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State of the Team by Fantasy Position - AFC East
David Dorey
July 21, 2008
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This series of analysis on the 32 NFL teams takes a look at where teams have been over the last three years for each position - where they have ranked in the most notable categories and the hard statistics produced. This is to give a view of each team heading into training camp and what they most likely need to improve on this season and where their strengths lie that likely won't need any changes. Ending each team review is a brief summation of what to watch in training camp in August to uncover those developing situations that you can take advantage. Combining where teams have come from and what they have done in free agency and the NFL draft gives you the very same thing that NFL coaches are looking at as they attempt to improve their team for 2007.
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Buffalo Bills
QB Carries Rush YD Rush TD Pass Comp Comp % Pass YD YPP Pass TD Int Rank YD Rank TD
2005 49 165 1 459 269 59% 2849 10.6 18 16 29 22
2006 38 140 1 430 269 63% 3049 11.3 19 14 25 18
2007 34 159 0 444 262 59% 2834 10.8 11 14 30 31

Quarterback - The Bills have had a below-average passing game for many years now but it actually got even worse in 2007 when it ranked in the bottom three in both passing yards and passing touchdowns. That came from finally giving up on J.P. Losman and inserting the rookie Trent Edwards in as the starter. The ex-Stanford quarterback struggled as would be expected but the Bills are sticking with him and hoping for a second year leap in progress. Edwards was dinged for not having a strong enough arm to throw the deep ball and has bulked up over the offseason so that Lee Evans' best talent does not go to waste. Training camp should give some indication if Edwards will be able to throw deeper this year. The addition of WR James Hardy should also help Edwards and should become evident in training camp. Ex-QB coach Turk Schonert has taken over as the offensive coordinator which should help Edwards development.

RB Carries Rush YD YPC Rush TD Target Rcv Catch % Catch YD Rcv TD Rank YD Rank TY Rank TD
2005 371 1408 3.8 5 83 59 71% 413 2 21 29 29
2006 367 1370 3.7 8 64 47 73% 330 0 27 30 24
2007 403 1598 4.0 7 79 58 73% 486 1 19 20 26

Running Backs - The addition of Marshawn Lynch really didn't have much material change on the production of the rushing game last year but he was a rookie back on a bad offense with a rookie quarterback. The rushing yards were higher and finally the Bills saw their backfield crest 4.0 yards per carry for the first time since 2003. Training camp mainly just needs to keep Lynch healthy though the stated intention to get him more involved as a receiver will need to be proven in camp first. It would be really nice to see Lynch used as a receiver a few times in preseason games but no need to have him more open to injury by playing too much.

WR Target Rcv Catch % Catch YD YPR Rcv TD Ranks YD Rank TD
2005 323 186 58% 2269 12.2 15 15 11
2006 312 191 61% 2435 12.7 15 13 12
2007 274 149 54% 1857 12.5 6 27 32

Wide Receivers - Ouch. Nothing like coming in 32nd in passing scores to the position to make it a priority in the draft. The problem here is that Bills haven't had a decent quarterback arguably since Drew Bledsoe but Edwards is an attempt to rectify that once his learning curve is done. The drafting of James Hardy should have a major impact here because there is such a void other than Lee Evans. Training camp must be all about getting the tall Hardy into the mix because if he does, it means Evans won't be the focus of the entire secondary (just most of it) and the rushing game will get a boost as well. Realistically, playing against the Bills has only been stack the line against the run and everyone cover Lee Evans. Hardy could not possibly develop quickly enough. Strange too that the Bills have not elected to use free agency to get upgrades in the position.

TE Target Rcv Catch % Catch YD YPR Rcv TD Ranks YD Rank TD
2005 38 23 61% 165 7.2 0 31 31
2006 52 30 58% 283 9.4 4 32 23
2007 80 56 70% 499 8.9 5 25 19

Tight Ends
- The Bills actually used their tight end more than in the last several years when 56 passes were completed mainly in a split between Robert Royal (25-248, 3 TD) and Michael Gaines (25-215, 2 TD) but in fantasy terms that's not enough to warrant even a fantasy back-up. If James Hardy has the impact that is expected, the tight ends will take a nosedive again.

Training Camp Fantasy Angle - This training camp will be all about getting Marshawn Lynch more comfortable in the tweaked offense and increasing his workload as a receiver. More than anything, this training camp needs to show that James Hardy can step up immediately into being a starter because so far the passing game is one-dimensional with only Evans being any threat. Watch Hardy and bump him up your board if he looks good in the first quarter of any preseason game. This camp has to given Edwards some confidence heading into the season.

Miami Dolphins
QB Carries Rush YD Rush TD Pass Comp Comp % Pass YD YPP Pass TD Int Rank YD Rank TD
2005 33 76 0 555 291 52% 3458 11.9 22 16 17 11
2006 32 44 1 590 342 58% 3577 10.5 16 19 12 25
2007 47 146 5 557 318 57% 3319 10.4 12 16 23 29

Quarterback - The rebuilding year in Miami will be sorely evident with the quarterback unit. Josh McCown was brought in under the pretense that it would be an open competition for the starting job. John Beck certainly looks to hold on to the job he inherited last year when he was the promising rookie. Of course Chad Henne is the promising rookie this year. Training camp will help make decisions about the position but not as much as the regular season will. Figure this is a major rebuilding year without a franchise quarterback as of yet. That will start to come into view during camp, but this could well be a mess all year. It'll be similar to the Bills last year only without a decent receiver like Lee Evans.

RB Carries Rush YD YPC Rush TD Target Rcv Catch % Catch YD Rcv TD Rank YD Rank TY Rank TD
2005 396 1725 4.4 11 87 58 67% 379 1 13 18 17
2006 359 1505 4.2 6 84 60 71% 462 0 24 24 28
2007 406 1609 4.0 14 154 122 79% 1024 1 18 4 9

Running Backs - Installing the Cam Cameron offense last year paid off huge dividends for Ronnie Brown once someone realized that they were accidentally starting Jesse Chatman and switched back to the superior Brown. But Brown blew out his knee after a tremendous start to the season and those decent rushing rankings from 2007 were accumulated by nine different running backs. Now that Bill Parcells has taken control and and Dan Henning guides the offense, the rushing game will get plenty of attention and could even end up as productive but it will come from a split between Ricky Williams and Ronnie Brown. And when/if either/both are injured, more backs will take place. This year should be a down one for Brown who has to heal up from his knee injury while Ricky Williams gets to participate. Not much to learn from camp here other than all backs need to remain healthy. It is already certain that there will be a committee backfield.

WR Target Rcv Catch % Catch YD YPR Rcv TD Ranks YD Rank TD
2005 334 159 48% 2423 15.2 15 11 9
2006 392 204 52% 2346 11.5 12 15 19
2007 244 121 50% 1509 12.5 7 31 31

Wide Receivers - The Fins acquired Ernest Wilford in the offseason and he is a perfect fit for a Parcells offense - a lunch-pail, hard worker that performs in excess of his apparent skills. Wilford has to learn the new offense along with the other starter Ted Ginn who was under whelming last year. Face it, the Fins ranked 31st in both yards and passing scores to wideouts so there is no where to go but up. Training camp should cement the starting roles but mostly show who will be #3 - the rookie Davone Bess or Derek Hagan.

TE Target Rcv Catch % Catch YD YPR Rcv TD Ranks YD Rank TD
2005 119 70 59% 639 9.1 6 16 12
2006 114 78 68% 756 9.7 4 10 17
2007 100 64 64% 538 8.4 4 21 24

Tight Ends
- Surprisingly, Can Cameron did nothing to help the tight end position last year but then again he only had David Martin to use. Randy McMichael was released and the Dolphin tight ends ended up with one of their lowest seasons ever. But the new offense is more likely to use the position and the Fins acquired Anthony Fasano from Dallas where he was hopelessly stuck behind Jason Witten. Fasano had shoulder surgery in the offseason but is expected to be okay in camp. The Fins want to throw more to the position and Fasano is safely the best option. In a developing offense, using the tight end more is normal and training camp should help Fasano shake off rust and get on the same page as the quarterback... whoever that ends up being.

Training Camp Fantasy Angle - While there is much to do here installing a new offense, determining a new quarterback (potentially) and integrating in a new starting wideout and tight end, the chance that there is much fantasy value is low here. This is a rebuilding year - the entire season will be devoted to getting the offense and defense on track and shaking out exactly who plays where. There is too much to be done to expect that a few weeks in August will be the end of changes.

New England Patriots
QB Carries Rush YD Rush TD Pass Comp Comp % Pass YD YPP Pass TD Int Rank YD Rank TD
2005 38 101 1 564 352 62% 4322 12.3 28 15 3 3
2006 58 99 0 528 327 62% 3594 11 25 12 11 7
2007 46 97 3 586 403 69% 4859 12.1 50 9 1 1

Quarterback - Nothing to work on here other than keeping Brady healthy. The same set of receivers are returning (sans Stallworth) and there is nothing left to prove here. Expect a very quiet camp from the Pats.

RB Carries Rush YD YPC Rush TD Target Rcv Catch % Catch YD Rcv TD Rank YD Rank TY Rank TD
2005 397 1387 3.5 15 112 88 79% 778 1 22 14 10
2006 432 1818 4.2 20 114 89 78% 755 4 10 9 2
2007 399 1695 4.2 14 84 62 74% 583 1 12 13 11

Running Backs - While the passing game got all the press last year, the rushing game still had a decent showing. In an odd pattern, the Patriots have been passing in odd-numbered years and more rushing in even-numbered years. In true Patriot fashion, the workload gets distributed and four different rushers had at least two touchdowns last year. Training camp isn't going to change much here since there is nothing different coming into the equation but it would be nice to see Maroney at least remain visibly healthy. Sammy Morris returns from a bad chest injury and the better he looks, the less attractive Maroney becomes. This is going to be a committee of some sort and training camp is not going to be much help determining what will happen other than seeing that Morris is healthy again from his sternum-clavicle separation.

WR Target Rcv Catch % Catch YD YPR Rcv TD Ranks YD Rank TD
2005 356 211 59% 2823 13.4 14 5 13
2006 280 156 56% 1802 11.6 15 25 13
2007 429 292 68% 3814 13.1 39 1 1

Wide Receivers - Yeah, this group improved a bit last year. Randy Moss and Wes Welker are obvious locks and may have nothing more than a cameo in preseason games. But the loss of Donte Stallworth leaves the offense without a clear #3 wideout (which remarkably in this case is the flanker position). Stallworth did account for 46 catches for 697 yards and three scores in the record-setting year. Training camp will be used to see if Chad Jackson can finally stay healthy and show up on the field or if the Pats will begrudgingly rely on Jabar Gaffney again. There isn't much fantasy value either way but it is notable should the unthinkable happened and Moss or Welker were injured. Jackson has some mildly interesting promise.

TE Target Rcv Catch % Catch YD YPR Rcv TD Ranks YD Rank TD
2005 98 53 54% 733 13.8 9 12 3
2006 143 81 57% 1039 12.8 6 3 11
2007 68 46 68% 468 10.2 8 27 9

Tight Ends
- Ben Watson returns and there is nothing to happen in training camp that matters other than remaining healthy. Watson was red hot scoring last year for the first five weeks but the offense is all about Moss and Welker now. On the plus side, Watson is going to get almost all of the tight end action, problem is that is declining now thanks to better options.

Training Camp Fantasy Angle - Mostly camp will just be used to keep everyone healthy and just get back on the same page. The only interesting tidbits will be seeing that Morris is healthy again - and he is by all accounts - and if Chad Jackson can reach up and take the #3 spot. Not a lot of fantasy drama happening here.

New York Jets
QB Carries Rush YD Rush TD Pass Comp Comp % Pass YD YPP Pass TD Int Rank YD Rank TD
2005 48 169 2 470 268 57% 2989 11.2 11 15 27 30
2006 37 119 0 485 313 65% 3352 10.7 17 16 19 23
2007 47 143 2 510 309 61% 3294 10.7 15 19 25 26

Quarterback - Like too many other teams, the Jets are going to use training camp to determine a starting quarterback. Chad Pennington will attempt to wrestle back the job from Kellen Clemens. The duo each started eight games so whatever difference a few weeks in the summer would make is questionable but the Jets need to basically decide of Clemens is worth the learning curve or if they default to Pennington. Clemens only passed for five touchdowns against ten interceptions versus Pennington's ten scores in the same number of games. The first year for Eric Mangini was encouraging in 2006 when the passing game improved but last year it fell back with opting for Clemens over Pennington.

RB Carries Rush YD YPC Rush TD Target Rcv Catch % Catch YD Rcv TD Rank YD Rank TY Rank TD
2005 332 1150 3.5 8 84 64 76% 367 2 31 32 25
2006 426 1448 3.4 15 75 55 73% 422 0 25 27 7
2007 381 1472 3.9 4 86 64 74% 430 1 24 29 32

Running Backs - Training camp should be interesting. The Jets went from a surprising 15 rushing scores using five different running backs in 2007 to only having four scores while employing Thomas Jones. It was no help to the rushing game that the Jets did not pass well. But the Jets have tried to revamp the offensive line. Signing LG Alan Faneca, RT Damien Wood and getting more out of third year player LT D'Brickashaw Ferguson could have a major impact here much like the gains seen by Cleveland once they finally found the right combination of blockers. The most interesting aspect of camp regarding the rushing game isn't about running backs but is about the offensive line.

WR Target Rcv Catch % Catch YD YPR Rcv TD Ranks YD Rank TD
2005 295 152 52% 1988 13.1 7 25 30
2006 358 221 62% 2579 11.7 13 10 16
2007 341 195 57% 2423 12.4 10 16 23

Wide Receivers - The Jets go into 2008 with the same starters and Jerricho Cotchery and Laveranues Coles are about average as far as NFL starters go. There will be no fight for a starting job here though the slot could see some competition for a position that has no fantasy value anyway. The only new player here is the rookie Marcus Henry who was drafted in the 6th round.

TE Target Rcv Catch % Catch YD YPR Rcv TD Ranks YD Rank TD
2005 84 52 62% 634 12.2 2 17 23
2006 55 37 67% 344 9.3 4 27 22
2007 76 50 66% 480 9.6 4 26 26

Tight Ends
- This is a definite area to watch. The Jets have been one of the worst teams at using the tight end spot for many years but that didn't stop Chris Baker from wanting more money for his 41 catches for 409 yards and three scores last year. But the Jets drafted Dustin Keller as the first tight end drafted (1.30) and actually before any wide receivers were taken in April. Keller does not come in as a blocker though he can certainly contribute there. He comes in to add a new dimension to the passing offense that desperately needs something better to happen this year.

Training Camp Fantasy Angle - The Jets have to decide on a starting quarterback and that is mildly worth watching if only because the offense has been more productive with Pennington. But if camp can give signs that the offensive line is starting to gel, then moving up Thomas Jones in the rankings may be in order since he had little help from his blockers in 2007 and the Jets spent a ton of cash to upgrade the O-line. Just as interesting though more in a dynasty vein is the development of Dustin Keller. If he can show up well, particularly in a preseason game or two, he could displace the disgruntled Baker sooner than later.

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