There are many fantasy questions that we are seeking clarity on as training camp sets to begin; in this article, I tackle the most pressing fantasy question for every team in the AFC. You can find my NFC write up here: http://bit.ly/2unXGrD
Can Perriman become the man?
Breshad Perriman is one of this season's biggest breakout candidates as he enters his third year in the league. A 95% SPARQ freak of an athlete, he stands 6’2 212 pounds and ran a 4.26 forty. Reports during the preseason have been glowing from teammates and coaches alike. Dennis Pitta stated “nobody is having a better camp than him so far,” while Mike Wallace said that "Perriman will be a top wide receiver (in the league) this year." While the Ravens only went three wide on 56% of their snaps, Dennis Pitta was essentially used as a wide receiver and he is now gone, so expect that number to spike. The addition of Jeremy Maclin is a major buzz kill, but Maclin is an injury risk, Mike Wallace will be 31 this season and Ben Watson is 37 years old. The NFL’s Gil Brandt, who was the head of Cowboys player personnel from 1960 to 1988, recently mentioned that he thinks Perriman has “the ability to become an outstanding receiver … and an explosive talent, something special -- perhaps the best receiver Joe Flacco has ever played with.” That’s some high praise considering he played with Steve Smith and Anquan Boldin. If Perriman continues his march to dominance this pre-season, he’s going to end up being a major steal in drafts.
How healthy is Sammy Watkins' left foot?
The state of Sammy Watkins foot during camp will determine if he will be a sure fire WR1, capable of dominating any defense, or the putrid player that is horrible at playing hurt, finishing last season with a pathetic 28/430/2 receiving line, and as fantasy’s 91st receiver. The team has been taking it easy with him so far in OTAs but how the foot looks once camp opens is key. The Bills lack any proven receiving talent behind Watkins and have 207 targets (second most in the league) vacated from last season. If he is healthy, Watkins is a lock for WR1 production, if not, rookie Zay Jones, who stands 6'2” 201lbs with 4.45 jets could be in for an 85+ catch season. Although, Jones sprained his knee in rookie camp and is already on the shelf, so there is that. Another wild card is free agent Andre Holmes, who is going overlooked but is in line to be starting on the outside, and ol' man Anquan Boldin who will be working out for the team next week.
Can the Bengals skill players finally stay healthy?
For the Bengals it all comes down to health. Tyler Eifert is coming off yet another surgery, this time for his back, and he has stated that he may not be ready for camp. Possibly the leagues slowest healer, this offense takes a big step back without him on the field. We are going to also keep close attention to the health of the Bengals first round draft pick, John Ross. Ross has had a meniscus injury to both knees, a torn ACL, micro fracture surgery and even surgery to repair a torn labrum after the combine. Despite all of those injuries he still set a combine record by running a 4.22 forty and put up a monster 11’1” broad jump. But don’t just dismiss Ross as some mere deep threat, while he may seem to be built more in the DeSean Jackson mold, at his best he could possibly be as dynamic a player as T.Y. Hilton.
Lastly, Giovani Bernard tore his ACL in week 11 last season and he may not be ready for the start of this season, and could possibly find himself on the PUP list, missing the first 6 games of the year. However, by the time he returns, he may not find a job to come back to, as rookie Joe Mixon could easily command a workhorse role. Despite off field issues, the Bengals still used a second round pick on Mixon who stands 6’1” 228 pounds with 4.45 speed. He is by far the most complete running back in this year's class who creates yards on the ground by running tough inside and also by easily getting to the edge, all with LeVeon Bell type patience. He’s also a very good receiver in the David Johnson mold. It’s high praise, but Mixon’s talents deserve it. Gio’s recovery and Mixon’s ascension will be tracked closely.