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Top Offensive Players to Watch in AFC East

Steve Shoup

Whether you are planning to play fantasy football this season, or are just a general NFL fan, it’s exciting to check out the top talent heading into a new season.  Pre-season games have begun, and we are getting to see a lot of action from rookies and new players that are looking to make the final cut or lock into starting positions for the season. During pre-season what we see less of are the “big name” players who are being rested up in preparation of the year ahead. In order to scope out the prospects on those players, it’s better to look at last season and to read training camp reports.

 

This article will take a look at some of the offensive players in the AFC East who are poised to have a big season. You may not see them on the field much during pre-season, but expect to hear their names quite a bit once regular season commences.

 

  1. Josh Allen: At 6’ 6” and 238 pounds, Allen is a big quarterback with a cannon for an arm. Comparisons have already been made between Allen and “Big Ben” Roethlisberger, and Wyoming University assistant coach Mike Bath commented, “Ben would probably punch me if he heard me say this, but Josh is probably more athletic than Ben.”

 

Allen’s rookie season with the Buffalo Bills was a bit rocky, but he showed a lot of promise and athleticism, and many are speculating that after having an offseason to refine his arm and improve his accuracy, 2019 could be a big year for Allen.

 

  1. Le’Veon Bell: Anyone who watches football knows the Le’Veon Bell drama that unfolded last season when Bell refused to sign the franchise tag placed on him by Pittsburg. After missing the entirety of the 2018 season Bell signed to the New York Jets, and will be making his start with them in 2019.

 

Anyone who has watched Bell play knows that he’s an elite running back, but after a season off and with a whole new team to play with, there is a lot of speculation about whether or not Bell will have the same performance seen in the past. Even Bell seems to be aware that for fantasy owners this is a major concern and he issued an apology via Twitter in July stating, “this year’s going to be wayyyy different”. Hopefully that’s true, but even in fantasy football there’s no such thing as a safe bet, and if you’ve got money on the line it’s important to always gamble safely.

 

  1. Julian Edelman: The title of Edelman’s memoir is “Relentless”, and that is the best way to summarize the Patriot’s wide receiver and punt returner, who enters his tenth season with New England this year. Edelman is second only to Jerry Rice in postseason receptions and yards, and for the past decade he has been Brady’s most reliable go-to guy. At 5’ 10”, Edelman may not be as tall as most wide receivers, but his speed and dogged athleticism has helped him earn three Super Bowl rings, and he shows no signs of slowing down.

 

  1. Chris Herndon: Herndon made his rookie debut in the 2018 season and showed some real promise at the tight end position. Unfortunately, Herndon is suspended for the first four games of the season due to an incident that violated the NFL’s policy on substances of abuse. This makes him a touch pick for fantasy, but certainly a player to be on the watch for after his suspension ends.

 

Herndon started off slow in New York, but towards the end of the season a string of receptions and touchdowns ensured that he saw a lot more targets, making him such a threat that shutting him down became a major focus for the Patriots during the last game of the season. But it isn’t just that Herndon shows talent as a receiver; he is also an aggressive blocker, which is critical for freeing up the run game and creating offensive opportunities.

 

With Rob Gronkowski retired, Herndon looks to be one of the most promising tight ends to watch in the AFC East this season.

 

  1. Marcus Cannon: Most articles looking at the offense only focus on the “skills” positions; quarterback, running back, and wide receiver. But the offensive line is absolutely critical to the success of any team, especially when it comes to protecting the quarterback, and Cannon is going on his eighth year of keeping Tom Brady safe in the pocket.

 

Cannon is not a flashy player, but he is dependable and hardworking, and with a recent contract restructure, it’s clear that the Patriots still plan to lean on him in the 2019 season. The usually tight lipped Belechick has offered high praise for Cannon, stating, “He works hard. A quiet kid, but he’s very dependable, team oriented. He’s done a good job for us in the running game and the passing game. He’s been a good player.”

 

We can expect another solid year out of the Patriot’s O-Line, and Cannon will continue to be an important part of that effort.

 

It’s impossible to predict the outcome of a football season with perfect accuracy, but barring any major setbacks, it’s a solid bet that each of the players mentioned in this article will bring their top game to the field in 2019. Of course, there will be many other players in the AFC East that are poised to have a good year, and perhaps most interesting will be those rookies and sleepers that we can only make very rough predictions about. In the end, it should be another interesting year for football, both in terms of watching the top-name talent turn out another competitive season, and in terms of the new additions that each of the four teams in the AFC East have made during the off-season.

 

 



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