Fantasy players to watch in training camp, 2018: AFC East
(As training camps draw near, Dan Schneier will spend the next few weeks highlighting some key players to monitor in each division. Whether it’s a rookie, a sleeper, a veteran, or something else, the series will identify the most important names fantasy owners need to keep an eye on in training camp for 2018. Track the whole series here.)
Matchups within the AFC East were a hotspot for fantasy football production in the first half of the 2017 season, but it was generally the opposing teams putting fantasy points up on the board. The Buffalo Bills and New York Jets made strides on defense in the second half of the season, but this was still a fruitful division to attack in DFS and season-long leagues. On the flip side, the passing attacks in the AFC East, with the exception of Tom Brady’s New England Patriots, were all but nonexistent. Training camp will help us decide if that will change at all in 2018.
Over the next four weeks, we will preview every division and pinpoint four to five players to track during training camp and the preseason. From now until the start of the season, the only real information we’ll need to gather is about a player’s role and chemistry within his offense. The goal is to provide you with players to add to your targets list now for season-long leagues, but also with players to target or avoid in best-ball drafts that are currently underway on DRAFT and MFL.
Pryor is arguably the most intriguing player in the entire AFC East from a fantasy standpoint heading into 2018. According to Pryor, his 2017 season was derailed by an ankle injury he suffered in Week 1 that never fully recovered. In 2016, Pryor racked up 1,007 receiving yards and 77 receptions as the only option on a Browns offense without a competent option at quarterback. If Pryor is as healthy as he says, the upside is that he can evolve into the No. 1 option on a team where his competition is another player coming off a major injury and another player with off-field baggage. Pryor’s upside only grows if he gets the opportunity to work with a talented rookie quarterback like Sam Darnold who could soon lock onto his favorite target.
The narrative: Pryor’s down 2017 season was a result of injury
While Pryor has painted the picture of an injury-plagued 2017 season — and it’s not like he was making it up, as he landed on injured reserve — there may have also been other factors in play. During the season, there was concern that Pryor was struggling to pick up Jay Gruden’s somewhat complicated offensive scheme, but the year in that scheme should help him transition to the new Jets offense run by Shanahan disciple Jeremy Bates who uses some of the similar offensive concepts. If Pryor’s 2017 season was a result of bad injury luck, he should rise to the top of the target totem pole fast in New York.