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AFC East Fantasy Preview

Randy Moss (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

 Ladies and gentlemen, the time has finally arrived. Fall is upon us, and while we’re sad to see the summer coming to a close, fantasy football fanatics across the globe are salivating, as the 2010 NFL season is quickly approaching.

If you’re as fanatical about fantasy football as I am, you’ve probably already begun reading up on draft strategies, player projections, and updating your depth charts. Heck, some of us have already done a handful of mock drafts to sharpen our skills. But throughout the month of August, I’ll be breaking down the fantasy value in each of the eight NFL divisions, just in case you’re just now getting started with your prep work.

Today, we kick things off and start close to home in the AFC East.

Team Profiles

Buffalo Bills

I hate to start off with bad news, but the Bills roster is filled with nothing but that, bad news. If your fantasy team is relying on Trent Edwards behind center, you might as well retire from the fantasy football world now and save yourself the headaches.

Their three-headed backfield monster shouldn’t wow anyone either, with carries likely being split up between incumbent Fred Jackson and rookie C.J. Spiller, with Marshawn Lynch still hanging around also. Spiller’s got some future upside, but otherwise there’s really nothing there. On the receiving side, with the departure of Terrell Owens, Lee Evans is probably the only Buffalo Bill that will show up on your draft cheat sheet, and even he has seen better days.

Miami Dolphins

Chad Henne has been climbing the ranks of the fantasy quarterbacks, after posting a reasonably solid stat line last season. He shouldn’t be considered a starting fantasy signal caller yet, but he can absolutely act as a nice bye-week replacement for your squad. He’ll have a new toy to throw to this season in Brandon Marshall, who has the highest fantasy stock on the ‘Phins. If he doesn’t haul in 100 catches and double-digit touchdowns, I’d be shocked.

In the backfield, the tandem of Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams returns, both of whom are definitely draftable. Neither will wow you with over-the-top stats, but both can serve as a quality #3 RB on your fantasy team.

New England Patriots

Whether Pats fans like it or not, Tom Brady is entering a contract year. So this coming season, he’ll be playing for his next big deal, which can only mean good things for fantasy owners of “TB12.” There’s little likelihood that Brady can duplicate his record-setting 2007 season, but he still should be considered one of the top four QBs, no doubt about it. If you want him, you’ll have to spend one of your top three picks on him. He’ll have Randy Moss to throw to for sure, also considered to be a top four player at his position, and hopefully, Brady will have a healthy Wes Welker at his disposal also. Welker, who is aiming to come back from a major knee injury he sustained in the final game of the ’09 regular season, is on track to return to the field from the start of this season, but what he’ll have left in that knee remains to be seen.

The New England backfield is crowded, but crowded with guys I’d stay away from in fantasy land. Laurence Maroney will likely get the lion’s share of the carries, but Fred Taylor, Kevin Faulk, Sammy Morris, and BenJarvus Green-Ellis are all going to see action as well, leaving all of them lacking high fantasy value at all.

New York Jets

Here’s a team that will be fun to watch, but tough to figure out. Second-year quarterback Mark Sanchez will look to avoid the dreaded “sophomore slump” and take aim at bringing his team even further than the AFC title game he took the Jets to last season. I’d put him in that third tier of QBs right now, with the likes of Henne, Vince Young, and Ben Roethlisberger… draftable, but only as a bye-week replacement.

He’ll have a few weapons at his disposal, with Braylon Edwards returning, the addition of Santonio Holmes, and the veteran Jerricho Cotchery. All three should be drafted in your leagues, with Holmes’ value taking a dip until he returns from his early suspension.

The running back spot for New York mixes a bit of the old with a bit of the new, as second-year rusher Shonn Greene will take on an added workload this season, paired up with the newly acquired LaDainian Tomlinson. Greene has been going as early as the second round in some mock drafts I’ve seen, while L.T. has dropped to a mid-round selection after years of being one of the top few players in the league. The team’s defense should also be drafted in all leagues, especially if cornerback Darrelle Revis ends his holdout and returns to the team.

Top 5 AFC East Studs (Players Worth Early Picks)

  • Randy Moss, WR New England
  • Brandon Marshall, WR Miami
  • Tom Brady, QB New England
  • Shonn Greene, RB New York
  • Ronnie Brown, RB Miami

Top 5 AFC East Duds (Players I Think Will Flop)

  • Dustin Keller, TE New York
  • Laurence Maroney, RB New England
  • Torry Holt, WR New England
  • Marshawn Lynch, RB Buffalo
  • Lee Evans, WR Buffalo

Top 5 AFC East Sleepers (Players Whose Value Will Increase)

  • C.J. Spiller, RB Buffalo
  • Rob Gronkowski, TE New England
  • Joe McKnight, RB New York
  • Brandon Tate, WR New England
  • Lex Hilliard, RB Miami

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