2020 AFC East Fantasy Review
Home sweet home. As a lifelong Pats fan I’ve paid very close attention to the AFC East over the years and this year was one to remember (or forget, right PATSNATION?) Fantasy owners found some of the biggest steals and as usual a few busts in this division. Let’s dive into this 2020 fantasy review of the AFC East.
Anyone remember when I said Josh Allen had all the tools to put up Mahomes like numbers? Turns out I was correct about Allen’s breakout but was one year too early. The 2018 7th overall draft pick showed why he was more than worthy of that draft capital by setting the league on fire on his way to the fantasy QB1. He averaged a monster 25.32 PPG over 16 games which was almost identical to that of Mahomes in his 15 outings. Allen set career highs across the board demolishing his stats on his way to 4,544 yards, 37 touchdowns against just 10 picks. The biggest improvement in my opinion was his accuracy, he completed 396 of 572 attempts, after a career high completion percentage of just 58.8% in his sophomore year, he posted a 69.2% completion percentage despite more than 100 more pass attempts. If his passing production wasn’t enough for you, he was still very productive on the ground rushing for 421 yards on 102 attempts and finding the end zone 8 times. He even added a receiving score for good measure. Allen was one of the biggest success stories of 2020 and is now firmly in the elite category of fantasy QBs.
This was a true tandem backfield making it difficult for fantasy owners to trust either back. 12 games with double-digit PPR fantasy points sounds great until I tell you that’s for the both of them. Womp, womp wooomp. To make matters worse, they combined for 10 duds of 5 points or fewer and that’s not including Moss’s three missed games. Devin Singletary was the more successful of the two but he also had a much higher price tag. He played in all 16 games averaging a pedestrian 9 PPG but was fairly effective in his limited opportunities. He totaled 956 scrimmage yards on 194 touches with the main problem being only 2 touchdowns. He ended up with a solid but unimpressive sophomore campaign with a finish of RB31. Third round rookie Zack Moss was expected to take over the lead role from somewhat ho hum Singletary but that didn’t happen. Moss had a solid first year but wasn’t consistent causing them to be a ho hum tandem on one of the league’s most dangerous offenses. Moss only averaged 7.6 PPG but he did find the end zone five times on his way to 576 yards on 126 touches.
This is a difficult position to analyze for next season as this tandem will most likely be a version of Roulette and unfortunately not the version with half naked Jason Parker in a bow tie.
Like his Quarterback, Stefon Diggs was one of the biggest steals of 2020. The former Viking consistently put up monster numbers on his way to leading the league in receiving yardage by a fairly wide margin (1,535), receptions (127) and targets (166), he also had a solid but not NFL leading 8 TDs. He was a complete beast in PPR formats averaging 20.5 points-per-game and checking in at WR3 but just 0.3 points behind Tyreek Hill. Diggs was a huge value pick with an ADP of WR23 usually somewhere in the 5th round which gave fantasy owners a distinct advantage carrying many of them to championships. He was explosive but also very reliable, notching double-digit points in all 16 games. Cole Beasley was quite a steal in his own right, finishing as the WR27 and averaging 13.8 PPG in his 15 games. The former Dallas Cowboy went mostly undrafted with an ADP of WR82 but squashed expectations making him one of this season’s top waiver wire adds. His solid stat-line of 82 on 107 for 967 and 4 scores should put him in the WR3 conversation for next year. John Brown was one of 2019’s biggest steals but didn’t repeat his success due to injury. He only managed nine games but he averaged a solid 10.8 PPG in those contests. Rookie 4th round pick Gabriel Davis showed his big play ability averaging 17.1 yards per catch on 35 receptions for 599 yards and 7 touchdowns. He finished as the WR56 averaging 8.6 PPG but wasn’t anything more than a dart throw in PPR formats.
This was one of the most productive positions in the league but I won’t give it an A+ because John Brown owners were somewhat burned.
Even though Allen put up huge numbers, it was the Wide Receivers who took almost all of that production. TEs Dawson Knox and Tyler Kroft both battled injuries but weren’t very effective while on the field as they both averaged 6 points-per-game or fewer. Knox has some upside for the future but will have to be more involved in the passing game as he only has 52 receptions in 27 career games.
This was a passing of the torch type situation where 1st overall draft choice Tua Tagovaila started his first nine games in the pros getting off to a very solid start to his career. Unfortunately he wasn’t all that solid for fantasy owners, he ranked as the QB20 over the span of his 9 starts although a decent amount of those ahead of him played one more game due to bye week’s throwing things off, but none of those 19 QBs had a lower average than Tua’s 15.57 PPG. The former Crimson Tide hero put up solid numbers after taking over for veteran journeyman Ryan Fitzpatrick, Tua amassed 1,814 yards, 11 TDs and 5 picks to go along with 109 yards and three scores on the ground. Not a bad year but just not all that exciting for fantasy purposes. I expect him to improve some next season, possibly giving us more of a ceiling with a good amount of starting experience under his belt. Fitzmagic was in full force for the first six games before he was benched in favor of the “future” even though he was putting up numbers good enough to be the QB8 in that time. He averaged 21 fantasy points in those six starts and did start one more game in week 12 in which he impressed again with a solid 19 points and was again the QB8. Fitzpatrick will either retire or move on to yet another team this offseason.
Running Back: This position was a weird one with many fantasy owners (myself included unfortunately) spending a fairly high pick on Jordan Howard which was a huge mistake as he barely touched the ball and ended up getting released. Myles Gaskin ended up being the guy to own in Miami racking up 584 rushing yards on 146 attempts and 3 touchdowns in 10
games. What was perhaps the most impressive thing about the 2019 7th round pick was his pass catching abilities in which he turned 47 targets into 41 receptions for 388 yards and two scores. Another notable thing is that he averaged 16.4 PPG in his 10 games but he only started 7 of those. He earned the workhorse role during the season and still averaged more points per game than several of the top 10 RBs. If Gaskin avoided the injury bug he would’ve had a real shot at a James Robinson type season for fantasy owners. Nonetheless, he was one of the biggest successes this season giving managers incredible value. Undrafted rookie Salvon Ahmed was another pleasant surprise that came out of nowhere (I.e. the practice squad) making his NFL debut in week 9 and his first start in week 10 due to injuries. He played in 6 games averaging a solid 11.5 PPR points making him one of the better late season waiver wire pickups. To stick with the recurring theme in this backfield, Matt Breida also battled injuries but unlike the others he struggled while on the field. Due to his ineffectiveness and two fumbles, he managed just 68 touches in 12 games.
Overall a very productive group but they just couldn’t stay on the field. We’ll see what Miami does in the offseason but if they opt to go with Gaskin as the lead back he could once again provide great value for fantasy owners.
The only thing pretty about this position was that it was pretty ugly. DeVante Parker had high expectations coming off of his breakout campaign in 2019 where he finished as a WR1. This season didn’t go quite so well. He struggled to stay healthy and ended up as the WR40 averaging just 11.9 points-per-game. He once again garnered a very heavy workload, catching 63 of 103 targets but his big play ability was lacking. Comparing his 9TDs and 16.7 yards-per-catch for 1,202 last season to just 4 scores and 12.6 for a total of 793 about sums it up. Definitely disappointing that he took a step back into mediocrity but I wouldn’t write him off completely as he was nagged by injuries for the majority of the season. Preston Williams was drafted as Miami’s WR2 and had some success leading the team in touchdowns (4) and yards-per-catch (16) before his season ended abruptly after a foot injury that may or may not have occurred when a Miami defensive tackle jumped on him during a touchdown celebration. Yikes! Anyhow, Williams only managed 8 games this season and averaged an unimpressive 9.4 PPG. One thing that was notable was that Williams was entirely big play reliant due to the fact that he only caught 18 passes. Definitely not a target in PPR formats. Speedster kick returner Jakeem Grant uneventfully took over the WR2 role, hauling in 36 balls for 373 yards and a score in 14 games. RB/WR Lynn Bowden JR. worked out of the slot once the injury bug hit hard down the stretch, bringing in 28 of 37 targets for 211 yards and adding 32 yards on 9 rushing attempts. He played in 10 games but most of his production came in his 4 starts. Not a very productive group but injuries derailed this squad early and often.
It was a year of career highs for third year man Mike Gesicki. He hauled in 53 of 85 targets for 703 yards and 6 touchdowns averaging 10.6PPG in PPR formats. He was very inconsistent and now carries that dreaded “boom or bust” stigma but at the tight end position most will just settle for the fact that he can put up big numbers. For example, the former 2nd round pick notched three 23+ point performances but also failed to get even 3 points in three other contests. He finished as the TE7 despite missing a game so he was well worth his ADP price tag of TE15. Nothing much behind Gesicki, just Durham Smythe and Adam Shaheen who weren’t anywhere near consistent factors in the passing game.
New England Patriots
As a lifelong Pats fan I’m going to try to get through this section as quickly as possible.
Being so used to watching greatness Quarterback the Pats, at moments it was difficult to even know what I was watching. Needless to say, the Cam Newton experiment failed but that doesn’t mean he wasn’t useful for fantasy purposes. Just his rushing ability alone made him a fantasy asset as he rumbled for 592 yards on 137 attempts and a whopping 12 touchdowns in 15 games and also caught another score. To put that into scale, he would have been a very low-end RB3 or almost an RB2 in non PPR leagues. The former MVP didn’t fare so well through the air with just 2,657 yards and 8TDs against 10 INTs. He did have a solid 65.8 completion percentage which is 2nd best in his career. He wasn’t all bad considering his lack of weapons and the fact that he didn’t have much time with the playbook. He was incredibly “boom or bust” with 5 games of 22+ points and 4 single digit duds. Overall he averaged a solid 18 PPG and finished as the QB16 and would have been even higher if he hadn’t missed a game due to Covid.
Former Super Bowl MVP Julian Edelman has been New England’s Iron Man for years but wasn’t in 2020. A knee injury cut his season short but when he was on the field he wasn’t nearly as effective without that TB12 connection that was so deadly. Jules averaged a pedestrian 9.4 fantasy points in his 6 games. Second year man Jakobi Meyers led the way with 59 receptions for 729 yards, he failed to catch a touchdown but he did throw two which was just six fewer than Superman did. 🤦🏻♂️ Overall he was the WR53 because he missed 2 games but was solid for fantasy owners with 10.2 PPG. Not bad for someone who was undrafted in real life and mostly was for fantasy too. Damiere Byrd played a much larger role than expected but still wasn’t a valid option for fantasy owners. He finished as the WR67 with 604 yards on 47 catches and found the end zone just once. New England’s first round draft pick in 2019 N’Keal Harry was a complete non-factor to put it nicely. Star punt returner Gunner Olszewski was primarily a special teams contributor but in his limited opportunities he did boast a 100% catch rate including a 38 yard touchdown.
This was a bright spot for the Pats but not for fantasy owners. Once again this was a committee making it very difficult to trust any of these talented backs. Second year man Damien Harris burst onto the scene bulldozing his way to 691 yards on 137 attempts for an even 5 yards per carry and two touchdowns. He played in just 10 games causing him to finish as the RB53 but his production of 9.1 PPG would have landed him as a mid-tier RB3. Same story for former 1st round pick Sony Michel who played in just 8 games and finished as the RB61 with a solid 9.4 PPG. He too scored two TDs and boasted a YPC of over 5 yards at an impressive 5.7. James White had a down year due to the absence of the GOAT but managed to finish as New England’s top fantasy back in PPR formats coming in at RB42. He averaged just 8.3 PPG in his 14 games receiving just 86 touches for 496 yards and three scores. Do it all veteran Rex Burkhead had the most successful season for fantasy owners averaging 10.8 PPG in his 10
games before going down with a torn ACL. He finished as the RB44 but his 6 TDs and 25 receptions were a big reason for that as the rest of his stats were far inferior to that of Harris and Michel’s. This committee was a mess to deal with and most likely won’t get much better since all four of them missed time making it somewhat easy to predict workloads. However, I do expect Burkhead to retire or if he does return it most likely won’t be in a Pats uni.
This position was nonexistent from a fantasy standpoint. The extremely limited production from this position is in part to the lack of talent/experience but more so due to the lack of a passing game. Veteran Ryan Izzo who is primarily a blocking TE, led the way with a pathetic 3.1 PPG. Rookies Devin Asiasi and Dalton Keene both averaged under 2 PPG but played just 12 games combined. They are both athletic players with pass catching ability but certainly did not show it. The lowest grade I can give is an F right?
New York Jets
Chances are you didn’t start many Jets in your lineups this season and if you did I’m truly sorry. There wasn’t much production to go around from this squad but Jamison Crowder was a bright spot.
Not much to see here. Sam Darnold threw 9 touchdowns against 11 picks and was obviously unusable for even the most desperate of fantasy owners. Injuries were a factor but Sam was just off for the most part averaging just 12 fantasy points per game. He was arguably outplayed by veteran Joe Flacco which at this point in Joe Cool’s career is unacceptable for a supposedly franchise QB. The former 3rd overall pick has most likely seen the end of his starting days in New York and possibly everywhere else. The Jets are in desperate need of a franchise QB and will undoubtedly select one at #2 in April’s draft.
This position was also pretty much a wasteland for fantasy owners. Frank Gore was a bright spot, somehow managing 203 touches for 742 scrimmage yards and two touchdowns. The Ancient One wasn’t a factor for fantasy averaging just 5.2 PPG but what he accomplished and the fact that he did it on the 2020 Jets is amazing! He’s now sitting at an even 16,000 rushing yards just 726 behind the great Walter Payton for 2nd all-time. Rookie 4th round draft pick La’Mical Perine showed flashes but wasn’t utilized enough to be fantasy relevant with just one game with more than 10 touches and one game with double digit PPR Points, you guessed it, it was the same game. Injuries slowed the former Florida Gator and cost him 6 games. He averaged a pedestrian 5.3 points per game but had a limited role when Bell was still in town. Le’Veon Bell accomplished next to nothing as a Jet in 2020 leaving some work for the Lions’ 2019 6th round pick Ty Johnson. He had a very similar story to that of Perine but was involved more in the passing game which led to a couple big games and a few decent outings in PPR formats. Like Perine he also averaged 5.3 PPG. I fully expect the Jets to get themselves a workhorse back in the offseason whether it be a stud rookie like Clemson’s Travis Etienne or Alabama’s Najee Harris or possibly a high-priced free agent like Green Bay’s Aaron Jones. One thing I know for sure is that it won’t be someone that was a Jet in 2020.
Jamison Crowder was my must have sleeper this season and I was stoked when he started off red hot. Unfortunately injuries that cost him four games and nagged him all season, not to mention incompetence seemed to be the goal for the Jets more often than not. Crowder went down with a hamstring injury causing him to miss week 1 and 2 but returned to his dominance posting 7+ receptions and double-digit PPR points in his first four games. He ended up going down for another two game stretch and wasn’t the same afterwards posting just one 7+ reception outing and only 50% of his performances hit the double-digit mark. He ended up finishing as the WR39 but averaged 14.3 PPG which would have put him as at least a middle of the pack WR2 if he played all 16 games. 699 yards on 59 of 89 targets and a total of seven touchdowns in 12 games is nothing to sneeze at especially considering the team he was on. With a Quarterback upgrade almost a certainty, Crowder could be quite a steal once again. Former 1st round bust Breshad Perriman didn’t have a consistent enough workload in his 12 games but showed off his big play ability hauling in 30 of 60 targets for 505 yards and 3 scores to go along with a nice 16.8 yards-per-catch. 2nd round rookie Denzel Mims out of Baylor had a quiet first season but you can’t really blame him. Mims played in just 9 games due to injury and caught only 23 balls but did show a spark turning his opportunities into 357 yards with an average of 15.5 YPC.
Chris Herndon was one of my top sleepers at the Tight End position for 2020 but boy was I wrong! The former 4th round pick played in 14 games and half of those he had 2.1 PPR points or fewer, including four games of zero or minus points. He did end the season on a positive note recording 11 receptions for 97 yards and two scores in his final two games. Herndon was one of the biggest disappointments in the Jets and that’s really saying something! His counterpart Ryan Griffin was equally awful after having some success the year prior. Expect New York to upgrade this position but I wouldn’t count out Herndon just yet. He’s a talented pass catcher and could thrive in a new system and with a new signal-caller.
Stay tuned for the rest of the divisions in this eight part series and as always, stay true.
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