Offseason Fantasy Football Impacts: AFC & NFC East
Continuing our offseason fantasy football impact series, we’re going to dive into the AFC and NFC East divisions. Check out the North and South recaps if you need to catch up on all of the moves from those divisions.
As a reminder, this is a general overview of the big moves that teams have made. It is not a deep dive, but a way to wrap your head around the craziness of the offseason so far. If you stepped away from football for a few weeks, you may not recognize the NFL for the 2022 season. Hopefully, this series will help.
Let’s start with the really fast elephant in the room. Tyreek Hill signed a $120 million contract extension with the Miami Dolphins. The former Chiefs’ wide receiver will be in south Florida for the next four years, which seemed unfathomable if you had to imagine such a thing last season. Between death and taxes, there was one more thing that was assured. That was the Patrick Mahomes/Hill stack in fantasy football.
However, that pair is no more, as hard as it is to believe. For fantasy purposes, this has massive ramifications across the board. For the Chiefs, Hill vacates 159 targets that will be dispersed among Travis Kelce, Juju Smith-Schuster, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, and Mecole Hardman (more on that in the AFC/NFC West article coming soon). This will undoubtedly have an impact on Mahomes’ fantasy production, but how much remains to be seen.
Not to disparage Hill’s new quarterback, but Tua Tagovialoa is not the same caliber as Mahomes. Hill will likely be the WR1 of the group and see the lion’s share of the targets, but Tagovialoa has yet to prove himself as a quarterback in the NFL. Hill is not the only excellent wide receiver for the Dolphins, either. Second-year receiver, Jaylen Waddle, finished his rookie season as the WR16 with 193.8 points in half-PPR. He had 104 receptions on 142 targets and that pool with shrink considerably with Hill’s arrival.
The Dolphins also added a score of running backs to their arsenal. Chase Edmonds, Sony Michel, and Raheem Mostert round out the RB room with Myles Gaskin and Salvon Ahmed. New head coach Mike McDaniel, former OC of the 49ers, isn’t messing around with revamping the Dolphins for the 2022 season. I am very interested to see how McDaniel uses Edmonds in both the run and passing game. Remember, Deebo Samuel started running RB routes last year and he had an explosive season for fantasy. Edmonds is already known for his pass-catching chops as a running back and just may be the next Samuel-lite in Miami.
Compared to the Dolphins, it feels like the remaining teams in the AFC East barely did anything. Both the Bills and the Jets added to their RB corps with James Cook and Breece Hall respectively at the NFL Draft. Buffalo also brought in Jamison Crowder to help replace Cole Beasley who the Bills released after last season. Hall’s addition to the Jets seems to confirm that the coaching staff isn’t too confident about RB Michael Carter. New York’s running backs are now even muddier, which is never good for fantasy.
The Patriots, who have yet to name an offensive coordinator, added a pack of veteran wide receivers including DeVante Parker, Nelson Agholor, and Kendrick Bourne to help out Jakobi Meyers. QB Mac Jones has a solid but not flashy group to help him take the next step at the position in his second year.
The NFC East had some exciting changes that make me very interested to see if the division can lose its “NFC Least” nickname.
Let’s start with the Washington Commanders who not only have a new name this season but a new quarterback under center. Carson Wentz returns to the NFC East after the failed experiment with the Colts. The revenge factor is sky high since he will be facing his former team, the Philadelphia Eagles, twice and Wentz is eager to prove that he can return to MVP caliber from 2017. Head coach Ron Rivera believes enough in Wentz to give him a shot at the helm.
Perhaps the new QB can finally give the team consistency at the position if he can stay healthy. This is good news for pass-catching RB Antonio Gibson, TE Logan Thomas, and WR Terry McLaurin. Despite playing with a whopping six different quarterbacks in his short career, McLaurin has managed to be fantasy productive with the likes of Kyle Allen, Dwayne Haskins, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Taylor Heinicke, Case Keenum, and even Colt McCoy.
Through Week 14 in 2017, Eagles’ WRs Alshon Jeffrey and Nelson Agholor were WR15 and WR19 respectively before Wentz tore his ACL against the Rams. Let’s not forget that Zach Ertz was TE3 behind Travis Kelce and Rob Gronkowski. Wentz has the potential to support multiple receivers in fantasy, but it will depend on which version of quarterback shows up.
Speaking of the Eagles, I believe that they are in contention for “winning the draft” without even evaluating a single draft pick. The winning move came when the Eagles traded for Titans’ WR A.J. Brown in the first round of the draft.
I didn’t love this move at first, but the more I thought about it, the more I liked it. Brown will no longer be in an offense that runs through Derrick Henry and he will likely become the WR1 starting in Week 1. This is a huge upgrade for Jalen Hurts who had inconsistent wide receiver production last season. Of course, this all depends on whether or not Brown can stay healthy and if Hurts will start using his arm more than his legs.
The Cowboys didn’t make any blockbuster acquisitions (no offense James Washington) but they did lose WR Amari Cooper to the Cleveland Browns. This leaves CeeDee Lamb as the alpha wide receiver in the room and even elevates TE Dalton Schultz. Cooper vacates 104 targets that will need to be split up between Lamb, Washington, Michael Gallup, and Schultz.
The Giants, on the other hand, went all-in on protection and shored up their offensive line which was in dire need of fixing. They also invested in a new head coach by adding Brian Daboll, former offensive coordinator of the Buffalo Bills.
QB Daniel Jones will need to take a major step forward this season. He has the weapons around him with Kadarius Toney, Kenny Golladay, Darius Slayton, Sterling Shepard, and a shiny new offensive line to protect him. This may be his last chance to prove he has what it takes to be a starting quarterback in the NFL.