Dynasty Dose: 2021 Rookie Upgrades, AFC East

by | Jan 22, 2021 | 1 comment

If you read THE BREAKOUT FINDER and have any sort of serious approach to dynasty football and managing your dynasty rosters, you already know Mr. Dan Jolly (@DanForADay). This guy is the bee’s knees; the cat’s meow, if you will.

Jolly offers fantastic spins and takes on all-things dynasty and is an asset to everyone that reads his articles. In his most recent series, he is going around the league and identifying fantasy relevant players and what to do with them. Thankfully, he agreed to allow me to do a collaboration with him.

So, what exactly am I doing if Mr. Jolly is already doing all of the hard work? I get the honor of riding shotgun on Jolly’s immaculate groundwork and identifying potential pieces that could fill-in and replace gaps he’s identified. For example: Say a running back on a team just isn’t cutting it, I get to throw an option or two around, a player or players who I see as a potential fit and upgrade.

With the rules and reasoning out of the way, let’s talk ball.

Buffalo Bills

2020 Record: 13-3

Glaring need: Running back

Name a more fun team to watch in the NFL right now than the Buffalo Bills?

I’m not sure you can.

Sure, the Chiefs are fun, but they are coming off of a Super Bowl win; Buffalo hadn’t won a playoff game since 1995. Brandon Beane has taken this franchise and completely turned it around. Making moves for guys like Stefon Diggs and drafting Josh Allen seemed puzzling to an extent at the time, but you have to give it to him, as things have seemingly turned the corner and come together nicely.

The offense is one of the most potent in the league, registerring 4,678 passing yards (3rd in the NFL, which means they averaged about 292 passing yards per game). However, after taking out Allen’s 421 rushing yards, the Bills only had 1,302 rushing yards.

Not so great!

The Bills have got to improve the run game this upcoming season. Devin Singeltary rushed for 686 yards (23rd in the NFL) and rookie Zack Moss rushed for 481 yards (40th in the NFL). Furthermore, Allen rushed for 8 touchdowns this year which is one more than the 7 combined rushing touchdowns between Singeltary and Moss.

This offense is in danger of becoming too one dimensional. While we want these offenses to lean on the pass, the Bills’ need is obvious. The Bills don’t have many needs, but securing a corner opposite of Tre White is essential, but don’t let their edge rush need be overlooked. Look for the Bills to draft an edge rusher and a linebacker with their picks in the first 2 rounds, but come the 3rd round, or so, a player that might fit the bill is North Carolina’s Javonte Williams.

Williams would be an amazing fit in this offense. Standing at 5-10, Williams has a low-center of gravity and is incredibly difficult to bring down due to his balance. On 157 attempts this season, he fumbled the ball zero (0) times while notching 22 total scores.

His prowess as a pass catcher doesn’t necessarily jump out at you, as he only had 25 receptions, but it’s what happens in the open-field that makes him remarkable: He forced 63 missed tackles (1st) while averaging 6.3 yard per carry. Considering Buffalo has great pass-catchers already, the fit of a powerful back like Williams is almost too good to be true.

Miami Dolphins

2020 Record: 10-6

Glaring need: Wide receiver

 

How great was it seeing Brian Flores turn this team around in one year?

Remember when we thought Adam Gase was the answer to this franchise and then not only did he destroy one AFC East team, he did it to another? Ah, good times. Tua Tagovailoa may not have had the greatest outing this season, but that can be chalked-up to injuries that were endured by most of his team. Myles Gaskin, DeVante Parker, and Preston Williams all missed 6, 2, and 8 games respectively. That’s a lot of work you are putting on backups with a quarterback who was a backup until about halfway through the year.

This team needs consistent play-makers on the offensive-side of the ball more than a lot of double-digit win teams. They had great play from Gaskin, but the top two receivers on the depth chart were mediocre at best combining for just 1,081 yards receiving. 

Enter arguably the best receiving class that we have seen since 2014 when the likes of Odell Beckham Jr., Mike Evans, Allen Robinson, and Jarvis Landry blessed us with their play in the NFL. The Dolphins tend to not make sexy picks and could very well draft Penei Sewell with the no. 3 overall pick. They also hold the 18th overall selection where we could see them draft a difference-maker. Devonta Smith and Ja’Marr Chase will more than likely not fall this far, but how excited would people get to see Amon-Ra St. Brown in a Dolphins uniform? He led the Pac-12 in red zone targets (11), red zone receptions (11), and red zone touchdowns (5).

Long story short, this guy catches EVERYTHING you throw at him.

Furthermore, his whole career at USC, St. Brown averaged 12.57 yards per reception while primarily only running drag routes and screens. Although his speed isn’t necessarily knock-your-boots (estimated to be at the 4.5-4.6 range), his play-making ability is what sets him apart. After he high-points and bullies defenders for the ball, his body control and agility allow him to shift past defenders. Landing a player like St. Brown would be a huge boost to Miami’s offense, certainly. 

New England Patriots

2020 Record: 7-9

Glaring need: Quarterback

Have we finally moved past the idea that Tom Brady is a system quarterback, and it was Bill Belichick that made him great?

Don’t get me wrong, Belichick will more than likely go down as the greatest coach there ever was, but this year was abysmal: The Cam Newton experiment started off incredible, and then tanked quicker than the Transformers series at the box office. Newton threw for 2,657 passing yards and just 8 touchdowns. The only season that was lower in both categories? 2019, when he only played 2 games. It’s time for Belichick to draft his answer at quarterback post-Brady.

Luckily, the Patriots hold the 15th overall pick.

It is quite obvious that Trevor Lawrence, Justin Fields, and likely even Zach Wilson aren’t making it out of the 15, yet there is still hope that one of Trey Lance, Kyle Trask, or Mac Jones is hanging around. You’d have to think if this happens, Belichick would be licking his chops at the idea of getting one of these franchise-changing quarterbacks.

The question then becomes who do they throw to? The Patriots need more help than just quarterback (wide receiver, tight end), but you can’t really do much with Newton behind center anymore. We were all hoping that he had a revival season, but it just wasn’t in the cards.

The guy that I truthfully think will be playing in New England is Jones.

Jones isn’t very mobile and as we saw, Belichick runs an offense much better with a pocket-passer versus a mobile option. Jones had 41 touchdowns to only 4 interceptions while boasting a 77.4 completion percentage (NCAA-best). While Jones led the nation in passing yards with 4,500, it’s his anticipation as a passer that will land him the job.

Jones is able to go through progressions like an experienced NFL passer and anticipate when and where a receiver will be open. Although he isn’t mobile, he has great pocket movement and can extend the play in order to allow his receivers to get open.

New York Jets

2020 Record: 2-14

Glaring need: Running Back

Before we get into it, let me just go on record:

I do believe the Jets will take a quarterback at no. 2 overall, and I think it should be [Justin] Fields.

Sam Darnold is not the answer at quarterback and will more than likely be shipped-off for a bag of balls.

However, once we move past the quarterback position, what do we have? We have the man fighting against time in Frank Gore (and, really, somehow winning to this point), and a rookie who couldn’t stay healthy and piece together a good season in La’Mical Perine. Gore will probably be back next year to bridge the gap, but I don’t believe that Perine is the answer to this team’s issues on offense — and certainly not long-term.

The Jets offensive line ranked 30th in yards per carry before contact (1.1 yards) in 2020. The only lines worse according to PFF? The Bengals, Giants, and Chargers.

The Jets own picks 2, 23, and 34, which means they can inundate this team with much needed talent. The offensive line class is a lot deeper than people like to think and if the Jets can walk out of the 2nd round with players such as Fields, Chubba Hubbard or Trey Sermon, and Jalen Mayfield, then this offense sets up rather nicely entering the ’21 campaign.

Obviously, the coaching change is going to make a big difference on this team, but if I am an incoming coach, I’d have to like the idea of completely taking this team and making it my own.

I don’t think people remember that Sermon wasn’t the primary back in 2020, yet he still became one of the best backs in the nation. Sermon averaged 7.5 yards per carry on only 116 attempts, and would thrive in an offense that implements zone and inside runs by sealing the edges (which is something the Jets did well in 2020).

Once Sermon hits the hole, his physicality, toughness, and ability to protect the ball are on full display. Another running back that had 0 fumbles means that the offense can rely on him to matriculate the ball down the field. Sermon may fall in the draft, but will be a huge boost to this partciular running back room. We love the fit.

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