Each divisional preview will have a consistent structure—highlighting two each of the following: (1) undervalued players compared to average draft position (ADP), (2) overvalued players compared to ADP, (3) sleepers, (4) breakout candidates and (5) bold predictions.
With that said, let's get to the AFC North divisional preview.
Mark Ingram, RB, Baltimore Ravens (ADP: 45, RB21)
Despite taking a back seat to stud running back Alvin Kamara, Ingram finished last season as fantasy's RB20 from Week 5 (when he returned from suspension) through the end of the season. In his previous two seasons as lead back (2016-2017), Ingram was one of only four players to exceed 2,000 rushing yards, 100 receptions and 20 total touchdowns.
No back or team has a more favorable fantasy strength of schedule than Ingram and the Ravens backfield based on the cumulative fantasy points allowed in 2018 of their opponents this year. Returning to a lead-back role in one of the NFL's most run-heavy offenses, Ingram offers plenty of upside and I view his current ADP as his floor.
David Njoku, TE, Cleveland Browns (ADP: 96, TE10)
In his age-22 season, Njoku finished 2018 with 56 catches, 639 yards and four touchdowns to end last year as fantasy's TE9. Even if Njoku will move down a spot in the team’s target pecking order with Odell Beckham now in Cleveland, the offense will continue to blossom as Baker Mayfield enters his sophomore campaign and the size of the overall offensive pie should expand.
Jarvis Landry, WR, Cleveland Browns (ADP: 61, WR27)
Since entering the league (2014), only four receivers have more targets than Landry (719). Thriving as a volume-receiver, Landry parlayed his 149 targets in his first season as a Brown into an 81/876/4 statistical line and a WR18 performance in 2018. He now has four consecutive top-20 seasons. While he may be thrilled to reunite with his former LSU teammate, it's unlikely that Landry gets the volume he needs to return his current WR27 draft-day cost. I currently project Landry’s target total to drop to 113, which leads to a 71/806/4 stat line and keeps him outside of the top 30 fantasy wide receivers.
Justin Tucker, K, Baltimore Ravens (ADP: 114, K2)
If you use a 10th-round pick on Tucker, you deserve to lose your league. Even if you’re a member of Tucker’s (or any other NFL kicker’s) family, you should never (ever!) use a 10th-round pick on a kicker. The earliest to consider taking a kicker should be the second-to-last round of your draft. To be fair, Tucker is a top-three kicker so I’d be fine taking him as one of the top three kickers—just not in the first 10 rounds.
Note: For our purposes, a sleeper is defined as a player with a current ADP of Round 10 or later.
Donte Moncrief, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers (ADP: 149, WR56)
With Antonio Brown now in Oakland, the Steelers have the seventh-most available targets from last season up for grabs. JuJu Smith-Schuster had 166 targets last season himself, so it’s unlikely that he sees a significant bump in that number. What he will see, however, is an increase in defensive attention as he won’t have Brown to draw double coverage.
One (or more) of the Steelers’ other wide receivers will have an opportunity to carve out a fantasy-relevant role in 2019. Moncrief appears to be the favorite for the team's No. 2 receiver role at this point. Only 26 years old, Moncrief had a 48/668/3 in his lone season with the Jaguars, but he gets a significant offensive upgrade by signing with the Steelers this offseason.
John Ross, WR, Cincinnati Bengals (ADP: 279, WR94)
Perhaps this is more wishful thinking than anything else as the former top-10 pick has been nothing but a disappointment in his first two NFL seasons. One of the fastest players in the league, Ross gets a fresh start with a new coaching staff. While Ross himself has dealt with a hamstring injury and some inconsistency this summer, perhaps the A.J. Green injury that will cost him regular-season playing time will be the opportunity that the third-year receiver needs to jumpstart his career.
James Washington, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers
The Steelers have a stellar record of drafting Day 2 and 3 receivers that have become highly productive and trading Antonio Brown provides the opportunity for Washington to take a significant step forward in his second season. Not only did Washington end 2018 with a couple of 60-yard games in the final three weeks, but he lost 15 pounds this offseason to get faster.
Mark Andrews, TE, Baltimore Ravens
Looking back at rookie tight ends since 2000, only six of them had more receiving yards than Andrews’s 552 last year. Only three had more than 600 yards, so the gap between Andrews’s rookie season and the best of the bunch isn’t very wide. Going into year two, there was no shortage of glowing offseason reports for Andrews, who despite the team's run-first approach, could be poised for a breakout. The Athletic's Jeff Zrebiec recently wrote that Andrews has been the team's "most dangerous and productive offensive player."
Note: Perhaps it will take a best-case scenario for these predictions to become reality, but if that weren't the case, they wouldn't be bold.
Both Donte Moncrief and James Washington will finish 2019 as top-36 wide receivers.
I have talked about Moncrief and Washington being sleeper and/or breakout candidates earlier in this post. Both are being drafted at least 20 spots outside the top 36, but I could see both receivers carving out a large enough role to push for the top 36. The Steelers have 226 departed targets from last year’s roster and both Moncrief and Washington will see a significant share of those targets in 2019.
Miles Boykin will finish as a top-50 fantasy wide receiver in 2019.
Boykin is currently the 93rd receiver off the board and top 75 in my rankings, but it wouldn’t be a complete surprise if he turned out to be Baltimore’s top-producing fantasy wide receiver and a top-50 performer. Boykin is a size-speed (6’4”, 4.42) freak and while his preseason performances haven’t been anything to write home about, he has generated some buzz in training camp.
Good luck in your league(s) and stay tuned for more divisional previews!