stardom once again. He is the playmaker this team needed to acquire this offseason.
Davone Bess: Bess became the go-to target of Henne late in the 2009 season. He really is better suited as a complimentary receiver than the go-to guy. Now he will have that complimentary role with Marshall in town. Brian Hartline could also sneak his way into this slot with an impressive training camp.
Anthony Fasano: Fasano’s numbers regressed under Henne. The more experienced Pennington was able to find him open on more occasions. Once Henne matures as a QB, he will go through the progressions better and find Fasano on more occasions.
Dan Carpenter: Carpenter figures to finish as a middle of the pack fantasy kicker in 2010.
The Dolphins defense was terrible against the pass last season. They didn’t really address this need in the offseason either. I would predict the Dolphins defense to finish in the bottom third of fantasy defenses in 2010.
Trent Edwards: I guess you could say Trent Edwards is the starter based on people currently on the roster. He was supposed to be a great sleeper QB last year when the Bills acquired TO. He certainly was a sleeper and remained asleep for the entire season. Edwards is in tow until the Bills draft Jake Locker in the 2011 draft.
Fred Jackson/C.J. Spiller: Fred Jackson figures to play the Pierre Thomas role and Spiller figures to play the Reggie Bush role in the offense. I think Spiller can live up to his end of the bargain, but I am still not sold on Jackson. And with Lynch still here this running back situation is very cloudy at best. I would try to avoid this team’s running backs on fantasy draft day.
Marshawn Lynch: Here’s a guy that has fallen flat on his face after having a promising start to his career. Maybe somehow he can get the courage to resuscitate his dying career. I have my doubts on that though.
Lee Evans: Evans takes back over as the No. 1 WR now that TO is gone. He may not be a bad option in PPR leagues for 2010 as the rookie QB that takes over will probably use him as his security blanket for the season.
James Hardy/Steve Johnson/Marcus Easley: These three I believe will have a training camp battle for the No. 2 WR position. My educated guess is that Easley will emerge as the No. 2 as he had shown in college that he has solid run blocking skills for a receiver.
Shawn Nelson: The team cut the oft injured Derek Fine, clearing the way for Nelson to become the full time TE. He is tall and could be a nice receiving option in the middle of the field for the new team QB.
Rian Lindell: Lindell figures to finish in the middle third of fantasy kickers in 2010.
They have a decent pass defense but the run defense is horrible. Plus with the offense producing so many three and outs, it will put this defense on the field a lot in 2010. I predict the Bills defense to finish in the bottom third of fantasy defenses in 2010.
Here is the order of finish prediction in the division:
- New England
- New York Jets
- Miami Dolphins
- Buffalo Bills