As our unprecedented fantasy football breakdown of the NFL Draft continues, we look at winners and losers from each division of the NFL. With new rookies in town, many veterans are now fighting for their jobs. Some teams also failed to address some key positions, leaving some players with newfound opportunities. Today we look at the winners and losers from the AFC North.
The Cleveland Browns
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Cleveland improved their roster as much as anybody else on draft day. It isn’t that they drafted all that well, especially when it comes to Chubbs (passing on Bradley was a mistake, as was drafting a running back they didn’t need in Nick), yet somehow, almost in spite of themselves, they managed to get much better.
As it pertains to dynasty, specifically the addition of Baker Mayfield is a promising one if you own any one of Jarvis Landry, Josh Gordon, David Njoku, or Duke Johnson. Rated as the best quarterback in the draft on many boards, including mine, Mayfield has all the tools in the world to get the Browns’ offense humming. This should be a match made in heaven that sees all parties involved benefit greatly, including fantasy owners.
Joe Mixon, RB CIN
Not that it was a huge surprise, but despite his rookie year struggles, the Bengals didn’t bring in any real competition for Mixon. Mark Walton is a nice player who I compared to Devonta Freeman in a rookie update on this very site, but he isn’t a threat to Mixon’s workload. Perhaps more importantly, Cincy used the 21st overall pick on Billy Price, a mauling blocker who will start somewhere inside from the get-go. With an improved line, no competition for early-down work, and a year of experience under his belt, Mixon will have every opportunity to break out in 2018.
JuJu Smith-Schuster, WR PIT
Not that the young phenom needed any help, but the Steelers’ addition of James Washington will help keep defenses honest in the Steel City. With Antonio Brown drawing attention at all times, Washington requiring safety help over the top, and Le’Veon Bell always a threat out of the backfield, JuJu will continue to run roughshod. The Steelers already have one of the best offenses in the NFL, and Washington should step in for the outgoing Martavis Bryant to help keep the machine running smoothly.
Joe Flacco, QB BAL
As you will see in a minute, I don’t like Baltimore as a landing spot for rookie Lamar Jackson. I also don’t particularly like Joe Flacco. What I do like is the buzz out of OTAs that the veteran had a fire lit under him following Jackson’s first round selection. If that’s true, and it sure as hell should be if Flacco has any hope of keeping his job past 2018, we could see a resurgence from the Ravens’ stalwart. That matters both in superflex and two quarterback leagues as well as if you own Michael Crabtree or Alex Collins. It could also mean that even if Flacco is elsewhere next year, it could be a more desirable situation than if he had yet another listless season.
James Washington, WR PIT
While the other Steelers’ skill players are winners, Washington lost out on draft day. At best, fourth in line for targets, he profiles as a better NFL asset than fantasy force early in his career. Washington’s long-term future could still be bright, but for now, he lost some luster.
Lamar Jackson, QB BAL
The Ravens are already talking about ways to get Jackson on the field, even if it means he and Flacco are out there at the same time. While this may not mean the they view Jackson as a gimmick-guy long-term, they seem content to use him that way in 2018. In the NFL’s recent history, weird, trick stuff with athletic quarterbacks has failed ad nauseum. That they are willing to expose Jackson to injury by using him in such an unintelligent way tells me all I need to know about how competent they are when it comes to capitalizing on his unique talent. I love the kid’s skill set, but I don’t love the offensive minds pulling his strings.
Carlos Hyde, RB CLE
Hyde has led an interesting fantasy career. When he came out of Ohio State, he was almost certainly overvalued by the dynasty community. Then when his career didn’t go the way many expected, he spent large swaths of the last couple years as an undervalued asset. All of this was nothing but a prelude to the weirdness to come: despite being a pending free agent his current team didn’t seem too keen on keeping, Hyde posted his highest ADP in two years back in December. Since then, it’s been all downhill, with his valuing dipping for six consecutive months.
Why Hyde’s value peaked so high (40th overall) in December and why it subsequently dropped month-after-month prior to the Browns’ drafting of Nick Chubb, I can’t be sure, but despite a sizeable contract, he now finds himself on the precipice of being removed from the top-100 for the first time in his career. I’d love to argue with the mock drafters about all this, but it’s hard to imagine Hyde being back in Cleveland next year, and who’s to say if another team will give him the type of deal that would make him an unquestioned starter?
Corey Coleman, WR CLE
Some may chuff at this, and it is probably a bit of a hot take, but fourth round receiver Antonio Callaway is a better player than Coleman. The former had first-round potential, but slid due to off-the-field issues and work-ethic concerns. From my perspective, he is at least as talented as the latter.
To this point in his young career, Coleman has been nothing but inconsistent and injured. Reports abound he also has work-ethic issues, which would explain a maddening lack of progression. Maybe Coleman capitalizes on his prodigious talent, and maybe Callaway can’t keep from getting in trouble, but even if one or both of those things happen, he is still stuck behind Gordon and Landry, fighting for scraps with the ascending Njoku and the now highly-paid Johnson. It’s not looking good for the former first-rounder.
Jeff can be found on Twitter at @FFJeffM
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