As football fans renew their NFL Sunday Ticket subscriptions, dust off their foams fingers and get ready for their fantasy drafts, here’s a preview of the best options in the always-interesting AFC East:
1.) Tom Brady, QB, New England Patriots – No surprise here. The numbers explain why Tom Brady is the best fantasy quarterback in not only the AFC East, but possibly the NFL. Brady has been a top six fantasy quarterback in each of the last four seasons, two of which he was the top point-scorer (2007, 2010). He has tossed at least one touchdown in each game over the last two seasons, and boasts a league-best 27 games with multiple touchdown passes over that span.
2.) Rob Gronkowski – TE, New England Patriots – Gronk led the way in ushering in the new age of leaner, faster and more athletic tight ends last season. While matching the 90 receptions, 1,327 yards and 17 touchdowns he put up in 2011 will be difficult, fantasy owners should expect Gronkowski to come close in 2012. He’s an absolute beast.
3.) Shonn Greene, RB, New York Jets – Durability and consistency. You can sum up Shonn Greene with those two words. The Jets’ workhorse tailback has stayed healthy throughout his three-year NFL career and has consistently produced when his number has been called. While Greene is not a flashy back who’s going to break off long chunks of yards, you’d be hard pressed to find a better runner between the tackles. With the retirement of LaDainian Tomlinson, Greene has a chance to build on a very productive 2011 season where he ran for 1,054 yards and six scores on 253 carries.
4.) Fred Jackson, RB, Buffalo Bills – Fred Jackson has the potential to be one of the best running backs in the NFL. He was highly productive every time he touched the ball in 2011, averaging 5.5 yards per carry and 11.3 yards per reception until a broken leg derailed his season in Week 11. However, there has to be some concerns about the health of Jackson, who will be 31 this season, coming off such a serious injury. Additionally, fantasy owners have to factor in C.J. Spiller’s role in the Buffalo’s offense. Spiller, who the Bills invested a first-round pick in a few years back, will certainly eat into Jackson’s workload in 2010. The question is, how much?
5.) Ryan Fitzpatrick, QB, Buffalo Bills – Fitzpatrick started quickly last season, but faded toward the end. With 3,382 passing yards and 23 touchdowns, he did end up with the best statistical season of his career. However, Fitzpatrick’s NFL-leading 23 interceptions really hampered his fantasy value. With a full offseason of preparation and the return of the versatile Fred Jackson, the Harvard-educated Bills triggerman should be able to cut down on those mistakes and emerge as a top-10 fantasy quarterback.
Next 5: Wes Welker (WR, New England Patriots), Stevie Johnson (WR, Buffalo Bills), Aaron Hernandez (TE, New England Patriots), Reggie Bush (RB, Buffalo Bills), Santonio Holmes (WR, New York Jets)