Teams in predicted order of finish.

1. NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS: Who will Brady throw to? Does it matter?

  • How they did in 2012: 12-4 (6-0 vs. East); in playoffs, beat Texans 41-28 in Divisional round, lost to Ravens 28-13 in AFC Championship.
  • 2012 top performer: QB Tom Brady (Pro Bowl, 4,827 yards passing, 34 TDs, 8 INTs)
  • Key losses: WR Wes Welker, TE Aaron Hernandez
  • Key additions: WR Danny Amendola, DT Tommy Kelly
  • Why we picked them here: It’s popular to ask who will be catching Brady’s passes this year, with Welker (Broncos), Hernandez (jail), Brandon Lloyd (out of football) all gone and the return of former Arizona Wildcat Rob Gronkowski (back and arm surgery) uncertain. But Brady will complete passes, and some or all of these names will be better known at this time next year: Amendola, Kenbrell Thompkins, Aaron Dobson, Zach Sudfeld. In this division there is still very little competition for the title. 

2. MIAMI DOLPHINS: Tough early schedule could put team in a hole

  • How they did in 2012: 7-9 (2-4 vs. East); missed playoffs.
  • 2012 top performer: DE Cameron Wake (15 sacks, three forced fumbles)
  • Key losses: RB Reggie Bush, OT Jake Long
  • Key additions: WR Mike Wallace, DE/LB Dion Jordan
  • Why we picked them here: This is the very little competition New England is facing. Miami seems to be on the rise. Ryan Tannehill appears to be the right QB to move the Dolphins to the next level. The team brought in a major addition for Tannehill, Wallace. A tough schedule in the first five weeks (at Browns, at Colts, vs. Falcons, at Saints, vs. Ravens) could kill the team’s morale.

3. BUFFALO BILLS: Another long year in store despite Spiller

  • How they did in 2012: 6-10 (2-4 vs. East); missed playoffs.
  • 2012 top performer: RB C.J. Spiller (1,244 rushing yards, 459 receiving yards, 8 total TDs)
  • Key losses: QB Kevin Kolb (head injury), QB Ryan Fitzpatrick
  • Key additions: QB E.J. Manuel, WR Robert Woods
  • Why we picked them here: The Bills are quickly becoming sad-sack perennial losers (think Lions of old, Browns of old ... and present). Adding Kolb sounded like a good move. Drafting Manuel in the first round gave fans reason for optimism. Now both are hurt, and the Week 1 starter Sunday could be undrafted rookie Jeff Tuel, who played a year at Salpointe Catholic High. RB C.J. Spiller will put up amazing numbers if he can keep up his per-touch average when given a heavier load.

4. NEW YORK JETS: QB, RB positions a mess for sinking team

  • How they did in 2012: 6-10 (2-4 vs. East); missed playoffs.
  • 2012 top performer: RB Shonn Greene (1,063 yards, 8 TDs)
  • Key losses: RB Shonn Greene, TE Dustin Keller
  • Key additions: RB Chris Ivory, CB Dee Milliner
  • Why we picked them here: Someone has to be the worst team in football, right? The QB situation is a mess: dinged-up veteran Matt Sanchez or rookie Geno Smith. The RB situation is a mess: injury-prone Ivory or (fill in the blank) at RB. Ninth overall draft pick CB Dee Milliner boosts the defensive backfield. Maybe 2014 top draft pick Jadeveon Clowney will join Milliner on New York’s defense next year.

FANTASY FRIENDLY AFC EAST SLEEPER: WR, Tom Brady’s favorite target, Patriots

  • Why we like them: We don’t know who it is yet, but injury-prone Amendola has already suffered his first injury of 2013. Rookies Kenbrell Thompkins, Aaron Dobson and Josh Boyce are contenders. Based on the preseason, the guess here is Thompkins. Any of them, as well as rookie TE Zach Sudfeld are probably available in your league.