The AFC North is one of the strongest divisions in the NFL, led by an impressive QB trio of Cincinnati’s Joe Burrow, Baltimore’s Lamar Jackson, and Cleveland’s Deshaun Watson. The NFL Draft provided these teams with the opportunity to add key pieces to their foundations.
The Steelers used a first-round pick on the QB they hope can replace Ben Roethlisberger while joining the elite ranks of his division mates. The Browns didn’t pick until the third round, the Bengals bolstered their defense, and the Ravens unsurprisingly dominated the draft again.
Let’s take a look at what these additions mean for fantasy football.
Baltimore Ravens Draft Results
Baltimore Ravens 2022 Draft Recap
Dynasty Stock Watch
Bold 2022 Dynasty Prediction: Rashod Bateman excels as the team’s top receiver, posting a 1,000-yard season.
The draft-day trade of Marquise Brown to the Cardinals was a shocker to most, including Jackson, who penned his frustrations on Twitter. Brown’s departure opens it up for Bateman to ascend to the top of the WR room and is currently positive for de facto No. 2 Duvernay. Expect the Ravens to add a veteran WR as the season approaches.
The star duo of Jackson and Andrews return, coming off the best season of Andrews’ career in which he finished as fantasy football’s top TE by posting an astounding 107-1397-9 line. The Ravens drafted two rookie tight ends, but that shouldn’t scare fantasy managers. Earlier in Andrews’ career, the Ravens frequently deployed Hayden Hurst and Nick Boyle with him, and he was still productive regardless. Neither rookie saw good enough capital to suggest a dent into Andrews’ piece of the pie.
Dobbins and Edwards return from injury, infusing some talent into an RB room that was a revolving door of washed-up veterans in 2021. The former MVP Jackson will still define the Ravens’ ground game, but could 2022 be the year that Dobbins reaches his full potential en route to becoming a top-five RB in Dynasty?
Cincinnati Bengals Draft Results
Cincinnati Bengals 2022 Draft Recap
Dynasty Stock Watch
Bold 2022 Dynasty Prediction: Tee Higgins finishes ahead of Ja’Marr Chase for fantasy in 2022 on the back of a league-leading REC TD total.
The AFC-champion Bengals didn’t draft an offensive player in the 2022 NFL Draft, so not much has changed for them on the fantasy football front. They return breakout star QB Burrow, stud RB Mixon, and the league’s best WR corps. The only fantasy point-scoring starter that has changed is at TE, where Hurst steps in for the departed CJ Uzomah.
Chase’s rookie season was genuinely unbelievable, Tee Higgins is a top-10 dynasty WR himself, and Burrow may be the most popular QB in football. This trio should hold serious dynasty value for close to a decade. Last year, Mixon finally put it all together and delivered a top-five RB season. He is a prime piece for a contender and a prime trade-away candidate for re-builds to accumulate value while getting younger.
Time will tell if they make another run to the Super Bowl or not, but the Bengals are locked and loaded to dominate for fantasy managers again in 2022.
Cleveland Browns Draft Results
Cleveland Browns 2022 Draft Recap
Dynasty Stock Watch
Bold 2022 Dynasty Prediction: Deshaun Watson re-showcases his eliteness after a season-long hiatus, vaulting him back up to a top-five dynasty startup pick.
What an offseason for the Cleveland Browns. After reports that Watson would be deciding between the Atlanta Falcons and New Orleans Saints, the Browns came out of nowhere with the largest fully-guaranteed contract in NFL history, $230 million over five years. This signing came after the team acquired Amari Cooper from the Dallas Cowboys. Watson to Cooper is a significant upgrade over Mayfield to Jarvis Landry; the Browns look different.
The running game returns the same productive cast highlighted by Chubb & Hunt. You can expect this to be the team’s strength again, with Chubb handling most of the groundwork and Hunt factoring in more in the receiving game.
Watson’s arrival gives Cooper a major stock boost immediately following a bear market after his move from Dallas to Cleveland. Rookie David Bell should compete right away with Peoples-Jones to be the No. 2 WR on the team. Bell should win that battle and see some early volume.
Austin Hooper’s departure leaves vacated TE targets for Njoku and Bryant to grab. Njoku is making almost $11M in 2022, and Bryant has looked good in the action we’ve seen from him. Njoku will get the first look between the two, but these guys could sneak up and be fantasy-relevant in the TE landscape.
Pittsburgh Steelers Draft Results
Pittsburgh Steelers 2022 Draft Recap
Dynasty Stock Watch
Bold 2022 Dynasty Prediction: Kenny Pickett gets on the field early and keeps the job. He performs well as the Steelers’ starter, meshing with their offensive weapons, leading to winning Offensive Rookie of the Year.
Ben Roethlisberger’s retirement means that the Steelers will have a new starting QB for the first time since 2003. The team brought in Trubisky via free agency and used the 20th pick of the NFL Draft on Pittsburgh QB Kenny Pickett. Trubisky could start the year as the starter, but expect Pickett to take over at some point, given his first-round draft capital.
The WR room loses JuJu Smith-Schuster via free agency but gains second-round rookie pick, George Pickens. Johnson is the alpha WR in this group, as he saw 169 targets in 2021, producing a stat line of 107-1161-8. Pickens is a legitimate threat to outproduce Claypool right away, which would make the fact that Claypool announced the Steelers’ pick of Pickens on stage at the NFL Draft even more absurd.
Second-year players Harris and Freiermuth were both tremendous as rookies and will look to build on those successful campaigns. Harris and his robust volume by him should be drafted near the top of fantasy drafts in 2022, while Freiermuth looks to break into the elite group of TEs.
The weapons are all over the place in Pittsburgh. We know who the QB will be eventually. Is he any good? He’s certainly set up for success with a great organization.
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