Links to similar discussions of other divisions:
Not that much is going to happen around NFL circles for the next month, save for a few trades and some third-wave free agent signings. That means it’s time to build up your drafting chops with best-ball drafts! What does each offense offer? I’ll break it down division by division. Let’s go to the AFC North, which features two pass-happy and two run-happy offenses.
Note: All ADP courtesy of Underdog
Offensive Outlook: The Ravens offseason moves were somewhat responsive to their passing game woes last year, adding wide receivers Sammy Watkins via free agency, and Rashod Bateman (1st round), and Tylan Wallace (4th round) in the draft. The return of left tackle Ronnie Stanley and key run game piece tight Nick Boyle from season-ending injuries will help, and time will tell if Alejandro Villanueva is a significant drop off from Orlando Brown at right tackle. We should expect more passing production and higher efficiency even if it’s not a return to 2019 levels.
Lamar Jackson - 5th round ADP
How quickly we forget that Jackson had one of the best all-time fantasy football seasons just two years ago. He has QB1 and top overall scorer upside, but then again so does Kyler Murray and Dak Prescott, and they are only going a few picks earlier than Jackson. The three are probably going in the right order, and they are all good values in the fifth round to give your lineup a higher overall ceiling.
This is going to be closer to a two-headed backfield than the ADP indicates. Dobbins will be a more consistent touchdown scorer and has more ability in the passing game, but in a best ball format Edwards is greatly undervalued, as consistency isn’t as important as finding the end zone occasionally and breaking off some big plays, both of which are in Edwards profile. Pass on Dobbins and target Edwards as one of your top bench running backs.
Brown is a few rounds cheaper than he was last year despite a scoring spree when the offense found its bearings in December. The addition of Bateman and Watkins will cut down on his target share, but could also give him more chances to run deep routes and provide more best ball punch. He’s a fine pick at ADP. Bateman is more unpredictable and less likely to truly be a hit at ADP because of the low volume of this pass offense and lack of deep speed or size to be a preferred red zone target. Watkins is dirt cheap coming off of a good spring, and Duvernay has the deep speed to notch a few scoring weeks via one big play, so they have some late round appeal if you need to throw a dart or two at wide receiver in very deep best ball drafts.
Andrews could see a bump in efficiency after a disappointing 2020, but a return to 2019 spike touchdown levels is unlikely, so he’s probably an avoid at ADP with Kyle Pitts only being a round or two more expensive. Boyle has value in drafts like the FFPC 28-rounder because he’ll deliver at least a few scores.
Bottom Line: This passing game should get better this year, but the main beneficiary will be Lamar Jackson more than any single target. Gus Edwards is a no brainer at current ADP because he’ll contribute a significant number of scoring weeks at a tough to fill and fragile position.
Offensive Outlook: The team added reinforcements on the offensive line and upgraded from the ghost of AJ Green to Joe Burrow’s favorite target from LSU, Ja’Marr Chase. If Burrow and Joe Mixon can stay healthy all year, this offense will take a big step forward and produce some overachievers.
Joe Burrow - 8th/9th round ADP
Burrow could be worth more than he was on a per game basis than he was last year. Despite being on the high side of attempts, he was still only a strong best ball contributor in two high scoring games against Cleveland. Tom Brady is close to Burrow in ADP, but Brady is easily the better pick despite the promise of more production for Burrow in 2021.
Mixon is the same price he was last year. He missed most of the season with a foot injury, but Giovani Bernard is gone to Tampa and the offense should be more efficient and productive this year. He’s a boom/bust play as your RB2 in the early second, with high floor Nick Chubb/Austin Ekeler, or another high ceiling play with uncertainty - Cam Akers - as your running back alternatives, and any number of blue chip wide receivers. It’s easy to make a strong argument for and against Mixon. One thing is for sure - if you believe Mixon is more likely to miss games and underperform again, then you should be on Samaje Perine, who looked good late last year and got a new contract to be the team’s #2 back for his troubles. He’s the cheapest injury upside #2 behind a lead back with a history of playing less than a full season as the norm.
No #3 receiver is going earlier than Boyd. Don’t let that convince you that this wide receiver group is overvalued. If Burrow plays 17 games there should be enough targets there for all three to deliver on ADP, if not surpass it. Burrow threw to his wide receivers an average of 28.4 times per game last year. Boyd is the cheapest, but he’ll be the most consistent and he’s the best pick of the group. Chase offers a high ceiling, but Higgins has the most momentum going into the summer. Tate is a name to file away for deeper drafts as a potential red zone specialist and rare injury upside #4 wide receiver.
C.J. Uzomah - 15+ round ADP
Uzomah was potentially on his way to a breakout before tearing an achilles last year, but all signs point to his return as the top receiving tight end on the team. Drew Sample is more of a blocker and was very inefficient in place of Uzomah last year. He’s a name to remember in deep best ball drafts like the FFPC 28-teamers.
Bottom Line: This will be a better offense, potentially even a top 10 unit in overall production. The best way to get a piece of that is taking a Bengals wide receiver or two, but Joe Mixon could make your draft if he plays 17 games at or near his peak performance level.
Offensive Outlook: This unit improved over the course of the season and turned into a high efficiency run-first attack with downfield passing punch even though Odell Beckham Jr missed most of the season. They’ll get Beckham this year and should be able to keep defenses even more off balance. There’s more upside to be mined in this offense as a whole, but if everyone stays healthy there will be ups and downs week-to-week.
Baker Mayfield - 13th round ADP
Mayfield had some best ball value last year on the back of shootouts with Tennessee, Cincinnati, and Baltimore. An improved defense could lower that weekly ceiling, although the return of Beckham should give Mayfield a higher weekly floor. It could be a very successful and efficient year for Mayfield, but Carson Wentz, Ryan Fitzpatrick, and Kirk Cousins are probably better QB2 picks at a similar ADP.
Chubb is a very safe pick, scoring or going over 100 yards in every game he started and finished last year, except the 38-6 loss to the Ravens in Week 1. He doesn’t have pass catching upside and Kareem Hunt is going to keep him from becoming Derrick Henry (he could if he had the opportunity). Chubb is still a fine pick to bank a lot of solid RB1 weeks even if he doesn’t offer league-winning possibilities without a serious injury to Hunt. Hunt didn’t perform any better for fantasy while Chubb was out than while Chubb was in. He yielded RB1 scoring about a third of the time, and RB1/RB2 scoring more than half of the time, which is a fine return on the investment to land him, especially if you went light on running back in the first four rounds.
Beckham is one of the easiest picks in best ball drafts. The nature of best ball mitigates the risk of another injury or dropoff in performance, and Beckham’s low volume contributing to a boom/bust scoring profile fits perfectly in best ball builds as the WR3 or so you’ll be taking him to be on your squad. He’ll be the designated play action deep shot target, which is exactly what you are looking for in best ball. Landry’s more consistent, PPR and lineup setting friendly scoring profile is less useful in best ball, skip him. Higgins is a good Beckham injury upside play late, and both Schwartz and Peoples-Jones have appeal for the ultradeep best ball leagues. Schwartz is a speedster who could break a few big plays, and Peoples-Jones was a downfield threat as a rookie after Beckham went out last year.
Hooper had a strong finish and posted more useful best ball weeks than his bargain ADP would indicate. Bryant has a bright future, but he is stuck behind Hooper. He and David Njoku (pray for a preseason trade) have late round value in the 28 round FFPC best ball drafts.
Bottom Line: Just take Odell Beckham Jr in the sixth. Nick Chubb is a good part of a risk averse roster drafted from a late first round draft slot. Kareem Hunt is a great pick if you are going cheap at running back. This feels like a good offense to invest in.
Offensive Outlook: The Steelers promoted Matt Canada to offensive coordinator andnAdrian Klemm to offensive line coach in an effort to rebuild the running game and sharpen a physical edge on a group that became accustomed to finesse blocking in a quick passing game last year. They became predictable as the year went on and Ben Roethlisberger rarely showed the wherewithal to overcome that. The offense has room to improve everywhere, but could end up bogged down by the same issues that dogged it last year.
Ben Roethlisberger - 15+ round ADP
Roethlisberger threw 33 touchdowns in 15 games last year. Really, go look it up. He is a perfectly fine QB2 in best ball, especially in leagues that score more than four points per pass touchdown. So many QB1s are high weekly ceiling plays now that you don’t really need a high ceiling QB2. Roethlisberger being there in the 16th round of drafts (on underdog at least) makes it easy to wait on your QB2 as long as you got a solid QB1.
Najee Harris - 2nd round ADP
Harris is worth his early-mid second round ADP because he’ll be on the field as much as any running back in the league. The defense will ensure positive game scripts and he’ll get plenty of scoring opportunities and targets to go with as many carries as he can handle. The running game may be sluggish again, but that only affects his yards per carry, which is not a fantasy stat. If you draw a mid-late round pick and go with Travis Kelce or Tyreek Hill in the first round, Harris is an ideal pick on the way back if Aaron Jones or Austin Ekeler don’t fall, and maybe even if they do.
The Steelers targeted at a very high rate last year, one that is going to come down if they can establish the run. Johnson is appropriately placed at the top with a high weekly floor and ceiling, although anyone who had him last year will not remember his stretch of injury-interrupted games fondly. Claypool has the big play and multi-touchdown upside, but he won’t contribute much when those don’t come. Smith-Schuster was better than you remember as a best ball contributor last year, and if the offense can stop being so compressed to the line of scrimmage, he could be the best value of the group. They aren’t quite as attractive as the similarly priced Bengals trio, but the Steelers offense deserves to have three wide receivers in the top 100. Washington is good enough to start for more than one team and he scored five times on only 30 receptions last year. He has injury upside and can probably notch a scoring week or three even if everyone plays 17 games. Consider him in the very late rounds.
Eric Ebron - 15+ round ADP
Ebron was a more consistent producer than his discount ADP indicates, although the team drafted Pat Freiermuth in the second round and all indicates are that the Penn State product is ready to play a large role in the offense as a rookie, so the lack of enthusiasm around Ebron is probably warranted.
Bottom Line: The Steelers could run the ball better this year and lower the pass volume, which is part of the appeal of buying into this passing game. No one is this offense is a screaming buy, but Roethlisberger, Harris, and the wide receiver group are all worth consideration at ADP.