Top Five NFL Fantasy Options: AFC East


January 19, 2014; Denver, CO, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) against the Denver Broncos in the 2013 AFC Championship football game at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The AFC East really is an unusual quagmire in the NFL fantasy realm.  Digging through the mud, who comes out as the top options available?

#5 – New England Patriots defense

Bill Belichick always gets his New England Patriots defense to at least play efficiently enough, but 2014 might mark the first time he has an actual proven group.  Most of that will be due to their brand new cornerback tandem of Brandon Browner and Darrelle Revis.  Those two Pro Bowler along with a now healthy Jerod Mayo and Vince Wilfork and Chandler Jones on the pass rush the Patriots could be in line to produce some gems on the NFL fantasy circuit.

#4 – New York Jets defense

There is no way the New York Jets would’ve gone 8-8 in 2013 if not for their defense.  Leading the way was their outstanding front seven headlined by Muhammad Wilkerson and rookie Sheldon Richardson.  Rex Ryan and John Idzik made sure to get them some help with safety Calvin Pryor in the draft while also beefing up what was an uneven offense with more weapons.  If they can play with a few more leads this season, they have a chance to get even better.

#3 – Ryan Tannehill

This might surprise some NFL fantasy owners but Ryan Tannehill was actually quite effective last season with 3,913 yards and 24 touchdowns.  Unfortunately he was also under relentless assault by defenses, which cause him to throw 17 interceptions and lose five of nine fumbles.  So the Miami Dolphins looked to shore up the offensive line in the off-season and this they have done, adding veteran Branden Albert at left tackle and rookie 1st round pick Ja’Wuan James on the right.  If the protection improves as expected, Tannehill could be in store for a breakout.

#2 – C.J. Spiller

Fred Jackson was the fantasy king for the Buffalo Bills last season but that throne may end up going to his backfield mate C.J. Spiller this year.  Jackson is 33-years old.  Spiller is in his prime and ready to tote the bulk of the carries for his team.  He actually gained more rushing yards than Jackson but will require more action as a pass catcher and in short yardage, both of which he’s capable.

#1 – Tom Brady

Really the only proven NFL fantasy commodity in the AFC East is Tom Brady.  The Patriots future Hall of Fame quarterback had a down year by his standard in 2013.  Still, with the defense improving he should have more opportunities to touch the football, which means more points.  He will need help from his young receiver and will especially need Rob Gronkowski to stay healthy.  Then again, Brady always seems to find a way regardless.