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Young guns taking over AFC

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Are the Dolphins throwing Tannehill into the fire?
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Joel Beall

Joel Beall is a writer for FOXSports.com and WhatIfSports.com. He lives with a Golden Tee machine and a jump shot that’s currently broken. Reach Joel on Twitter @FOXSportsBeall.

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Three prevailing themes poured through my mailbox from readers after last week’s piece on predictions for the 2012 fantasy football season:

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The FOX Sports Girls are playing Fantasy Football in 2012! Follow the league all year long to see which region comes out on top.

1. You’re an idiot.

2. You’re buying Carson Palmer and Michael Vick? You’ve watched the preseason, right? You’re an idiot.

3. Wow, you’re passing on Maurice Jones-Drew because of his holdout? He led the league in rushing last year! You’re an idiot.

I mostly concur with your claims of asininity; after all, I once thought it was a good idea to take a puritanical lady friend on a date to The Hangover (shockingly, a second get-together never came to pass). However, it appears MJD’s sabbatical has taken a turn for the worse, as the All-Pro rusher has requested a trade following the comments of owner Shahid Khan, who remarked Jones-Drew’s absence “was not a great concern.” With each side resolute in avoiding concession to the other’s demands, this August AWOL has no end in sight.

Ultimately, I believe Jones-Drew dresses for the Jags this season, yet as evidenced with Chris Johnson in 2011, these players can’t return at this juncture of the preseason and easily resume their role in the team’s offensive scheme. For upcoming drafts, I’m avoiding Jones-Drew like Ryan Gosling evades dialogue in Drive. (Don’t get me wrong, I love the movie, but dude says all of eight words in the entire film.) If he falls into the fourth or fifth rounds, he’s worth a gander, but stay away from MJD in the early going.

In other news around the conference…

(Click here for yesterday's NFC notes.)

AFC East

- I know those in the Boston area are infamously nihilistic, but think the pessimism regarding protection issues is cynical even for Chowderheads. As this illustrates, the offensive front should be just fine.

- This came out at the end of last week, but it bears repeating. If the Bills employ the no-huddle on a regular basis, give a slight boost to Steve Johnson, Fred Jackson and Scott Chandler, and suddenly C.J. Spiller becomes valuable in a Darren Sproles-like role.

- Hopefully I’m wrong on this notion, but really don’t believe Ryan Tannehill is ready to be the Week 1 starter. Not saying Matt Moore is the savior, but not a big proponent of baptism by fire. The Dolphins are probably going to finish last in the division anyway, might as well let Tannehill slowly assimilate into the professional ranks rather than feed him to the dogs.

- Santonio Holmes is dealing with a minor eye ailment, although it shouldn’t affect his status for the season opener. Granted, not the most exciting news, but at least it wasn’t related to Tim Tebow for once, right?

AFC North

- Could Jonathan Dwyer be the man in the Steel City with Rashard Mendenhall on the sidelines? Also, breathe easy Steeler fans and fantasy aficionados: Mike Wallace is set to return this weekend.

- Yeah, I posted a similar article on Torrey Smith last week, but since some of you have doubted my forecast that the second-year wideout hits paydirt this season, I need all the ammo I can get.

- Could Donald Lee be a bigger factor in the Bengals passing game with Jermaine Gresham dealing with injuries?

- Only in Cleveland would a player be removed from practice for trying too hard.

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AFC South

- Could the Colts cut Austin Collie? When healthy, the man is a PPR machine. We wish him a safe recovery.

- One of the few times you will see “Blaine Gabbert” and “Drew Brees” in the same sentence. In his defense, Gabbert has made solid strides this offseason, and should be leagues better than his putrid performance in 2011.

- Looking for a major sleeper at the receiver position? Here’s a name to remember: Lestar Jean.

- Perhaps it was a tad premature to name Jake Locker the starting quarterback, especially as the Washington product continues to struggle with accuracy. However, still think Locker’s mobility gives the Titans the best chance to win. Plus, the alternative would be Matt Hasselbeck, so, yeah.

AFC West

- Jacoby Ford’s injury is a bigger deal than imagined, especially with Denarius Moore still nursing a hamstring problem. Ok, maybe that Palmer prediction is looking a bit ominous at the moment.

- Ronnie Hillman is the name making the most waves out of Denver camp, but keep an eye on backup Lance Ball, as his prowess in the passing game could vault him up the depth chart.

- Vincent Brown underwent surgery, and though he expects to return this season, the situation definitely clouds the outlook for the San Diego WR corps, as Eddie Royal is on the sidelines as well and Robert Meachem has struggled early in camp.

- Dwayne Bowe is expected to suit up for Kansas City’s next preseason game. Not super jacked on his outlook this season, as his inconsistency makes for a hard endorsement, but there’s definitely value to be had if he continues to slip down the draft board.

Tagged: Browns, Colts, Chiefs, Patriots, Eagles, Ravens, Texans, Michael Vick, Donald Lee, Mike Wallace, Austin Collie, Rob Gronkowski, Blaine Gabbert, Jake Locker, Vincent Brown, Lestar Jean, Bills, Bears, Bengals, Broncos, Titans, Raiders, Dolphins, Saints, Jets, Jaguars, Steelers, Chargers, Drew Brees, Maurice Jones-Drew, Matt Moore, Tim Tebow, Lance Ball, Ryan Tannehill

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