Dynasty League Football


Dynasty Fantasy Football Buy, Sell and Hold: AFC North

Eric Hardter continues his series picking out Buys, Sells and Holds from each team in each division.

With the NFL Draft now months behind us, team minicamps ongoing, and training camp/preseason just around the corner, we are nearing the crescendo of the NFL off-season. As such, the window for making final roster adjustments is drawing to a close, with the obtainment of actionable game information just over the horizon in September. Put another way, it would not be unreasonable to assert player values are less likely to fluctuate over the next couple of months (pending injuries) as compared to September when the regular season is in full force.

In that spirit, I’ve selected players to buy, sell and hold for all 32 NFL teams. This miniseries will be broken down by division, with 12 players highlighted per article and 96 overall. In a 12-team league with 20 roster spots (similar to the DLF ADP), that accounts for 40% of the players!

Before we dive in, a few notes and disclaimers:

  • Player values were obtained from the combination of the June ADP, and the DLF Top-250 rankings;
  • League paradigm is assumed to be PPR and 1QB (players superflex and/or 2QB leagues would likely have some divergence from those I’ve selected);
  • Opinions on players are my own; and finally,
  • Exact player values are always going to be dependent on individual leagues and owners, and may not be consistent with the assertions provided herein.

With that said, let’s continue with the AFC North! Players will be profiled individually, with a tabulated summary of all 12 provided at the article’s conclusion.

Baltimore Ravens

Buy: Lamar Jackson, QB (ADP = 68.0, Rank = 53.3)

It was only a few years ago in 2019 when Jackson lit both the NFL and fantasy leagues on fire, averaging 30.9 points per game largely on the back of 1,200 rushing yards and seven rushing scores. No other signal-caller was within 4.5 points per game, and the QB2 was nearly 45 points behind him despite Jackson missing a game. Even with an additional contest in 2021, Jackson’s 2019 fantasy performance would still have finished as last season’s QB2.

As such the point is simple – outside of Patrick Mahomes in 2018, this type of fantasy upside has not been displayed by any signal-caller in recent years. While QB4 is still significant capital, the ADP of 68.0 is nearly two rounds behind QB3 Justin Herbert, and over three rounds behind QB1 Mahomes. This inequity is also reflected in a difference of 15 spots between the ADP and DLF rank values, and as such makes Jackson a strong “buy.”

Sell: JK Dobbins, RB (ADP = 35.5, Rank = 27.6)

In an article during Dynasty Trade Month, I stated my belief that Dobbins’ teammate Gus Edwards was a sensible dynasty “buy.” In doing so I had noted that “Dobbins undoubtedly carries more absolute value, but he’s costed as a dynasty PPR RB1 already. If he bucks the Ravens’ recent trend of splitting RB touches, and maybe Jackson runs less, perhaps he’ll return on that investment and even provide some relative value in doing so. I’m skeptical, in no small part because of Edwards’ presence, so to me Dobbins is more of a hold or sell.

Dobbins has since slipped to an ADP as the RB16, so some mild course correction has clearly occurred, and the time to sell at max value may have passed. However, though he’s no longer valued as an RB1, he’s still the 36th player off the board, which should still make it challenging to return value in a likely timeshare. If you can sell now and get a guy like Aaron Jones (RB20, ADP = 53.0) plus change, I still believe it’s advisable.

Hold: Rashod Bateman, WR (ADP = 39.8, Rank = 42.4)

As a rookie and despite missing five games, Bateman managed to finish third on the team in targets, receptions and yards, though he was only able to find the end zone once. He now has a chance to improve upon these numbers in year two, as he’ll (hopefully) enter the season healthy, and will (again, hopefully) have Jackson back under center (two of Bateman’s three best games by yardage were with Jackson healthy). He should also catapult to the top of the receiving pecking order alongside tight end Mark Andrews, with Marquise Brown shipped to the Cardinals and no replacements yet brought in. Because of this, I view Bateman as a hold, as I believe his value can continue to rise (currently the WR19 per the ADP) with a good sophomore campaign.

Cincinnati Bengals

Buy: Joe Mixon, RB (ADP = 21.8, Rank = 24.0)

I view the case for Mixon as fairly straightforward. He dominates carries amongst running backs on the team (77% of carries in 2021), just set career highs for targets and receiving yards, and nearly doubled his touchdown production (16 total) relative to any other year. He will only turn 26 in July, and is tied to the improving Bengals through the 2024 season. To the latter point, quarterback Joe Burrow continues to improve, and the team massively upgraded its woeful offensive line in the off-season. Mixon finished last year as the PPR RB4, and is one of only a handful of players with a legitimate shot to finish as the #1 player at the position. At the price of RB9 by ADP, he’s a sensible addition for any team.

Sell: Tee Higgins, WR (ADP = 17.2, Rank = 18.6)

To be clear, I would be happy owning any and all parts of the Bengals’ offense, as outside of Buffalo they may be the hottest young group in the NFL. Higgins is a large part of that, and enjoyed a fine sophomore line of 74-1,091-6 in just 14 games. However, with a 17th contest in 2021, this was only good enough for a finish as the PPR WR24. Meanwhile, rookie teammate Ja’Marr Chase finished as the PPR WR5, showing greater efficiency as a deep threat and touchdown scorer.

As the WR8 by ADP, mock drafters need to hope that Chase slows down or Higgins grabs a larger slice of the pie, which isn’t a sure thing given the continued presence of Tyler Boyd (more on him below). And while there is certainly precedent for two high-end fantasy contributors to come from the same team, I don’t know if I want to pay mid-second round prices for the lesser of the two. Higgins is a very good if perhaps not great player, but so are many others further down in the ADP.

Hold: Tyler Boyd, WR (ADP = 135.2, Rank = 103.6)

At 27.6 years old, Boyd somehow finds himself as the elder statesman of the Bengals’ wide receiving corps, but is clearly still in the prime of his career after just completing his fourth straight 800+ yard season. On 16 fewer targets than Higgins, Boyd had just seven fewer receptions and one less score than his younger teammate, and finished the year as the PPR WR31. With that said, Boyd does appear to be the low man on the totem pole, with Chase and Higgins the more preferred options of Joe Burrow.

Boyd also receives the less valuable shallow targets, though his 12.4 YPR was the second-best of his career. All of this makes Boyd a strong hold (if not a buy) because as the WR64 by ADP, his output nearly doubles his value (his DLF ranking is also nearly three rounds ahead of his ADP). He possesses standalone flex value as is, and even marginal improvement should see a course correction in his ADP.

Cleveland Browns

Buy: Kareem Hunt, RB (ADP = 110.2, Rank = 89.1)

Hunt is another player whose ranking far exceeds his ADP, and similar to Boyd above he is still squarely in the prime of his career, even if his standalone value is predicated on his teammates. And while Nick Chubb is the team’s clear starter, over 32 games with the Browns Hunt has averaged a weekly 10 carries and three receptions, good for a weekly 68 yards. It’s true Chubb gets the majority of the goal line touches, but Hunt has shown weekly value regardless, and fills in admirably when Chubb goes down (seven missed contests over the past two years). Notably Hunt is in the final year of his contract, is only 26 years old, and continues to maintain efficiency both running and catching the ball. He is an excellent “buy” candidate at low-end RB3 costs.

Sell: Amari Cooper, WR (ADP = 52.7, Rank = 57.4)

Throughout his career Cooper has been something of a fantasy tease, showing an ability to put forward good numbers, but not those befitting his real-life and fantasy draft status. Following a career-best 92 receptions in 2020, Cooper began to tail off in 2021 with 24 fewer receptions on 26 fewer targets on just one less game. Since then he’s been traded to the equivalent of a rudderless ship in the Browns, who appear likely to have put journeyman Jacoby Brissett under center for most if not all of the year. Though he would likely function as the team’s top weapon, he wouldn’t be receiving quality targets until (perhaps) his age-29 season in 2023. Cooper clearly still has utility and is a start-able asset, but also one that figures to continue losing value as he approaches the age cliff.

Hold: Deshaun Watson, QB (ADP = 99.7, Rank = 86.0)

This one is fairly straightforward. Watson is expected to miss most, if not all of the 2022 season, and as such has fallen to an ADP as the QB9. On talent alone he is likely a top-5 player at the position, so owners are probably best served riding out the storm and hoping he’ll return dividends in 2023.

Pittsburgh Steelers

Buy: Pat Freiermuth, TE (ADP = 94.3, Rank = 106.9)

If not for the presence of Kyle Pitts (more on him when I chronicle the NFC South), Freiermuth would’ve been perhaps viewed in somewhat more of a revelatory manner. The 2021 rookie finished the season just outside of the PPR TE1 tier as the TE13, while securing 60 of 79 targets for 497 yards and seven scores. With the husk of Ben Roethlisberger no longer under center, it would be reasonable for the quality of Freiermuth’s targets to improve and for him to approach his collegiate 12.9 YPR.

Owners can also expect Freiermuth to continue scoring the ball given his prolific nature in doing so dating back to college. There is a not unreasonable possibility he functions as the team’s secondary pass catcher behind Diontae Johnson, assuming the next Steelers quarterback (either Mitchell Trubisky or Kenny Pickett) doesn’t relentlessly target the backfield. Currently the TE9 by ADP, I expect Freiermuth to continue his ascension.

Sell: George Pickens, WR (ADP = 81.7, Rank = 88.3)

The Steelers represent another team with no obvious “sell” candidates. I selected Pickens because his ADP is just ahead of teammate Chase Claypool, despite the latter proving his ability in the NFL. It’s true Pickens had an early breakout as a freshman in college, but a 2021 ACL injury meant we saw precious little after that (only four games played in 2021, and 12 total from 2020-2021). During that time Claypool had compiled nearly 1,850 total yards and 13 touchdowns at the professional level. So while a status as a midrange WR4 isn’t inherently unreasonable for a rookie with second-round draft capital, it stands in stark contrast to his more accomplished teammate.

Hold: Diontae Johnson, WR (ADP = 30.7, Rank = 30.1)

Say what you will about Johnson’s efficiency, the guy simply accrues (or rather, earns) targets as few others in the NFL are able to do. In his three years in the league, Johnson has grossed a whopping 405 looks, which he’s turned into 254 receptions for 2,764 yards and 20 scores. In doing so he’s only missed two out of a possible 49 games, and played nearly 1,000 snaps in 2021.

On a yearly basis he’s gone from the PPR WR40 to the WR21, with last year showing his to-date ceiling with a tier-one finish as the WR8. In short, he commands targets, rarely misses time, improves every year and is only 25.9 years old, but is outside of the WR1 tier per the ADP as the WR14. If his trajectory continues, expect him to push for end-of-round one to early-round two status in future startups.

The tabulated list of the players discussed here is shown below.

Conference Team Buy Sell Hold
Name ADP Rank Name ADP Rank Name ADP Rank
AFC North Baltimore Ravens Lamar Jackson 68.0 53.3 JK Dobbins 35.5 27.6 Rashod Bateman 39.8 42.4
Cincinnati Bengals Joe Mixon 21.8 24.0 Tee Higgins 17.2 18.6 Tyler Boyd 135.2 103.6
Cleveland Browns Kareem Hunt 110.2 89.1 Amari Cooper 52.7 57.4 Deshaun Watson 99.7 86.0
Pittsburgh Steelers Pat Freiermuth 94.3 106.9 George Pickens 81.7 88.3 Diontae Johnson 30.7 30.1


Follow me on Twitter @EDH_27.

Dynasty Fantasy Football Buy, Sell and Hold: AFC North
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Andy Cook
4 months ago

Claypool thoughts?

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