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Fantasy Football Burning Questions - AFC East

Our advance preseason series with Burning Fantasy Football Questions for 2019 continues with a look at the AFC East.

In this division, our hot topics include the passing games in New England and Miami, nearly the entire offense in Buffalo, and a superstar RB for the Jets.

The Patriots are always at the top of the division, of course, but from fantasy perspectives, they certainly have question marks like any other of their three rivals.

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New England Patriots

Burning Fantasy Football Question: Can N’Keal Harry make an instant impact as a rookie?

The King’s Answer: In the 2019 NFL Draft, Bill Belichick used a first round pick on a WR for the first time in 19 years. The need in the New England passing game was very apparent, and from a skill set perspective, Harry fit the bill of exactly what the Patriots would want in a new wideout. With Rob Gronkowski gone, Josh Gordon’s status uncertain and Chris Hogan a departed disappointment, the Pats required a significant playmaker to work opposite Julian Edelman.

Physically, Harry meets the qualifications. He checks in at 6-4 213 and can make catches in traffic,  gains yardage after the catch and can be a threat in scoring situations near the goal line. Fortunately for New England, he fell to No. 32 and they felt he was the best big target on the board at that time, even over D.K. Metcalf.

He really does not seem to have too much competition for a starting job, as new acquisition Demaryius Thomas is trying to bounce back from a second Achilles tear and has certainly seen better days, and Dontrelle Inman is a stopgap type. Phillip Dorsett is only occasionally effective. This seems to be a situation where Tom Brady simply must get his prized rookie the ball.

Sometimes. Fantasy players often expect rookies to seize opportunities as well. Harry is the 37th WR off the board so far, putting him just outside of WR3 territory. That seems to be fair based on the opportunity, but even as a fringe back-end WR3, we could be expecting a bit much of Harry. It has never been easy for any first-year pass-catcher to succeed in New England. Working with Tom Brady is challenging in a passing game that has been so efficient for so long. In addition to dealing with a significant amount of defensive attention and adjustments to the pro level, Harry will have to learn the finer points and nuances of the Patriots passing game, so he has a lot on his new NFL plate.

Harry’s natural ability and a healthy amount of targets should lead to promising outings, as Brady has often made his premier pass-catchers elevate their output. Even if Brady is not quite the same prolific passer he was even two years ago, working with him should pay quick dividends for Harry at times. But the responsibilities are a lot to ask of a rookie, so inconsistency will be an issue, and you likely will not be able to count on him as a regular Fantasy starter.


New York Jets

Burning Fantasy Football Question: Where should Le’Veon Bell be drafted in PPR leagues this season?

The King’s Answer: From a talent perspective, we already know that Bell is an elite player. In terms of intangibles and motivation, there is a lot to like. He wants to show he can still play at a superstar level after a year off and prove the Steelers wrong for not committing to him. Plus, if he rekindles his standout status in New York, he will become a local hero, and that could lead to more visibility and marketing dollars, especially if he starts pushing the Jets in a winning direction quickly.

The only real question is, how will he respond after a year off? The perceived “rust” should not last long at all, because he will have a full training camp and preseason to get ready for his first campaign as a Jet. He is not rehabbing from an injury, so he should be able to get into playing condition in an optimal time frame. He will have to learn how to operate with new teammates and coaching in new schemes, which is new for Bell at this point of his career. A season-long layoff and a change of scenery are his biggest challenges. He could conceivably take time to mesh ideally in his new surroundings.

Bell has an early ADP of No. 7 at RB and eighth overall. Personally, I would definitely take McCaffrey, Zeke, Barkley, Kamara and Conner over him at RB. It’s a close call between Bell and Joe Mixon, and I would not call it crazy to go with the latter, but I still perceive Bell to have the higher ceiling. He has been among the best of the best at RB before. Hopkins, Adams and Michael Thomas are such sure things as top-shelf WRs that I would have to take them over Bell, too.

Todd Gurley is going one spot ahead of Bell so far, but he has far larger issues now, obviously. Julio Jones is another consideration after a strong second half last year in terms of TDs, as is Travis Kelce. But possible superstar RBs fly off the board so fast that I will wait on Jones and Kelce. Melvin Gordon’s annual nagging health problems also put him behind Bell for me.

I consider Bell one of the last of the potential superstar RBs on the board, so he has to be in the Top 10 PPR choices for me, especially with his great receiving skills. He is a risk to start slowly as he adapts to new surroundings, but I will still confidently take him as the sixth RB off the board and ninth overall.


Buffalo Bills

Burning Fantasy Football Question:  Should any Bills, other than Josh Allen, be drafted in yearly leagues?

The King’s Answer: LeSean McCoy has an ADP of 84 overall and 36 at RB. He is coming off the worst season of his career and I have already heard some owners and Fantasy analysts say they won’t draft him at all. There have even been rumors that he could be a cut candidate or he may be traded. McCoy will turn 31 in July and does not look like a bounce-back type.

I would not say McCoy is not draftable, though, and took him in the 12th round of a recent mock. Even if he does somehow not remain on their roster, he could end up in a timeshare somewhere else and may be useful as a flex play. If he stays with the Bills, he should still at least have flex appeal when he is healthy. He’ll be the lead runner and can still catch the ball out of the backfield, even if he is not nearly as productive as he used to be.

At WR, the Bills brought in John Brown and Cole Beasley to bolster the corps, and Robert Foster was a nice surprise late in the 2018 season. In the final seven weeks of the year, he had three 100-yard games and three TDs as he exploded onto the scene as an undrafted free agent. I landed him in the 14th round of a recent mock and I would pick him first of the Buffalo WRs because of his work with Allen late last year. Brown started fast last year with three 80-plus yard games and three TDs in his first four outings before the Baltimore passing game became more unstable. He could be more consistent this year, as Allen is not afraid to fling the ball downfield. Cole Beasley has never been much of a Fantasy factor in his career and Zay Jones is an occasional contributor. I’d take McCoy, Foster and Brown in double-figure rounds.


Miami Dolphins

Burning Fantasy Football Question: Should we draft any Fins pass-catchers?

The King’s Answer: That may depend on how the QB competition shakes out. If Ryan Fitzpatrick starts, we know he is going to fearlessly fling the ball downfield, and that means either impressive numbers when he is going well, and even catch-up stats when he is not. Or there are simply times when he s downright awful.

Kenny Stills had six TD receptions last season and still has big-play ability. He should be taken with a late pick for sure if Fitzpatrick wins the starting job over Josh Rosen. Albert Wilson briefly looked like a start last year before suffering a season-ending hip injury, and he could have some prolific outings working with Fitzpatrick. Second-year TE Mike Geisicki must take another step forward and could be worth a final pick in larger leagues. If you draft Devante Parker again, though, you deserve to suffer.

If Josh Rosen wins the job, we will have to wait and see if he develops a solid on-field rapport with anyone. But if he beats out Fitzpatrick, that means he will have performed pretty well in the preseason and we can look at his top targets as late round fliers.

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