Fantasy Football

AFC East Breakdown of Coaching and Offensive Line

Stefon Diggs

NFL BREAKDOWN OF COACHING AND OFFENSIVE LINE 2023 SERIES

Hey all and welcome to the penultimate edition of these breakdowns! I’m getting closer to narrowing down the players I am interested in relative to ADP and those I am completely out on. Here are the 4 teams in the AFC East.

OLine and Coaching Series Quick Links

 

 

Buffalo Bills

NFL Futures: Regular Season Win Odds: 10.5

  • HC: Sean McDermott
  • OC: Ken Dorsey
  • DC: None

Sean McDermott enters year seven with the Bills. He will serve as the DC and play caller for the defense and continue to have next to nothing to do with the offense.

Ken Dorsey’s offense is a run first system that tries to set up deep shots down the field. Allen to Diggs and Davis should continue to be a thing down the field. This scheme was installed by Brian Daboll when he was the OC here, and Dorsey has kept it but with an eye to be a little more run first than as high flying as it was under Daboll.

On defense, McDermott will use a 4-3 base and rotate linemen and linebackers on and off the field frequently. Von Miller is essential for this team’s pass rush; when he went down last season, the Bills struggled to generate pressure. The secondary will use mostly Cover 2 and 3 but disguise other schemes as well.

Offensive Line

Projected Starters

  • LT: Dion Dawkins
  • LG: Connor McGovern
  • C: Mitch Morse
  • RG: Ryan Bates / O’Cyrus Torrence
  • RT: Spencer Brown / David Queensberry

Despite looking good on paper heading into the 2022 season and having a very experienced line coach in Aaron Kromer, the Bills offensive line was not very good. Kromer’s speciality is helping to develop run games. He was a line coach with the Rams when Todd Gurley was a thing, and he had a previous stop in Buffalo about 8 years ago when the Bills led the league in rushing. Last year the Bills had a better run game, but ultimately this line got exposed in its playoff matchup with the Bengals.

Prior to the start of 2022, Buffalo brought in linemen David Queensberry and Roger Saffold to improve the group, but it actually went the opposite way as both struggled.

This year the Bills are attempting that again with Connor McGovern and 2nd round pick O’Cyrus Torrence. McGovern is coming from the vaunted Dallas Cowboys line but is a better pass blocker than run blocker. Torrence has the makings of a solid NFLer, but time will have to tell.

Dawkins is a solid tackle, but Spencer Brown is not. Morse and Bates were mediocre last year.

Verdict

James Cook is the lead back for the Bills. For those who wish to debate me on that, I’ll just point you to Damien Harris’ contract of only 1 year and $1.7 million. If he was going to be the starter here or anywhere else, he would have gotten a better contract. James Cook is going 80th overall. You bet your ass I am interested in him in the 7th round. Damien Harris for insurance is available in round 10. Latavius Murray isn’t being drafted, so he’s available with your last pick or as a waiver add in the event that one of Cook or Harris gets injured. There are also rumors out there of Buffalo bringing in another back, especially since the Bills just lost Nyheim Hines for the year, so be vigilant there. In the end though, between Kromer and what should be a better O-line in 2023, I am highly interested in this backfield.

Josh Allen is fine if you want one of the top 2 QBs. He is going in the 2nd round with Mahomes. Keep in mind though that Allen will likely be less of a runner in 2023.

I was burned, pretty heavily, by Gabe Davis last year. The ankle injury was both unfortunate and nagging, but it was also the focus on running the ball that reduced Davis’ fantasy output and had Steffon Diggs in conniptions on the sideline. Diggs is going at the back end of round 1, at that ADP I would prefer other receivers this year. Davis isn’t going until round 8 or 9. I’m currently trying to decide how excited I am going to let myself become about that discount in 2023.

Isaiah McKenzie is gone, and Trent Sherfield is in, but he doesn’t even have an ADP. Khalil Shakir is the assumed 3rd WR now, his ADP is in the mid 200s. I’m not sure either has the ability to be consistent from week to week, but both should be kept in mind in case injuries occur.

Dalton Kincaid is going after the 12th round. He violates my rule about rookie TEs and Dawson Knox is still here anyway. I’m not interested in either though as the TE position will largely be inconsistent in this offense.

The DST is aging but still effective. A few injuries to key players (like Miller, Hamlin, or White) could thwart their effectiveness yet again. Most teams are not going to be able to keep up with the Bills offense, but the Bills may not be able to out-compete the top tier teams in the league come playoff time.

 

Miami Dolphins

NFL Futures: Regular Season Win Odds: 9.5

  • HC: Mike McDaniel
  • OC: Frank Smith
  • DC: Vic Fangio

McDaniel and Smith are entering their second years in Miami while Fangio is in year one. Smith is the OC, but McDaniel is the offensive play caller.

For what seems like the 30th team in the league, we’re looking at a West Coast offense, a heavy run game and short passes for the QB. The advantage in this offense is the run-after-the-catch ability of Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle. While Jeff Wilson and Raheem Mostert did admirably last season, something a little more steady is probably needed in Miami in order for this offense to be maximized. McDaniel is largely credited as being near the forefront of modern day NFL offenses. While the personnel might not be exactly where it needs to be, expect this offense to score points in 2023.

Vic Fangio is a well-accomplished defensive coach. With him, there is no base setup for the defensive front as they are constantly differing their setup. This is happening in the secondary as well. Fangio disguises his coverages and his defensive line pressure, which is all intended to confuse opposing offenses and induce mistakes. A quick look at the roster, and it’s easy to see the kind of talent they have. While arguably aging, this is likely going to be a good unit this season. Unfortunately, CB Jalen Ramsay is likely out until the end of the season, so this defense is not going to be as good as it could be.

Offensive Line

Projected Starters

  • LT: Terron Armstead / Isaiah Wynn
  • LG: Liam Eichenberg / Robert Jones
  • C: Connor Williams
  • RG: Robert Hunt / Robert Jones
  • RT: Austin Jackson / Isaiah Wynn

Butch Barry is replacing Matt Applebaum as O-line coach. Part of the reason Tua Tagovailoa couldn’t stay healthy is because this group couldn’t block for him.

Armstead and Williams were both brought in last year and both are excellent, but Armstead has suffered from frequent injuries. Wynn, who is decent, has been brought in case Armstead gets injured or in case Jackson, who was injured last year, struggles as well. Prior to his injury, Jackson was not performing well though.

Hunt is solid at RG, but Eichenberg is a straight liability at LG. He is one of the worst rated guards in football. McDaniel has stated that Eichenberg will get a chance to start again, but don’t be surprised if Jones takes that position over soon.

Verdict

There’s been talk about Dalvin Cook possibly landing here. Should he take his talents to South Beach, I’m quite interested. His legal issues may be factoring into any team’s willingness to commit to him. If and when a signing happens here of with the Jets or any other team though, expect an uptick in Cook’s ADP of 53. Should there be no Cook, rookie De’Von Achane is going around 100, Raheem Mostert is around 140, and Jeff Wilson is 160. No respect. Our Josh Butler has some good info about Achane.

Tyreek Hill is the second half of the first round WR that I want. Jaylen Waddle goes at the end of round 2. Like most years, I’m not really interested in having pick #1, though you could do worse than a WR room with Jefferson or Chase and Waddle. Gadget hero Braxton Berrios is listed a WR3 on the depth chart and is not being drafted.

Despite the look of this offense on paper, WR1, WR2, and RB1 + handcuff is all that I am interested in here. Tua might be a good backup, but he’s being drafted as a top 12 QB. He might be able to do that, but he needs to stay on the field, which could be a big ask for this player. Durham Smythe is the starting TE now. He isn’t being drafted.

 

New England Patriots

NFL Futures: Regular Season Win Odds: 7.5

  • HC: Bill Belichick
  • Assistant HC: Joe Judge
  • OC: Bill O’Brien
  • DC: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Holy Hell what a train wreck Matt Patricia was as OC of this team in 2022. Now that that’s over, welcome back Bill O’Brien, who last coached Mac Jones at Alabama. As an aside, what a wild coaching career O’Brien has had. He previously spent 5 years with these Patriots from 2007 – 2011. He then went to be HC for Penn State who was just coming off the heels of the Jerry Sandusky scandal. He then spent nearly 7 years as HC for the Houston Texans. He then returned to the collegiate ranks as OC for Alabama.

O’Brien is going to run the spread offense, featuring short passes, that he and Jones were successful with at the college level. O’Brien is good at disguising his play calling. He will run various plays out of the same formation, and even the same play from the same formation with different personnel. In his last stop here, he used 2 TE sets frequently, which led to productivity from Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez. The Patriots are going to attempt to pass the ball early in games and on downs, but then rely on the run game and defense to protect leads.

I threw a shrug in for the defensive coordinator spot because they basically don’t have one. Bill Belichick’s son Steve will be the defensive play caller, but the responsibilities on defense span across many different coaches, including Bill himself, assistant coach Joe Judge, Bill’s other son Brian, and former Patriot LB Jerod Mayo. The goal on defense is going to change from week to week as the Patriots will scheme up ways to take away opposing offenses’ strengths and attack their weaknesses. For years the Patriot difference, defensively anyway, is the amount of preparation and practice they put in for other team’s schemes. So instead of saying something like “they’ll use a 3-4 base and employ man coverage,” I have to say that they will use whatever they feel is necessary to hinder that week’s opposing offense. As long as Bill Belichick is here, that isn’t going to change.

Offensive Line

Projected Starters

  • LT: Trent Brown
  • LG: Cole Strange
  • C: David Andrews
  • RG: Mike Onwenu
  • RT: Riley Reiff / Connor McDermott

Dante Scarnecchia and the days of the vaunted Patriots offensive line looks to be over. Welcome in to your first year as line coach Mr. Adrian Klemm, who is a former tackle for the New England Patriots and a three time SuperBowl champion. He’s been mostly a college coach but did spend some time in Pittsburgh as a line coach, however, it didn’t go all that well. Klemm actually interviewed for the OC position here, but got the line coach position instead.

Onwenu and Andrews are top 5 at their positions.

Strange was a highly touted rookie last season, but needs to make the next step after a subpar rookie campaign.

Brown is decent at LT, but not world beater.

RT is up in the air.

Just to prove that the Patriots see the offensive line as extremely important, they drafted 3 linemen in this past year’s draft. That being said, this line has some makeup work to do after a truly down season in 2022.

Verdict

No, no, and no. While this offense should be better under O’Brien, I can’t put seasonal trust in this QB or the receivers.

The 2 TE set thing is interesting though considering Hunter Henry and Mike Gesicki are both here. I’m not lining up to draft either as my starting TE, but keeping them in mind throughout the season as possible free-agent adds and in DFS is something I’ll be doing.

Rhamondre Stevenson is going at the end of round 2, highlighting another reason why I don’t want pick #1 overall. Stevenson is probably going to be fine in this offense and at that pick, but I have a real hard time going in on any Patriots RB because they are historically unpredictable in terms of usage under Belichick. There doesn’t appear to be much behind Stevenson on the depth chart, but I’ve said things like that before with the Patriots and been burned.

 

New York Jets

NFL Futures: Regular Season Win Odds: 9.5

  • HC: Robert Saleh
  • OC: Nathaniel Hackett
  • DC: Jeff Ulbrich

Robert Saleh is in his third year with the Jets, and he is the defensive play caller on game day. Prior to New York, Saleh was the DC for the San Francisco 49ers. During that time, the Niners had one of the best defenses in football and made it to a SuperBowl. Here in NY, along with DC Jeff Ulbrich, Saleh will use a 4-3 base. The hope is that the EDGE rushers will be able to cause enough disruption to the QB so that the opposing receivers have little time to work. They didn’t really have the personnel to do that last year, so we’ll see if they are capable this year.

I really should write “Aaron Rodgers” as OC instead of Hackett. This is a complete shift from the offense Mike Lafleur ran in New York last season. Hackett was horrible as HC of Denver in 2022, but Rodgers loves the man because Hackett is the perfect Beta to the Alpha that Rodgers wants to be. Rodgers wants to be the play caller and determine which personnel are on the field at certain times. Hackett, who last year showed that he really didn’t have a scheme and that he didn’t know how to manage a clock, will let Rodgers do this. This is going to be a timing offense. Rodgers understands the importance of the run game, so he will try to establish it so that he can use play action and chuck the ball down the field for the big play. Rodgers wants his WRs to identify coverage the way a QB can and know what route they are supposed to run depending on said coverage. This is why Randall Cobb and Allen Lazard are here as it will likely take Garrett Wilson, Mecole Hardman, and Corey Davis time to pick it up.

Saleh does not take part in the offense other than expecting his team to be able to run the ball. Since that’s true, I can understand why he’s willing to let Hackett and Rodgers run this offense in whatever manner they seem fit. As much as he can be a polarizing figure, Rodgers does have a history of regular season success. I also think that wooing Rodgers to San Francisco was on the 49er coaches’ wish list in past years, so in a way this is Saleh finally checking that box.

Offensive Line

Projected Starters

  • LT: Duane Brown / Mekhi Becton / Max Mitchell
  • LG: Laken Tomlinson / Wes Schweitzer
  • C: Connor McGovern / Joe Tippman
  • RG: Alijah Vera-Tucker / Wes Schweitzer
  • RT: Mekhi Becton / Max Mitchell / Billy Turner

For what seems like the 37th year in a row, the Jets lost LT Mekhi Becton to injury. That’s amazing considering he was drafted in 2020. Vera-Tucker also missed time last season. Throw in an injury to Breece Hall and have your QB be Zach Wilson, then it’s easy to see why this offense struggled in 2022.

This has been the hardest group to analyze in terms of nailing down the projected starters. Vera-Tucker and Tomlinson are likely solidified at the guard position. Vera-Tucker is quite good, sporting a 7th overall ranking from Pro Football Focus, but as noted, he was gone for half the year. Tomlinson is mediocre, a better pass blocker than run blocker.

McGovern is likely the starting center, and he’s decent, but the Jets drafted Tippman in the 2nd round in this past draft. By the way, if you’re going “Hey! Didn’t this guy just write about Connor McGovern for the Bills?” and then scrolling to prove yourself correct, know that there are 2 of them. Yes, 2 NFL linemen share the same name. Not confusing at all, I know.

Becton is supposed to be the LT, but despite being in his late 30s, Brown did a decent job filling in at LT this past year. The Jets hope to transition Becton to RT, but as you likely see, they have plans in case it doesn’t work out.

It will be first year line coach Keith Carter’s job to sort this all out and give Rodgers and the Jets the protection this offense will need in order to be successful. Carter has had varying levels of success and disappointment in his previous stops. In his last stop with Tennessee, he helped form an offensive line that blocked incredibly well for Derrick Henry. However, he was also there for its demise, and Carter was fired by Mike Vrabel this past January.

Verdict

Rodgers as my backup QB is something I am okay with. He is going in the 10th round of drafts. He could be a top 12 QB, but those days have been behind him for some time. If he ends up as your starter, you’re likely to be at a disadvantage to most other teams.

Lazard could be in line for a big season since he’s in his prime and knows Rodgers and the offense. Lazard also goes in the 10th round well after WR1 Garrett Wilson who is going in the 2nd. Wilson is likely to struggle, at least initially in this offense. Should he become more comfortable in it though, look out. It’s just a question of when that will happen, and if you are comfortable using that draft capital on him. Wilson did hurt his ankle at camp recently, so monitor that.

I love me some Breece Hall, but I don’t love that he’s on the PUP list as he recovers from his ACL tear. I’ll monitor this throughout the rest of training camp, but he goes at the end of the 2nd round/beginning of the 3rd, scaring me even more about landing pick #1 overall. Dal Cook is also rumored to be going here, that will complicate matters.

Tyler Conklin was kind of Mr. Steady in terms of fantasy production from week to week in 2022. Careful though, I’m not sure Aaron Rodgers knows that TEs who don’t have the same last name as him can catch passes.

 

As always, thank you for reading. One more to go!

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