A funny thing happened after this writer called the Bengals the most worthless destination for fantasy prospects last July. They became a great one, and a contender, behind rookies Andy Dalton and A.J. Green.
The Browns are going to try to follow suit with hyped future fantasy star rookie Trent Richardson and a "veteran" rookie quarterback Brandon Weeden, 28, joining the fold. This is going to be a tough division for the Browns to compete in, though, particularly with the year-to-year prominence of the Ravens and Steelers.
The AFC North has generally been a defense and rushing division. The defenses will remain intriguing, but it is the burgeoning star quarterbacks that can make this division soar in fantasy potential. Ben Roethlisberger is still in his prime, Joe Flacco -- despite the criticism -- is headed there and Dalton is just getting started with Green. If the Browns wind up as this year's Bengals, this is going to be some division in terms of fantasy draft targets.
One thing appears clear with the Browns: Richardson is going to be the first rookie picked in fantasy football this August. It isn't just his talent, but his opportunity before him as well.
"They're doing a lot of stuff with me as far as coming out of the backfield," Richardson said after the OTAs. "They're really putting me out there to showcase everything. There ain't no sugarcoating. I'm going to get the ball. I'm going to catch the ball."
We've already taken our capsule looks at the NFC East and AFC East. We continue with the emerging AFC North's depth charts, position battles, injury questions and fantasy positional rankings:
It is noteworthy the Ravens are going to move Boldin to the slot in three-receiver sets, putting the burners Smith and offseason acquisition Jones on the outside to run deep routes and clear out space underneath. That can make Boldin more of a possession target. "You have a guy with that kind of speed, [Jones] and Torrey outside, it opens up a lot of things you can do," Boldin said. "Me working inside with Ed Dickson and Dennis Pitta, bringing Ray [Rice] out of the backfield. It just opens up a lot for us."
1 Ben Roethlisberger PIT
1 Ray Rice BAL
1 A.J. Green CIN
1 Jermaine Gresham CIN
1 Mike Nugent CIN
1 Ravens BAL