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Eyes of the Guru Preseason, Part 7: AFC East

An overview of defenses in the AFC East with an emphasis on individual defensive players and their fantasy value.

Buffalo Bills

Defensive Linemen

The Bills have flipped back and forth between three and four man fronts a few times in the recent past so the change from a 3-4 under the Ryan brothers to Leslie Frazier's 4-3 does not mean a lot of guess work. All it really means for fantasy owners is a couple more quality options at defensive end. In the 3-4 both Jerry Hughes and Shaq Lawson were outside linebackers; in 2017 they will be putting their hands in the dirt. As a veteran entering his eighth year with Buffalo, Hughes has been through the switch before. The effect on his production has been minimal in terms of numbers. In 2013 Hughes posted his best totals as a linebacker at 32-14-9.5 with a couple forced fumbles. In 2014 he put up career best numbers as a defensive end of 36-17-9.5 with 3 forced fumbles and a recovery. The difference in numbers between the two years was marginal but the difference in fantasy value was huge as Hughes was the numbers seven lineman in 2014. His sack totals have been down over the past two seasons with 5 in 2015 and 6 last year, but that seems to be a trend for players in the Ryan's scheme. Hughes is a little undersized and can be taken advantage of when teams run right at him but he is an excellent pass rusher with both the pure speed to get around the corner and an arsenal of moves. At 28 years old he is in the prime of his career physically so another season with tackles in the mid to upper 30s and 8-9 sacks are reasonable expectations. Hughes is likely to be overlooked by many drafters and can be picked up at a bargain price in many leagues this year. Some owners may even be able to steal him as their third lineman.

Shaq Lawson was the Bills first round pick last year so he has not been through the flip flopping of scheme. He was a defensive end a Clemson so Frazier's 4-3 is not going to be foreign. Lawson missed the first six games of his rookie season and never seemed to get going when he returned. As the third man in the OLB rotation he finished the year with 7 tackles, 6 assists and a pair of sacks. With Lorenzo Alexander staying at linebacker, Lawson will step into the starting role at end this year. He had 20 career sacks for the Tigers and was 35-24-12.5 in his final seasons there, so the history of production is a positive. Lawson's strength is his ability to set the edge and hold ground at the point of attack versus the run. In college opponents often avoided running in his direction because he was so disruptive. He is not a quick twitch blazer that can consistently beat pass blockers with speed and athleticism but Lawson is powerful and relentless. Double digit sack totals are probably not in the cards for him but 40+ solo tackles and 7-8 sacks are a reasonable expectation. Target Lawson as quality depth with high DL2 upside.

Depth at defensive end could be an issue for the Bills. Ryan Davis is a veteran that had 11 sacks in two years with the Jaguars (2014-2015). He will be the third man in the pecking order at the position. After Davis the depth chart is filled with first or second year undrafted free agents or late round picks with virtually no NFL game experience.

For many of us the change of scheme will be huge for Marcell Dareus and Kyle Williams as well. Williams finished 2016 at 42-22-4.5; as a defensive end those numbers made him top twenty and a solid DL2. The same production would have been top five at the far less deep tackle position where both he and Dareus will now play. Over the course of his career Williams has played nose tackle and end in three man fronts as well as both nose tackle and 3-technique in 4-3 schemes. Looking at his career numbers it is impossible to tell where he was lining up in a given year because he tends to put up the same steady numbers regardless. If we throw out his injury shortened 2015, Williams has averaged 35 tackles, 20 assists and 6 sacks since 2012. The sack average is a little skewed by his career best of 10 in 2013 but 35-20-4.5 are reasonable expectations, making Williams a solid DT1 candidate in 2017. He is 33 years old and contemplated retirement this offseason before the new coaching staff expressed their desire for his return. Dynasty owners will want to consider that this may be his final season.

Like Williams, it does not seem to matter where Marcell Dareus lines up. In 2013 he was 46-25-7.5 as a 3-4 end; the following year Dareus finished 35-14-9 and was the fantasy game's number three tackle. At 331 pounds he is a powerful, athletic big man that keeps blockers off balance with a rare ability run over them on one play and around them on the next. Last season Dareus missed four games due to suspension and five more with injury. In the other seven contests he recorded 24 tackles, 15 assists and 3.5 sacks. He and Williams are interchangeable at the interior positions so neither will line up at nose or 3-technique on every snap. Dareus turns 28 in November and is set to be a perennial top ten interior lineman for the next several years if the Bills stick with the 4-3. He has the potential to push fifty solo tackles and should be good for at least 5 sacks. Dareus tweaked a hamstring early in camp but the injury is not expected to linger.

It would be a big loss if Williams retires after this season, but not one the organization is unprepared for. Last year's third round pick Adolphus Washington is waiting in the wings for his opportunity. Washington will be the third man in the rotation this year and has already shown plenty of promise. As a rotational defensive end he was 12-9-2.5 on 314 snaps in his rookie season. Washington is a little smaller than Williams but has the same explosion off the ball and excellent upper body strength. If he uses this season to sharpen his technique while learning from the master, Washington should step right in as a quality fantasy starter when his opportunity arrives. He is not a target for redraft leagues at this point but is a strong dynasty stash or injury pickup should either of the starters be lost for a while.

DT Marcell Dareus - DT1 with top five potential; second starter with upside in leagues not breaking out the DL positions
DT Kyle Williams - Solid low end DT1 or priority DT2
DT Adolphus Washington - Dynasty/injury sleeper with good long term potential
DT Jerel Worthy - Veteran backup with no fantasy value
DE Jerry Hughes - Solid second starter than can usually be picked up late/cheap
DE Shaq Lawson - Sleeper with DL2 expectations
DE Ryan Davis - Injury sleeper with limited upside
DE Jake Metz - No value at this time
DE Ian Seau - No value at this time

Linebackers

We pretty much know what we have with the Bills defensive linemen but that is not so much the case at the second level. The organization is kind of in a bad spot here. They are apparently not big fans of Preston Brown and last year's second round pick Reggie Ragland does not seem to be a great fit as the centerpiece of their 4-3. At this point those are their best two linebackers though, so something has to give. Ragland is a 247 pound bruiser who would be the prototypical 4-3 middle backer if this were 1990. He is exceptionally physical at the point of attack versus the run and can blow up lead blocks without giving ground. Ragland can handle zone coverage but average speed can put him at a disadvantage in man to man. That will limit the play calling if he is on the field in sub packages.

Preston Brown earned the starting job at middle backer as a rookie in 2014 and spent the next two years starting on the inside in the 3-4. He is not as physical as one might expect for a 251 pound linebacker, but is much better in coverage than most players his size. That makes him a near lock to be on the field in sub packages regardless where he lines up on early downs, and makes Brown the safest target of the pair, but not necessarily the best. His tackle totals were good last season when Brown finished a strong 80-60-1 with three turnovers and was a top twenty backer for fantasy owners. Over his first two years as a starter he was not so productive however, going 65-43-0 in 2014 and 66-55-0 in 2015. He has 9 turnovers in a short three year career so we can count on a little splash play production, but with Ragland likely soaking up most of the tackles, Brown's fantasy value could be limited regardless where he lines up.

Chances are both Ragland and Brown will be week one starters, the question is their roles. Going into camp the coaching staff has not yet settled on that part. They will look at both players in the middle and will probably see what each of them can do on the weak side just to get a feel for the best combination. During offseason activities Brown has been running at middle backer with the first team while Ragland has worked in the middle with the second unit. My early, semi-educated guess is Ragland will emerge as a two down thumper in the middle with Brown starting on the weak side and playing all three downs. Much of the final decision may come down to the rest of the linebacker group. Lorenzo Alexander is expected to start on the strong side which would be a good fit and would provide a snap count limit for the 34 year old twelve year veteran. The team also added free agent journeyman Gerald Hodges who can play either outside position well enough to get them bye, and rookie fifth round pick Matt Milano who could end up being the wild card in this whole situation.

At 6'0" 223 pounds Milano is the new breed of undersized, speedy linebacker with good cover skills. He is tough, aggressive and pound for pound as physical as any linebacker in this year's draft. If he performs well enough the coaching staff may have to find a place for him to get on the field. Initially Milano might be a good fit as a designated sup package linebacker, replacing Ragland. Eventually the rookie could find his way into a prominent starting role. As camps open around the league this is one of the moving targets we will be keeping an eye on.

WLB/MLB Reggie Ragland - Value will be determined when role is settled  
MLB/WLB Preston Brown - Should be at least a solid LB3 or quality depth
SLB Lorenzo Alexander - Marginal value at best
SLB/WLB Gerald Hodges - Marginal value at best
SLB Ramon Humber - No value
WLB Matt Milano - Dynasty deep sleeper with good long term potential

Defensive Backs

Numerous changes in the secondary make it hard to pinpoint fantasy value among this group. The one player I feel good about is former Packer Micah Hyde. Looking over his career numbers does not really tell the story with Hyde who has never totaled more than 52 tackles in a season. What we need to remember is other than a few games as an injury replacement, he has been the Packers third safety over his entire four year career. Hyde was on the field for about 80% (831 snaps) of Green Bay's defensive plays in 2016. I believe that to be the highest total of his career. He is set to be a full time strong safety for an average team with questions at the linebacker positions. Corey Graham was 95-32-1 from this position in 2015 but even if Hyde produces tackle totals more like Graham's 64-25-1 from last season, big play production should add enough to make him a decent third starter. Since 2014 Hyde has accounted for 10 turnovers, 3 sacks, 22 passes defended and a pair of scores. This is yet another Buffalo defender that is under rated (or completely ignored) in fantasy circles and is well worth a late round pick as depth with upside.

Free safety is a position the Bills will need to address in the near future. Free agent additions Jordan Poyer and Bacarri Rambo are set to compete for the job in the short term but the Bills may look to make further additions if some decent veterans are cut between now and the start of the season. Rambo has hinted at possible fantasy value in a couple short stretches over his short career but nothing about these players or the Bills free safety position screams box score friendly.

Ronald Darby is the only returning member of last year's top three corners. The 2015 second round pick was an immediate starter for the team and has some box score potential. As a rookie he recorded 62 tackles, a couple picks and an impressive 21 passes defended. Darby was an exception to the rookie corner rule in year two when his tackle total stayed about the same (60) but he took a step back in the other scoring columns, failing to intercept a pass and breaking up 12. I am not really sure what to expect from him in year three. With Stephone Gilmore gone, Darby becomes the Bills number one cover man. That means he will likely spend a lot of time covering opponents best receivers. On the other hand the team used a first round pick on Tre'Davious White who will probably be a starter from day one. Darby has some potential but with so much change and a rookie target on the other side, I think we might be best served to stay away until/unless he comes out strong in September.

I will be avoiding Darby but a rookie starter is always an inviting target in corner required leagues, and White gives us some reason for optimism. As a four year starter at LSU, White spent his college career covering some of the best receivers in college football. He never posted big tackle numbers, which as I have pointed out before does not mean much at the corner position. What White did for the Tigers is total 8 turnovers, breakup 34 passes and score a touchdown. He is a little small at 191 pounds and is not the most physical of corners so I would not expect much from him long term, but White will be wearing a target on his back this season. He may not have a choice but to make a lot of tackles. We can take a wait and see approach with White as he too will go undrafted in most leagues and can be grabbed of the wire if he steps up.

Behind White and Darby the Bills have a collection of veteran journeymen that can be short term or spot starters and get them through. Second year man Kevon Seymour is the one young player that could be in the mix. He will likely compete with Leonard Johnson, Shareece Wright and possibly Marcus Roberson for the slot corner job.

SS Micah Hyde - DB3 with some upside
FS Jordan Poyer - No value
SS Colt Anderson - No value
FS Bacarri Rambo - Dark horse sleeper
CB Ronald Darby - Possible CB2 but likely no more than depth
CB Kevon Seymour - No value at this time
CB Tre'Davious White - Rookie corner rule
CB Leonard Johnson - No value
CB Shareece Wright - No value

Miami Dolphins

Defensive Linemen

When the Dolphins added Mario Williams before last season they expected the defensive line to be something special. When Williams turned out to be a bust the unit fell short of expectations but still played fairly well. The front four accounted for 24 of Miami's 33 sacks and the thirtieth ranked run defense was more a reflection on the team's linebacker situation than the guys up front. As a team the Dolphins were middle of the pack in most areas; fifteenth versus the pass, nineteenth in sacks, eighteenth in points allowed and thirteenth in takeaways with 25. Not being satisfied with mediocrity, the organization invested five of their seven draft picks on the defensive side. Three of them were used on defensive linemen including the first round selection of Charles Harris to play end.

From a fantasy perspective the production of the Dolphins front four gave us a couple players in 2016 but it could have been better. Tackle Ndamukong Suh has a well earned reputation as one of the league's dirtiest players but he might be the most gifted interior lineman in the game. When motivated he is nearly unstoppable. As a rookie in 2010 Suh showed the world what he is capable of. That season he was 48-17-10 with three turnovers and a score. The tackle, turnover and sack totals from that year are still his career best. From 2011 to 2013 he averaged a disappointing (for his ability) 29-11-5.5. The 2014 season was a contract year for Suh so right on queue he jumped to 42-7-8 in time to hit free agency and collect a big check from Miami. Those who have been reading my column for a while may remember back in 2015 when Cameron Wake was 4-2-4 with a pair of forced fumbles against the Titans in week six. Suh had done little leading up to that game, adding all of one assist against Tennessee that day. I told everyone to start him the following week anyway because he would not want to be shown up. Suh was 5-1-2 with a couple of batted passes against Houston in week seven. With a new coaching staff in town and the hope of a playoff berth, Suh had 5 sacks over the first nine games last year but failed to get to the quarterback down the stretch, finishing the season 40-31-5. Even when he is not so motivated Suh is one of the league's better interior linemen and a quality fantasy option. In 2016 he was the number two defensive tackle and top ten in leagues lumping the defensive line positions together. For owners in tackle required leagues he is an elite tier one target. For everyone else he is at least a solid DL2 option. Anyone that has Suh on their roster needs to be pulling for Miami to be in contention late in the season, and hope that is enough to keep him playing hard.

Last year's starting nose tackle Earl Mitchell has moved on so 2015 second round pick Jordan Phillips will get his shot at the job. Phillips played well at times as part of the rotation over his first two seasons, but has struggled with some inconsistency. He and Mitchell combined for 24 tackles, 16 assists and half a sack from the position in 2016, so there is not going to be much box score production from this spot regardless who lines up there or how much they play. The Dolphins will host an open competition to determine who else will be in the rotation this year. Fifth year man Nick Williams could be in that mix along with rookies Davon Godchaux (round 5) and Vincent Taylor (round 6).

Cameron Wake has 19 sacks in his last twenty three games. He made the top twenty last year on the strength of 12 sacks, 5 forced fumbles and an interception, but his tackle total was way down at 22 solos. For the casual owner that makes most of his decisions based on the previous year's production, point totals and/or ranking, Wake is a rather attractive target. Be sure you know what you are getting here. I am a big fan of Wake who helped has me win some titles in years past. He is an outstanding pass rusher with at least 8.5 sacks in six of the last seven years, hitting 14 twice in that span of time. The one year Wake fell short of 8.5 was 2015 when he was injured. That season he had 7 sacks in three healthy starts before landing on IR. With a career best of 48 solo tackles in 2010 and at least 31 in four of the five seasons that followed, Wake has proven the potential to be a 40 tackle, double digit sack guy. The problem is he no longer has the opportunity. Wake is 35 years old and the current coaching staff intends to keep him fresh so he can continue to be effective, especially on passing downs. As a result he was on the field for less than 55% of the defensive snaps last season and will probably have similar snap counts going forward. Chances are he will still put up double digit sacks and force 3 or 4 turnovers but it seems unlikely we will ever get more than 25 solo tackles from him again. Wake recorded at least half a sack in ten games last season and has shown no sign of slowing down. Even with the slacking tackle totals he is a worthy second starter with the potential to blow up on any given week. For those in balanced scoring formats Wake is a quality DL2 target. For owners in big play based leagues he is a quality DL1.

In 2016 the Dolphins started Mario Williams and Andre Branch at end. Wake rotated with Williams at roughly at 55/45 split in playing time favoring Wake. Branch was more of a three down guy, seeing more than 71% of the action. At 263 pounds Branch is a little undersized for a three down end, which showed up in his modest tackle totals of 27 solo and 23 assists last year. He is a good but not great pass rusher with a career best of 6 sacks with the Jaguars in 2013 and a five year career total of 18.5 that includes 5.5 in his first run with Miami last year. Branch will enter camp as a starter and probably hold onto the job for much if not all the upcoming season, but he is probably not what the organization envisions as a long term answer.

With the free agent addition of William Hayes who is probably the Dolphins best edge setting run defender at end, and the drafting of Charles Harris in round one, we may not see any of the Dolphins defensive ends with more than 55-60 percent of the action in 2017. Over his nine years in the league Hayes has been a solid yet unspectacular starter for the Titans and Rams. He has at least 5 sacks in four of the last five seasons with a career best of 6.5 in 2012. Over the past three seasons Hayes averaged a respectable 35 tackles, 13 assists and 5 sacks for the Rams. He became expendable when Los Angeles switched to a 3-4 after last season and should be a good addition with the Dolphins situation.

Miami picked Charles Harris to add some punch to their pass rush. He is an explosive edge rusher with excellent speed, quickness and a few good moves, but at 253 pounds is undersized for an every down role. Harris was productive at Missouri where he had 67 tackles, 50 assists and 16 sacks in 24 starts over the past two years. He should slide right into a sub package role as a rookie but it may be a while before Harris develops into a three down option. He does a good job keeping blockers from getting to his outside shoulder but will give ground to do so, and can be swallowed up by bigger blockers when the play comes right at him. Struggles against the run are common for young pass rushers coming out of college. A year or two of good coaching, commitment in the weight room and some time to mature physically often resolve the issue. Harris is a good dynasty target with the potential to eventually be major fantasy factor but we should not expect much from him as a rookie.

What I expect to see in Miami is a four player rotation with each having a significant role. Hayes should be one starter and see most of his action on early downs while Harris will likely be a pass rush specialist. Working together on one side would seem to make sense for those two. That would leave Wake and Branch to share snaps on the other side. The Dolphins best early down option would put Wake opposite Hayes, but they are going to want their best pass rusher on the field on most third down situations. What we may see is Wake and Branch rotating by series instead of situation.

DE Cameron Wake - Quality DL2 with upside based on snap count
DE William Hayes - Potential depth
DE Andre Branch - Potential depth
DE Charles Harris - Dynasty target with strong long term upside
DT Ndamukong Suh - Elite potential DT1 or solid DL2 in leagues not breaking out the positions
DT Jordan Phillips - No value
DT Nicholas Williams - No value
DT Davon Godchaux - No value
DT Vincent Taylor - No value

Linebackers

The Dolphins linebacker position has been decimated by injury and neglect over the past several years. Since 2005 their highest draft picks at linebacker have been Channing Crowder in round three 2005, Koa Misi in round two 2010 and Jelani Jenkins in the fourth in 2013. Crowder never amounted to much, Misi was a serviceable starter for most of his seven years with the team before being released recently, and Jenkins had one good season before battling injuries and bolting for Oakland this offseason. With last year's free agent addition Kiko Alonso now healthy, the signing of Lawrence Timmons this offseason and the drafting of Raekwon McMillan in round two this spring, we know the coaching staff now has a lot more to work with at the position. What we do not know for sure is how they will line up or who has the most fantasy value for 2017.

After missing all of 2014 with a major knee injury and playing at far less than 100% in 2015, Kiko Alonzo went to Miami via trade and started fifteen games as the Dolphins middle backer in 2016. He did not put up great tackle numbers last season but 69 solo stops, 46 assists, 7 turnovers, 4 passes defended and a score were enough to make Alonzo a top ten linebacker at the end of the year. For anyone who thinks the big play production was a fluke, all we have to do is look at his rookie campaign in 2013 when Alonzo was the fantasy game's sixth best linebacker at 87-72-2 with 7 takeaways and 5 passes defended. He is a leader, a playmaker and is more than capable of strong tackle totals going forward, providing the scheme and his alignment in it continue to provide opportunity. At 26 years old Alonzo is entering the prime of his career and could be a fixture in both the Miami defense and the fantasy game's top ten for much of the next decade.

This offseason the Dolphins came off some money to sign long time Steelers starting inside backer Lawrence Timmons. He was the fantasy games number fifteen linebacker last season and has been a mainstay in the top twenty over most of his ten year career, including a couple top ten finishes. Timmons is also a big play threat averaging 3 turnovers and 3.5 sacks a season since becoming a starter in 2008. He brings talent, production and dependability to the lineup having not missed a game since 2009 and only two in his career.

Then there is second round pick Raekwon McMillan. All he has done is lead Ohio State in tackles for two consecutive seasons from the middle linebacker position, becoming a semifinalist for the Butkus award as college football's best linebacker. In two years as a starter for the Buckeyes McMillan totaled 221 combined tackles and assists with 9 passes defended, 4 turnovers and 6 sacks. He diagnoses run plays quickly and a 240 pounds will bring the lumber when making tackles, but McMillan has some limitations in coverage.

The good news for Miami coaches is they now have three healthy and talented linebackers to work with. The bad news is that are all natural inside linebackers. As I write this piece there is a report circulating about McMillan seeing time with the first team at middle backer while Alonzo and Timmons work outside. The report has people scrambling to pick up McMillan and/or changing their draft boards/rankings. The problem is most people are glancing over the headline and not reading the whole story. The team has made clear on several occasions their intention to look at all options and scenarios before deciding how they will line up at the second level. When the team takes the field for week one it is a fairly safe bet McMillan will be a two down strong side backer. This will give him an opportunity to get on the field early and possibly prepare for a job in the middle down the road. If you have any notion he will out produce either Alonzo or Timmons as a rookie, you are probably in for a big disappointment.

The real questions here are who can best play on the weak side and will both Timmons and Alonzo stay on the field in nickel situations? The first part of that question remains up in the air. Both players are best suited in the middle but have the skill set and experience to get the job done at any of the linebacker positions. Ultimately it may not matter because the answer to the second part of the question is yes. It is highly likely both will stay in the game in nickel package situations. My gut feeling here is Timmons will lead the team in tackles from the middle while Alonzo puts up a few more big play points and finishes a few slots ahead of him in the final standings. I like the chances of both players making the top 25, though playing next to one another is likely to hold them both back a little.

Behind the top three Miami has no one screaming future star. If there is an injury to one of the starters there would be a shuffle to fill the spot with the next man up probably stepping into the two down strong side role.

MLB/WLB Lawrence Timmons - Solid LB2 with top 15 potential
WLB Kiko Alonso - Priority LB2 with top ten potential
SLB Raekwon McMillan - Injury sleeper with dynasty upside
MLB Mike Hull - No value
OLB Neville Hewitt - No value
OLB Trevor Reily - No value

Defensive Backs

The last time Reshad Jones was healthy for a full season was 2015 when he led the Dolphins with 107 solo tackles and was easily the fantasy game's top defensive back. The last time Jones was healthy Kelvin Sheppard led the team's linebackers with 76 tackles. With the huge influx of talent at the second level the days of Jones as the clear cut top defensive back may be over, but his time as a quality fantasy option are not. In the three years prior to 2015 Jones averaged 76 tackles, 18 assists, 5 turnovers, 1.5 sacks and 8 passes defended. That kind of production does not just vanish. The eight year veteran tore his rotator cuff six games into last season and had some sort of issue at the start of camp that led him to the NFI list, but is expected to be fine when the regular season rolls around. Jones is a big physical intimidating safety with a knack for the big play. His situational advantage over the rest of the league may be gone but he is still one of the game's outstanding safeties and has a place with the elite first tier fantasy options at the position.

The coaching staff ran through several players at free safety last season but no one was able to stick. Over the offseason they used free agency to add former Eagles starter Nate Allen and former Rams standout T.J. McDonald. The two veterans will compete with holdover Michael Thomas for the job. Thomas took over at strong safety when Jones was injured last season and was adequate. He is a better fit in the centerfield role which gives him the best opportunity to win and hold a starting spot. Allen started a lot of games over his five years in Philadelphia but was hardly a stand out. He spent the last two seasons in Oakland which did not work out well for either side. When Allen had a chance to start in 2015 he missed eleven games with injury. By the time he came back last year the team had addressed the need on a more permanent basis so Allen was relegated to backup and sub package roles. He is a serviceable veteran place holder but probably not the long term answer in Miami. McDonald must serve an eight game suspension before he can even join the team for the regular season. He was 84-21-2 with a couple turnovers and 7 passes defended for the Rams in 2014 but has seen a sharp decline in production over the past two years. McDonald is a big hardnosed intimidator with average cover skills for a safety and is best suited to work near the line of scrimmage in a mostly run support role. He is 26 years old and has a lot of football ahead of him, making me wonder if the long term plan is to use him as a nickel linebacker after the 31 year old Timmons is gone. The other thought might be to play Jones at free and McDonald at strong somewhere down the road. Of the two, Jones would be more likely to make a successful switch to free. The bottom line at this point being, none of these players are likely to have value for us until at least game nine and probably not even then.

One spot the Dolphins may still be hurting or are at least unsettled is corner. Byron Maxwell came over as part of the Kiko Alonso deal and made a solid contribution last year. In thirteen games he was 43-10-0 with 6 turnovers and 15 passes defended. His play on the field was solid but Maxwell is not a number one NFL corner. If they can find someone to handle that role, Maxwell can serve as a quality number two or an excellent slot corner. At 9.4 points per game Maxwell was a top twenty corner and a solid CB2 in 2016. There is no reason to expect less from him this year.

Xavien Howard opened his rookie season as a starter but the 2016 second round pick ended up missing nine games with injury. In his four September starts Howard looked good both on the field and in the box scores. He was averaging nearly 5-2-0 with a pair of passes defended and a forced fumble. Howard returned for the final three games after recovering from the knee injury, he was not able to recapture the production. Howard is penciled in as a starter entering 2017 but is not a lock to keep the job. He will have hold of Tony Lippett who played well as an injury replacement in his second season, and third round pick Cordrea Tankersley. Lippett led the team's corners in both tackles with 45 and interceptions with 4 last season. The 2015 fifth round pick has earned the confidence of the coaching staff and may be hard to unseat. Lippett's points per game average is watered down because he was active over the first three weeks but did not play. In his thirteen game of action he averaged a fraction more than Maxwell at 9.5 per game. This is a situation for owners in corner required leagues to keep an eye on. Someone here, and possibly two players, could give us at least low end CB2 or quality depth level production.

Chances are the rookie corner rule will not come into play with Tankersley. As a senior at Clemson he posted respectable tackle totals (for a college corner) of 39-13-0 his two years as a starter produced 9 interceptions with 20 passes defended. While all that sounds pretty good, Mike Mayock's comments are hard to overlook. Mayock said "Tankersley is a highway speed guy. If you draw up a corner, this is the guy. He can run fast. He's a press corner. He's the least interesting defensive back in this entire draft in supporting the run". Any corner that does not like to tackle in run support is going to have a hard time putting up quality fantasy totals regardless how well he covers in the passing game. I will keep an open mind and judge for myself when we see the Dolphins in action but for now Tankersley is not a player I am interested in regardless of format.

SS Reshad Jones - Quality DB1 but not necessarily the undisputed player at the position anymore
FS Nate Allen - Marginal value at best
SS T.J. McDonald - Suspended for first 8 games but may have long term value
SS Michael Thomas - No value until proven otherwise
CB Byron Maxwell - Solid CB2 if he continues in starting role
CB Xavien Howard - Rookie corner rule could apply even though he is in year two, worth keeping an eye on
CB Tony Lippett - Possible CB2 if he can keep starting role
CB Cordrea Tankersley - Deep sleeper
CB Bobby McCain - No value at this time

New England Patriots

Defensive Linemen

The Patriots have gone through a major face lift at defensive end over the past eighteen months or so. It started with the trade of Chandler Jones to Arizona, then New England phased out and moved on from Jabaal Sheard, and now Rob Ninkovich is retiring. It seems Bill Belichick is never caught unprepared however. The emergence of Trey Flowers, free agent signing of Kony Ealy, presence of Geneo Grissom and drafting of Derek Rivers has the Patriots looking good at the position for 2017.

Trey Flowers is a player I was high on going into this season even before the news of Ninkovich hanging up the cleats. As a rookie fourth round pick in 2015 Flowers was inactive for the first ten games, played sparingly in one and landed on IR in December; his second season was much different however. He opened 2016 in a backup role but saw action in the rotation from week one. After exploding for a line of 4-1-2 on a mere 21 snaps against the Bills in week eight, Flowers came out of the bye as a starter in week ten, going 3-0-2 against Seattle. Over the final nine games of the regular season he totaled 7 sacks, adding 2.5 more in the Super Bowl. Flowers is a typical Bill Belichick kind of player, smart, hard working and coachable, with a great motor and a lot of heart. His scouting report coming out of Arkansas was not impressive. It tells us he is not particularly fast or quick and is not a great athlete or a natural edge pass rusher, but has sound technique and is stout versus the run. Rob Ninkovich had many similar characteristics coming out of Purdue in 2006 and was cut by a couple teams before landing with New England. Flowers enters 2017 as the undisputed starter at a position with a long history of quality production. He was needs to show more week to week consistency but we should keep in mind he is 23 years old and basically entering his second season. Flowers ended last year at 23-23-7 with a couple fumble recoveries and a batted pass. I am expecting much more from him going forward and will be surprised if he is not a solid top twenty lineman this year. He may even push into the top twelve.

I liked the fit of Kony Ealy in New England right from the start but feel much better about his fantasy potential now that Ninkovich is out of the picture. Instead of being the third wheel Ealy will now start opposite Flowers. Ealy never played much more than 60% of the snaps in a season with Carolina but has been a significant member of the rotation there over the past three years, including a number of starts. With 14 sacks in his short career he is a proven pass rush threat with the potential for a breakout season in that area. The biggest concern I have is the marginal tackle production he showed in Carolina. Ealy has not yet recorded more than 18 solo tackles in a season despite averaging 632 snaps over the past two years. The Patriots have rotated a lot at end in recent years which could be somewhat of a concern for both Ealy and Flowers. However the roster is unusually young behind the starters this year, so the starters might see more opportunity this season, especially early in the year. There is always risk when a player changes teams but Ealy was 18-13-5 last season so there is no place to go but up in fantasy terms. Slip him onto your roster as a late round sleeper with upside. He should at least be a solid bye week or matchup based spot starter and could be significantly more.          
Geneo Grissom was taken a round ahead of Flowers in 2015 but has not yet become a factor for the Patriots. As the senior member at defensive end behind the starters, this could be the year he earns a significant role. Grissom bring some versatility to the mix having worked at both end and linebacker at Oklahoma. He is faster and more athletic than Flowers but so far has not taken the next step as a football player. Grissom will be given every opportunity to do so this summer.

The other two players in the mix for the backup spots are rookies Derek Rivers who was the team's first pick in this year's draft at eighty three overall and fourth round selection Deatrich Wise. At 248 pounds Rivers is probably too small at this point to be considered for a three down role at end, but his athleticism and ability to stand up and play linebacker could get him on the field early. Rivers played both end and linebacker at Youngstown State, recording 36 sacks in three years as a starter. He is a smart, high character player with a great motor and could find his way into a "Ninkovich like" role as an early down strong side linebacker and third down pass rusher.

Deatrich Wise is more of a developmental player than someone the Patriots are looking to play early. He is not a speed and athleticism guy but has exceptional power. Deatrich wins at the point of attack with brute force and when he gets a hand on the ball carrier the play is over. He will never make a living as an outside pass rusher but can be a force versus the run. He may end up earning his keep as an inside pass rusher in sub packages.

Patriots nose tackle Alan Branch is probably the biggest defensive player in the league at 6'6" 350 pounds. Next to him on the inside is 320 pound Malcom Brown as the three technique, so it is no wonder New England was number four versus the run last season. Neither of these players are going to produce flashy numbers or a bunch of sacks but the high volume of assists awarded by the Patriots stats crew is a big plus that helped both players into the realm of fantasy value in 2016. At 24-26-3 with a forced fumble Brown was the number eleven tackle while Branch finished at sixteen going 25-23-1.5 with a forced fumble and a couple swatted passes. There is not much here in the way of upside but we can expect similar production in 2017. It is worth mention that Branch opened training camp on the PUP for undisclosed reason. The Patriots will not say why but it is widely speculated Branch had simply not passed the conditioning test.

Last year's third round pick Vincent Valentine and free agent addition Lawrence Guy fill out the depth chart at tackle. Valentine was the third man on the inside last season and should hole the same role this year. He is being groomed to take over when the soon to be 33 year old Branch calls it quits in a year or two. Guy is a veteran body with some starting experience. He is not likely to see the field much unless there is an injury.

DE Trey Flowers - Low end DL2 at worst with top twelve potential
DE Kony Ealy - Depth with DL2 upside
DE Derek Rivers - Dynasty target with a high ceiling if the role is good
DE Geneo Grissom - Marginal value at this time
DE Deatrich Wise - No immediate value
DT Malcom Brown - Solid DT2 with low DT1 potential
DT Alan Branch - Depth with mid DT2 upside
DT Vincent Valentine - No value at this time
DT Lawrence Guy - No value

Linebackers

Going into any training camp or season there are a lot of unsettled situations to keep an eye on but there may never be a bigger mystery than this year's Patriots linebackers. After trading Jamie Collins Sr last year the Patriots had no linebacker finish the season with more than 32 tackles yet the only significant addition the team made over the offseason was 33 year old former Jets starter David Harris. We never know what is going on in the mind of Bill Belichick but here is my best attempt at figuring out how this will go. Harris is a solid veteran player that has been an iron man over his ten year career. Even though he is new to the team Harris is likely to bring some consistency as the centerpiece of the defense and a team leader. He is an excellent run defender and a solid cover linebacker that has been a three down player for his entire career; it seems unlikely that will change. Over the past several seasons Harris has been as high as an upper level LB3 and as low as a mid level LB4. With the change of scenery and the situation he comes into, I will be surprised if Harris does not finish on the high side of his potential. That said I am not sure enough to target him as more than a priority LB4 with upside.

The next best target of the group is probably Kyle Van Noy who joined the team via trade at about the same time Collins left last year. Of the linebackers currently on the roster Van Noy's skill set is the closest match to that of Collins. He is a fast athletic type with three down and big play potential. Van Noy was never a good fit in Detroit where the 2014 second round pick spent his first two and a half seasons. He was not used in a three down role after joining the Patriots last season but that may have been because he was new to the team/scheme and was not familiar enough with all the responsibilities. With a full offseason to learn the scheme he could have a much more significant role in 2017. Another reason for optimism is Van Noy's production after coming to New England. His time in Detroit was completely void of big plays but seven games in a part time role with the Patriots produced a sack, an interception and a forced fumble. Until we can get a feel for his role going forward Van Noy is no more than a late round flier with a little upside. This is a situation I will be watching particularly closely since I picked him up late last year in a few dynasty leagues. Hopefully the Patriots will show us something early in the preseason. The problem is, whatever they show us in August is not necessarily the same thing we will get in September.

The organization signed Dont'a Hightower to a four year extension in March but that does not insure box score production. At this point I have completely given up on him ever having significant/consistent fantasy value. At 265 pounds he is a huge linebacker with average cover skills. Four years with the team is more than enough to prove he will never have a three down role on a consistent basis. Hightower will have a huge game now and then but has never exceeded 55 tackles in a season and has not recorded more than 1 turnover in any year since he was a rookie in 2012. Hightower has shown some potential as a pass rusher, recording 12 sacks over the last three years. With Harris in the fold, Hightower will probably see most of his playing time at strong side backer where his physical nature and pass rush ability can be taken advantage of. If you can rub a crystal ball and see which two or three games will be his big ones, he might have some value as a spot start. If you crystal ball is broken like mine, you are better off to avoid Hightower all together.

Elandon Roberts flashed signs of starting potential as a rookie last year but was cycled out of the lineup after a short time. The organization is still high on him as a long term developmental prospect and he could have a role in 2017, but it is a stretch to think he is ready to claim a starting job. Roberts along with Shea McClellin and Jonathan Freeney seem destined for spot duty and special teams work this year.

MLB David Harris - Target as low end LB3 or priority depth
SLB/MLB Dont'a Hightower - Marginal value
SLB Shea McClellin - No value
WLB Elandon Roberts - Deep sleeper
WLB Kyle Van Noy - Sleeper with high ceiling and low floor
WLB Jonathan Freeney - No value

Defensive Backs

The Patriots secondary has traditionally given us no more than marginal fantasy production. Someone had to make tackles for them last year so 2016 was somewhat of an exception. Corner Logan Ryan led the team with 74 solo stops followed by free safety Devin McCourty with 67, strong safety Patrick Chung with 52 and corner Malcolm Butler at 48. Even with these guys as the top four tacklers the overall fantasy value here was not stellar.

Ryan was among the fantasy games best corners at 10.3 points per game but he is no longer with the team. In his place is former Bills first round pick Stephon Gilmore who signed a big free agent deal this offseason and is seen as an upgrade on the field. He is one of the league's outstanding cover men and will make the Patriots secondary even harder to throw on. Gilmore had a career best 5 interceptions for Buffalo but has not put up more than 42 tackles in a season since he was a rookie with 51 in 2012 (rookie corner rule). The turnovers and double digit passes defended bumped Gilmore up to 8.6 points per game which was on the outer edge of fantasy relevance. That is about where we can expect him to remain.

Malcolm Butler took a big step forward in his third year as a pro. Keeping with the established norm his tackle numbers slipped a bit in his second year as a starter but Butler blew up the big play columns with 7 turnovers, a sack and 17 passes defended, along with an average of 9.4 points per game which ranked twelfth among corners. Gilmore should assume the lead role in 2017 which means Butler probably slides into the role that made Ryan the number two corner in fantasy football last year. Butler's splash play production may comes back to earth a bit but he should be good for 10-12 more tackles, making him at least a quality second starter in corner required leagues.

Eric Rowe was the Patriots nickel corner for most of 2016. He entered camp in that spot this year but will have to hold off 2016 second round pick Cyrus Jones and possibly third year pro Justin Coleman for the job.

There are no questions about the safety positions in New England as both McCourty and Chung have been on the job long enough for everyone to know exactly what to expect. McCourty in an excellent player on the field but his box score totals leave something to be desired. The 67 tackles last year were the second most of his career and McCourty's highest total since he was a rookie in 2010. The team's linebacker situation undoubtedly added some opportunity. The team's linebacker play should be considerably better in 2017 so a wise owner would anticipate a return to McCourty's normal 50-55 tackles, with 2-3 splash plays and a handful of passes defended. He may have a little value in deeper drafted leagues but owners in twelve team leagues starting three defensive backs or two safeties will be able to find better options.

Patrick Chung had a top ten fantasy season in 2010 with 72 tackles, 24 assists, 3 picks, 9 passes defended and a score. Since that time he has a combined 7 turnovers and has not put up more than 54 tackles in any season. Chung is a dependable run defender and a sound tackler but is no threat to suddenly break out as a fantasy contributor.

FS Devin McCourty - Marginal value at best
SS Patrick Chung - Marginal value at best
SS Duron Harmon - No value at this time
S Jordan Richards - No value
CB Malcolm Butler - Solid CB2 with low CB1 upside
CB Stephon Gilmore - Bye week or spot start depth in corner required leagues
CB Justin Coleman - No value
CB Cyrus Jones - No value at this time
CB Eric Rowe - No value

New York Jets

Defensive Linemen

The Jets front four is far from typical. Most teams moving from a three man front to a four-three will bring at least one of their edge rushing linebackers to defensive end. When New York made the move during the 2015 season they really had no standout edge rushers to work with. What they had instead was a trio of exceptional 3-4 ends, so the answer was to put all of them on the field together and throw in a big body to play nose tackle. We are now at the end of a second offseason using the scheme and the team has still not added a typical 4-3 edge rusher to the mix. Instead they are set for another go round with Muhammad Wilkerson, Sheldon Richardson and Leonard Williams as their main three up front with Steve McClendon, Anthony Johnson and Mike Pennel all working in situational roles.

Let me clarify by saying the Jets are not a full time 4-3 team. They will use more four man fronts but are more of a multi-alignment defense that will throw in 3-4 looks a few times each game. Wilkerson, Richardson and Williams all check in between 294 and 313 pounds so opposing offensive linemen are not going to worry so much about speed off the corners. These guys are athletic big men and they are maulers. Wilkerson probably has the most fantasy potential of the big three but he has struggled with year to year consistency. He has a career best of 43 solo tackles (2013) and has produced at least 31 in each of his six years as a pro. The issue is with his sack totals. Wilkerson got to the quarterback for 10.5 sacks in 2013 and for 12 in 2015, but he had 5.5 in 2014 and 4.5 last year. If you want to bet on the fact he has been most productive in odd years, this would be the time to have him as Wilkerson is due for a big season. The Jets are in rebuilding mode and have been shopping a couple of their big men. Between all the recent the loosing, the rebuilding situation and knowledge of the team looking to move him, I would not be in a big hurry to invest much Wilkerson at this point. His floor is 30-35 tackles and 5-6 sacks which is about what I am expecting in 2017, unless he is traded which remains a possibility.

It is no secret the organization has been shopping Sheldon Richardson who presents a similar situation. But for an injury shortened 2015, he would be right around the 40 tackle mark in each of his four NFL campaigns. In 2014 Richardson reached a career high of 8 sacks, followed by 4.5 in eleven games in 2015. Last season the tackle numbers were there and he had a career best 3 turnovers, but Richardson gave us 1.5 sacks. Again we can only speculate on how much scheme and/or motivation affected his totals. We know he is an outstanding talent with big upside but it is hard to judge where his fantasy value will go. Quality tackle totals are a given with Richardson making him at least a priority DL3. If he can get back to hunting quarterbacks like he did a couple of seasons back, Richardson could make a run at the top 15.

Leonard Williams just turned 23 in June and entering the third year of his career, is still on the upswing when it comes to box score production. After producing 29-34-3.5 in a solid rookie campaign, Williams stepped it up a bit in year two going 36-32-6 and forcing a couple fumbles. He is just entering the prime of his career physically and being so young, may not be affected as much by some of the issues his more veteran teammates are facing. You might say the glass looks half empty with Wilkerson and Richardson but it may be half full with Williams. We could probably put these three names in a hat, draw one blindly and have just as good a chance of getting the best fantasy option of the group for 2017, but if I were drafting I would go Williams, Wilkerson, Richardson with all three in consideration as late DL2 or priority DL3 targets.

Former Steeler Steve McClendon saw a lot of action at tackle last season and will likely continue to do so when the Jets work out of a four man front. He is not a high visibility player like his teammates but McClendon has some sneaky potential in tackle required leagues. He was 20-8-3.5 in ten games last season as the fourth starter. If he can keep the same pace over a full season in 2017 we would be looking at a very useful 32-13-5.5 stat line. McClendon is probably not a draft target at this point but he is certainly someone to keep a close eye on if you are in a league that breaks out the defensive line positions, especially if you have to start two.

Mike Pennel will compete with free agent addition Anthony Johnson and last year's seventh round pick Deon Sims to determine the pecking order behind the starters. Pennel comes over from Green Bay after being suspended for the first four games last season and again for the last four. He is a big beefy road grader that will likely see most of his playing time at nose tackle when the team uses the 3-4.

DE Muhammad Wilkerson - Low DL1 ceiling with high DL3 floor
DE Sheldon Richardson - Priority DL3 with high DL2 upside
DE Leonard Williams - Solid DL2 with upside
DT Anthony Johnson - No value
DT Steve McClendon - No value
DT Mike Pennel - No value
DT Deon Simon - No value

Linebackers

The Jets have the worst group of linebackers in the NFL and I do not believe the point is even debatable. Middle backer Demario Davis has been a serviceable starter for the Jets and Browns since 2013 and is probably the best of the lot. He is average in coverage and maybe a little above average against the run, but is not a playmaker. In his best season as a pro (2014) Davis finished 78-38-4 with a pair of fumble recoveries and 5 passes defended. His other three seasons as a starter produced an average of 59-39-2, 1 turnover and 2 passes defended. Nothing stands out about Davis as a player but his situation is exceptional. He is likely to be a three down middle linebacker on possibly the worst team in the league, but will be playing behind a big talented space eating defensive line. We should not count on much in the way of splash plays but someone at the second level of this defense is going to have a ton of tackle opportunity. Davis is probably good enough to turn that into 80+ solos and around 45 assists. The Jets will almost have to address the middle linebacker position before next year so Davis is probably no more than a short terms stop gap but he could manage low LB3 or strong LB4 value.

Darron Lee is the only member of the current linebacker group I would bet on to still be with the team the next time they have a winning season; though it may be as a backup. When the Jets selected him at twenty overall last year everyone knew he was a little raw. His early struggles as a run defender were pretty much expected. The plan was to ease Lee into the lineup as a rookie by playing him mostly in sub packages, taking advantage of the range and coverage skills that were supposed to be his strength. Unfortunately he struggled with that responsibility as well. His rookie campaign was not pretty but the organization still believes Lee will develop into a quality starter for them. Of course they feel that way after investing a first round pick. Lee is an outstanding athlete with speed and all the other measurable traits on his side. In year two it is time to prove he can play football. Because they are rebuilding and have no one with long term potential waiting in the wings behind him, Lee will probably be thrown into a three down role in 2017. He will either show significant improvement and stay on the field to keep getting better, or will bomb and end up in a reduced role to continue his development. The fantasy value here could be anywhere from complete bust to quality third starter. Lee is probably worth a late round shot as your fifth linebacker based on the upside.

Lorenzo Mauldin and Jordan Jenkins were the Jets third round picks in 2015 and 2016 respectively. Both are super sized linebackers pushing 260 pounds. As we might expect they are both strong run defenders that can stand up lead blockers at the point of attack. The bonus is they can get after the passer a little as well. Jenkins logged more playing time last season but it is tough to say that was by choice or because Mauldin was hurt much of the year. They will probably compete over the summer for the title of strong side starter. Neither of these guys scream greatness but they both have potential to become good long term contributors. The problem for fantasy owners is they are long shots to see sub package snaps and they may share playing time.

The remainder of the depth chart is filled with backup quality veteran journeymen Erin Henderson, Bruce Carter and Spencer Paysinger, and developmental rookie Dylan Donahue. All three veterans have starting experience and can be competent space holders if someone is hurt or Lee does a crash and burn; but none of them are long term starters. Donahue played at division two West Georgia where he kind of beat up on lesser competition. Time will tell if he can cut it on the pro level but there is some long term hope.

MLB Demario Davis - LB4 with potential to be a third starter
WLB Darron Lee - Boom or bust sleeper
MLB Erin Henderson - Injury sleeper with marginal upside
MLB Bruce Carter - No value
SLB Lorenzo Mauldin - No value
SLB Jordan Jenkins - Marginal value at best
WLB Dylan Donahue - Deep dynasty sleeper
WLB Spencer Paysinger - No value

Defensive Backs

The Jets elected not to use any draft resources on the linebacker position this spring because they were focusing on pass catchers and the secondary. The team's first two draft pick were used on safeties Jamal Adams and Marcus Maye, the next three on two receivers and a tight end, and the final two on developmental corner prospects Jeremy Clark and Derrick Jones. New York finally threw in the towel on 2014 first round bust Calvin Pryor, trading him to Cleveland for Demario Davis. Then they cut Marcus Gilchrist shortly after the draft clearing the way for the two rookies. With the team in a clear rebuilding mode it seems probable they will throw the youngsters right into the fire.

Adams checks all the boxes when it comes to size, speed and skill set but outstanding leadership may be his best quality. The Jets will plug him in as an immediate starter at strong safety though Adams has the versatility to play either spot. He is a physical downhill tackler in run support with range to make play sideline to sideline, and can stick with tight ends or running backs in man coverage. Adams is also a playmaker with 5 interceptions and 9 total turnovers in his final two seasons at LSU. On the field he is a high energy, lead by example young player that can help turn this organization around. In the box scores Adams has a chance to be this year's Landon Collins. Adams should see a good amount of time in the box with a run support focus and will have plenty of opportunity to make tackles considering the situation at linebacker. There is always risk involved with new players but Adams is one rookie I will not hesitate to grab as a low end DB1 this draft season.

Second round pick Marcus Maye is similar to Adams in many ways. Maye too has the versatility to work from either safety spot and is just as comfortable in the box or lined up deep. He is a physical tackler with great instincts and a high football IQ. As starter for Florida Maye was credited with a pass defended or an interception on twenty one percent of the balls thrown his way. From a box score perspective his production was right there with that of Adams as well. In three years as a starter for the Gators Maye collected 5 career interceptions, forced 6 fumbles, recovered 2 and broke up 16 passes. Having interchangeable safeties will open up a lot of options for defensive coordinator Kacy Rodgers and it could mean a pair of highly productive fantasy options us. Adams is the clear number one target on draft day while Maye has not been getting much love and can be picked up at a bargain price late in most drafts. His value could rise quickly however, once we see how these two will be deployed. I like Maye as a sleeper with DB2 potential in 2017.

Rontez Miles will be the next man up at safety with second year man Doug Middleton and former Steeler Shamarko Thomas competing for the fourth safety spot. Miles made a good showing late last year after Gilchrist went down. He is short on experience but could prove to be a solid third safety in some sub package situations. Thomas started some games for the Steelers but was never able to claim a full time job. He is a serviceable backup at this stage of the process and will contribute on special teams. Middleton was an undrafted rookie in 2016, seeing a little time as the third safety after the Gilchrist injury. He is a developmental player at best.

With the decline of Darrelle Revis the Jets are left with no top shelf options at corner. Buster Skrine is set to take on the number one role with several players battling to establish the rest of the pecking order. Skrine is a quality NFL corner but is far better suited as a number two or even a nickel corner if the situation would allow. Marcus Williams and Morris Claiborne are the early favorites for the next two spots after Skrine. Both worked as nickel corners in 2016, Williams with the Jets and Claiborne in Dallas. It has been a good long while since a Jets corner last made a fantasy impact, and it may be a while yet before we see that trend broken. Revis led the team's corners with 43 tackles in 2016 while Skrine had the best points per game average at a mere 6.3. The entire secondary recorded 7 interceptions with Williams the only corner having 2. Until the Jets start winning some games and can stop opponents from running on them, the corners are not likely to have a steady volume of opportunity.

SS Jamal Adams - Low end DB1 with strong long term upside
FS Marcus Maye - Undervalued DB3 with DB2 upside
Shamarko Thomas - No value
Rontez Miles - Injury sleeper at best
S  Doug Middleton - No value
CB Buster Skrine - Marginal value at best
CB Morris Claiborne - No value
CB Marcus Williams - No value
CB Justin Burris - No value
CB Darryl Roberts - No value

That does it for the AFC East. Next up the NFC East.