The New England Patriots are the class of the AFC East and the NFL Draft gives us hope that one of the three other teams in the division will acquire enough talent to compete for the top spot in the division. All tides eventually shift and one day we will experience a transition period in the AFC East. We just don’t know when.
Could this year’s draft be the building block for one of these teams to be able to knock off the Patriots as the new leader of the division? Or is this another year where Tom Brady is making incredible passes in the playoffs and the rest of the teams in the division are on the outside looking in?
No matter what happens, some of these players are going to make an impact in dynasty one way or another. There could be a player drafted to one of these AFC teams that could develop into a top ten fantasy asset. Since the draft just wrapped up and now we know the landing spots for some of our favorite rookies, let’s analyze each team’s haul with a long term fantasy perspective.
New England Patriots
N’Keal Harry, WR Arizona State (Round 1, Pick 32)
The Patriots needed to overhaul their receiving corps after losing future Hall of Famer Rob Gronkowski to retirement. They also lost Chris Hogan and Cordarrelle Patterson to free agency. The Super Bowl champs wasted no time in the draft to make an upgrade at wide receiver by selecting N’Keal Harry with the last pick in the first round.
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Going into the draft, Harry was considered one of the top rookie wide receivers and was often drafted as the 1.01 in rookie drafts. His skill set makes him a perfect fit in New England. He’s a big-bodied wide receiver who can dominate in the slot and he can also be productive lining up on the outside of the offense as a traditional flanker. His versatility will allow the Patriots to be creative with his usage.
Gronkowski commanded a 25.9 percent target share of the end zone targets last year. It’s easy to imagine Harry’s 6-foot-2, 228-pound frame combined with his ball skills will easily allow a good portion of those end zone targets to get funneled to him. Last year the Patriots offense implemented three wide receiver sets on 47.6 percent of their plays. He will be competing against Julian Edelman, Demaryius Thomas, Josh Gordon, Philip Dorsett, and Bruce Ellington for targets and judging by the level of talent on the roster, Harry should instantly carve out a large role within the offense during his rookie season.
With everything said and done, Harry is one of the few wide receivers from this year’s draft class who didn’t experience much change in dynasty value. He’s still the top pick in rookie drafts this year and should immediately contribute to your dynasty team.
Damien Harris, RB Alabama (Round 3, Pick 87)
The Patriots like to scheme multiple different running backs in their offensive game plan on Sundays. Usually, matchups will dictate how each running back will be used from a week-to-week basis. Of course, other factors can play into the diversification of running back touches, but we all know that the Patriots like to implement a running back by committee approach which makes it hard to predict which running back will be fantasy relevant any given week.
With that being said, it’s not a surprise that they spend a third round pick to draft one of the top running backs in the draft. Harris can pick up tough yards between the tackles and he’s a sound pass blocker, making him a very reliable asset. Harris is going to be a candidate to see a majority of the red zone touches. He will more than likely be a touchdown-dependent fantasy asset who could produce some big weeks if he can find the end zone.
Rookie drafts are going to be very chaotic this year. The wide receiver class is deep, but we have seen some of the top pass catchers slip down the draft board, making it harder to pull the trigger on those players in the first-round. This could cause a running back like Harris to sneak into the back half of the first-round. I also wouldn’t be surprised to see him fall into the second round in some drafts. Obviously, he’s not a stud prospect, but he provides some security because we know he’s got a clear path to carving out a role with the team. Harris is not worth premium draft capital, but when the draft starts to depreciate in talent then you have start looking his way.
Jarrett Stidham, QB Auburn (Round 4, Pick 133)
Stidham isn’t expected to be the team’s starting quarterback anytime soon. He will be playing behind Tom Brady and Brian Hoyer this year. The Patriots are taking a swing at the fence with another developmental quarterback prospect. Hopefully, he can develop into a functional backup for the team, and possibly, be the team’s heir apparent of the starting quarterback role if Brady ever decides to retire. You’re not looking his way in 1QB leagues this year. However, in 2QB in leagues, he might be worth a look as a stash-play in the later rounds.
The Josh Rosen Trade
After taking Kyler Murray with the first overall pick, the Arizona Cardinals finally found a trade partner to deal Josh Rosen, the team’s previous first-round pick from the year prior. The Miami Dolphins traded their second-round pick which was 62 overall and a 2020 fifth rounder to the Cardinals in exchange for Rosen.
This is an incredible deal for the Dolphins. They get a young first-round caliber quarterback for pennies on the dollar. Speaking of money, the Cardinals have already funded the majority of his contract and the Dolphins will get him for $6.2 million this year and just $7.8 million for the following two seasons. This is a cheap entry fee for acquiring a young quarterback prospect who was regarded as one of the top passers in last year’s draft.
The road was rocky in Arizona last year, causing him to produce less than optimal results. He’s still in the developmental phases of his career and with the right coaching, he could develop into a functional starting quarterback.
Chandler Cox, FB Auburn (Round 7 Pick 233)
Normally, we don’t draft fullbacks in dynasty. Cox does not buck that trend and currently holds zero value in all fantasy football formats. He might not even make the team for his rookie season. This is a name the should be erased from your Rolodex.
Myles Gaskin, RB Washington (Round 7, Pick 234)
The Dolphins utilized their last pick in the draft to select Myles Gaskin running back from Washington. During his four-year collegiate career, he rushed for 5,323 yards and 57 touchdowns. He will be battling Kenyan Drake and Kalen Ballage for touches out of the backfield. His college production makes him very intriguing but his athletic profile leaves you wanting more. Gaskin has proven to be dependable in the passing game as a receiver out of the backfield. As a seventh-round pick, he has a tall mountain to climb before he becomes a key factor in the offensive game plan. Injuries to the incumbent starters could boost him up the depth chart early in his career, making him a trendy end-of-bench-stash in dynasty leagues.
Devin Singletary, RB Florida Atlantic (Round 3, Pick 74)
After David Montgomery went off the board to the Chicago Bears in the third round, the Bills rushed to the podium to draft Devin Singletary. He will be joining a roster that is clogged at the running back position with LeSean McCoy, Frank Gore and TJ Yeldon all fighting for touches out of the backfield.
With 4,287 rushing yards and 66 touchdowns, he was uber productive at Florida Atlantic. Singletary is a very effective runner who displays excellent vision combined with elusiveness and contact balance. His skills set will mesh well in Buffalo’s backfield.
From a dynasty perspective, his long term viability is very sketchy. The top end of the roster is loaded with two old horses in McCoy and Gore and the team just recently signed Yeldon right before the draft. He will need to fight and claw his way up the depth chart for a significant role with the team. He might not receive an opportunity for touches until the second or third year of his career once those older running backs are no longer on the roster. He should be drafted in rookie drafts with the expectation that he may not deliver a return on the investment until the depth chart clears out, allowing him an opportunity to compete for touches.
Dawson Knox, TE Ole Miss (Round 3, Pick 96)
The Bills finished the third round by drafting Ole Miss tight end, Dawson Knox. He will get an opportunity to compete to be the team’s starting tight end right out of the gate. The team currently has Tyler Kroft, Jason Croom and Jake Fisher on the roster. There’s not much in his way to becoming a key contributor to the Bills’ offense.
Knox has the speed to stretch the field and he’s also nasty after the catch. He can make catches away from his body and has the typical frame for a starting tight end in the NFL. Although he’s an inexperienced route runner, he does flash plenty of potential and could develop into a dependable receiving asset for the Bills.
In rookie drafts, Knox is a player you might want to think about selecting in the later rounds. He’s going to see the field early in his career and if he develops his game, he could become a productive asset in fantasy leagues. I don’t suggest spending significant capital drafting him, but write his name down on a Post-it Note and stick it on the bottom of your work desk just in case you are struggling to find a player you like to draft in the later rounds of your rookie draft.
Tommy Sweeney, TE Boston College (Round 7, Pick 228)
The Bills needed help at the tight end position and after drafting Dawson Knox in the third round, and they decided to dip their toe in the tight end pool to select Tommy Sweeney from Boston College. Sweeney is a solid run blocker who could help open the edge on run blocking plays. He also showcases reliable hands in the passing game. He will get an opportunity to earn a roster spot this off-season, but with him being a seventh-round pick, the odds are currently stacked against him. You are not drafting him in any rookie drafts. Leave him on the waiver wire.
New York Jets
Trevon Wesco, TE West Virginia (Round 4, Pick 121)
Wesco is a nasty blocker who is very solid in pass protection and also has the power to clear out lanes in the run game. Unfortunately, he doesn’t have the receiving chops nor the athleticism to develop into a receiving threat at the next level. Chris Herndon is the team’s starting tight end and it’s hard to see him relinquishing his starting job anytime soon. With that being said, avoid Wesco in all rookie drafts.