New England Patriots
Stud: Brandin Cooks, wide receiver
The Patriots haven’t had a vertical threat to keep safeties’ backpedaling since Randy Moss moved on, but with the offseason acquisition of Brandin Cooks, defenses will have to cover the entire 53 and 1/3 by 100-yard field. Cooks has lightning speed, ballerina feet and can stop on two nickels. He is basically Julian Edelman with a NOS tank. With Rob Gronkowski back to occupy the middle of the field, Cooks will have all the one-on-one matchups he can ask for to streak toward the end zone. Look to pick him up in the 5-6 round range.
Dud: Stephen Gostkowski, kicker
Once thought to be the perfect replacement for Adam Vinatieri, Stephen Gostkowski is now quickly losing value. Kickers should be taken in the last round of the draft, but I wouldn’t pick him up unless your league is greater than 10 teams. He missed five field goals and another five PAT’s last year, which may not seem like a lot until you lose by mere hundredths of a point because of a wide left 38-yarder. He’s struggling to kick straight right now, and if you pick him, I’d be inclined to think your thinking is just as shaky.
Stud: Tyrod Taylor, quarterback
Tyrod Taylor, the dual-threat quarterback from Virginia Tech, has quietly strung together back-to-back impressive seasons. Taylor finished last season as the ninth rated fantasy quarterback and looks to be even better this year with the addition of rookie receiver Zay Jones, who holds the NCAA record for receptions in a season. Factor in his knack for breaking containment and getting downfield with his legs, Taylor could have a season in which he has over 4,000 yards from scrimmage. If you can get him in the fifth or sixth round it will be a steal.
Dud: Logan Thomas, tight end
Logan Thomas, another former Virginia Tech quarterback, has switched from trying to look off linebackers with his eyes to now having to beat them with his feet, converting to tight end. Although his 6-foot-6 frame may look appealing, I would pump the breaks before taking a shot on him. It will take a while for him to get acclimated to his new position and time is a scarcity in fantasy. Don’t overthink this.
New York Jets
Stud: Matt Forte, running back
The Jets are not going to be an enjoyable offensive team to watch this year, but they still have Matt Forte, who, even as a veteran, provides a steady presence to an offense. Forte is known for his ability to be a receiver out of the backfield and could be the target of a plethora of check-down throws from Josh McCown this year. Although no rapper will proclaim him the best running back in the league, as Tyga did in his remix of “The motto,” he can still give value as a flex option this year.
Dud: Robbie Anderson, wide receiver
I was splitting hairs with this decision, mainly because this offense is going to be putrid. There are duds all over the place. It’s almost unfair to pick only one. Anderson will have the unique challenge of getting open before the flimsy levee that is the offensive line lets in a flood of pass rushers, while also contorting his body to catch errant passes from quarterback Josh McCown. Stay away from Jets receivers this year.
Stud: Jarvis Landry, wide receiver
Although Landry is less flashy on and off the field, there are some similarities between him and his former LSU teammate Odell Beckham Jr. Landry is a high-receptions target out of the slot with big-play potential, and with newly signed quarterback Jay Cutler rocketing passes downfield, Landry could quickly see himself In the same rarified air as Odell.
Dud: Kenny Stills, wide receiver
With breakout running back Jay Ajayi, speedy tight end Julius Thomas and the aforementioned Landry, the Dolphins appear to have a full suite of weapons. One of the unintended consequences is that some of the other receiver won’t get as many targets. Stills will struggle to make an impact as a result, and his fantasy production won’t justify a draft pick.