Simulation Station

Final stat projections for every AFC East skill player in 2023

How do the Patriots' skill players stack up in a loaded division?

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Will the AFC East be the best division in football this season?

There's plenty of hype around the division in 2023, especially the New York Jets, who added future Hall of Fame quarterback Aaron Rodgers and Pro Bowl running back Dalvin Cook to a young, talented roster. The Buffalo Bills and Miami Dolphins both were playoff teams last season, and there's optimism surrounding the New England Patriots with veteran offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien now calling the shots for Mac Jones.

So, what can we expect from the AFC East's four talented quarterbacks -- Rodgers, Josh Allen, Tua Tagovailoa and Mac Jones -- as well as a stacked collection of skill players that includes workhorse running back Rhamondre Stevenson and elite wide receivers Tyreek Hill and Stefon Diggs?

Our partners at Strat-O-Matic simulated the entire 2023 NFL season to forecast final stat lines for every notable skill player in the AFC East, with some pretty interesting results.

Read on for a position-by-position breakdown of those stat projections, and stay tuned for Part 2 on Thursday, in which Strat-O-Matic will predict final records for every team as well as a Super Bowl champion.

We told you this was a loaded QB division.

Strat-O-Matic has Rodgers, Allen and Tagovailoa all topping 4,000 passing yards in 2023 -- for context, only nine QBs were in the 4,000-yard club last season -- with Rodgers leading the pack. His projected 4,827 passing yards would mark a career high and would have ranked him second in the NFL last season behind only league MVP Patrick Mahomes.

Then there's Jones, who puts up a respectable 3,570 passing yards with a 63.6 percent completion rate (353 of 555) in Strat-O-Matic's simulation.

While that's certainly a step up from Jones' 2,997 passing yards and 14 touchdown passes under Matt Patricia last season, the Alabama product put up better numbers across the board as a rookie in 2021. As you'll see below, the Patriots rely heavily on their running game in this simulation, but a season like this would further the argument that Jones is more game manager than game-changer.

If you're concerned about newcomer Ezekiel Elliott eating into Stevenson's workload, allow this simulation to reassure you: He won't.

Strat-O-Matic has Stevenson amassing a career-high 256 carries -- the only player in the division with more than 200 rushing attempts -- en route to a career-high 1,203 rushing yards. Meanwhile, Elliott sees just 105 carries (6.2 per game) and finds the end zone just three times after racking up 12 rushing touchdowns with the Dallas Cowboys in 2022.

The Bills dominate the ground game in this simulation, with Allen, James Cook and ex-Patriot Damien Harris combining for a whopping 2,192 yards and 18 touchdowns. The Jets (Breece Hall and Dalvin Cook) and Dolphins (Raheem Mostert, Jeff Wilson and rookie Devon Achane) also spread the wealth more evenly in their rushing attacks, with none of those five players getting more than 10 attempts per game.

The AFC East is well-stocked with elite wide receivers -- and none of them reside in New England.

Strat-O-Matic has Dolphins wideouts Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle, Bills star Stefon Diggs and Jets receiver Garrett Wilson all racking up at least 1,100 receiving yards, while the Patriots' top target, JuJu Smith-Schuster, checks in with 887 yards and eight touchdowns on 79 catches.

That's actually a decent stat line that would have made Smith-Schuster the Patriots' leading receiver in 2020, 2021 and 2022. But it's further proof that New England doesn't have a bona fide No. 1 in its receiver room, as Kendrick Bourne finishes with a solid yet unspectacular 678 yards and two receiving touchdowns.

Of further concern for Patriots fans: Mike Gesicki tallies just 407 receiving yards on 40 catches, while fellow tight end Hunter Henry doesn't even crack the top 11 in the division.

If this is how the 2023 season plays out, Bill Belichick had better hope he has a top 10-defense.

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