2021 NFL Draft Fantasy Football Wish List: AFC East

Cam Newton New England Patriots

It’s impossible for the AFC East to leave our collective consciousness for like thirty seconds. The Buffalo Bills played in the AFC Championship Game, then Tom Brady played in his first post-Patriots Super Bowl (with the requisite highlight packages of previous Super Bowls. Not to be outdone, the Dolphins (who already had an absurd pick haul from Houston) traded #3 to the 49ers, before trading back up to #6. They stand on the precipice of building a dynasty if they nail the next three drafts. New England went out and signed every top-tier free agent tight end and third-tier wide receiver all at once in free agency. Finally, the Jets added former 49ers’ Defensive Coordinator Robert Saleh—arguably the most coveted head coach candidate—before trading Sam Darnold and (presumably) narrowing in on Zach Wilson at the #2 pick in the upcoming NFL Draft.

Let’s take a look at the fantasy football-relevant moves made so far by the AFC East, and figure out where we want them to go in about two weeks when the 2021 NFL Draft kicks off to further our selfish fantasy football goals.

Buffalo Bills (13-3)
Picks: #30, #61, #93, #161 (LAS), #174, #213, #236 (CAR)
Key Additions: Emmanuel Sanders (WR), Matt Breida (RB), Mitch Trubisky (QB)
Key Losses: John Brown (WR)
2021 NFL Draft Fantasy Football Wish List: Tight End(?)

When a team makes it all the way to the AFC Championship Game on the back of their outstanding offensive prowess, it’s hard to find somewhere they might go in the NFL Draft that could help for fantasy football. This offseason, they swapped John Brown for Emmanuel Sanders, crowded their running back room further with Matt Breida, and tossed Mitch Trubisky a bone. The easy answer here would be the offensive line, but Pro Football Focus put Buffalo in their top ten last season and they haven’t lost anyone of note in that department.

I guess… tight end? But they won’t be in the running for Kyle Pitts, so maybe Brevin Jordan or Pat Freiermuth in the second round? But then again, they threw to the tight end at the third-lowest rate last year (11.6%) and they already have Dawson Knox there… okay, maybe they don’t need anyone to help! Certainly not another running back to further muddy that room’s waters! So nothing, never mind! My answer is nothing!

Miami Dolphins (10-6)
Picks: #6 (PHI), #18, #36 (HOU), #50, #81, #156 (DAL via PHI), #231 (HOU), #258 (KC)
Key Additions: Will Fuller (WR), Matt Skura (C), Malcolm Brown (RB), Jacoby Brissett (QB)
Key Losses: Matt Breida (RB), Ryan Fitzpatrick (QB)
2021 NFL Draft Fantasy Football Wish List: Offensive Line, Pass Catcher

The Miami Dolphins, despite being mammals that look like fish, are in the catbird seat for the next few NFL drafts. That’s thanks to them somehow hoovering up a bunch of picks from the Texans and 49ers over the last few years. Well, they have Tua Tagovailoa in tow, a competent defense (#11 by footballoutsiders.com’s DVOA) and a whole bunch of picks. That means a lot of giving Tua everything he needs to succeed: weapons. The Dolphins traded up to six after dropping back from #3, and this gives them the position to get either Penei Sewell or one of Kyle Pitts, Ja’Marr Chase, or DeVonta Smith.

New England Patriots (7-9)
Picks: #15, #46, #96, #120, #122 (ARI via HOU), #139, #177, #188 (HOU), #197, #242
Key Additions: Jonnu Smith & Hunter Henry (TE), Nelson Agholor & Kendrick Bourne (WR)
Key Losses: Joe Thuney (OG), Julian Edelman (WR)
2021 NFL Draft Fantasy Football Wish List: Quarterback, Wide Receiver

The New England Patriots bottomed out in a hurry last season, with Tom Brady absconding off to Florida and every other player worth their salt opting out of 2020 due to COVID-19. They’ve started a rebuilding process by calling up the agents of four different pass catchers and going “what is your top offer, I’ll beat it!” They now have Jonnu Smith and Hunter Henry, crushing both their fantasy football value heading into 2021. Belichick also added Nelson Agholor from the Raiders and Kendrick Bourne from the Niners. All these weapons… for Cam Newton. Newton just flat out doesn’t throw the football enough to support all these guys as well as Jakobi Meyers.

But, that’s the problem. So many weapons, so few pass attempts. That’s why the NFL Media Industrial Complex tied the Patriots to every quarterback under the sun, including 49ers’ starter Jimmy Garoppolo, and presumptive 49ers’ pick at #3 Justin Fields. Cam Newton isn’t going to cut it with this weaponry, so if you want to unlock them get a quarterback who passes the ball a ton.

Another great idea for the Patriots is getting a wide receiver to be a clear #1 in the wide receiver room. No, I’m not kidding. All their receiving threats are better suited as #2 guys at best, so the Patriots getting a guy who can soak up triple-digit targets means good things for fantasy football. It also means the Patriots’ WR room will be a complete mess.

New York Jets (2-14)
Picks: #2, #23 (SEA), #34, #66, #86, #107, #146, #154 (NYG), #186, #226 (CAR)
Key Additions: Corey Davis (WR), Tevin Coleman (RB)
Key Losses: (Breshad Perriman (WR), Sam Darnold (QB)
2021 NFL Draft Fantasy Football Wish List: Quarterback, Offensive Line, Running Back

When you have the #2 overall pick, you also have a vast and varied list of needs in the draft. There’s no surprise with the #2 pick here; quarterback is the top priority for the incoming Robert Saleh regime. The scuttlebutt is that it is likely Zach Wilson, but if they took the best quarterback, it’s likely Justin Fields. Maybe we’re just used to the New York Jets making suboptimal decisions? It could be that.

On top of that, the Jets’ offensive side of the ball leaves a lot to be desired. They need offensive line upgrades (fourth-worst OL in 2020) despite adding Left Tackle Mekhi Becton in last year’s draft. Their big offseason get to improve their running back room was… Tevin Coleman. That leaves them with Lamical Perine, Ty Johnson, Tevin Coleman and Josh Adams. Big yikes.

The Jets’ wide receiver room has lots of question marks, but they need to sift out before they go and get another wide receiver to stifle Denzel Mims’ evolution. But, they might just need one next year.

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About Jeff Krisko

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