2019 Fantasy Football: The Deep State exposes AFC East studs and duds

In an eight-part series, The Deep State discloses the 2019 fantasy football studs and duds from each NFL division. This week, we've got the AFC East in the cross hairs.

In our next series, the Deep State will look to examine the studs and duds of each NFL division to help you better prepare for your 2019 fantasy football season. At times, finding those players that will stand out and those that are destined to bust can be cut and dry. Other times it can be very difficult and not turn out as expected.

In this series, we’ll break down each team from the division and give you the Deep State’s studs and duds for the upcoming 2019 fantasy football season. First up in this installment is the AFC East.

New England Patriots

Stud: James White, running back

After averaging 52 receptions from 2015-2017, White exploded last season with 87 receptions for 751 yards and 7 touchdowns. He added another 425 yards and 5 touchdowns on the ground. Don’t expect the same number of rushing yards with the New England Patriots’ large stable of backs, but he could come close to matching the reception total.

The Patriots’ offense will look a lot different this year with the retirement of tight end Rob Gronkowski and the addition of receivers Demaryius Thomas and rookie N’Keal Harry. Tom Brady will likely look for a familiar dependable face in an offense that features short, efficient passes. White makes an excellent fantasy RB2 candidate, especially in PPR leagues.

Dud: Sony Michel, running back

Michel had an impressive rookie year on the ground, rushing for 931 yards in just eight starts. As a result, Michel is going off boards in the early rounds of 2019 fantasy football drafts, but there is reason for concern. It’s not talent that is cause for concern but volume.

Michel is just one cog in a multi-part Patriots’ backfield that also includes James White, Rex Burkhead, and third-round rookie Damien Harris. In addition, Michel is a non-factor in the passing game (just 7 receptions last season) and may not repeat 200-plus carries in 2019. He is a talented back, but there’s a strong buyer beware caveat for the 2019 fantasy football season.

Miami Dolphins

Stud: Kenyan Drake, running back

Perhaps no player in the league was under-utilized more in 2018 than Kenyan Drake. To justify that, you have to go back to the end of the 2017 season. Drake became the starter late in the season after Jay Ajayi was traded and Damian Williams was injured. In the final five games of the season, Drake ran for 444 yards and caught 17 passes. He looked like a legit starter and dangerous dual-threat back heading into 2018. Then-head coach Adam Gase had different plans, however.

Drake split time with Frank Gore, starting just seven games and logging 120 carries on the season. Though he saw a career high in receptions with 53, he was gravely underutilized as a runner. The 2019 Miami Dolphins have a defensive-minded head coach and an uncertain quarterback position. Drake now heads up a backfield that includes second-year back Kalen Ballage, but it looks like Drake is poised to pick up where he left off in 2017 and have a breakout 2019 fantasy football season. His potential is, arguably, the highest among the AFC East running backs.

Dud: DeVante Parker, wide receiver

Each spring DeVante Parker entices fantasy owners with impressive practice play that evaporates once the regular season arrives. News flash: It’s happening again. Parker looked good in spring practices, cajoling some to include him in the 2019 fantasy football sleeper category. Don’t fall for it. Given what the Dolphins have on their roster, expect a conservative, ball-control offense in 2019. Parker might make a splash play here and there, but he’s not worth drafting.

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