The Bills made big splashes in the offseason, bringing in a new coach Rex Ryan and trading their stud young linebacker Kiko Alonso to the Eagles for LeSean McCoy, who figures to be what CJ Spiller was supposed to be for this offense if he was actually good. They also brought in Percy Harvin to spread out this offense which has been lacking explosive upside. The Bills hope these moves will finally push them out of the realm of NFL mistake and fantasy owners hope these moves will make this offense no longer a fantasy mistake.
Bustworthy Beauty: Percy Harvin, WR
I get that Percy Harvin has “all the talent in the world” and is “a premier boom or bust player” and “one play can make your fantasy week”. Last season he made owner’s fantasy weeks once. He broke 15 points in standard scoring one time. He’ll be joining his fourth team in two years and he has yet to play up to the potential he displayed in Minnesota. He’ll end up with opportunities once again as a primary big-play threat but with Rex’s affinity for the run and a new toy in Shady McCoy, the upside is concerning and doesn’t warrant the borderline top-100 price tag.
Sleeping Sweetheart: Robert Woods, WR
Here’s a sneaky name that no one’s looking at. Percy Harvin is the big name signing that should slot in across Sammy Watkins, but Robert Woods might end up being not only the better of the two, but quietly might finish as the much better value in comparison to Watkins as well, having matched Watkins with 65 catches last year. He’s currently going undrafted in most standard leagues, and probably for the best, but 104 targets last season is nothing to scoff at, and it shouldn’t shock anyone if he finishes around 700 yards and a handful of touchdowns once again.
PPR Princess: Fred Jackson, RB
Fred Jackson is the most relevant fantasy zombie of recent memory. CJ Spiller had gotten all the preseason buzz in Buffalo for two years (After disappointing as a first-round pick in 2013-14, he still managed to sneak into the fourth round in many drafts last season as a “bounce-back candidate.), because apparently it didn’t register with Doug Marrone that Spiller literally cannot run up the middle and be productive. Well, Fred Jackson quietly caught 66 balls last season and has been a steadying force for the last six seasons. His effectiveness will be greatly reduced due to McCoy’s arrival, but he could make for a sneaky PPR flex play in certain situations this season.
Dynasty Darling: Sammy Watkins, WR
Watkins is good. Like, REALLY good. Maybe he’s too good for his own good right now. He’s flying off draft boards in the fourth or fifth round as a top-20 wide receiver, but I’m just concerned that might be a little premature. If his quarterback knew how to throw a football, his stock would shoot up. Hell, if we even knew who his quarterback actually was, his stock would go up. Right now, it’s probably EJ Manuel, but that doesn’t exactly make me happy either. The Bills paid a fortune worthy of a small country to get him on board, he damn well better be good. When drafting Watkins, we’re drafting solely because of talent and turning a blind eye to the fact that his quarterback is probably terrible and hoping it works out in the long run.
The issue with the Dolphins remains a conservative offensive approach, piggybacked on their quarterback’s inability to make explosive plays down the field in the air. This team toes the line between mediocre and good, fielding a really impressive defense and an unspectacular offense with a few young pieces hoping to break out. Their offseason additions point towards a higher offensive ceiling in the future, and maybe even a playoff berth along with that.
Bustworthy Beauty: Lamar Miller, RB
This is not my fault. Personally, I like Lamar Miller. I think he SHOULD be solid as an RB2 in a standard league, and he deserves consistent touches. I’m also not on the Dolphins payroll so what I say means absolutely nothing. This is a guy with 4.4 speed who hasn’t broken off the huge runs we expect, and clearly the Dolphins could care less about him, as he broke fifteen carries four times last year. Four. The Dolphins signed Knowshon Moreno because they didn’t trust Miller. The awful Daniel Thomas was on the field last year. Any situation that allows Daniel Thomas to step on an NFL field can’t end well. There are reports that he’s bulked up over the offseason and he should have the first and maybe even the second crack at the job, but given the unwarranted hate he’s gotten from the coaching staff, the leash could be pretty short.
Sleeping Sweetheart: Ryan Tannehill, QB
Tannehill had the most under-the-radar top ten fantasy season I have ever seen. He replaced “the deep threat he doesn’t have the arm to throw to” Mike Wallace with “the younger deep threat he doesn’t have the arm to throw to” Kenny Stills, still has an improving and reliable Jarvis Landry, added an experts’ favorite physical jump ball threat in Devante Parker, AND signed “worst case scenario he’ll look pretty on the roster page” Jordan Cameron. Ryan is still learning the position having played receiver until his junior year in college and he projects to be a reliable option at the position for years to come. Regardless of his growing football acumen though, his best contributions to the NFL are not found on the football field.
PPR Princess: Jarvis Landry, WR
This is the obvious answer here, and it’s a bit of a cop-out, but that just goes to show how huge of a PPR threat he is. There’s hype surrounding his PPR outlook, and understandably so, and that actually mars his value somewhat. Still, Landry is the trustworthy cog still remaining in the Dolphins’ changing offense. Many parts of this offense have changed, but Tannehill trusts Landry, and while the big play potential is lacking just like Landry’s physical attributes, double digit targets on a weekly basis could well be counted on, and a hundred catch season is easily feasible. (Spoiler: He didn’t actually catch this ball. Don’t get TOO excited.)
Dynasty Darling: Jay Ajayi, RB
This goes hand-in-hand with the fact that the Dolphins literally couldn’t care less about Lamar Miller. They drafted Ajayi as insurance even though there are question marks about his health as well, as he suffered a knee injury in 2011. The injury seemingly didn’t deter him the rest of his college career, but the concern pushed him down to the fifth round in this year’s draft. Still, his numbers in college speak for themselves. He finished second to Melvin Gordon with 28 rushing touchdowns last season and was fifth in rushing yardage while pacing the country in carries and he seems to EASILY have the talent to take over the lead back role in Miami. We may be looking at not only a great long-term option but a breakout candidate in 2015 as well.
Historically, this offense has been lethal and elite on the football field, and nothing short of confusing on the fantasy field. They have had so many different receiving threats come through the system and succeed that it’s hard to pick one at the start of the season. Bill Belichick doesn’t give a rat’s ass about fantasy owners (not that he should, it would just be greatly appreciated) and benches the guy that scored four touchdowns the week before.
Bustworthy Beauty: LeGarrette Blount, RB
Jonas Gray’s four touchdown performance last season speaks volumes here. Sure, Blount enters as what SEEMS like a solid lead back role, but he has Gray, James White, Travaris Cadet… Brandon Bolden… and Tyler Gaffney… behind him, and they’re managed by an evil genius Bill Belichick and that can’t bode well to start any Patriots running back with confidence. In addition, Blount is 28 and I don’t love that either, especially as a bruising running back. I know he doesn’t rely on speed but he’s had a few seasons of wear and tear and that could mean a breakdown is coming up in the future. Regardless, I wouldn’t expect workhorse numbers from Blount because of the toys available to Belichick’s disposal.
Sleeping Sweetheart: Danny Amendola, WR
I know Amendola can’t stay healthy. And I know he was phased out of the offense a lot last season, but he’s just a season removed from being on pace for a one hundred target season and is very involved in special teams. His involvement increased in the postseason, and for a player that’s going undrafted, finishing with a 70-700-4 season is definitely a good outcome. If I was buying, I’d try to buy elsewhere, but most of the pieces on this offense are known quantities. We know Tom Brady is an elite NFL quarterback but just a good fantasy quarterback. We know Julian Edelman cheats when he puts up his stupid reception totals. We know Brandon LaFell looks good because Brady makes most people look good. We know Gronk is a machine, and we know that we can just draw a running back out of a hat and guess. So that leaves us with “What do we get out of Amendola?” Does he play 16 games and be a serviceable emergency play or does he play half of one and die?
PPR Princess: Julian Edelman, WR
Julian Edelman is a cheater. He doesn’t seem like he should be a good NFL wide receiver, but he’s a PPR machine. He doesn’t score touchdowns, we’d be lucky to end up with anything more than six I’d think, but he had less than seven targets in one game last year and with Lord Brady at the helm for 12 out of the 16 games and well-tutored disciple Jimmy G filling out the rest, it wouldn’t be out of the realm of possibility that Edelman hogs double digit targets every week and finishes the season well above a hundred catches. This short white guy is somehow a top five slot receiver. Whether that’s because of Tom Brady feeding him the ball or by his own skills, we’ll get to see when Garoppolo steps in.
Dynasty Darling: Jimmy Garoppolo, QB
Easy breezy beautiful covergirl and the darling face we put up with because he brings Giselle to important events is 37 years old and not getting any younger. We’re soon to see a legendary quarterback end an illustrious career and turn the reins of a traditionally brilliant offense under a hall of fame coach to the kid who’s watched him perform week-in-week out and bring yet another Superbowl to New England. It can only go up for Jimmy G, as he gets a shot to show what he’s made of while Brady serves out the suspension, and projects great things in this offense as the Patriots turn a very heavy and colorful page.
I have no idea what the plan is here in New York. Seriously, what’s even going on? Geno Smith technically holds onto the starting gig, but the Jets also brought in Ryan Fitzpatrick and drafted Bryce Petty. They also fired the best thing about their team, Rex Ryan, and while their defense will perform well enough to keep them in games, the offense will find a way to consistently piss it away.
Bustworthy Beauty: Brandon Marshall, WR
Marshall has been elite for years and will continue to see looks in this offense, but it has to be noted that a combination of Geno Smith and Ryan Fitzpatrick will be the ones lobbing balls up in that general direction, and it’s hard to expect anything more than flex-worthy numbers on a consistent basis for Marshall. After his first sub-1000 yard season since his rookie year and with age catching up to him, his stock on a bad Jets offense is definitely not enough to warrant a late-sixth or early-seventh round pick.
Sleeping Sweetheart: Stevan Ridley, RB
Chris Ivory finished the season with more touches than Chris Johnson last season, and that was warranted because Chris Johnson is literally only fast and almost nothing else. Objectively there’s just not a lot there. Now that Chris Johnson is gone and Stevan Ridley is in the picture, Ivory’s stock takes a big hit. Owners are drafting as if Ivory is guaranteed a job, taking him in the sixth or seventh and expecting 16+ carries. Ridley and Ivory are similar bruising backs, and it seems very likely that they will split carries. If that’s the case, there’s no reason to think Ridley can’t carry similar value to Ivory, if not exceed that. I wouldn’t mind taking a chance on Ivory but I think the price is a little high if I can’t cuff him, and if I had to choose one, I’m picking Ridley at a much lower cost.
PPR Princess: Eric Decker, WR
Even in a “down year” which was warranted leaving arguably the best offense of all time for Geno’s garbage dump, Decker still pulled in 74 catches and finished just short of a thousand receiving yards. With Marshall drawing attention on the other side, a similar season with a consistent 6-70 output on a weekly basis could be in consideration. I know it’s not a lot to get excited about, but he’s at the very least a “safe” pick. I never thought of Decker as a really good receiver and his stock was most definitely inflated as an option in Denver, because even I would have been an option that year in Denver. Decker might be available late in drafts as a value pick WR4. I’d consider biting. Speaking of biting… and licking… well, keep your eyes on the ball Eric.
Dynasty Darling: Jace Amaro, TE
Jace Amaro is completely out of consideration in a redraft league, since there’s just not enough of the ball to go around in this offense, and he’s borderline top-20 at tight end for 2015, but at 6’6” and 260 pounds, he has the physical tools to be an elite red-zone threat in the future. This might be a long shot, as there were questions about him even on draft day in 2014, but on an offense lacking a ton of upside, he might be the best bet at this point.
Check in tomorrow as we continue through the NFL, featuring our AFC North Breakdown.
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