Team-By-Team Dynasty Roundup: AFC North (2021 Fantasy Football)
The AFC North is one of the divisions most affected by the NFL draft, as a high number of important skill players were drafted. Cincinnati got a major addition to an already-solid receiving corps, Pittsburgh added its running back of the future, and Baltimore provided two more weapons for Lamar Jackson in the passing game. What do all of these additions mean from a dynasty fantasy football perspective? I’m glad you asked…
BALTIMORE RAVENS DRAFT RESULTS
Dynasty Stock Watch
QB: Lamar Jackson Stock: Up
RB1: J.K. Dobbins Stock: Neutral
RB2: Gus Edwards Stock: Down
WR1: Marquise Brown Stock: Down
WR2: Sammy Watkins Stock: Down
WR3: Rashod Bateman Stock: Up
TE1: Mark Andrews Stock: Down
Baltimore’s only off-season move to add a receiver came in the form of a Sammy Watkins signing. The oft-injured wideout joined Marquise Brown in a still-uninspired receiving corps. The Ravens made sure to allay any concerns about Lamar Jackson‘s weapons when they took Minnesota receiver Rashod Bateman in the first round of the NFL Draft. Bateman should slot in as the team’s WR3 to start the season, but there’s little concern that he can become the WR1 by season’s end.
As for Baltimore’s running game? The team has led the NFL in rushing attempts for three straight seasons, but that could change in 2021. An improved receiving corps and Lamar Jackson‘s continued development could mean more passing attempts for the league’s most run-heavy squad. That means a downgrade (however small) for Gus Edwards, Baltimore’s backup running back. J.K. Dobbins‘ stock isn’t falling because he’s a dynamic and efficient playmaker who should make the most of his opportunities as Baltimore’s RB1 in 2021.
After an up-and-down 2020, Mark Andrews‘ stock is on the decline. He’s operated as Baltimore’s de facto WR2 over the last two seasons, but with more competent receivers around him, targets may be in shorter supply.
CINCINNATI BENGALS DRAFT RESULTS
Dynasty Stock Watch
QB1: Joe Burrow Stock: Up
RB1: Joe Mixon Stock: Neutral
WR1: Ja’Marr Chase Stock: Up
WR2: Tyler Boyd Stock: Down
WR3: Tee Higgins Stock: Down
TE1: Drew Sample Stock: Down
Bold 2021 Dynasty Prediction: Joe Mixon fails to live up to expectations for yet another season, and his dynasty stock takes a tumble the likes of which haven’t been seen since the stock market crash of 1929.
The rich get richer, right? After a solid rookie campaign, Joe Burrow adds former teammate Ja’Marr Chase to a receiving corps that already featured Tyler Boyd and Tee Higgins. My goodness, this team should be wildly entertaining on offense. Despite Cincinnati not going offensive line in the first round, the team addressed that need in the second round and should have the entire line healthy for 2021. That’s a big positive for Burrow and for Joe Mixon.
Mixon is expected to be healthy for the 2021 season and to handle a bell-cow workload. That could certainly be the case, but he’ll battle recent injuries and an upgraded passing game for touches. The talent and opportunity are there, but the question remains if Mixon can put it all together.
Chase lands in a great spot with his former quarterback, but Higgins and Boyd will have a strong competitor for targets, sending their stock down. Drew Sample‘s dynasty stock was previously worth about as much as Blockbuster stock, but somehow, it takes a further tumble here.
CLEVELAND BROWNS DRAFT RESULTS
Dynasty Stock Watch
QB1: Baker Mayfield Stock: Up
RB1: Nick Chubb Stock: Up
RB2: Kareem Hunt Stock: Up
WR1: Odell Beckham Jr. Stock: Neutral
WR2: Jarvis Landry Stock: Neutral
TE1: Austin Hooper Stock: Neutral
Bold 2021 Dynasty Prediction: Odell Beckham Jr. stays healthy all season and returns WR1 value, landing him back in dynasty managers’ good graces.
The Browns didn’t add much to the offensive arsenal, but they really didn’t need to, given the already-loaded roster. Who the Browns did add, though, should be beneficial for Baker Mayfield without eating into the production of Odell Beckham or Jarvis Landry. Third-round pick Anthony Schwartz ran a 4.26 40-yard dash at his Pro Day, so that blistering speed should come in handy when defenses are frozen by play action and Cleveland’s elite run game. As a result, Mayfield’s stock is up.
The Browns used their first two picks of the draft on defense, and that should be beneficial to Kareem Hunt and Nick Chubb, who could find themselves in games with more favorable game scripts that enable them to pound the rock repeatedly.
PITTSBURGH STEELERS DRAFT RESULTS
Dynasty Stock Watch
QB1: Ben Roethlisberger Stock: Down
RB1: Najee Harris Stock: Up
RB2: Benny Snell Stock: Down
WR1: Diontae Johnson Stock: Down
WR2: JuJu Smith-Schuster Stock: Down
WR3: Chase Claypool Stock: Down
TE1: Eric Ebron Stock: Down
Bold 2021 Dynasty Prediction: After a much maligned 2020 campaign, JuJu Smith-Schuster has a bounce-back season, leads Pittsburgh in receiving, and becomes the most highly valued dynasty receiver of the trio for 2022.
All of the members of Pittsburgh’s passing game get downgraded after the Steelers selected Najee Harris in the first round of the draft. This certainly isn’t to say that the team’s top-three pass catchers won’t be productive or fantasy relevant in 2021, but with Harris running the ball, the team will likely opt for a more balanced offensive gameplan that doesn’t involve a lopsided amount of pass attempts.
Big Ben played just two games in 2019, but in 2018 and 2020, Pittsburgh led the league in pass attempts per game while ranking in the bottom three of rushing attempts per game. With Ben on the verge of retirement and a clear investment in an upgraded running game, this offense might not approach the 652 pass attempts per 16 games that Roethlisberger has averaged over his last 33 contests. That means a downgrade in opportunity for fantasy points for all of Roethlisberger and his weapons in the receiving corps, including tight end Eric Ebron.
Harris’ stock is climbing quickly, as he landed in a fantastic situation. The team is in major need of a run game, and the first-round draft stock is a clear indicator that he’ll be featured prominently as a rookie. Benny Snell, on the other hand, is likely to remain a backup, pushing his stock in the wrong direction.
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