2022 AFC East Fantasy Preview
2022 Fantasy Preview – AFC East
WR Cole Beasley
WR Jamison Crowder - FA
RB Duke Johnson - FA
TE OJ Howard – FA
RB James Cook – Draft
WR Khalil Shakir – Draft
One of the odds on Superbowl favorites for 2022, the Buffalo Bills hope to build on last season’s play and get over the hump this year. They were sent home in a heartbreaker in last season’s playoffs, as they fell to the Chiefs in OT. After losing in the playoffs 2 straight seasons, the feeling around Buffalo must be a Superbowl appearance is mandatory this year. The Bills return almost the entire same team from last season, with their only notable loss being WR Cole Beasley, who they replaced with Jamison Crowder, a shifty slot WR who should step right into the role and vacated targets left behind by Beasley. Gabriel Davis has created a lot of buzz in fantasy circles, especially in the dynasty community, after his absolute domination against the Chiefs in their playoff game (200 yards and 4 TDs). Diggs projects to remain the clear-cut alpha in the offense, with Crowder, Davis and newly drafted Khalil Shakir rounding out a solid WR corps in Buffalo.
I have Diggs slated as a Top 5 WR again this season, even though some were disappointed with his output last year. Diggs did not provide quite the ceiling games managers were looking for but produced consistent numbers week in and week out for a WR7 finish on the season. I would have no problem drafting Diggs as one of the Top 5 WRs off the board this year. If some of those deep targets connect again like in 2020, we should see Diggs land back inside the Top 3. I like Crowder as a late round dart throw in PPR leagues. He does not offer a ton of upside in the yardage or touchdown department but should soak up the majority of the 112 targets left behind by the departure of Beasley. Solid WR4 in PPR leagues you can probably get with one of your last picks. Gabe Davis is one of the biggest “mystery box” players heading into 2022. We saw his ceiling with his dynamic athleticism during the playoffs, it is just hard to see him getting a significant number of targets with Diggs still around. At best, Davis could be the #2 leader for targets on the team and he has the athletic profile of a “take the top off” guy who can stretch the field. We will have to see how ADP shakes out closer to August, but I would be willing to draft Davis for his upside later in the draft as a WR4. Khalil Shakir will most likely go undrafted and probably will not see much opportunity in 2022 unless injuries hit a few of the WRs ahead of him.
The Bills have seemingly been throwing every dart they can to create an effective RB room, spending decent draft capital at the position for 3 straight years (Singletary in 2020, Moss in 2021, and Cook in 2022). They also added Duke Johnson to the room who showed last season he has still got some juice. The backfield in Buffalo seems somewhat confusing now for fantasy. Singletary had an extremely strong end to the season last year when Buffalo seemingly gave him the reigns for the last several weeks, Duke Johnson looked effective in Miami, and James Cook, younger brother of Dalvin Cook, is a dynamic player who projects as more of a pass catching RB in the NFL. It is clear they want to move on from Zach Moss, who has been nothing short of a disappointment so far in the NFL.
I imagine as we get closer to the start of the season, James Cook will end up being the RB with the highest ADP on this team, which I wouldn’t disagree with, but at first glance, I think it is going to make Singletary a decent bargain. As I mentioned, Cook profiles as more of a pass catcher, so the Bills will still need a reliable RB to give the ball to in the running game. I amsure Cook will get some of that work, but there should still be plenty of opportunity for Singletary to carry some decent value as a later round pick. I would not mind taking a stab on James Cook in the mid-rounds depending on where his ADP lands. If I must pay an RB2 price to get Cook, I will probably pass in the draft but if I can snag him as an RB3/Flex player for my team I would be comfortable taking him there. Zach Moss and Duke Johnson will most likely go undrafted and should remain on the waiver wire throughout the season unless the Bills’ backfield gets hit with a major injury bug. In that scenario, I would probably prefer Johnson over Moss.
Josh Allen enters the year as the clear cut #1 QB in my opinion and I cannot imagine a world where he does not at the very least finish inside the Top 3. Allen is the centerpiece of the Bills’ offense as he provides a high passing ceiling, but also a significant amount of rushing production which boosts his numbers. Outside of injury, I do not see a scenario where Allen does not live up to his ADP. Personally, I am not typically an early QB drafter, so Allen probably will not be on many of my teams, but if you are sitting in the 3rd round and do not love the other options, you could confidently draft Allen to provide a ton of ceiling at the QB position.
After a breakout season last year, I am tempering expectations a bit for TE Dawson Knox. I expect him to still be the primary TE in the offense, but OJ Howard poses a threat to Knox’s redzone work. If you remember, most of Knox’s fantasy value came from the 9 touchdowns he scored last year. If he regresses even a little back to 5-6 touchdowns, Knox probably lands as a low TE1 or even outside the Top 12 at the position. I would gladly take a stab at Knox super late in drafts since he is still tied to an explosive offense, but do not spend up this year to get him.
According to Vegas Insider, the Bills are currently tied for the highest win total Over/Under with the Packers and the Bucs. If I had to bet, I would probably go with the under as the AFC East seems to be a much tougher division this year, and the Bills’ schedule includes games against the AFC North (Bengals, Browns, Ravens, Steelers), Rams, Packers, Titans, and Chiefs. That is a brutal list of opponents so if I had to bet, I would take the under, but would not be surprised to see Buffalo as the #1 seed in the AFC either.
WR Davante Parker – Trade
RB Sony Michel – FA
OT Terron Armstead – FA
RB Chase Edmonds – FA
RB Raheem Mostert – FA
OL Connor Williams – FA
WR Tyreek Hill – Trade
WR Erik Ezukanma – Draft
A tale of two halves in 2021, the Miam Dolphins were competing for the #1 overall pick midway through the season, before closing out the year on an 8-1 run, barely missing the playoffs. The defense stepped up in a major way while Tua and the offense seemingly left a lot to be desired. Overwhelmed by the league’s worst offensive line, the Dolphins have taken every step this off-season to give Tua a chance to succeed. They added one of the best OTs in the league in Tyron Armstead and added a quality interior lineman in Connor Williams. These two moves instantly upgrade the Dolphins’ o-line which cannotpossibly be any worse than last season.
They completely revamped the RB room, adding veterans Michel, Edmonds and Mostert alongside Gaskin and Ahmed. I cannot imagine all 5 are on the opening day roster, and I imagine Gaskin or Ahmed, or possible even both, get cut before the season. One of the many blockbusters off-season trades in the NFL was the Dolphins acquiring star WR Tyreek Hill from the Chiefs. Hill gives the Dolphins’ offense a new dynamic, and the speed of Hill alongside star sophomore WR Jaylen Waddle will make life difficult for secondaries. Losing Devante Parker makes the WR corps a bit thin behind Hill and Waddle, but as long as those two stay healthy, they really shouldn’t need anyone else.
Looking at the WRs from a fantasy perspective, I think this new setting downgrades both Hill and Waddle from their respective performances last season. Hill has consistently been a Top 5 WR option come draft day given his QB, but now a significant downgrade probably lands Hill in the lower part of the Top 10. Waddle had a sensational rookie season, breaking the rookie reception record, but now does not look to be the #1 on the team. Before the trade for Hill, I was seeing Waddle ranked in the lower part of the Top 10, but now he probably sits as a mid to high WR2. Both players are guys I am not going to reach for, probably pass over at their ADPs, but would have no problem pulling the trigger if either slips a few spots. Both possess rare speed to take the ball to the house at any moment, but most likely will be held back from reaching their true ceilings with Tua under center. I would rank both guys in the WR2 range this year, Hill slightly ahead of Waddle.
This could be one of the messiest RB situations in the entire NFL. The Dolphins prioritized signing Chase Edmonds, giving him the first contract in Free Agency, and I imagine he will carry the highest ADP of all these guys in drafts. However, Chase has shown a limited skillset throughout his career and is predominantly a pass catching back which provides a decent floor in PPR, but probably not a ton of upside for yards or TDs. I imagine Edmonds will wind up in the RB2 range in drafts, and if that is the case, I will gladly pass on him at that cost.
New Dolphins’ dead coach Mike McDaniel is a Shanahan disciple, and if Shanahan has proven anything throughout his tenure, it is that no one has any clue how RB touches will get divided. After spending Day 2 capital on Trey Sermon last season, Elijah Mitchell wound up as the winner in the backfield. For years before that we would see consistent splits between Raheem Mostert, Jeff Wilson, etc. I am confident Michel and Mostert will get early down work in this offense and given Mostert’s injury history, Michel is the RB I would be willing to take a flier on later. I imagine the ADPs of both players will wind up similar in the latter parts of your draft, and I would not mind taking a shot on Michel with one of my last picks. Mostert is not a bad late round dart throw either, but history tells us you are not going to get many games out of him.
Tua showed a few flashes early in the season last year butcontinued the trajectory of a low-upside option, finishing outside the Top 24 QBs for another year. This seems to be a make-or-break year for Tua who has now been given everything he needs to be successful. Current ADP has Tua as the QB14 which I will most certainly be out on at that price. He is currently being drafted ahead of Tom Brady, Deshaun Watson, and Trey Lance who I would 100% take ahead of Tua. If that ADP holds up and you must draft Tua as a fringe QB1, I think you are drafting him at his ceiling which I am never a fan of. I probably will not have Tua on any teams this season, but if he falls to an attractive value, it will not hurt to take a shot in the event he takes a massive step forward with his new offense.
The Dolphins made a point to bring back TE Mike Gesicki, using the franchise tag on him. You can probably jumble up Gesicki with a bunch of other players who all have a decent shot at finishing as a low end TE1. The athletic ability of Gesicki provides the opportunity for some explosive plays, but he will be third at best on the team for targets, attached to a middling QB. I would rather take a stab at guys like Zach Ertz, Dawson Knox and Dalton Schultz who are on significantly better offenses.
Vegas Insider puts that Dolphins at 8.5 wins for 2022 which seems like a tough line given they won 9 games last year with a seemingly much worse team. It seems easy to take the over here, but I am going to take the under and think they get right to 8 wins. They have a tough schedule this season and a first time Head Coach with a lot of new parts on offense might take a few weeks to hit their stride.
New England Patriots
OG Shaq Mason – Trade
WR Davante Parker – Trade
OG Cole Strange – Draft
WR Tyquan Thornton – Draft
RB Pierre Strong – Draft
RB Kevin Harris – Draft
Seemingly one of the weirdest off-season’s in the NFL, the Patriots look on paper not much better, and maybe even a little worse, than last season. You would think a team would try to build around their young franchise QB, and while New England consistently sports one of the league’s best offensive lines and defenses, I do not see how they upgraded the weapons for Mac Jones. The trade for Davante Parker gets them a reliable vet on the outside, but I cannot see him as much more than a marginal upgrade over that they had last season. Thornton was the fastest WR at the NFL draft but widely considered as a reach by several experts at the top of the 2nd round. Losing Shaw Mason, a top-notch Guard, and using a first rounder on Cole Strange seems like a “strange” move to make. Strange was widely mocked in the late 2nd/early 3rd round and New England burned their first-round pick to take him. Even if analysts were wrong about his draft position, you must imagine the jump from Tennessee-Chattanooga to the NFL will come with some growing pains.
As usual the Patriots also added a few late round RBs to their roster, muddying things up even more than before. Their RB room now includes Damien Harris, Rhamondre Stevenson, James White, Pierre Strong and Kevin Harris. I imagine Harris and Stevenson will still see most of the early down work, White filling in on passing downs, and whoever contributes on special teams between Strong and Harris will most likely dress on gameday. Neither of these draft picks move the needle much so I view the New England backfield in a similar lens as last season.
Starting with the WRs for fantasy, I most likely will not have any New England wideouts on any of my teams. I am not a believer that Mac Jones is much more than a game manager, somewhere along the lines of Tua with much worse weapons. The loss of Josh McDaniels as OC also adds a wrench into the mix since he has been a mainstay in New England for a long time. Jakobi Meyers was the most reliable WR last season, but you must imagine Parker will cut into some of those consistent targets he was seeing. In a low volume passing attack, I cannotsee Parker or Meyers getting enough work to make a difference for fantasy teams. Thornton most likely goes undrafted and could be a fun DFS play if he connects on a long pass in eachweek, but certainly not someone you want to rely on weekly. I am out on all the New England WRs for 2022.
The RB position in New England is quite more interesting, as Damien Harris provided solid RB2 performance last year and Rhamondre Stevenson provided some nice performance the few games Harris missed. I think Stevenson gets a bit more involved than last season, and with James White back to take passing work, I think it makes both players low upside, TD dependent FLEX plays. I would most likely pass over both guys in full PPR leagues and take a stab late in half or non PPR. Expect James White to produce as he always has. A pass catching option who carries a decent floor in PPR, he could be a decent bye-week or injury fill in for a desperate team in a PPR league. He most likely provides no value in half or non-PPR.
Mac Jones had a solid rookie season and did what was asked of him for the year, finishing as the QB18 on the season. We willsee how a new offensive coordinator impacts Jones’ production,but I do not see a ton of upside in Jones. A reliable option you could grab late in Superflex or 2QB leagues, I imagine he will not get drafted in many 1 QB leagues and probably slots in as a decent, high floor streamer. I see New England being near the bottom in pass attempts as they lean on the defense and run game which limits the ceiling of Jones. Add in his near-zero rushing production and I think there’s better fliers to take a stab at late.
The Tight End position in New England seems to be the only spot that I believe has some interesting pieces. We saw New England go out and spend big money on Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith last off-season, and throughout the season Henry seemingly became the preferred option. Henry does not offer a ton of yardage or reception upside, given my expectation of low volume, but he was often targeted in the redzone and provided 9 TDs. After you get outside the Top 5 or so Tight Ends, it is a crapshoot on the rest, and Henry has shown to be a reliable TD option for New England, so it is worth a shot taking Henry late hoping he gives you another 8+ TDs. Jonnu Smith most likely will not be drafted in leagues and probably will not offer much this season outside of the occasional TE12 finish in a few games when he catches a touchdown.
Vegas Insider puts New England at 8.5 wins which I will boldly take the under. I know it is always a tough proposition betting against Bill Belichick, but this roster on paper does not look like anything too scary. The rest of the AFC East has seemingly gotten much better, combined with a tough schedule, and turnover at important coaching positions, I think New England gets to 7 or 8 wins, finishing slightly below their proposition.
New York Jets
OG Laken Tomlinson – FA
WR Garrett Wilson – Draft
RB Breece Hall – Draft
TE Jeremy Ruckert – Draft
TE CJ Uzomah – FA
TE Tyler Conklin – FA
Probably a bit biased as a Jets’ fan, I think the Jets had one of, if not the best, off-season in the entire NFL. Joe Douglas has been building this team fundamentally the last few years and hopefully it pays off this season. They did everything they could to provide Zach Wilson keys to succeed, adding a Pro-Bowl Guard in Laken Tomlinson, adding solid TEs Uzomah and Conklin, and then adding a few dynamic playmakers through the draft in Garrett Wilson and Breece Hall.
The Jets had one of the worst offensive skill groups in the NFL only two years ago, and now Joe Douglas has seemingly turned that into a strength. Alongside Breece Hall in the backfield is sophomore Michael Carter who showed flashes in his rookie season, and can help compliment Hall on passing downs, where Carter excels. Garrett Wilson joins sophomore WR Elijah Moore who showed elite potential in his rookie season, and Corey Davis who makes a solid WR3 on the roster. The TE room was completely revamped, and now Wilson has every weapon at his disposal to take a second-year leap.
Looking for fantasy, the Jets have some nice weapons that seemingly depend on the development of Zach Wilson. Garrett Wilson was widely considered the #1 or #2 WR prospect byevery analyst, and brings a dynamic skill set to the field. He can take a jet-sweep to the house or high point a 50/50 jump ball over a CB. Outside of Justin Jefferson and Jamar Chase the last few seasons, we typically do not see rookie WRs become consistent contributors until about halfway through the season. I would take a stab at Wilson in the middle rounds of your draft as a WR3 that can move up into WR2 consideration as the season goes on. Running mate Elijah Moore also provides a ton of speed for the Jets’ offense and will most likely be working from the slot position. He showed a nice stretch of games last season where he was dominant, which he should build on this season. Moore should be viewed as a high-end WR3 who could push into WR2 territory if Zach Wilson takes a nice step forward. Corey Davis seems like nothing more than a bye week fill in replacement player who will probably get drafted towards the end rounds if he even gets drafted at all.
Breece Hall immediately steps into a great position to be the lead RB of the Jets’ backfield. Sophomore Michael Carter had a solid rookie campaign, but profiles as more of a pass catching RB, so I expect Hall to get most of the early down work. Hall is a dynamic player who also excels in the passing game, so I do not expect him to come off the field all the time for Carter, which gives Hall a nice combo of ceiling and floor given his expected rushing and receiving volume. Hall profiles as a solid RB2 who could push into RB1 territory if the Jets’ offensive line and offense overall are better than expected. Even without a major jump from the offense, Hall should be at least finish inside the Top 20 RBs.
I do not think any player’s dynasty stock took a bigger hit than Michael Carter this off-season once Breece Hall was drafted. Carter most likely provides a decent floor given his expected work in the passing game but should not be trusted as anything more than a solid RB3 or FLEX option in PPR leagues.
Zach Wilson hopefully takes a major step forward this year with the upgraded offense, but we will have to see it first to believe it. He showed some promise as a rookie over the second half of last season but did not light up the stat sheet by any means. I imagine Wilson’s ADP will be very low and should be a consideration as an upside dart throw in 2QB or Superflex leagues. You can probably leave him on the waiver wire during the draft in single QB leagues until we see how he performs the first few weeks of the season.
While the Tight End room is significantly upgraded over last year, I still do not see either of these guys being major fantasy contributors. I imagine Uzomah or Conklin will at best be third on the team in targets, and at this moment it is a crapshoot which guy is going to handle starting duties. Neither one probably even gets drafted and I think you can find better upside fliers in the late rounds of the draft.
Vegas Insider pegs the Jets with a 5.5 game win total this season and the Over has been the single most popular bet thus far in Vegas. I will echo that sentiment and would take the Jets winning more than 5.5 games this year. With a downtrodden team filled with holes last season they still willed themselves to 4 wins, so all the off-season improvements they have made, plus an expected step forward from Wilson, I find it hard to imagine they do not get to at least 6 wins this year.