32 Teams, 32 Questions: The AFC East

Chad Scott


Much like Chris Mortensen of ESPN, I’m touring all 32 teams in the NFL featuring what I’m looking for in the 2013 season and beyond – only DLF hasn’t chartered a bus for me, no pro will actually talk to me and we’ll be focussing completely on dynasty fantasy football. Other than that, it’s totally the same.  In this new weekly series, I will cover all 32 teams and ponder a question I have for each of them in relation to dynasty leagues. Each edition will cover one division – this week, we cover the AFC East.

Past Editions

AFC West
NFC West

Buffalo Bills

Who is the rookie wide receiver to own in the long-term?

This question is loaded, I know, but my guess is Da’Rick Rogers will be the one to own long-term, with Robert Woods earning the nod in the short-term due to having the most polished skill set of the three.  Marquise Goodwin is a track star-football player in the same mold of second year receiver T.J. Graham.    For what it’s worth, I think Graham has some dynasty relevance the deeper I dig into these wide receivers.

I really liked Rogers’ game heading into the NFL draft, but character issues triggered his draft stock to plummet – he eventually signed as an undrafted free agent.  He’s the only one of the trio who has a prototypical NFL wide receiver body, standing at 6’2”, 217 pounds.  Although he has the body, he lacks anything close to elite speed running a 4.52 at the NFL Combine – but that’s not his game.

Rogers is a playmaker who’s a load to bring down when the ball is in his hands.  He will out physical defenders when given the chance, but has been known to break off his routes when not being the play’s primary target.  Rogers displays great hands and his game is power and strength.  Don’t expect him to outrun NFL corners, but he should out-physical them. His biggest hurdle will be to stay out of Doug Marrone’s doghouse.  During OTAs, Marrone lit into the undrafted free agent after he caught a 15 yarder and stared down the defender (and teammate).  Marrone won’t go for such antics and it seems the Bills’ powers that be have told Rogers precisely that.

If the talented wide out can stay drug-free (something that got him kicked off the University of Tennessee football program), Rogers should find a role inside Marrone’s offense and flourish with one-read quarterback E.J. Manuel.  If he can’t, I’m sure cross town rival, New York Jets will give him a look. Keep close tabs on the situation during training camp as whoever does emerge should see plenty of opportunities in a Marrone offense.  Given their cheap prices, it’s not inconceivable you roster the two you like best (Woods and Rogers for me).

Miami Dolphins

Will Lamar Miller take the RB1 spot and run with it?

Miller has been receiving plenty of hype this off-season, and rightfully so.  Since the Fins parted ways with Reggie Bush, the position is his to lose.

Gifted with a blend of elite speed and power, Miller has only third year world-beating running back, Daniel Thomas and rookie Mike Gillislee to beat for the coveted starting spot.  Thomas has been a huge disappointment thus far after having the same buzz around his name in past years’ dynasty rookie drafts.  Gillislee is a solid running back with plus pass protection abilities, but is still raw as a runner and receiver.

Miller offers the Dolphins a home threat on every play the ball is in his hands.  Coming off his rookie season, Miller ran the ball just 51 times for 250 yards a one touchdown.  His best games were in weeks two and 16 when he totaled 20 carries for 138 yards and a touchdown (6.9 YPC) against the uber defensively-talented Oakland Raiders and Buffalo Bills – so take that with a larger sized grain of salt…sea salt perhaps.

The coaching staff and front office have sang Miller’s praises this off-season saying he’s been “very fundamentally sound” and running back guru, Pete Bommarito tabbed the second year player as “the fastest running back I’ve ever seen.”  Couple those statements with fellow Miami Hurricane great Frank Gore’s comments mentioning Miller’s name as a Clinton Portis clone, and you have all the makings of a 2013 breakout waiting to happen.

So much has been written about Miller already that I’m sure none of this is news to our educated DLF readers.  What I will say is I’ve been drafting Miller in every third round he’s available in startups and have traded for him in two other existing leagues.

The trades:

May 12th, 2013

Traded Marcus Lattimore and Tavon Austin (non PPR) for Miller  

June 15th, 2013

Traded Giovanni Bernard, Ahmad Bradshaw, Travaris Cadet for Miller, Gillislee and Aaron Mellette

As you can see, Miller was much cheaper in May and his price keeps trending upwards.  The window for buying somewhat low closed months ago.

In Ryan McDowell’s ADP mock drafts, Miller has gone from the RB32 to now being the RB14 in July’s ADP mocks.  Kudos if you were the ones who pounced well before this month, gamers.

I’ve announced my love for Miller plenty of times on the Twitter machine and have gone all-in on him, rostering him on almost all my dynasty teams.  Based on what we know and an improving Miami offense, the sky really is the limit for Miller.  If he’s able to show grit inside the red zone, owners might be pleasantly surprised with RB1 numbers when the 2013 season commences.

New England Patriots

Who wins the battle for the WR2 position?

The Patriots’ off-season news has been tumultuous to say the least.  We know what’s happened to the roster and what changes have been made, but one thing is unclear – who’s the wide receiver (outside of Danny Amendola) to own in New England?

They just released June hipster, Donald Jones and Michael Jenkins currently sits atop the depth chart as the team’s #2 receiver.  After Jenkins, it’s a who’s who cast of young talent filled with sure-to-disappoint upside (besides Wes Welker clone Julian Edelman of course).  I look at the list provided to us by Ourlads.com and see names like Aaron Dobson, Josh Boyce, Kenbrell Thompkins and Mark Harrison, among others.  Edelman, who many consider more of a slot receiver, played just 24.2% of his snaps lining up in the slot – he’s more than capable of lining up on the outside when healthy despite being targeted at a higher percentage in that position.

So what of the others?

Jenkins is no dynasty asset and shouldn’t be on anyone’s radars unless you’re in a 16 team, 30 man roster league.  Dobson, Boyce, Thompkins and Harrison are all rookies and all are in the running for first team reps according to my sources – sorry, I get a kick out of that saying when people like me tweet such things.  So which rookie will be the last man standing?

My money’s on Harrison.

Don’t get me wrong, I like Dobson and Boyce just fine and Thompkins seems like a hard worker, but Harrison’s physical build is intriguing.  He stands at 6’3”, 235 pounds and runs a 4.46 40-yard dash, but has had a left foot injury which scared teams away.  He was signed by the Chicago Bears as an undrafted free agent before being released due to a failed physical, but was quickly snatched up by the Pats as he played college ball in close proximity at Rutgers.  Harrison went to the NFL combine and left said combine with “character issues” stemming from a “trashed” hotel room.  Harrison went on to say it was a misunderstanding and the Rutgers head coach as gone on record saying he had zero character issues with the rookie during his time in college.

His build isn’t the only reason I like him, either…well kind of.

Aaron Hernandez was 6’2”, 250 pounds (pre-incarceration).  Rob Gronkowski looks “iffy” to start the season and all-June hype machine, Jake Ballard has “slogged through” routes and wasn’t a full participant in mini-camps, according to Rotoworld.com.  Behind Ballard sits Michael Hoomanwanui and rookie Zach Sudfield.  It’s a complete reach, but not out of the realm of possibility that Harrison sees some time at tight end if he makes the team.  BIG if. 

Even if the giant isn’t deemed a worthy Patriot tight end, I think Harrison makes the team because despite those recent reports, he’s a good citizen and hard-worker with a special skill set.  @RumfordJohnny, who’s closer to the situation than I, says Harrison is “chain mover” and it’s a wide open competition with Dobson, Boyce, Thompkins, Sudfield and Harrison.  “All have a rare opportunity to fill big shoes.”

And since these articles are meant to speculate, I asked John who he thought would emerge as the team’s #2: “If his toe heals up, my guess is Boyce (round four).  They would prefer Dobson (round two), but my gut says he’ll have some concentration issues.  Thompkins is my dark horse.”

That’s why I enjoy doing these articles – everyone has different opinions based on their own beliefs (or guts).  The truth is, no one will know how this shakes out until we see more during upcoming training camps.  My advice, go with whoever you like and perhaps double down on the second guy you like.  Given their collective prices, it won’t hurt if you’re in a large roster league.  Will be a fun battle to keep tabs on in the coming weeks.

New York Jets

Can Stephen Hill take a giant step forward and become a viable dynasty option in 2013?

I know, another wide receiver question.  With teams mostly solidified at the running back position and given my propensity to build the end of my roster on upside receivers, that’s where I have most of my questions.

Hill came onto the scene with guns a-blazin’ last year, catching five passes for 89 yards and two scores.  Hill managed just 16 more receptions, 163 yards and one touchdown the rest of the year.  He certainly can’t be blamed for the poor production given his quarterback situation, offensive (and I mean offensive) line play and lack of offensive creativity (see: Marty Mornhinweg), but he did contribute to his lackluster season.

Hill was targeted 46 times in 2012.  Of those 46 targets, 27 were deemed catchable and he dropped six of them for a 22.22% drop rate, per PFF.  Hill ranked 178 out of 203 wide receivers in dropped passes.  Concentration was his catalyst for poor play, despite the quarterback.

Many of us dynasty owners hold hope for Hill in 2013, but if mini-camps are any indication, we’re in for more of the same.  He’s already on a snap count due to his surgically repaired knee and struggled with routes and drops during OTAs.  It doesn’t matter who the quarterback is in New York if you can’t hold onto the ball when it’s thrown to you – and it’s beginning to worry me.

He has all the God-given ability you’d want in a receiver.  He’s a 6’4”, 215 pounds and his measureables are not of this world.  He’s in a situation where there’s virtually no competition for starting reps and yet he can’t seem to get a stranglehold on it.  Santonio Holmes is still nursing a foot injury and reports have said he could land on the PUP list to begin the season.  While Hill (and Holmes) are listed as the starters, it seems Jeremy Kerley will be the one to own in 2013 (and he’s a bargain given his current ADP).

I’m not giving up on Hill, furthest from it, but temper your 2013 expectations because whether it’s Mark Sanchez or Geno Smith starting at quarterback, the Jets’ offense as a whole will be anemic.

If I were to suggest anything, toss an offer to Hill’s owner and see what you could land him with.  Smith is going to be a better quarterback than Sanchez soon enough (if not already) and Hill should mature into the receiver the Jets hoped they drafted, it just won’t be in 2013.