AFC EAST – Fantasy Football 2021
Before you know it, the 2021 fantasy football season will be here. The NFL is set to open free agency on March 17, and the NFL Draft is the last weekend in April. Heck, we’ve already seen a blockbuster trade among the Detroit Lions and Los Angeles Rams, and former Defensive Player of the Year, JJ Watt was released by the Houston Texans and will sign with the Arizona Cardinals once free agency starts.
On top of that, franchise QB DeShaun Watson refuses to play for the Texans and demands a trade. Only time will tell where Watson lands. In the meantime, let’s take a look at each NFL division team-by-team and evaluate their fantasy football talent on the present roster.
The Jets enter the 2021 season with a big question that needs to be answered. Will new head coach Robert Salah stick with Sam Darnold under center, or will the team change gears and draft a signal-caller at No. 2 over in the NFL draft. In my opinion, the Jets have a bigger problem on offense than the quarterback. Future Hall of Famer Frank Gore was the Jet’s top rusher in 2020, but while Gore will be back for his 17th season, it’s unlikely to be in NY. Rookie La’mical Perine showed signs of life at times last season, but he averaged just 3.6 yards per carry and never totaled over 40 rushing yards in a single game.
Things don’t get much better for the Jets at the wide receiver position. Jamison Crowder is a reliable veteran, but he’s had trouble staying healthy over the years, and there is talk that the Jets cut Crowder to save money. The only skill player I get excited about is WR Denzel Mims. While he finished with just 23 receptions and 357 yards over 9 games, Mims averaged 15.5 yards per reception and should see an increase in targets, receptions, yardage, and touchdowns in his sophomore campaign.
The Patriots mirror the Jets in terms of talent being slim for those putting together their 2021 fantasy football draft boards. The verdict is still out on if the Patriots will bring back QB Cam Newton, but if they do, fantasy owners shouldn’t expect much. Newton passed for just 2,657 yards in 15 games and only 8 touchdown strikes against 10 interceptions. Another issue when drafting Patriots in your fantasy league is the uncertainty among which running back will get the bulk of the carries. Damien Harris averaged 5 yards per carry and emerged as the most productive back in New England. However, Sony Michel is still in the mix and will get his share of touches. Pass-catching RBs James White and Rex Burkhead are free agents, but I would be surprised if one of the two didn’t return to Foxboro.
Wideout Julian Edelman was injured the majority of the 2020 season and finished with just 21 receptions for 315 receiving yards. Edelman is signed through the 2021 season, but the chances are that his knee injury could keep him out throughout the football season. Jakobi Meyers had a breakout season, as Meyers hauled in 59 receptions for 729 receiving yards. Expect those numbers to rise in 2021. I’m not sold on N’Keal Harry‘s development at the position, and while the Patriots are young at tight end, none showed me anything to think they are going to be productive.
The Dolphins weren’t full of talented skill players in 2020, but they found a way to score points and ultimately win football games. What started as Matt Breida and Jordan Howard at running back ended with a Myles Gaskin and Salvon Ahmed tandem. And believe it or not, it worked. Gaskin finished with 584 rushing yards, 388 receiving yards, and 5 total touchdowns. Ahmed finished with 319 yards and 3 touchdowns over six games. While productive, I don’t expect Gaskin/Ahmed to be anything more than backups in 2021. There are many rumors that Miami is looking for a top free agent RB to alleviate some pressure off of Tua Tagovailoa.
Speaking of Tua, the quarterback had some mixed results as a rookie. He finished averaging just 6.3 yards per attempt and had an 11-5 touchdown to interception ratio. While Tua took care of the football, his stats were nowhere near considered on your fantasy football draft board, at least until he tries to prove all of the haters wrong.
As for the pass catchers, Devante Parker (63 receptions, 793 receiving yards) and Mike Gesicko (53 receptions, 703 receiving yards) enter the 2021 season with their fantasy values on the rise. Especially Gesicki.
The Bills are the only team in the AFC East with true fantasy football talent for those getting their draft boards ready. Josh Allen has emerged as a top-3 fantasy QB entering 2021, and wide receiver Stefon Diggs is fresh off 127 receptions, 1,535 yards, and 8 touchdown seasons. If you draft Allen or Diggs, you can expect similar production and have a head start on your competition at the QB or WR spot.
At running back, the Bills will once again be in a true RBBC with Zack Moss and Devin Singletary sharing the load. While Moss is coming off of ankle surgery, I still feel he will be the fantasy football RB to own in Buffalo, and he’s the one I am targeting in all scoring formats.
The 2021 Commish Kit Fantasy Football Draft Boards will be available soon.