The 4th Down Decision: AFC East

Written by Zach Lyons, co-host of Football & Other F Words and The Flex, “The 4th Down Decision” will look at various fantasy topics from whether you should “Punt” or “Go For It”. When reading the advice please keep in mind: 12-team league, PPR, 6-pt passing TDs. All ADPs based on FantasyPros.com‘s web site.

The AFC East is most definitely the AFC Least in the fantasy world. It is filled with a bunch of undraftable players all across the four teams. However, it’s not all doom and gloom in this division. There are some bright spots to counter those volatile players.

Go For It: The Stefon Diggs/Josh Allen stack

Stefon Diggs

  • Current ADP: 59 (5th Round)
  • Current Positional Ranking: WR24

Josh Allen

  • Current ADP: 59 (8th Round)
  • Current Positional Ranking: QB10

I went back and forth about which Buffalo Bills player this should be. When I wrote about fantasy rookie running backs, I punted on Zack Moss because at the time I thought that the running back situation was too murky. On the latest episode of The Flex, I recently changed my mind and said in fact you should draft Zack Moss and you shouldn’t worry if you have Devin Singletary on the roster.

We need to talk about the addition of Stefon Diggs. My fantasy compatriot, Justin Graver, says this team does not pass enough to warrant faith in the Josh Allen/Stefon Diggs connection. Stating stats like passing attempts and passing touchdowns. While these are valid stats to consider, let’s break it down.

When you look at pass attempts the Buffalo Bills ranked 24th in the league with 513 pass attempts. That 24th ranking sounds really bad, how could this ever be a viable passing offense for fantasy production? Well, when you look at the Number 10 team in pass attempts it is really not that hard to make a considerable leap.

The Dallas Cowboys were 10th in the league with 597 pass attempts. That is a difference of 84 pass attempts over a season. Now take that 84 number and divide it by 16 games. That is only an average increase of 5.25 pass attempts more per game. Are you telling me that with the addition of pass catching running back Zack Moss, and Stefon Diggs that number can’t go up?

The Bills also ranked 24th in passing touchdowns with 21. To crack the top-10 you only needed 28 touchdowns thrown. The math is simple, that is 7 more touchdowns. Stefon Diggs had 6 touchdown receptions last year, and Zack Moss had 2 touchdown receptions in college. Seems to me the Bills are due for a major jump in production through the air.

Stefon Diggs is a major upgrade over the starting wide receiver spot opposite John Brown. Here are the three receivers who started for the Bills in that WR2 slot: Isaiah McKenzie, Lee Smith, and Duke Williams. Again, Stefon Diggs is a major upgrade.

I love making fun of Josh Allen as much as the next person, and I am most definitely sick of seeing these silly highlight clips of Josh Allen hitting uncovered receivers and fans acting like he is Dan Marino. However, we have to set aside all of that and keep a clear head when it comes to fantasy football.

Josh Allen ended 2019 as a QB6 in total points and was QB11 in points per game. Jameis Winston was ahead of him in both of those categories and he is not a starter anymore. So I believe you are safe with treating Josh Allen at his current ranking of QB10. The added value of rushing yards and touchdowns is just a bonus; I think Josh Allen will do a lot of damage through the air, too.

That’s due to Stefon Diggs. Stefon Diggs is exactly the kind of wide receiver that the Bills and Allen needed. John Brown is your burner, Cole Beasley is Mr. Reliable in the slot, and Stefon Diggs is essentially a mixture of the two.

Much like Allen, Diggs is probably being drafted at his appropriate value. I think he will be a consistent performer, but he will not have huge games like he was prone to in Minnesota. I think a WR2 is perfect, however, I am pushing this stack for a reason.

This is a league-winning stack, because Allen and Diggs already have a connection, and you can bet that in the red zone just the mere presence of Diggs will open things up for Josh Allen to get touchdowns whether that is on the ground or through the air.

Those three scrubs I listed above accounted for 63 targets in this Bills offense — Diggs alone will surpass that with ease. This will be a sneaky good pairing with lots of upside in the fantasy world, and it’d be a shame to miss it just because you hate Josh Allen hype and think he sucks.

Punt: The Patriot Way

What a mess up in Boston. The receivers are trash, the running backs are a jumbled up mess, and let’s be honest, while Cam Newton is divisive, the one thing we can all agree on is that an inaccurate passer coming off some major injuries isn’t going to suddenly become more accurate.

Drafting Cam Newton in the 15th round is still a very good pick. In fact, if your team is strong enough in the other spots, take the flier on Cam. It isn’t that I think he’s utterly worthless, I just think this is just a bad supporting cast, and you shouldn’t expect the volume passing stats Tom Brady put up last year.

What you can expect is for Josh McDaniels to put Cam Newton in the best position to succeed week in and week out. We saw it with Tim Tebow, and we saw it with an aging Tom Brady, but even if you’re a middling QB, McDaniels is going to make you fantasy-relevant.

My big thing is just setting expectations with Cam; he won’t end up a top-10 fantasy quarterback, so don’t draft him high thinking you’re going to outsmart everyone. Keep the draft round in the low teens and keep your expectations just as low.

There is one Patriot outside of Cam Newton that I am willing to take a chance on, and that’s running back Damien Harris. He is being drafted in the 15th round as well, and to me, with the camp buzz he is getting, I think you may be finally seeing a running back distance himself from the rest of the bunch.

We are not too far removed from LaGarrette Blount grabbing 18 rushing touchdowns in the Patriots’ backfield. That was with both James White and Dion Lewis back there. I very much view Damien Harris as a two-down back who should see ample red zone opportunities.

James White is clearly in the pass-catching role and presents a mismatch for opposing linebackers, but Damien Harris has shown so far in camp that he can do everything asked of him. He’s been excelling at pass blocking and pass catching, as well as showing explosiveness running the ball.

I think this is a very sneaky pick in the late teens with high upside. I would definitely be rostering him over any of the other running backs in New England, just to let the first few weeks of the season play out and see what the Patriots do with their running back rotation.

No, I am not drafting any Patriots receiver nor any tight ends.

Go For It: DeVante Parker, WR1.

  • Current ADP: 57 (5th Round)
  • Current Positional Ranking: WR24

Tucked away in this offseason of NFL storylines was the long awaited emergence of DeVante Parker as a dominant wide receiver. This is also what we call The Gase Effect.

We’ve seen it frequently: Adam Gase cannot bring out the best in any athlete. Kenyan Drake and Ryan Tannehill both left for greener pastures and became dominant. Parker stuck around in Miami, after Gase left, and flourished.

Everything clicked for him. He ended the 2019 season as a WR11 overall and WR16 in points per game (from Weeks 5 to 17, he was WR2 overall). Yet, he is still being grossly undervalued in the fantasy drafts so far, currently being drafted as WR24.

If you’re a fan of the RB-RB strategy to start drafts, this is the guy to target later. Heck, you could even go RB, RB, WR, RB, and be fine in the 5th round knowing that you drafted a bonafide WR1 (in fantasy) in the fifth round.

It doesn’t really matter to me who is behind center, because they will love this playmaker. The other thing is that their running game improved. Defenders weren’t concerned about Kalen Ballage last year and his 1.8 yards per carry; now, defenders will have to be aware of plodding running back Jordan Howard and dynamic playmaker Matt Breida in the backfield.

Here’s something else that I don’t see anyone talking about: Opt-outs. The Miami Dolphins had two of their top receivers not named Parker opt out. Albert Wilson and Allen Hurns accounted for 109 targets, and while those targets will be split up among Parker, Preston Williams, and Mike Gesicki, that means a bump in target share for Parker.

This is a perfect situation in both dynasty and re-draft leagues to snag a premier wide receiver after the premier rounds, and we can now safely say: DeVante Parker has arrived.

Punt: The Jets

LOL

[Editor’s note: Keep an eye on Chris Herndon though]

Have questions? You can reach Zach at zach@broadwaysportsmedia.com.

Love my opinions? Hate my opinions? Leave comments below, and let’s discuss!

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