NFL fans are just six days away from the first pre-season game of the year. Fantasy football owners a busily scouring the internet and football magazines in order to formulate their draft strategy for 2012. In this, the sixth part of an eight-part series, we take a look at possible sleepers in the AFC East. The AFC East has plenty of interesting storylines heading into this season. Can the New England Patriots find a way to return to the Super Bowl? Are the Buffalo Bills a legitimate playoff team? How long before Tim Tebow replaces Mark Sanchez under center for the Jets? Was Ryan Tannehill the right player for the Miami Dolphins?
The Bills have had a very productive offseason, strengthening the defensive side of the football. The Bills have locked up their version of “The Big Three”. QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, RB Fred Jackson and WR Steve Johnson all have new deals. I have two players to watch on the current Bills roster. Former first-round selection, RB C.J. Spiller. Spiller was able to showcase his talents last year after Fred Jackson went down with an injury. Head coach Chan Gailey has already said the Bills will be splitting carries this year, so Spiller could emerge as an interesting flex play in certain matchups. I also like WR Donald Jones to step up and assume the number two position for the Bills, bouncing back from last season.
Dolphins RB Reggie Bush has proclaimed that he will lead the NFL in rushing this season. He might want to check with Chris Johnson, Rex Ryan and Vince Young about making pre-season predictions. Bush shattered his career highs last season, posting his first 1,000-yard season. One thing to keep in mind about Bush though is that he’s only appeared in a full slate of 16 games just once in his career. I’m going to be at Dolphins camp in the coming days and I can’t wait to see what rookie Lamar Miller looks like on the field. Miller is currently buried on the depth chart, but keep an eye on him this season, especially after a few weeks as the Dolphins will be trying to jumpstart their offense.
New England Patriots-
It’s tough to find a true sleeper pick on the offensively stack Patriots roster. I like Brandon Lloyd to have a strong season, but this receiving corps is loaded. As I wrote this morning, it appears that Stevan Ridley is looking strong early on in training camp for the Patriots. If Ridley assumes the role of BenJarvus Green-Ellis this season, he could become a flex play back. Other than TE Rob Gronkowski and QB Tom Brady, all Patriots players are risky fantasy plays as you never know which player will get hot on any given game.
New York Jets-
One player I have downgraded on the Jets this season is RB Shonn Greene. Greene is going to lose scoring chances this season to Tim Tebow. I am keeping an eye on Jets training camp and the progression of Georgia Tech rookie WR Stephen Hill. I don’t believe the Jets are going to be a prolifically scoring team in 2012 which is bad for fantasy owners, but I had to pick a sleeper from each team.