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AFC East Pressing Fantasy Football Questions

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Buffalo Bills: Josh Allen was fantasy's top overall player in 2020. While we might have just seen the best season he'll ever have, his floor also seems very safe because of his rushing ability. Is he a top-5 lock barring injury or are there still some slight concerns about his game?

Dalton: I was completely wrong last year about Allen, who’s locked in as a fantasy star (and as the newly paid Bills QB) for years to come. He improved dramatically as a passer, is dominant at the goal line, and also plays in an extremely pass-heavy system featuring a bunch of play action. Allen is one of the league’s toughest players to tackle, and he also happened to get 7.9 YPA and throw 37 touchdowns last season. With 25 career rushing TDs over 43 starts, the Firebaugh product is fantasy gold and could easily repeat as the QB1.

Andy: Allen has entered the innermost inner-circle at his position and it's difficult to imagine him not producing a top-5 finish. Assuming he remains healthy, the only thing that might derail his fantasy season is a multi-week injury to Stefon Diggs, the team's unrivaled No. 1 receiver. Diggs caught at least six balls in 15 of 16 games last year and he finished with either 75 receiving yards or a TD in 14 games. So yeah, he's pretty important. But even if he was sidelined for a protracted period of time, it's not like the rest of Buffalo's receiving corps is without talent. Also, Allen's status as his team's goal-line back is an almost unfair fantasy edge.

Matt: Variance is always real at the quarterback position. However, some of Allen's efficiency metrics — a 6.5 percent touchdown rate and a 7.9 yards per attempt mark — aren't exactly screaming for inbound regression like other fantasy legends of old. Given his place as the figurehead of a top-tier, pass-friendly offense, it's difficult to imagine him falling out of the top-five.

Miami Dolphins: The Dolphins ignored RB until late in the draft. Is this going to be a backfield by committee or are you drafting Myles Gaskin as a workhorse this season?

Liz: The Phins made seven selections (five in the first three rounds) and waited until their very last pick (No. 244) to draft a running back. The Doaks pick was a flyer… a concept fantasy managers are endlessly familiar with. Clearly, the current regime prioritized other needs.

From a fantasy POV, that’s not a bad thing, as the coaching staff has additionally demonstrated a willingness to lean on a single RB backfield. In 2020, Gaskins averaged over 18 total touches per contest. Before spraining his MCL in Week 8, he recorded over 14 carries and 4 catches per contest. When he was absent, his former college teammate Salvon Ahmed subbed in, averaging nearly 16 carries per contest (and in one of those games — Week 11 — he suffered a shoulder sprain).

That doesn’t mean Gaskins is going to be effective all 17 games, but it does mean he’s likely to be deployed until he’s no longer effective. He’s a low-end RB2 with limited upside ... but a clear path to top-of-the-season work.

Dalton: The coaching staff treated Gaskin as a workhorse when he was healthy last season, and I’m going to assume a mostly similar role moving forward. With ostensibly little competition on the depth chart and with Will Fuller and Jaylen Waddle added during Year 2 of Tua starting, the Dolphins’ offense has upside. I’m treating Gaskin as a top-20 fantasy back.

Matt: The Dolphins continued to turn back to Myles Gaskin as their clear-cut RB1 in 2020 even though they don’t have much invested in him and other players performed well in his absence. But when he came back, he sent all of them right back to the bench. Returning from IR in Week 13, Gaskin touched the ball 23 times. When he returned from the COVID list in Week 16, he logged a team-high 19 touches.

Miami Dolphins running back Myles Gaskin (37)
Could Myles Gaskin remain the Dolphins' workhorse back? (AP Photo/Marta Lavandier)

With the Dolphins making no major moves at running back, Gaskin is theoretically in line for that treatment once more. Still, we all agree that if the Broncos didn’t trade right in front of them in Round 2, they were taking Javonte Williams, right? So the hard and fast commitment to Gaskin still isn’t fully there. He’s appropriately slotted in drafts because some risk that the team will move away from him must be baked in.

New England Patriots: Damien Harris is the only Patriot inside the top 100 of our overall fantasy rankings. Is there untapped potential here or is he nothing more than FLEX territory?

Andy: Harris' untapped potential involves Cam Newton losing the starting QB gig (which may happen eventually), thus freeing up the goal-line carries that Patriots running backs didn't receive last year. If this team's offense operates as it did in 2020, then Harris won't have a meaningful role as a receiver and he won't see the ball in goal-to-go situations. There's really no path to fantasy value for a running back without targets or touchdowns.

Matt: I don’t love projecting a back on a poor offense — and it’s still difficult to envision New England as anything more than an average attack in 2021 — to be better than a low-end RB2 at best. It’s even more challenging to conjure up optimism when that player doesn’t have hardcore access to goal-line work or a receiving role. Harris could end up slicing off more of the latter pie if/when Mac Jones takes over the starting quarterback job. But who knows when those days will arrive. I’m not going to go out of my way to avoid Harris in 2021 but I doubt he’d ever make my “priority list” in drafts.

Scott: A speculative back on the offense we're ranking 32nd, eh? I'll take a pass on that. If Cam Newton is healthy, he's a touchdown-stealer at the goal line. If Mac Jones gets into the mix, we have to accept some growing pains. I don't think the Patriots will be a punching bag by any means, but it will be because of a worker-bee offense and a retooled defense.

New York Jets: Gang Green signed Tevin Coleman and then drafted North Carolina's Michael Carter. Ty Johnson had some flashes last year as well. Is this a running game to avoid, or do you think one of these RBs will eventually take over?

Matt: I don’t have a priority target in this backfield right now and I think it’s a bit disingenuous to proclaim anything with much certainty with this group. If you’re taking a late stab on anyone with much enthusiasm it would be rookie Michael Carter. Same-school comparisons draw plenty of eye-rolls but I could see him being a Giovani Bernard-type of back in the NFL. Bernard is a good back who's a rock-solid asset in the passing game but while he can and has handled true RB1 workloads in the past, it’s not where he’s best deployed. Given the state of the Jets depth chart at this position, Carter could end up thrust into those spots like Gio has in the past.

Mo: I'd avoid this running game entirely. The offensive line is expected to be better this year, but I just can't put stock in a running game that will A) play behind an unproven rookie B) doesn't have a proven workhorse talent, and C) will probably be abandoned once the team gets down by a couple of scores (which, yeah, they will).

Andy: Carter is a fun player who actually led UNC in rushing last season (1,245 yards) while sharing the workload with Javonte Williams. He's a bit undersized (5-foot-8), however, so I doubt the team views him as a candidate for an every-down featured role. Still, he's the guy I'd draft if you made me take a Jets running back. Coleman couldn't thrive in San Francisco's run game, so he's not likely to make a splash in New York.