Taking A Dive Into The Rosters From Around The League
Author: Chris Wolf
This time of year is typically the time when teams, trainers and agents hype up their players. We know how the world has changed in recent months and the NFL is no different in its approach to returning to “normalcy”. With the news of NFL staff and players testing positive for the Coronavirus, fantasy news is taking a backseat. As a result, fantasy players are missing out on the typical hyperbole surrounding pre-season roster news and notes.
In this series we will look at who’s who on rosters and how that may help in your drafts and early waivers.
Each week we will examine a division’s skill position current roster and predictive depth chart heading into training camp to see how that relates to their fantasy outlook.
HC: Sean McDermott
OC: Brian Daboll
QB: Josh Allen, Matt Barkley, Davis Webb, Jake Fromm
RB: Devin Singletary, TJ Yeldon, Zack Moss, Taiwan Jones, Christian Wade, Antonio Williams, Patrick Demarco, Reggie Gilliam
WR: Stefon Diggs, John Brown, Cole Beasley, Gabriel Davis, Isaiah McKenzie, Robert Foster, Andre Roberts, Isaiah Hodgins, Nick Easley
TE:Dawson Knox, Tyler Kroft, Lee Smith, Tommy Sweeney, Jason Croom, Nate Becker
Sean McDermott returns for his fourth season at the helm after leading the team to the playoffs in two of his first three years. There is talent on both sides of the ball, especially on the defense. OC Brian Daboll has generally called a well-balanced game with a definite emphasis on the run. Josh Allen returns under center with more optimism this year than his last two years. He now welcomes more weapons and a better offensive line. Allen is a unique talent utilizing both his cannon of an arm with a steady diet of his capable legs. In his 28 career games played, he has thrown for 30 TD’s to 21 INT’s. He’s not going to throw for a ton of yards, but he will make up for it on the ground. He has amassed 17 rushing scores and at least 510 yards in both of his seasons played. In 2019 Allen had 22 Red Zone rush attempts resulting in 9 TD’s including 5 TD’s within the 5-yard line. Like his popular comparison, that is truly Newton-esque. Allen makes for a fine QB1 or a great QB2 at a very affordable price tag of $5.3 million. Matt Barkley is a career back-up and presently has the no.2 job while the future Matt Barkley is Jake Fromm and he should beat out Davis Webb for the 3rd QB spot.
The RB position returns Devin Singletary and TJ Yeldon from last season’s middling run game. Frank Gore is gone, and his 173 attempts are now up for grabs but are expected to go to pre-draft darling Zack Moss. Singletary ($974,500) showed some promise in his rookie campaign but was often stifled behind a run blocking unit that graded out in the middle of the pack. Not only was he handicapped by a so-so offensive line, inside the 20 the snaps went to Gore and Allen. Gore and Singletary scored just 4 TD’s between them to Allen’s 9. Moss ($1.15 million) figures to come in to add some juice to the position after the departure of Gore. Moss was the all-time leading rusher and scorer at Utah and profiles as a solid runner with power and good hands. Singletary should lead the backfield in touches with Moss right behind him.
The Wide Receiver group got an upgrade this off-season with a big trade for former Viking Stefon Diggs. Diggs ($14.4 million) immediately figures to slot in as the #1 receiver and will be a fine complement to John Brown ($9 million) and Cole Beasley ($7.25 million). Diggs is a dynamic route runner that always seemed like he just needed the chains to come off. He will be hard pressed to find a ton of volume in this offense, but he should dominate the targets. Due to landing spot alone, he figures to post mid to low end WR2 numbers, but he has the makings of a top 12 receiver if this offense was to drastically change. Brown is a burner with fantastic ball tracking ability but is sure to take a hit in almost all categories with Diggs in town. Brown led the team in targets, receptions, yards and tied Beasley for 1st in scoring with 6 TD’s. Capable of lining up all over the field, Diggs arrival might just free Brown up from the opposing team’s top defenders allowing him to do what he does best…make plays in the open field. Beasley was a particularly good addition last year for Allen’s growth and his QB bail-out-ability provided a fantastic security blanket for the young Allen. He was second on the team in targets, receptions, and yards and should continue to occupy the slot much like he did in 2019. As Diggs enters his prime (age 27), Beasley (31) and Brown (30) will most likely be on the downward trajectory of Buffalo’s plans. The Bill’s selected both Gabriel Davis and Isaiah Hodgins in the 2020 draft to begin framing out their future at the position. Davis should settle into the WR4 role on the team, passing the forgotten speedster Robert Foster.
Dawson Knox was a rookie in 2019 and did not have the advantage to sit and learn behind veteran TE’s like the majority of rookie TE’s get to. The former 3rd rounder is highly athletic but is in a very crowded target situation with all those receivers and Singletary competing for grabs. Knox drew 51 targets for 28 catches, 388 yards and 2 touchdowns last year and that might be the range he stays in for 2020. Veteran Tyler Kroft was added to the mix but won’t be on any fantasy radar barring several injuries.
HC: Brian Flores
OC: Chan Gailey
QB: Ryan Fitzpatrick, Tua Tagovailoa, Josh Rosen
RB: Jordan Howard, Matt Breida, Kalen Ballage, Myles Gaskin, Patrick Laird, Chandler Cox
WR: DeVante Parker, Preston Williams, Gary Jennings, Isaiah Ford, Jakeem Grant, Mack Hollins, Matt Cole, Kirk Merritt
TE: Mike Gesicki, Durham Smythe, Adam Shaheen, Chris Myarick
The Dolphins were in the media dubbed “Tank for Tua” mode early in the season before the scrappy overachievers made the mistake of starting the poster boy for gritty- Ryan Fitzpatrick. HC Brian Flores obviously did not like the way the offense was heading (Fitzpatrick was their leading rusher) so he went and sprung the 68-year-old Chan Gailey from Shady Acres retirement home to shake things up. The Fins still wound up getting Tua and he will reportedly compete early for the starting gig even after being just a year removed from a horrible hip dislocation and ankle injury. Tua’s will to win and his insane accuracy will make it hard for the coaching staff to keep him off the field, pandemic or not. His mobility will be in question coming off hip and ankle injuries, but he is such a competitor, he will find a way to adjust his play. It will be fun to see who wins the starting job between these QB’s not named Josh Rosen.
The aforementioned run game was severely laughable in 2019 and can only get better. New additions Jordan Howard and Matt Brieda bring a bit of low-level thunder and lightning to the mix. Neither will win you a championship but offer good plug and play options at affordable salaries (Howard $4.88 million and Brieda at $3.26 million). Howard will be the “starter” but Brieda offers more dynamic upside through the air and ground. Both are upgrades but are far from ideal to rely on other than depth for your team.
DeVante Parker finally had the breakout season that everyone was waiting for in 2019. Ranking an NFL fifth in yards (1,202) and fourth (9) in touchdowns last year, Parker finally lived up to the previous expectations of being a team’s number one receiver. He has above average separation skills with high end body control but is not a burner. Parker wasn’t seeing the lion’s share of the targets until after rookie Preston Williams went down with a torn ACL in week 9. Williams was a pre-draft villain but a preseason hero and had ample success in the first half of the season posting a 32/428/3 line. This was done on 60 targets with many of them coming from Josh Rosen. Williams is a great bench stash at just $588,000 and is expected to be on track to start week 1. As of now the rest of the depth chart is up for grabs. Keep an eye on super athlete UDFA Kirk Merritt if he makes the team. Mike Gesicki figures to have a nice role in the passing game as the big slot and should command relative usage to last year. Entering his third year, he hopes to continue to improve on his 51/570/5 on 89 targets line. He has no competition from tight ends and is the favorite to take over in 3 WR sets now that Allen Hurns and Albert Wilson have chosen to opt out for 2020. Gesicki carries a nice price tag of just $1.6 million this year and next and should make for a fine low end TE1 or high end TE2.
New England Patriots
HC: Bill Belichick
OC: Josh McDaniels
QB: Cam Newton, Jarret Stidham, Brian Hoyer, Brian Lewerke
RB: Sony Michel, James White, Damien Harris, Rex Burkhead, Lamar Miller, JJ Taylor
WR: Julian Edelman, N’Keal Harry, Mohamed Sanu, Damiere Byrd, Jakobi Meyers, Matthew Slater, Quincy Adeboyejo, Gunner Olszewski, Jeff Thomas, Devin Ross, Will Hastings
TE: Devin Asiasi, Dalton Keene, Ryan Izzo, Rashod Berry, Jakob Johnson, Jake Burt
Brady is gone, an NFL high 8 players have decided to opt out due to COVID concerns, the enigmatic Cam Newton comes to town, but Bill Belichick is still in charge. Forget the narrative of can Brady win without Belichick and vice versa. That was so 2020 spring. It’s now into training camp and Mr. Bill has his hands absolutely full. Jarret Stidham was to be the heir apparent after Brady left for free agency. The organization threw a bunch of praise and confidence behind the young signal caller until they were able to get a read on Newton’s health. Now it appears that Newton is the next in line, not Stidham. Newton has been incredible when he is fully healthy. His legs may actually have been more of an asset than his arm at times. Not short on arm strength but at times waning in accuracy, nobody would ever accuse Newton of having Manning-like accuracy (Peyton, not Eli). At a mere $1.75 million, it’s a worthwhile “risk” to roster Newton and hope that he is fully healthy and grasps McDaniel’s offense quickly.
Sony Michel has landed on the PUP and is a serious candidate to not begin the season on the active roster. He has buyer beware written all over him with his lengthy injury history and uncertain usage in 2020. Carrying the ball 247 times with a meager 3.7 YPC and just 2.56 yards after contact, Michel’s injuries slowed him considerably and the fact that he is not at all a receiving threat (19 catches in 2 years) you would be best to look away this year. White on the other hand, has been dynamic. Entering his 7th season after being selected in the 4th round by NE, White is an ideal player to utilize as a first up off the bench RB for your Dynasty Owner squad. At $4 million, he is at a reasonable price for expected production while averaging 13.2 fantasy points the past two years which is ideal for a mid-round fantasy contributor. Rex Burkhead (1 yr./$3 million) is a better real-life football player and will siphon touches from fantasy relevant players such as Damian Harris. Harris is a name to watch to ascend the depth chart especially with Michel’s recovery from surgery. The 2019 3rd rounder from Alabama is in a great position to contribute as the early down back and at a $907,00 price tag, he could be a valuable addition to your team. Late edition Lamar Miller is an indication that Michel is possibly not as far along in his rehab that most believed. Coming off an ACL tear from a year ago, Miller has the three down skill set to once again muddy the waters of a Patriots backfield depth chart.
Julian Edelman is the accomplished veteran of the wide receiver group, but he comes with a big ole’ caution tag. He will be 34 years old and recovering from shoulder surgery going into this season. He has had fantastic fantasy years on his resume, but the 2020 season just might not be one of them. His production absolutely fell off a cliff at the end of last season and will be entering training camp for the first time without Tom Brady since 2009. He was on an incredible pace last year and did see 154 targets, but he took a beating as the only reliable receiver for Brady. At $7.75 million and with his career coming to a close, your draft capital would be wisely spent elsewhere. N’Keal Harry ($2.5 million) hopes to become the true #1 receiver for NE and his 1st round pedigree should be put to the challenge. Harry is a big bodied (6’2”/228lbs) receiver that was targeted heavily in the red zone in his 5 starts last year and projects to fulfill the same role in 2020 due to the lack of competition at the position. His upside is tremendous, and the opportunity is there, if he can take a step forward in his sophomore campaign, he could be a steal in this year’s drafts. Mohamed Sanu is another veteran presence that should start outside opposite Harry with Edelman in the slot. New England traded a 2nd round pick last year to get Brady another weapon in the passing game but it never quite panned out for Sanu. He battled injuries and was cast out to the perimeter after seeing the slot for most of his career. He too is recovering from surgery (ankle) and hopes his time spent playing catch this offseason with Newton will pay dividends this season.
Jakobi Meyers and Damiere Byrd are two names to monitor and both have shown flashes in pre-season play. Meyers was a part time player in 2019 pulling in 26 receptions for 359 scoreless yards. He figures to return to his role as the 4th or 5th receiver if the top 3 are ready to go. The Tight End position is as murky as ever with the probable top two tight ends being rookies Devin Asiasi and Dalton Keene now that Matt LaCosse has opted out. Asiasi is the probable starting traditional tight end where Keene will serve in the H-Back role. You won’t be breaking the bank with either of the 3rd round selections at $1.1 million a year and it could be a good time to get in while their stock is low.
New York Jets
HC: Adam Gase
OC: Dowell Loggains
QB: Sam Darnold, Joe Flacco, David Fales, James Morgan, Mike White
RB: Le’Veon Bell, Frank Gore, Lamical Perine, Kenneth Dixon, Josh Adams, Trevon Wesco
WR: Breshard Perriman, Jamison Crowder, Denzel Mims, Braxton Berrios, Josh Malone, Vyncint Smith, Jeff Smith, Jehu Chesson, Lawrence Cager, George Campbell
TE: Chris Herndon IV, Ryan Griffin, Daniel Brown, Ross Travis
Sam Darnold enters the pivotal year three for a QB this season. The third year is often the time teams will plan to draft a QB’s replacement before year four or to commit to the QB for a contract extension. Held to 13 games last year due to illness, Darnold improved on nearly every category from his rookie year where he also played 13 games. He did not have a stellar 2019. He averaged one interception and 2.5 sacks per game while throwing 19 TD’s. Darnold has not had the best supporting cast in his two years with the Jets so you really can’t blame him entirely but his draft pedigree (2018 3rd overall) should warrant a more stable outcome. His O-Line is completely different, and he has a new wide receiver in Breshard Perriman to work with after losing Robby Anderson to free agency. His $7.5 million salary is digestible but hopefully he would not be needed to win you any weeks. Joe Flacco was brought in to replace Luke Falk after last year’s stretch of embarrassment when Falk filled in for Darnold when he had Mono.
Adam Gase was not particularly good at hiding his displeasure for the signing of Le’Veon Bell last offseason. This year, Gase has talked him up saying “He’s been working extremely hard and looks good.” Thanks coach, we appreciate the news flash. Gase’s history shows that he prefers a committee backfield which is apparent going back to his Denver, Chicago, and Miami days as the OC and then HC. This backfield may be a bit rough to put a committee together though with Frank Gore, Lamichael Perine and possibly Kenneth Dixon. Bell should once again see most snaps and he possesses the three down talent that is coveted in fantasy football. At a hefty $13 million price tag, he carries the salary of a RB1, but you would be much more comfortable with him as your RB2. Gore may have been brought in for veteran leadership or a specific role, but he should not receive volume work at this point of his career if anything was to happen to Bell. Rookie Lamichael Perine is worth a stash due to his three down ability as well as two fading running backs in front of him on the depth chart. At just $1 million, those are the types of players that you can hold onto and hopefully they pop while at that salary.
Gase likes rolling out three receivers more than most play callers in the NFL. The problem is his starters in these 3WR sets are some of the weakest in the NFL. Crowder is the most talented and was a favorite of Darnolds while operating mainly out of the slot. He is a good route runner and helps his QB by always working back to the ball and finding soft spots in coverage. Perriman showed that he could operate as a WR1 when he filled in for Mike Evans and Chris Godwin missed time last year for the Bucs. But his small sample size as a starter is eclipsed by his disappointing years with Cleveland and Baltimore after being selected 26th overall in 2015. Only time will tell if he will be asked to shoulder the load of a WR1 or is he to be a deep threat compliment opposite Rookie Denzel Mims. Mims is a deep threat himself as well as being an accomplished contested catch receiver. His senior bowl practices turned enough heads to get him on team’s boards, but it was his explosive combine that led him to being drafted in the second round. At $1.35 million, he is one of the rookie receivers that could garner you an early return.
Chris Herndon returns after a forgetful sophomore campaign marred by a suspension and injuries. He figures to be a key piece of this offense with the ability to challenge for top two or three in targets for the Jets. He was a breakout candidate last year after posting 39/205/4 as a rookie in 2018. Now fully healed, he looks to bounce back as a post-hype fantasy player that is a solid TE2 for your team at just $793,000. Veteran Ryan Griffin filled in for Herndon last year and nobody was brought in to compete for the job making Herndon an intriguing player to watch as he has been flying under the radar in drafts this summer.
That is the AFC East! We hope you enjoyed the read. Check back soon! We will continue with the NFC East next week.