Ryan Fitzpatrick did well after taking over for Trent Edwards in week 3 last season. He enters 2011 in a contract year coming off a career high 255 completions for 3,000 yards and 23 touchdowns. Edwards will have to produce or will be shown the door. Trading away Lee Evans doesn't help and someone needs to step up to take the position opposite Steve Johnson. After bursting on the scene via the waiver wire early last season Johnson went from 2 catches for 10 yards in 2009 to 82 catches for 1,073 yards and 10 touchdowns last season. He will be the go to guy again this year with high targets and is a top 20 fantasy receiver. The position battle for number 2 is between David Nelson and Donald Jones and both have started in a three receiver set during weeks 1 and 2 of the preseason. Nelson (31-353-3) and Jones (18-213-1) played quite a bit last season so whoever wins the battle could have some value. Second year back C.J. Spiller is in a battle with Fred Jackson for the starters roll. Spiller didn't impress in his rookie season but does have more upside and if he is named starter should move up the rankings. Jackson has been steady the last two years rushing for 1,062 in 2009 and 927 a year ago and regardless of who starts both backs have fantasy value. Tight end is up in the air at this time with Scott Chandler, Shawn Nelson and veteran David Martin in the mix. It is best to stay away from Bills tight ends on draft day.
This is a make or break year for Chad Henne with the Dolphins and he has shown glimpses of being a quality starter at times but other times has been downright awful. His career average quarterback rating is 75.3 and that's just not going to get it down in the NFL. Henne, entering his 3rd year as starter, does have Brandon Marshall to throw the ball too. Marshall topped the 1,000 yard mark for the 5th straight year and will improve upon his 3 touchdowns from a year ago now that he is familiar with the offense. He is easily a top 20 receiver. Brian Hartline starts opposite Marshall and should improve his numbers in his third season. Davone Bess plays mostly in the slot but actually has more value then Hartline because of his route running skills. Bess had career highs in 2010 and had a high target count of 122 which was 49 more targets then Hartline although Hartline did miss the last 4 games to injury. Only the Bengals has a lower yards per carry then Miami's 3.7 so gone are Ricky Williams and Ronnie Brown replaced by Reggie Bush and rookie Daniel Thomas. The injury prone Bush was acquired in a trade and he brings speed and pass catching ability to the team but don't look for him to get more then 10-12 carries per game with an occasionally hit for a touchdown. Thomas should see the bulk of the carries and be a fairly productive number 2 back. If Thomas should slip look for Lex Hilliard to get more involved. Anthony Fasano reached career highs in receptions (39) and yards (528) last season and is a solid number 2 tight end in leagues that require 2.
New England Patriots
Tom Brady continues to be one of the top 5 Fantasy quarterbacks year after year and it will be no different in 2011. Last year proved to be Brady's second best season only topped in 2007's record breaking year. He threw for 3,900 yards, 36 touchdowns and a career low 4 Interceptions with a quarter back rating of 111.0. Brian Hoyer is a good handcuff for Brady owners but the team did draft Ryan Mallett although it doesn't look as if Hoyer's spot is in jeopardy. BenJarvus Green-Ellis was on the bubble last preseason supposedly behind Fred Taylor, Sammy Morris and Kevin Faulk. The way it played out was much different as Green-Ellis led the Pats in rushing (1,008) and rushing touchdowns (13) and in most leagues a steal off the waiver wire. He heads into this season as the number 1 back and should produce double digit touchdowns again. Last season Jets castoff Danny Woodhead was signed to replace an injured Kevin Faulk and despite his size (5'8" 195) Woodhead put up some surprise totals of 547 yards rushing, 5 touchdowns and 34 catches for 379 yards and a score. He looks like he will play the same role again this year making Faulk dispensable. To make things a little more interesting though the Pats drafted some youth at the position with rookie Shane Vereen and Stevan Ridley. Vareen has yet to see the field in two preseason games but Ridley has been quite a surprise so far rushing for 148 yards and 2 touchdowns and another 74 receiving with a score in two preseason games. Wes Welker's catches and yards dipped in 2010 but he did put up 7 touchdowns and will likely improve now that he is a full 18 months recovered from his knee injury. After coming over in a mid-season trade with Seattle last season, Deion Branch added a spark to the team with his return. Branch (32) actually neared career highs in 2010 but he is considered a low end number 4 receiver at best especially with the trade to acquire Chad Ochocinco from Cincinnati. Ochocinco has never had this quality of a passer throwing to him and he looks rejuvenated so far in the preseason. At 33 it's hard to say what he has left in the tank but he is a definite number 2 receiver in this offense. Brandon Tate and Taylor Price would only be valuable due to injury. It's hard to recommend two starting fantasy tight ends from the same team but the way the Patriots utilized both Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez a year ago it's hard to argue. Gronkowski caught 42 balls for 546 and 10 touchdowns and Hernandez caught 45 for 563 and 6. Both are considered fantasy starters.
New York Jets
Entering his third season Mark Sanchez still has some work to do to take the next step in becoming a fantasy starter. His completion percentage for one needs to improve. It will interesting to see if offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer's tutoring helps Sanchez to blossom and improve on his 17 touchdowns from a year ago. A lot of us expected big things from Shonn Greene last season and they just never materialized. He rushed for 766 yards and a mere 2 touchdowns and made fools of those who drafted him high and stuck with him for the first half of the year waiting for a breakout. He looks to be the starter heading into 2011 but the presence of LaDainian Tomlinson still looms so high risk reward remain. Tomlinson surprised those who thought he was finished, leading the Jets in rushing with 914 yards and 6 touchdowns. What separated Tomlinson from Greene was in the pass catching department and the all important blitz pickup in passing situations. If Greene doesn't improve in these two areas he is likely to play second fiddle again this season. Joe McKnight is also looking for some carries and he proved he can carry the load when he carried the rock 32 times for 158 yards in the final game last season. The team resigned Santonio Holmes and he will be better with a year in the system and with no suspension looming. Holmes is a solid number 2 fantasy receiver. It's hard to gage just how good Plaxico Burress will be at 34 years old and without playing for 2 years. He has some risk reward as a number 3 or 4 receiver. Despite his age, (37) Derrick Mason just seems to keep producing. His numbers were down a year ago and it's hard to see him as more then a late round flyer in deep leagues for use on a bye week. Rookies Jeremy Kerley and Scotty McKnight may be needed if injuries take out the ageing receiver corp. Dustin Keller reached career highs in 2010 and has shown to be one of Sanchez's favorites, receiving 101 targets and catching 55 for 687 and 5 touchdowns.