Links to similar discussions of other divisions:
Not that much is going to happen around NFL circles for the next month and a half, save for a few trades and some third-wave free agent signings. That means it’s time to build up your drafting chops with best-ball drafts! What does each offense offer? I’ll break it down division by division. Let’s start with the AFC East, which should have much improved offensive play from 2020.
Offensive outlook: Everything is in place for the Bills to remain a top-tier passing offense, but it’s difficult to imagine them surpassing last year’s results. The running game was in shambles at the end of the year, so it’s possible that a team with designs of winning the Super Bowl will attempt to jumpstart the running game until they can get the engine to turn over.
Josh Allen 4th-5th round ADP
Josh Allen is going off of the board as the QB2. He can deliver that, but it’s probably more likely that 2020 represents his production peak than a stepping stone to an even higher level. It’s probably smarter to wait for QB4 or QB5 if you want to go quarterback early, but an early pick of Diggs could change that calculus if you want to build a stack.
If you must take a running back, Zack Moss is probably the better pick than Devin Singletary even though he’ll cost 3-4 rounds more. Moss is obviously more likely to harvest the short rushing scores that Allen doesn’t take, and snaps were trending in Moss’s direction as the season went on. Moss has more latent upside entering his second year, but we could also be looking at him as injury-prone if this year goes like last year. Moss doesn’t have a high weekly ceiling so he’s only a possible best ball target if you go minimal running back early and value some touchdown reliability over season-long ceiling.
Stefon Diggs, like Allen, is being drafted closer to his ceiling than his mean/median outcomes, but the rest of the wide receiver group is worth their prices. Cole Beasley’s chemistry with Allen is hard to ignore, although he was helped by John Brown’s missed games last year. Gabriel Davis’s seven touchdowns as a rookie and projected second-year growth justify his ADP. Should Emmanuel Sanders be going multiple rounds after Davis? He still had plenty in the tank last year and the Bills prioritized bringing him in even though they could have just allowed Davis to move into a bigger role when they decided it was better to save 7.9 million cap room than it was to keep John Brown.
Dawson Knox 15+ round ADP
Dawson Knox should be on your radar in deep tight end premium drafts (28 rd FFPC for instance). He has the athletic goods and the quarterback to be a breakout fantasy player, but skepticism is warranted. All bets are off (and the math for the wide receivers changes) if Zach Ertz becomes a Bill.
Bottom Line: Buffalo’s wide receivers are good targets in the second half of your draft, especially Emmanuel Sanders. Otherwise, best ball drafters have this offense pegged. Zack Moss could be a moderate hit, but he’s not a clear target among his ADP peers.
Offensive Outlook: Chan Gailey is out and all eyes are on Tua Tagovailoa in a make or break year. The offensive line is still settling and the running game is middling at best, but there’s a chance for this offense to produce multiple overachievers if Tagovailoa makes a big step forward in year two. Beyond that, it has the profile of an offense with a lot of week-to-week uncertainty, although best-ball irons some of those wrinkles out.
Tua Tagovailoa 12th-13th round ADP
The Dolphins have done a ton to help Tua Tagovailoa, but I can’t take him over Ryan Fitzpatrick or Carson Wentz. Maybe George Godsey and Eric Studesville and the continuity they represent, plus a more seasoned offensive line could help the improvement. He could be an excellent pick in hindsight, and if you believe in him, you should believe in this offense to produce multiple overachievers.
Myles Gaskin was a nice surprise last year and helped folks win their leagues in Week 16, but he could cede goal-line carries to Malcolm Brown, and the team also seems to like Salvon Ahmed. They could even be a candidate to trade for a back in-season or sign someone before the season. Mike Davis feels like the better play among the feature backs by default at a similar ADP.
Good luck figuring out this puzzle. Tagovailoa seemed to have the best chemistry with Preston Williams last year, but he might be marginalized if he comes back slowly from an Achilles tear. Tagovailoa will be reunited with Jaylen Waddle, but the team also signed Will Fuller V, who will miss the first game to complete a six-game suspension. Then there’s DeVante Parker, who popped a lot more with Ryan Fitzpatrick in the lineup. Fuller costs the most, and I can’t justify why he would go a round or more ahead of Waddle. Parker is then going a round or two after Waddle. Unless this whole offense takes it up a notch, they could all be misses or at best mild successes unless one of this group separates from the others, and that doesn’t include the possibility of Williams muddying the waters. If there’s anyone to put a chip on here, it’s probably Waddle, but a better answer is to pass completely.
Mike Gesicki 10th-11th round ADP
What happens to Mike Gesicki in the new offense? He had two big games with Tua Tagovailoa last year, and he has a weekly ceiling that is as high as many of the tight ends going before him, which is valuable in best-ball leagues. Is he a better pick than Evan Engram, Robert Tonyan Jr, or Irv Smith? It probably depends on whether you already have a tight end or not. Gesicki’s high weekly ceiling is worth more to you if you don’t have a top 6-8 tight end chosen and will pursue a three tight end committee.
Bottom Line: If you believe in him, stack Tagovailoa with a receiver or two to give your roster a chance to hit in an offense most others will likely neglect in your draft.
New England Patriots
Offensive Outlook: Things have to get better this year at quarterback whether it is via an improved Cam Newton or the installation of Mac Jones. If it’s a Newton offense, it might be better for the offense as a whole, but he will also hoard the rushing touchdowns and hurt Damien Harris’s outlook. If it’s a Jones offense, the passing game should have more attempts and Harris could have a significant number of rushing scores. This is far from settled, but in any event, a solid offensive line (even without Joe Thuney) and Josh McDaniels playcalling should get this offense out of the basement this year. We just don’t know how far it will rise and what it will look like.
Cam Newton and Mac Jones are basically free in best-ball drafts because of the lack of clarity on who will start more games this year. Newton fits well as a third quarterback with a combination like Kirk Cousins and Trey Lance, where Newton’s main use is to raise your floor until Lance (or Justin Fields) takes over. Newton’s rushing scores and boom/bust weekly passing outlook makes him a better best-ball player than a typical lineup-setting league player.
It’s a Belichick backfield, so it’s going to be split three ways (or more), but that is way more tolerable in a best ball league. The best play here is Harris, whose price is reasonable for a player expected to lead his backfield in touches. Harris’s lack of passing game involvement and the specter of Cam Newton at the goal line limit his perceived ceiling, but if Mac Jones takes over and Sony Michel gets released or traded, Harris will be a huge value (and the door will be open for Rhamondre Stevenson to contribute). James White is as cheap as he has ever been. Rex Burkhead is gone, leaving White as the clear passing down back, and players in the role are more valuable than we realize in PPR best ball leagues because they can save your bacon during bye weeks and injury absences, in addition to contributing the occasional 15-20 point game on inflated reception totals due to game script/flukes. Michel looked better last year but is still much closer to being a replacement-level back than a starter.
If Newton is the quarterback for most of the year, then there is nothing here for us. If Mac Jones is the starter for most of the year, then maybe a player like Jakobi Meyers could hit, but that tip is only for the 28-round FFPC or other very deep best-ball leagues. Nelson Agholor does have deep-ball ability, but I wouldn’t take him over T.Y. Hilton, who has a similar ADP.
The Patriots spent a big chunk of money on the tight end position this year and we’ve already seen them make a dynamic tight end duo a big part of their pass offense. Both Jonnu Smith and Hunter Henry are available in the double-digit rounds and they are both about as good as it gets in that range outside of Blake Jarwin. Both will have their days, with Smith having a higher season-long ceiling with Henry a better bet to score more touchdowns.
Bottom Line: If you can predict which quarterback will get the majority of starts (or whether there will even be a quarterback who gets more than 10 starts for the Patriots), then you can get an edge with your Patriot investments, but the offense is undervalued with a lot of room to grow following a rock bottom season. Cam Newton has some potential value in three quarterback roster builds, Jakobi Meyers in very deep leagues, and Damien Harris across formats, especially if Newton isn’t the starter. Both tight ends are very useful pieces for every tight end build at their price. The best value on the team is James White, who will face less competition for targets out of the backfield this year.
New York Jets
Offensive Outlook: Ding dong the witch is dead. Adam Gase is gone, which should manifest in a bounce of some degree for the offense under new offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur, who will install a Shanahan system. They have #2 pick, Zach Wilson, at quarterback with a solid left side of the offensive line, and we’ll see about the right side. The running game should be hampered by one of the three lowest talent backfields in the league, but if the zone running scheme takes hold with the offensive line, they could surprise. The team went on a spending spree to restock the wide receiver group, which is good news for the offense but also created confusion for fantasy projection purposes.
Zach Wilson 15th round ADP
Wilson is going outside of the top 20 quarterbacks, probably rightfully, but he can add some weekly ceiling to your quarterback group if you are willing to carry three and feel like you need more punch. He does have some running ability but the Jets would be smart to have him work on his slide and learn to fight another day. The offense will have growing pains, but there should be a few scoring outbursts as Wilson errs on the side of aggressiveness over caution.
It’s tempting to chase production here because no backfield is as cheap as the Jets. Michael Carter II is the best passing game back and a draft choice of the new regime, but he also costs the most and his price is only going up. Damien Harris and Tony Pollard are in the same range and they seem like better bets to make your draft than Carter, but Carter isn’t a bad pick at ADP and he will be the best pick of the tier if Cam Newton is the quarterback for most of the year and Ezekiel Elliott stays healthy. I won’t talk anyone out of targeting him. LaFleur is familiar with Tevin Coleman and Ty Johnson is at least adequate. They will only cost a late-round and might end up producing at a similar clip to Carter even though Carter favors the allure of the unknown. This backfield was woeful and produced eight scores last year, so Coleman and Johnson are good last-round picks to keep in your back pocket if running back is the position that you feel least comfortable about when you wind up your draft and Samaje Perine isn’t there.
This is a puzzle that is difficult to solve. Jamison Crowder was a Gase favorite, but depending on who you ask, he might not even be on the team Week 1 because of his 10 million dollar price tag and the addition of second-round pick Elijah Moore. If that happens, Moore will be a hit at a reasonable double-digit round ADP cost. Crowder is actually going after Moore, so the conventional wisdom thinks Crowder will be behind Moore or gone. Denzel Mims is about the same price as Moore and while he doesn’t have Moore’s potential for a personnel change bump, he does have the best skillset to harvest the value of Wilson’s penchant for high-risk throws and extended plays. Corey Davis costs the most, but he could draw #1 corners (think Stephon Gilmore, Xavien Howard, TreDavious White) and is the least attractive Jets wide receiver pick at ADP. Mims, Moore, and Crowder all have the potential to outproduce ADP, although the Bills #2/#3/#4 have roughly similar ADPs, but a much better foundation for value.
Chris Herndon 15+ round ADP
If you need a third tight end in the last few rounds of your best ball draft, Herndon should be in your sights. We have already seen multiple players flourish once they are free of Adam Gase and we already saw Herndon play like a future star as a rookie. The last two years have been lost, but Herndon will get every chance to occupy the George Kittle role in this offense and has as much fantasy potential as any tight end outside of the top 150 picks.
Bottom Line: Elijah Moore and Michael Carter II build upside into your roster. This offense has great growth potential and could produce multiple overachievers, including Chris Herndon and Denzel Mims. The change at quarterback, head coach, and offensive coordinator creates a lot of room for optimism, so it's not a bad idea to get a Jet out of the bargain bin.