We are three days into #SFB9 and my 1.06 pick of James Conner is highlighted as ‘notable’ in the first round. Sign me up for a bell cow back that is projected to receive over 70% of the teams rushing attempts (RB3). He was RB6 in first downs last season, even after missing the last three games of the season, and had 9 games over 50 yards out of his 12 games played. No back with that high of their teams rushing % would be there for me at 2.07. Who did you take with your number 1 pick? What was the craziest 1st round pick in your #SFB9 division?

Today we finish my AFC East preview with the New England Patriots and New York Jets.

Completed Previews: AFC NorthNFC North – NFC East Part INFC East Part II – AFC East Part I

2019 projections referenced below are based on razzball.com 2019 projections managed and updated by our very own @RudyGamble . ADP, and strength of schedule data referenced below are based on fantasypros.com consensus data.

AFC East

New England Patriots

QB Tom Brady

2018 Recap

  • QB14
  • Started all 16 games
  • Beat weekly projections 7 out of 16 games
  • 31 TDs (2 rushing) to 11 INT
  • 570 pass attempts (QB9)
  • 17.6 fantasy points per game

2019 Outlook

  • Strength of Schedule at-a-glance
    • 26th easiest overall strength of schedule for QBs
    • Attractive playoff run joined with a tough championship matchup, faces the #2 and #1 easiest fantasy defenses weeks 14 (vs KC) and 15 (@ Cin), then faces the #1 toughest fantasy defense against QBs in week 16 (vs BUF)

Even with ranking at QB9 in pass attempts with 570, Brady was unable to crack the QB1 ranks in 2018. His point differential was less than 20 total fantasy points from QB9 and only 5 points away from a QB10 finish. Not a lot of discrepancy with the back end of the QB1 finishes. It’s hard to see Brady moving in to the top 10 after losing his top receiving threat in Gronkowski to retirement and lead outside threat Josh Gordon’s future still up in the air. Rudy’s projections allude to this with Brady finishing 2019 at QB21. Don’t rely on Brady to be your lead QB but drafting him for depth or in two QB leagues is the best situation for him heading in to his 19th NFL season.

RB Sony Michel

2018 Recap

  • RB 35
  • Missed 4* games due to injury (knee) (*started 1 game but exited after receiving only 4 carries)
  • Beat projections 5 games out 12
  • 4 games over 100 yards rushing
  • .5 rec per game on .8 targets per game
  • 4.5 yards per rush and 7.1 yards per rec
  • 10.7 fantasy point per game

2019 Outlook

  • Strength of schedule at-a-glance
    • 2nd easiest overall strength of schedule for RBs
    • Faces only 2 fantasy defenses ranked in the top 10 toughest through the first 9 weeks of the season (#9 vs PIT wk1, #2 @ BAL wk9)
    • Great finish to the fantasy season; faces the #3, #2, and #9 easiest ranked fantasy defenses for running backs in weeks 14,15, and 16

It’s tough to invest an early-mid round pick on a running back that suffers from chronic knee issues. He is already noted having his knee worked on in the offseason. The Patriots reaffirmed my hesitation with Sony by drafting a running back in the 3rd round of this years draft, Damien Harris out of Alabama. Rudy projects Michel to finish the season at RB16 which puts him as a value at his current draft price. Michel’s current ADP is 39, early 3rd round, and the 21st RB off the board. If you project his 11.7 avg ppg (removing week 7 that he left injured) from the 12 games he started over a full 16 games he finishes 2018 as RB20 with 187 total fantasy points. He does have a favorable strength of schedule but will he be able to make it the full 16 games to take advantage of the sweet fantasy playoff matchups? Not to mention, he adds zero value in the passing game. It depends on your draft strategy but I’m only taking Michel if he is my BR3/4. If you do take Michel as your RB2 then make sure you invest in his handcuff, Damien Harris

RB James White

2018 Recap

  • RB7
  • Played all 16 games
  • Beat weekly projections 11 out of 16 games (highest rate of any RB covered thus far)
  • 0 games over 100 yards rushing or receving
  • 5.4 rec per game on 7.7 targets per game
  • 4.5 yards per rush and 8.6 yards per rec
  • 17.3 fantasy points per game

2019 Outlook

  • Strength of schedule at-a-glance
    • 2nd easiest overall strength of schedule for RBs
    • Faces only 2 fantasy defenses ranked in the top 10 toughest through the first 9 weeks of the season (#9 vs PIT wk1, #2 @ BAL wk9)
    • Great finish to the fantasy season; faces the #3, #2, and #9 easiest ranked fantasy defenses for running backs in weeks 14,15, and 16

123 total targets in 2018 put White at RB2 in running back targets, only behind Christian McCaffery, and WR15 in total targets- ahead of T.Y. Hilton, Brandon Cooks, and Kenny Golladay. His 276 total points places him at WR10 in total fantasy points.  James only carries value in full point PPR leagues and we should be asking why can’t we place White in our WR slots. His rushing stats are just a nice little bonus for us. Gronkowski retired leaving Edelman as the top trusted pass catcher in NE and White as the #2 target for Brady. Gronkowski leaves behind 72 targets along with Josh Gordon’s 71 targets. 143 targets available in this offense and Sony is clearly not trusted to catch the ball out of the backfield receiving only 6 targets in 2018. Please explain to me why White is getting drafted 61st overall and RB29 in PPR leagues?

WR Julian Edelman

2018 Recap

  • WR20
  • Missed 4 games due to suspension
  • Beat weekly projections 8 out of 12 games played
  • 2 games over 100 yards receiving
  • 9 targets per game and WR21 in total targets (108)
  • 6.2 rec per game and WR20 in tot rec (74)
  • 11.5 yds per rec and .75 TD per game
  • 17.3 fantasy point per game

2019 Outlook

  • Strength of Schedule
    • 22nd easiest overall strength of schedule for WRs
    • Brutal finish to the fantasy season (weeks 12-16). Faces the #6, #8, and #5 ranked toughest fantasy defense for opposing WRs (vs DAL wk12, @ HOU wk3, vs BUF wk16). Only one matchup against a fantasy defense ranked in the top 10 easiest (#9 vs KC wk14)

If it wasn’t for his 4 game suspension, based on his fantasy points per game, Edelman would have finished as WR10 last season. Now, he has an additional 143 targets up for grabs after Gronk and Gordon departing. Current ADP of 40 and WR15, Rudy has Edelman finishing 2019 as WR14.  The question will be if Edelman can operate efficiently as the number one option in this offense. I trust Bill Belichick and Tom Brady to figure this one out. Edelman is a safe floor with WR1 upside. 

NE Quick Hits: Rookie wide receivers have struggled to be fantasy relevant in recent years but N’Keal Harry has the opportunity to break the trend. NE lacks a true X-receiver with Gordon’s NFL future completely up in the air. Can Harry learn the Patriots system and catch up to the speed of the NFL quickly? Rudy does not have any other NE receiver breaking the top 100, with Harry projected to finish at WR76. Demaryius Thomas is projected to finish as WR102 followed by Dontrelle Inman at WR103. Thomas, at age 31, is rehabbing from an achilles tear suffered late in 2018 (DEC) and it’ll be interesting to see at what point he gets on the field this season. Look for a true WR-by-committee outside of Edelman. RB Damien Harris is an interesting late round dart throw, going 143 overall and RB50. Michel owners make sure to grab your handcuff. Rudy does not have any Pats TE projected in the top 30 of tight ends. Matt LaCosse is the highest at TE33. Let both Dwayne Allen and LaCosse hit waivers in your drafts- watch list material. 

 

New York Jets

QB Sam Darnold

2018 Recap

  • QB17
  • Missed 3 games due to injury (foot)
  • Beat weekly projections 8 out of 13 games played
  • 18 TDs (1 rush TD) and 17 turnovers (15 INT/2 FUM)
  • 414 pass attempts
  • 13.0 fantasy points per game

2019 Outlook

  • Strength of schedule at-a-glance
    • 18th easiest overall strength of schedule for QBs
    • No matchup with a fantasy defense ranked in the top 10 easiest during the fantasy playoffs (weeks 14-16), and faces the #2 ranked toughest fantasy defense for QBs in wk15 @ BUF.

Darnold will need to make the 2nd year leap in order to become fantasy relevant in one QB leagues. The front office did their part by bringing in offensive minded head coach, Adam Gase, and improving the running game by adding dynamic playmaker, LeVeon Bell. Will they be able to put it all together in Gase’s first year in NY and LeVeon a full year removed from playing NFL football? Rudy has Darnold finishing QB25 in 2019 which is inline with his current ADP of QB26 and 179 overall. It looks like we are one year away from a Darnold breakout. 

RB Le’Veon Bell

No player stats for 2018

2019 Outlook

  • Strength of Schedule at-a-glance
    • Juicy stretch in the middle of the season (weeks 9-14), faces 5 fantasy defenses ranked in the top 10 easiest for opposing RBs and no defense ranked among the top 10 toughest
    • Tough finish to the playoffs and championship, faces the #2 and #10 toughest fantasy defenses in week 15 (@ BAL) and 16 (vs PIT)
    • 4th easiest overall strength of schedule for RBs

A once perennial top fantasy back, Bell finds himself in gang green yearning to prove his doubters wrong. The positives: one full year to rest his body, 4th easiest strength of schedule for RBs, and Adam Gase had Kenyan Drake post an RB14 finish in Miami. Do we need to debate the talent difference between the two backs? Gase’s backfield in Miami produced 312 carries and we’ve seen Bell handle a heavy workload in PIT. Rudy has the Jets ‘hitting’ on Bell. Projecting an RB5 finish in 2019 with 237 rushing attempts paired with 72 receptions, equalling 309 total touches. If so, this will be the cheapest we can get Bell, his current ADP sits at 8th overall and RB7. 

NYJ Quick Hits: WR Robby Anderson and, new addition, WR Jamison Crowder find themselves in an entirely new offensive scheme in 2019. Reviewing 2018 stats holds little weight as we preview them for 2019 under new head coach Adam Gase. Anderson had a WR39 finish in 2018 and is projected to finish WR28 in 2019, putting him in the WR3 range. Providing a small value at his current ADP of 80th overall and WR31. Anderson is only two years removed from a WR18 finish. Crowder is projected to finish at WR37, ahead of other late round dart throws; Courtland Sutton, Geronimo Allison, Michael Gallup, and Adam Humphries. Crowder is practically free, current ADP at 219 overall and WR72. If you are looking for late round value to build your WR depth then think about adding Crowder to your roster. TE16 finish in 2018, Chris Herndon looks to improve in his second year. Many are hyping Herndon because of his athletic ability but Gase has failed to produce a fantasy relevant TE in his 3 years as a head coach. Rudy has Herndon projected to finish 19th overall and not worth a roster spot unless Gase’s system proves otherwise.

 

Next Up: NFC South Part I- Atlanta Falcons + Carolina Panthers

 

As always, leave your feedback below or holler at me on twitter. 

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