Offseason Fantasy Fix: Ends, Tight and Otherwise
This week we cover a couple of teams who are likely to make some sort of pitch to Tony Romo, neither of which seem likely to land him, meaning that you’re going to be left asking the question “Is [insert mediocre QB here] bad enough to stop [insert incredibly talented WR here] from going off?” The Jets are an excellent example of how difficult that question can be to answer. Ryan Fitzpatrick authored 2 top 10 fantasy WR’s in 2015, Brandon Marshall (2nd overall) and Eric Decker (9th). Even with Decker injured for most of 2016, Marshall still suffered roughly 50% hits to both his receptions and yards, while his TD’s went from 14 to 3. The Fitzmagic obviously wore off, with the NY Jets raking dead last in QB passer rating. It’s all of our jobs as fantasy GM’s to try and figure out what other teams are in for similar fates this coming year, lest we invest in a receiver as similarly ill-fated as Brandon Marshall. Let’s start with the…
The Bills ended 2016 with the number 1 rushing offense in 2016, but the 30th passing offense, leading to speculation that Tyrod Taylor is unlikely to return. The same is true for backup E.J. Manuel, putting the Bills in dire need of a QB. Unfortunately, the pool of available QB’s is fairly shallow, and unless the Bills sign Tony Romo or make moves for the likes of a Jay Cutler or Jimmy Garoppolo , I don’t have much confidence that the Bills’ passing offense will be any more well suited to produce from a fantasy perspective.
That’s not to say that the Bills’ QB won’t have anyone to try and throw to, as the Bills are throwing their hat into the ring in the search for a competent WR to complement Sammy Watkins. The Bills need to find someone from amongst the crop of available WR’s, spearheaded by DeSean Jackson, since the Bills WR depth chart is marred by unrestricted free agents. The Bills will be worth keeping up with, because Watkins, when healthy, is a competent QB away from being a top fantasy WR.
New York Jets
The 2016 Jets were a testament to what happens when your entire offensive line is made up of old, injured dudes. When you look to the draftable fantasy positions on the team, you see a lot of intriguing talent — Brandon Marshall, Eric Decker, Matt Forte, and the sleeper of all sleepers Bilal Powell — but not the corresponding production. The Jets finished 26th in total offense in 2016. Hopefully the Jets can do a serviceable job of finding big boys to block for their QB.
Speaking of which, the Jets are pretty much done with the beard, as it did not instill much in the way of fear last season, and Geno Smith is also going to be gone. Bryce Petty and Christian Hackenberg are waiting on the wings to attempt and make their case, but the Jets seem poised to grab a QB in the draft. We’ll see how this all plays out, but there’s no clear path to fantasy production as of yet for this squad.
Miami Dolphins, Miami Dolphins, Miami Dolphins NUMBER 1!
Well, 24th, in total offense at least. Number 1 in your heart though. My team, the Miami Dolphins, look likely to be focusing primarily on defense, filling holes in the DL and LB corps that brought the Phins to the playoffs last season.
The Miami offense’s biggest move of the offseason is likely to have already happened, replacing the concussion-riddled Jordan Cameron with Julius Thomas, a receiving TE with serious playmaking potential.
The Dolphins also have a decision to make about whether or not they want to hold on to Kenny Stills, who finished the season with 7 10+ fantasy point performances. The Dolphins have to decide whether they think Devante Parker and 2015 draft pick Leonte Carroo can pick up the slack alongside Jarvis Landry.
New England Patriots
Rob Gronkowski is very good at football, but his third back surgery casts a lot of doubt on the TE-focused Patriots offense. When Gronk is on the field, Tom Brady’s QBR jumps by 20 points, and his completion percentage improves by 5%, highlighting the importance that a quality TE serves for New England. Martellus Bennett is a free agent, and their is a lot of doubt as to whether New England is going to pony up the dough to re-sign him, considering that Bennett has said he’s not willing to take a home town discount. The Patriots will continue to find ways to produce through the air, but the production of New England WR’s is far less consistent than that of their starting TE.
The other position that New England is going to be looking at is their starting RB. The Patriots RB has been the most transient position in fantasy football over the past few years, leading me to lean towards completely ignoring any news having to do with potential Patriots RB signings. Last season, LeGarrette Blount scored 18 TD’s. If there is anyone in your league that believes that this is an indicator of things to come (it isn’t), please allow them to make the mistake of drafting early Patriots RB’s and sink themselves, but don’t do it yourself.