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Fantasy Football Bust & League Winner Candidates: AFC East (2023)

Fantasy Football Bust & League Winner Candidates: AFC East (2023)

Several factors go into building a winning best ball team. One of those factors is identifying which players will let your team down and bust. Another is knowing which players have league-winning upside, especially in the later rounds. To help you build an elite best ball roster, I will identify the most likely bust candidate and potential league winner for every NFL team.

Today I break down the AFC East teams: the Buffalo Bills, Miami Dolphins, New England Patriots, and New York Jets.

The ADP used for this article comes from Underdog Fantasy.

Best Ball Bust & League Winner Candidates: AFC East

Potential Bust Candidates

Dalton Kincaid (TE – BUF): ADP 131.9 | TE12

The former Utah star is the TE1 in my dynasty rookie rankings. However, I won’t draft him in best ball or redraft leagues. Tight ends tend to struggle during their rookie season. Over the past 12 years, there have been only two tight ends to end their rookie season inside the top-12 – Kyle Pitts (TE7) in 2021 and Evan Engram (TE6) in 2017. More importantly, Kincaid won’t see the target volume those two did in their rookie year. Pitts had 110 targets, while Engram had 115. With Stefon Diggs and Gabe Davis combining for a 43% target share in 2022, Kincaid will struggle to have a top-15 finish.

Tua Tagovailoa (QB – MIA): ADP 91.8 | QB10

Tagovailoa was the QB15 last season. While he was the QB10 on a points-per-game basis, the former Alabama star shouldn’t be a top-10 quarterback in best ball drafts. The injuries are a concern. Tagovailoa missed four games last season and left others early with concussions. Furthermore, the veteran was one of the more inconsistent quarterbacks. He had 60% of his passing touchdowns and over half of his fantasy points in four contests against subpar defenses in 2022. Meanwhile, Tagovailoa averaged only 1.7 passing touchdowns and 12.8 fantasy points per game in the other nine contests. The former Alabama star is too inconsistent to be fantasy players’ QB1, even in a best ball draft.

JuJu Smith-Schuster (WR – NE): ADP 110.9 | WR52

After starting his career as an elite fantasy receiver, Smith-Schuster has seen his production regress over the past few years. Last season he was the WR29, averaging 9.1 half-point PPR fantasy points per game with the Kansas City Chiefs. The good news with the veteran receiver is that he will replace Jakobi Meyers‘ 22% target share from last year. However, Smith-Schuster is reportedly still dealing with an injury from last season. Furthermore, the Patriots are in the mix for DeAndre Hopkins. While he isn’t an awful value as the WR52, I would rather draft Skyy Moore (WR54) and Romeo Doubs (WR56) over the veteran.

Breece Hall (RB – NYJ): ADP 30.8 | RB11

While his ADP has rightfully slipped the past few weeks, Hall is still a risky pick. The former Iowa State star was excellent as a rookie, averaging 15.1 half-point PPR fantasy points per contest. He was the RB6 before a torn ACL ended his rookie season. Meanwhile, Hall was outstanding before the injury, averaging 5.8 yards per rushing attempt and 4.13 yards after contact per attempt. Unfortunately, the Jets have flirted with Dalvin Cook and other running backs this offseason, suggesting the second-year star isn’t 100% healthy. If he isn’t healthy and the Jets limit his workload early in the year, Hall will be a bust for fantasy players.

Potential League Winners

James Cook (RB – BUF): ADP 95.3 | RB30

Last year many had high hopes for the rookie running back. However, Cook ended the season as the RB45, averaging six half-point PPR fantasy points per game. Unfortunately, the breakout never happened. Yet, there is hope for this year. Devin Singletary is gone, while the Bills signed Damien Harris as his replacement. The former Patriot has struggled with injuries in his career, missing 24% of the games over the past three years. Meanwhile, Cook finished first in breakaway run rate last season (12.1%). With an ADP outside the top seven rounds, fantasy players could get top-15 production from the second-year running back.

De’Von Achane (RB – MIA): ADP 118.9 | RB39

The former Texas A&M star was a popular dynasty rookie draft pick. Achane had a productive college career, totaling 1,100 rushing yards and 3.6 yards after contact per rushing attempt last season. Furthermore, 19% of his rushing attempts went for 10 or more yards over the past two years. More importantly, Achane landed in an excellent fantasy situation. The Dolphins re-signed Raheem Mostert and Jeff Wilson Jr. this offseason. However, both running backs come with age and injury history. Meanwhile, the rookie has shined during minicamp. Unless the team signs Dalvin Cook, Achane will significantly outperform his ADP.

Pierre Strong Jr. (RB – NE): ADP 201.3 | RB62

Rhamondre Stevenson is an emerging superstar. However, the team lost Damien Harris in free agency and replaced him with James Robinson. Unfortunately, Robinson got waived a few weeks ago, creating a hole in the depth chart. Meanwhile, Strong was a fourth-round pick in 2022. Despite having a limited role as a rookie, the former South Dakota State star averaged 10 yards per rushing attempt and 2.7 yards after contact per attempt. He should carve out a role on offense and become one of the top handcuffs with league-winning value if Stevenson misses significant time. Strong will be New England’s No. 2 running back this season unless the team signs Dalvin Cook.

Israel Abanikanda (RB – NYJ): ADP 213.3 | RB67

While he was a popular dynasty sleeper candidate before the NFL Draft, Abanikanda’s fantasy value took a hit when he was a fifth-round selection. He had 15.8% of his rushing attempts go for 10 or more yards last season. Unfortunately, the rookie’s long-term dynasty value lacks upside because of Breece Hall. However, Abanikanda could have early season value while Hall is recovering from a torn ACL. The Jets have flirted with Dalvin Cook over the past few weeks. If the veteran signs with another team, Abanikanda should be the favorite to be the No. 2 running back in New York. Therefore, he is an excellent last-round selection, especially for those using a Zero-RB draft strategy.

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Mike Fanelli is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Mike, check out his archive and follow him @Mike_NFL2.

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