The AFC East is now that much more competitive with the addition of Aaron Rodgers to the New York Jets. The Jets have a legitimate shot at making the playoffs, ending a 12-year drought, which is the longest in the league. Meanwhile, the Buffalo Bills, Miami Dolphins, and New England Patriots will all look to get back, having each made the playoffs at least once in the last two seasons. Given all four teams’ potential to make the playoffs, there is plenty of fantasy value to consider. My bold predictions for a handful of these players go hand-in-hand with the firepower in this division.
I am continuing to highlight one fantasy football related bold prediction from each team, division by division, until the start of the 2023 NFL season. These predictions will hopefully get the gears in your head turning. Most are positive while others may be negative. The likeliness that every single one of these predictions hits is certainly not 100%. However, they should generate some buzz or cause you to think twice about each player. Just be confident in your feelings when you’re on the clock.
AFC East Bold Predictions for 2023 Fantasy Football
McTamany’s Bold Prediction: Dalton Kincaid draws 100 or more targets
There isn’t a strong history of rookie tight ends generating fantasy success in their first season. With that in mind, a player like Dalton Kincaid is unlikely to draw interest from fantasy managers until later on in drafts. My bold prediction is that Kincaid ends up an outlier to the underwhelming rookie tight end trend and puts up consistent, start-worthy numbers this season.
Since 2019, Bills quarterback, Josh Allen, has thrown 100 or more targets to players seven different times over four seasons. Slot receiver, Cole Beasley, accounts for three of those seven times each season from 2019-2021. His role in Buffalo was so valuable, the Bills even brought him back late last season to finish out the year. Cole Beasley is no longer with the team.
Enter Dalton Kincaid. General manager, Brandon Beane, made it a point to trade up to select Kincaid in the first round with the expectation he can win one-on-one matchups if defenses focus on double-star receiver, Stefon Diggs. Kincaid averaged nearly six receptions for 74 yards per game at the University of Utah last season. Given his receiving skill set, I think he will line up in the slot for Buffalo as a mismatch for the opposition.
In 2022, 11 of the 12 fantasy TE1s drew 69 or more targets. Three of the top five drew 113 targets or more. Even if Kincaid falls short of my bold prediction, he has a great opportunity to finish as a TE1 meeting last year’s volume threshold. If he does meet my bold prediction, he will be the best value amongst the position in drafts this season. He’s worth taking for the upside and pairing with another tight end you can stream early on.
McTamany’s Bold Prediction: Tyreek Hill records 2,000 receiving yards
Tyreek Hill should get the initial credit for making this bold prediction. During the Miami Dolphins OTAs, Hill himself made the claim he believes he can be the NFL’s first-ever 2,000-yard receiver in a single season. A 2,000-yard total over 17 games is a 117-yard per-game average. That yields an 11.7-point floor from yards alone. Factoring in Hill’s receptions and inevitable scoring, he would likely finish as the top wide receiver in fantasy football. That’s after six-straight seasons inside the top 10, two as the overall WR2.
Looking at the Dolphins last season, they passed at the 11th-highest rate. Hill drew an incredible 30% team target share. He ranks third in total targets (170) from last season, as well.
Ahead of 2023, Miami’s receiving corps is essentially the same as last season’s. The most notable addition is Braxton Berrios, while tight end Mike Gesicki, and his 52 targets in 2022, depart to play in New England. As for the backfield, Miami is adding speedy rookie, Devon Achane, into the mix. However, the RBs who account for 87% of their 2022 carries are returning in 2023. That’s Raheem Mostert, who is 31 years old, Jeff Wilson Jr., Salvon Ahmed, and Myles Gaskin. The Dolphins rank 31st in rush attempts per game from last season.
All things considered, Miami should continue to take a pass-heavy approach this season. This bold prediction has a better chance of hitting if Tua Tagovailoa can stay on the field. If not, Hill should still thrive with new backup Mike White under center. Hill is worth taking as the first receiver in drafts, but you won’t have to use that sort of premium pick on him.
New England Patriots
McTamany’s Bold Prediction: Rhamondre Stevenson finishes as a top-three running back
After an RB13 finish in points per game last season, as the Patriots lead back, Rhamondre Stevenson’s success will continue and he will finish as a top-12 back in 2023. But why stop there? I’m making the bold prediction he erupts for a top-three season among running backs.
Specifically for PPR leagues, Stevenson is a massive value with, at most, a third-round ADP in drafts. In 2022, Stevenson drew the third-most targets amongst running backs behind only Christian McCaffrey and Austin Ekeler. Additionally, the Patriots’ most-targeted player, wide receiver Jakobi Meyers, is now on the Las Vegas Raiders. That said, Stevenson is the highest-targeted New England player from last season that’s returning in 2023.
Beyond Stevenson’s receiving role, he survived free agency and the draft in regards to the Patriots bringing in any competition for touches out of the backfield. His biggest competition from last season, Damien Harris, is now on the Buffalo Bills. Steveson should log 300 or more touches this season. That’s something only eight running backs did last season, with Stevenson falling just 21 touches shy. Seven of the eight who did finished inside the top-14 with six of the eight finishing as an RB1 on a points-per-game basis.
Lastly, of the top-15 running backs in 2022, Stevenson’s percentage of points from scoring touchdowns (14.4%) was the lowest of the group. Assuming he’s able to reach that 300-touch mark, he should see positive touchdown regression. If you’re a manager drafting stud wide receivers with your first two picks, Stevenson should be at the top of your list when you’re on the clock in round three.
New York Jets
McTamany’s Bold Prediction: Garrett Wilson finishes as a top-five wide receiver
I’m rounding out this batch of AFC bold predictions with another extremely positive outlook for a player in the division. Fresh off of his 2022 Offensive Rookie of the Year campaign, Garrett Wilson is getting a major upgrade at quarterback. Though 39 years old, Aaron Rodgers has two recent, back-to-back MVP seasons on his resumé from the 2020 and 2021 seasons. In fact, Rodgers’ offensive coordinator in Green Bay during that run, Nathaniel Hackett, has the same role in New York with the Jets in 2023.
In 2022, with quarterback starts from Zach Wilson (9), Joe Flacco (4), and Mike White (4), Garrett Wilson drew the seventh-most targets (147) in the league. That’s an average of 8.6 targets per game. Rodgers’ top wide receiver in Green Bay, Davante Adams, averaged 10.77 targets per game over 57 games from 2018 through 2021. Sure, former Packers wide receivers Allen Lazard and Randall Cobb are joining Rodgers in New York, but Wilson should operate as the team’s top guy, specifically playing the most snaps.
As Rodgers’ top guy, Wilson can expect to draw plenty of red zone targets as the team’s target leader. Davante Adams ranked inside the top-11 in red zone targets for four straight years with Rodgers, including inside the top four twice. He scored 39 of his 47 touchdowns from 2018 through 21 inside the red zone, as well.
I’m not saying Garrett Wilson is as good as Davante Adams, or that he will even come close. What I am saying is that if Wilson sees the same volume and usage in New York with Rodgers, as Adams did in Green Bay, then 2023 will be a special season for the second-year receiver.
For more great rankings and analysis, make sure to check out our 2023 Fantasy Football Draft Kit!
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