by Ryan Baumohl
Fantasy drafts are quickly approaching, and it’s about time the people get what the people want –
AN AFC NORTH PREVIEW!
Okay, maybe nobody really asked for one, but I know what the people are thinking, trust me on that one. So without further ado, here is the team by team fantasy preview for the AFC North.
Lets start with the “Cellar Dwellers” (which may now be the name for my fantasy team this year) the Cleveland Browns. One of few players on the Browns who consistently puts up fantasy points in Josh Gordon. Unfortunately, he’s out for the year because of a suspension for violating his “no drinking” probation. If you’re in a keeper league, I would recommend taking Gordon in a mid to late round if he’s there. He won’t be of use this year, but he is an exceptional talent and I truly believe (here comes a hot take, so be ready) he is a top 5 receiver. Whatever order you want to put them, Gordon, Dez, Calvin, Julio, and Demarius are the top 5.
So now back to the Browns, and their lack of talent. I hate their receivers this year in terms of fantasy, not because they’re bad (even though some are), but more so because I don’t trust McCown at QB, and you sure can’t trust Johnny Football right now if he wins the job. Their running backs can both be productive at times with West and Crowell, however it’s always dangerous to have a running back in a dual threat backfield. However, I wouldn’t be completely opposed to the idea of having both on your team and playing both in the same week on good matchups. The Browns are going to run the ball a lot, and as long as both get touches, they’ll be productive.
The Bengals are a very interesting fantasy team this year. Let’s start with the 3 guys that should be owned in every league; A.J. Green, Jeremy Hill, and Gio Bernard. Green is a stud, and is the 6th best receiver in the NFL, and even though the QB situation with Dalton can be shaky, Green always seems to put up points. Much like the Browns, the Bengals go with the Dual-RB system. However, unlike the Browns, they do have a lead back. Jeremy Hill is the feature back and is going to be an RB1 this year with as much as they like to run the ball. Gio Bernard should be owned in most 10 team leagues, and in all 12 team leagues. Hes the #2, but with as much as they run the ball and with his talent, he’ll put up points as long as he’s getting touches.
The Steelers are going to be a good team to have guys from for fantasy this year, which will be much like last year. It pains me to say this, being a Ravens fan. Roethlisberger is still putting up numbers and has kept himself as a QB who has to be owned in every single league. Antonio Brown is a top 10 receiver and could very well end up being a top-5 fantasy receiver this year. I also love Martavis Bryant this year, he’s a huge deep-ball threat and Roethlisberger loves to go deep. I’m also a big fan of taking the number 2 receiver on a team where the number 1 is a stud. Le’veon Bell could very well be the number 1 running back this year, and some people are even putting him in the conversation of being the number one overall pick in drafts this year.
Now onto the best of the best, the greatest of the greatest, and the team that brings smiles to fans all around the world (okay maybe not that far), the Baltimore Ravens. Just like he ended up being last year, Justin Forsett is a must own. He is the Ravens feature back, and now with Bernard Pierce gone, he’s the true number one and will probably get 75% of the carries. As great (some may even say elite) of a real life Quarterback Flacco is, he hasn’t been the greatest in fantasy. While there are some incredible weeks – when he gets a good matchup, he can put up ridiculous numbers – he’s more of a week by week play when you need a fill in. I think Steve Smith is ready for another big year, and should be a great value receiver this year. Whoever ends up being the number one Tight End between Pitta and Maxx (love Maxx with two “X’s”) is going to be a great fantasy play. Flacco loves his tight ends, and both of these guys are extremely talented.