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Fantasy Football Offseason Wish List: AFC

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NFL teams go into the offseason with all sorts of goals. Build a Super Bowl winner. Improve the defense. Clear some salary. Tear it down and start over. But as fantasy football managers, we want one thing out of the offseason:

Points.

 

With the Super Bowl now behind us, this week I’m taking a spin through the offseason trade, free agency and draft market to find the best mix of offseason moves for fantasy football purposes. Obviously, they won’t all happen (in fact most of them won’t), but it does set us up for the things to watch for. For example, in last year’s iteration of this series, one of the top wishes was … the Jaguars trading for Calvin Ridley. This was prior to his announced suspension, so it didn’t work out exactly as wished, but it did end up happening, and the general idea remains the same: The NFL offseason is a jigsaw puzzle, and this attempts to put the puzzle together into a coherent picture.

That means we aren’t eying any defense moves, and the moves along offensive lines only matter as for how they help the offense. Today, the AFC. Tomorrow, the NFC.

2023 Fantasy Football Offseason Wish List: AFC East

Buffalo Bills

Sign JuJu Smith-Schuster

With Gabe Davis a mild disappointment in his first year as a featured receiver in the Buffalo offense, and the team cycling through Isaiah McKenzie, Khalil Shakir and even Cole Beasley as a slot weapon last year, it makes sense to add a competent No. 2 receiving option here. We know JuJu Smith-Schuster’s best days came as a second option to a superstar No. 1 receiver, and he’d have that in Buffalo.

Sign Raheem Mostert

Devin Singletary is a free agent. James Cook could be a strong back in Year 2, and Nyheim Hines should still be around as a receiving back. But Mostert would be a flashy addition as a back that the team doesn’t have to rely on to get 18-20 carries a game, with a speed element that could further unlock this offense.

Miami Dolphins

Sign Josh Jacobs

This would create a dream offense. It doesn’t really seem like Josh Jacobs will leave the Raiders, but he is a free agent, so the Dolphins wouldn’t be doing their work if they didn’t try to add Jacobs as a weapon alongside the ridiculous receiving duo in Miami and create the work-destroying offense.

Draft IOL Cooper Beebe (2.51)

The Dolphins were stripped of their first-round pick, so their first pick comes in the middle of the second round. That’s a good spot for the Kansas State product Cooper Beebe, who played at left guard last year but has also played plenty of tackle. That’s a good start for building up this line.

New England Patriots

Three-team trade: Patriots get Chris Godwin and 3.82; Bears get 1.14 and 1.19; Buccaneers get 1.04

Chris Godwin NFL Fantasy Football Offseason Wish List AFC

(Obviously, more on this trade, including why the Bears are sending 1.04 and not 1.01, later.) The Patriots have Jakobi Meyers and Nelson Agholor hitting free agency this offseason, and while it wouldn’t be a shock to see Meyers return, maybe the team should look to get a star receiver instead, and that would mean Godwin, who could be the team’s No. 1 receiver for the next half-decade.

Draft WR Jalin Hyatt (3.76)

Godwin would be a solid No. 1, but even with him, the receiver depth chart would be Godwin, Kendrick Bourne, Tyquan Thornton and now-30-year-old DeVante Parker and could use another boost. Thornton could be a vertical weapon, but Jalin Hyatt could be even more of one.

New York Jets

Trade 1.13, 2.43 and 2024 second-rounder to Green Bay for Aaron Rodgers

Give the 2022 version of this Jets team even a competent quarterback, and it was comfortably a playoff team. Even if Rodgers isn’t his MVP self anymore, he’s at least competent. I know I’m not breaking any ground here, but it’s still the dream.

Re-sign Connor McGovern

This offensive line needs plenty of help, but it starts with re-signing Connor McGovern, who was the best lineman the team had for the full season last year. Retaining McGovern and getting Alijah Vera-Tucker healthy would be a big start.

 

2023 Fantasy Football Offseason Wish List: AFC North

Baltimore Ravens

Keep Lamar Jackson

I don’t know how it happens — long-term contract, franchise tag, genie wish — but this Ravens team with Lamar Jackson is a playoff contender, and this Ravens team without Lamar Jackson is … uh, not.

Draft WR Zay Flowers (1.22)

1.22 might be a bit further than Zay Flowers falls in this year’s draft, but it’s not out of the realm of possibility, and a trio of Flowers, Rashod Bateman and Mark Andrews would comfortably be the best pass-catching group Jackson’s ever had.

Cincinnati Bengals

Draft RB Jahmyr Gibbs (2.60); sign Damien Harris 

Samaje Perine is a free agent, and while Joe Mixon is under contract, he has some extenuating circumstances, and even without that, his efficiency numbers have been dropping for a while now. The Bengals would be well-served to start from scratch, and starting with the high-upside rookie Gibbs and complementing him with Harris would be a good start-over.

Cleveland Browns

Trade 3.99 to Houston for Brandin Cooks

Brandin Cooks NFL Fantasy Football Offseason Wish List AFC

Amari Cooper was a success in his first season in Cleveland, and Donovan Peoples-Jones is a perfectly fine No. 3 receiver. There’s a gap between those, though, and Cooks — who certainly seems to want out of Houston — could team back up with Deshaun Watson in Cleveland to form a strong receiving group.

Sign Samaje Perine

As fantasy managers, we want Nick Chubb to be the lead back in Cleveland, so getting someone like Perine, who could be a pass-catching alternative and could start in a pinch but wouldn’t really steal work from Chubb, would be perfect.

Pittsburgh Steelers

Draft OT Anton Harrison (1.17)

The Steelers don’t have really have a superstar anywhere in this offense, but they are at least pretty set everywhere at the skill positions, so let’s help out the offensive line. The line was better than expected in 2022, but it’s still not where it needs to be, and Anton Harrison out of Oklahoma would be a huge (in more ways than one) addition.

2023 Fantasy Football Offseason Wish List: AFC South

Houston Texans

Draft QB Bryce Young (1.02)

The Texans are obviously taking a quarterback with the second overall pick, and while I don’t think Young will be the first quarterback taken, he’s my pick for the best one in the draft, and this could set the Texans up for a generation.

Trade Brandin Cooks to Cleveland for 3.99

Cooks is ready to move on from Houston, and Houston can use more draft capital. The team is basically starting over top-to-bottom, so picking out specific players (quarterback aside) is less important than accumulating resources.

Indianapolis Colts

Trade 1.04, 3.79 and 2024 first-rounder to Chicago for 1.01; select QB C.J. Stroud

It’s time for the Colts to get a quarterback for more than one year, and that means trading up to first overall for their pick. I’d probably go Young here, but the Colts’ brass is a traits group, and Young is probably too small for them. Go Stroud and make it work.

Jacksonville Jaguars

Re-sign Evan Engram

Evan Engram NFL Fantasy Football Offseason Wish List AFC

It’s so weird to say, but the Jaguars offense is … fairly complete, especially if Calvin Ridley returns strong. Maybe a No. 2 back, certainly some offensive line, but there’s no glaring weakness on this offense. That is, assuming Evan Engram re-ups. That seems likely, but unless/until he’s locked into being the Jags’ TE1 in 2023, that’s the key top wish.

Tennessee Titans

Stick with Ryan Tannehill at QB

This is boring! I admit that! But the Titans are in a weird messy situation right now where the easiest place to upgrade this offseason is at running back, and that is comfortably the area where they are most set. They could use receiver help, but the free agent market is barren and the draft class is middling. There’s a Musical Chairs situation at quarterback where they could easily be left without a chair. But while some teams are in “We have to find a quarterback no matter what” mode, the Titans can still roll it back with Ryan Tannehill for one more year. Tannehill is good enough for our purposes, and better they stick with the known quantity than venture out into the wilds, be left hanging, and have to go with more Malik Willis/Joshua Dobbs in 2023.

Draft OT Paris Johnson (1.11)

After years of having one of the league’s best offensive lines, the Titans had maybe the worst in 2022. One player might not fix it, but it (and getting some pieces back healthy) will certainly help. Ohio State product Paris Johnson should be the first lineman off the board this year, and with so many teams tripping over themselves for a quarterback or defensive help, the Titans could nab a future star.

 

2023 Fantasy Football Offseason Wish List: AFC West

Denver Broncos

Sign Ethan Pocic

The Broncos were a mess for most of 2022, but the offensive pieces are already fairly in place for 2023, other than the No. 2 running back. Even the offensive line was mostly “eh, fine,” with little in the way of obvious point of improvement … except center, where Graham Glasgow and Lloyd Cushenberry were both middling. Ethan Pocic was PFF’s No. 3-graded center last year and is now a free agent at 27. Get him to block for Russell Wilson.

Kansas City Chiefs

Draft WR Kayshon Boutte (1.31); Sign Darius Slayton

Darius Slayton NFL Fantasy Football Offseason Wish List AFC

JuJu Smith-Schuster didn’t really show out as the Chiefs’ new No. 1 receiver, and he and Mecole Hardman are both entering free agency. That leaves, in some order, Skyy Moore, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Kadarius Toney and Justin Watson. So let’s have them use their first-round pick on Kayshon Boutte, who could be a No. 1 receiver at the NFL level, and grab Giants free agent Darius Slayton, who is better suited as a team’s mid-level weapon instead of a featured piece. That would suddenly be a formidable receiving corps.

Las Vegas Raiders

Sign Jacoby Brissett; draft QB Anthony Richardson (1.07)

As mentioned in the Titans section, there’s a real Musical Chairs situation in this year’s QB field, with more buyers than there are available options. So instead of the Raiders mortgaging their future, better to have them just try to make the most of the weapons they have, and that means grabbing Jacoby Brissett as a stopgap starter to try to help keep Davante Adams, Darren Waller and Hunter Renfrow relevant, and then draft (probably too high) Anthony Richardson to groom him for the future in case the team finds itself outside looking in against next year.

Sign Miles Sanders

With Josh Jacobs heading to Miami in our exercise, the Raiders would have a gaping hole at running back, and Miles Sanders could head west from Philadelphia to have a job all to himself instead of splitting work with several backfieldmates and an elite running QB.

Los Angeles Chargers

Draft WR Quentin Johnston (1.21) 

The Chargers would need a small fall for Quentin Johnston (maybe if other teams are jumping up for a quarterback) or to trade up, but he should be their absolute dream this offseason. Justin Herbert desperately needs a receiver upgrade (no matter whether Keenan Allen sticks around or not) and someone who can be a vertical weapon, and Johnston offers that in spades. Trade up if you must, Chargers.

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