Must, Bust, and Lust for the AFC North
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Welcome back to another edition to the Must, Bust, and Lust series. This next stop of the tour, we travel to the black and blue division, the AFC North. Will the two bottom feeders of the division the Bengals and Browns have any fantasy gems that will help them rise in the division and provide a fight to the two big dogs the Ravens and Steelers, and their abundance of fantasy weapons. Only time will tell, but here are some names to grab and avoid in draft season.
- The Must: Mark Andrews - Now anyone knows that Lamar Jackson is a must-have but not everyone likes to use early draft capital on quarterbacks, as he's going in the late second or early third rounds in drafts. Instead, let's focus on Andrews who's one of his main targets. The tight end was amazing last season as he went from late-round sleeper to being a top-five in his position. As Jackson's number one option Andrews posted 64 receptions for 864 yards and 10 touchdowns. He had 27 more targets than any other pass catcher on the team. With an ADP of 44, the tight end has a chance of moving into the top-3 in his position. If Andrews happens to fall to the fifth round smash that draft button.
- The Bust: Mark Ingram - When Baltimore selected J.K. Dobbins in the second round of the 2020 NFL draft it signaled that the time of Ingram being a workhorse for the Ravens was coming to an end. To begin the year Ingram might get the majority of the carries but it will not last all season. Last season he averaged 15.2 touches per game. With Dobbins in town, his workload is sure to lighten. Dobbins has proven over the course of his collegiate career that he can be a bell-cow running back. He compiled 725 carries for 4,459 yards and 38 touchdowns in three seasons. During that same time, he also demonstrated his receiving skills by catching 71 receptions for 648 yards and five touchdowns. Dobbins has already stated that he's coming to play and not sit on the bench. So "Buena Suerte" (good luck) Ingram, trying to keep that starting gig.
- The Lust: Marquise Brown - Do you feel the need for speed? Well, Hollywood Brown surely does. Mr. 4.32 in the 40, had an interesting rookie season. Even though he started last year's offseason recovering from a foot injury, he started the regular season with a bang by lighting up the Dolphins defense for 146 yards on four receptions and two touchdowns. His rookie season was a boom or bust at times but he's electric when he has the ball in his hands and is a game-breaker. Coming off the board as WR31 with an ADP of 74.7. Brown is a dynamic player that would be a great WR3 with high-ceiling capabilities, that could be had in the sixth round. He will only get better with a season in this offense already under his belt.
- Dynasty Nuggett: Devin Duvernay - Duvernay had a breakout senior season for the Texas Longhorns last year. He exploded for 106 receptions for 1,386 yards and nine touchdowns. Jackson now has another weapon that will help him improve his passing game. Duvernay should be drafted in the third-to-fourth rounds of rookie drafts.
- The Must: Joe Mixon - Mixon has the table set to have a career year. After running in mud in the first half of last season while dealing with injuries and a swiss cheese offensive line, Mixon was a true workhorse in the second half of last season. He averaged 98.1 yards a game rushing while providing 20.5 fantasy points per contest and all this while facing stacked boxes. During the off-season, the Bengals not only improved their dreaded offensive line, but they also gave the offense an extreme makeover. With a new gunslinger in town, Joe Burrow and wide receiver Tee Higgins the offense is sure to open up some running lanes for Mixon. The stud running back should be available in the first-to-second round turn and if he happens to fall to the mid-second round snatch him up in a hurry.
- The Bust: Tyler Boyd - With the return of A.J. Green and the arrival of rookie wide receiver Tee Higgins, Boyd's stranglehold of the target share will be shattered. Boyd's 148 targets will take a major hit as the true kingpin Mr. Green returns from his last year and a half of injuries. Prior to Green's shorten 2018 season, the wide receiver averaged 135.6 targets per season the previous seven years. Boyd and Green are both going in the sixth round and for those that want the high-risk high-reward player, select Green and let someone else deal with Boyd's downward spiral.
- The Lust: Joe Burrow - Burrow sure went out in style in his final season at LSU. The former Tiger threw for an unbelievable 5,671 yards and 60 touchdowns in 15 games. Burrow also used his legs to tack on another 368 yards on the ground for five touchdowns. Coach Zac Taylor can't wait to unleash his young gun on the NFL. Burrow should be a nice QB2 for fantasy teams with the potential to have some big games. He currently has an ADP of 146.3 as QB19 off the board, making him excellent value at the 12/13 turn.
- Dynasty Nuggett: Tee Higgins - Over the last two seasons Higgins has averaged 59 receptions while compiling 2,103 yards and 25 touchdowns. With veteran receiver Green in the final year of his contract, Higgins will be groomed to be the heir apparent for the Bengals offense this season. He will be Burrow's number one target next season, as they will be the future of this offense and have a chance to be a deadly QB/WR going forward.
- The Must: Nick Chubb - Chubb showed last season why he's a bad man. He pounded the rock 298 times for 1,498 yards and eight touchdowns. Some fantasy managers might be hesitant to draft Chubb in the early second round because he's sharing touches with Kareem Hunt, but as demonstrated in the second half of last season this offense can supply enough touches for both backs to succeed. Both running backs were startable going down the stretch for fantasy teams and even though Hunt is primarily used in the passing game, Chubb still produced nine of his 36 receptions during the time when Hunt was inserted into the line-up. So having Chubb as your RB1 or RB2 is one hell of a way to start your fantasy draft.
- The Bust: Austin Hooper - Over the last two seasons Hooper had accumulated 146 receptions on 185 targets for the Falcons, as he was one of the main fixtures in the slot. There's one other little problem with him signing with the Browns there's someone already manning the slot for the Browns and his name is Jarvis "Juice" Landry. Juice has been targeted 287 times over the last two seasons for Browns while bringing in 164 receptions. On top of all that, Hooper has to contend with the former first-round draft pick tight end David Njoku, who will also steal targets from him. Hooper has a current ADP of 108 as TE11 off the board, and there's a better value at tight end with T.J Hockenson or Mike Geiski who are both going almost two rounds after him.
- The Lust: Kareem Hunt - As the summer has progressed, other fantasy managers have also started lusting for Hunt. His ADP has continued to rise and is now at 64.0 as RB28. Hunt was a very useful flex going down the stretch for fantasy managers. The running back scored 102.4 fantasy points last season in eight games, averaging 12.8 PPR fantasy points per game. And if Chubb were to miss anytime due to injures, Hunt will easily jump into an RB1 role.
- Dynasty Nuggett: David Njoku - Njoku has been a forgotten man in Cleveland and in the fantasy landscape heading into drafts. With the arrival of Hooper and Njoku missing most of last season due to injuries, the tight end has basically fallen off the fantasy radar. In 2018 when he was entrenched as the Browns starter, the tight end contributed 56 receptions on 88 targets having a catch percentage rate of 63.6, which led to 639 yards and three touchdowns. Njoku is also still very young as is still only 24 years old. This might be the time to trade for Njoku as he might be able to be had for a third-round rookie draft pick.
- The Must: JuJu Smith-Schuster - Anything that could go wrong did go wrong for JuJu and the Steelers last season. First of all Ben Roethlisberger went down with a season-ending elbow injury in week two and that derailed the season for Steelers Nation. JuJu's dumpster fire of a season was due to a knee injury, concussion, and horrendous quarterback play, which makes him a great value this year. The talented receiver has an ADP that has fallen to the late third round and is WR13 off the board. Prior to last season, Mr. Smith-Schuster had an electric season when he received 166 targets from Big Ben. That season he broke out with 111 receptions for 1,426 yards and seven touchdowns. With the return of Roethlisberger, JuJu's numbers can only go up from last year's debacle. If Smith-Schuster makes it to that third-fourth round turn, select him with confidence that he should be a great a WR2 for your fantasy squad.
- The Bust: James Conner - Conner when "healthy" has put up great numbers ever since he took over for Le'Veon Bell when he decided to sit out for the season. That's what the problem is for Conner, him staying healthy. Year after year the Steelers keep drafting a running back (Jaylen Samuels in 2018, Benny Snell in 2019, Anthony McFarland Jr. in 2020) in order to alleviate Conner's worked load and keep him on the field. In three seasons Conner has failed to play all 16 games, with 13 games in 2018 being the career-high. Last season the running back's production fell dramatically in the 10 games he played. Conner had a significant drop off in production with 99 fewer rushing attempts and 21 fewer receptions in that three games difference between 2018 and 2019. Conner is a fade in drafts this year and fantasy managers can take a flyer pick with Snell or McFarland in the closing rounds in drafts.
- The Lust: Diontae Johnson - Johnson showed promise last season, even though the Steelers were falling apart at the seams, and despite poor quarterback play, Johnson was able to produce solid numbers with his 92 targets. He caught 59 passes which gave him a 64.1 percent catch rate and led him to 680 yards and five touchdowns. Now he gets a future hall of fame quarterback behind center that will help improve his game and could lead to a 1,000-yard season. Johnson's current ADP has him coming off the board in the eight-to-ninth round and he would be a great WR4-WR5 this upcoming fantasy season.
- Dynasty Nugget: Chas Claypool - Through the years one thing that the Steelers have proven, is that they can definitely scout productive receivers. Anytime they draft one it peaks my interests. For the last 23 seasons here's a list of wide receivers that the Steelers have drafted Hines Ward, Santonio Holmes, Mike Wallace, Antonio Brown, Martavias Bryant, JuJu Smith-Schuster, James Washinton, and Diontae Johnson. Now steps in Chase Claypool from this year's draft class. Claypool had 66 receptions for 1,037 yards and 13 touchdowns. The rookie wideout will just be another weapon for Big Ben to use on the NFL. This offense has the chance to be very explosive if all these pieces can stay healthy and it might be a good idea to get a piece of it. Claypool can be drafted in the third round of rookie drafts this summer. His role might need to be tempered this season but with JuJu in a contract year, Claypool could be in-line for a huge target share in 2021.
ADP was determined using Fantasy Pros
NFL stats were provided by Pro Football Reference
College Football Stats were provided by Sports Reference CFB