Dynasty Buy/Sell/Hold: AFC North

Eric Hardter

After debuting this miniseries a couple of years ago, I’m excited to have the opportunity to author the 2024 iteration!

With the NFL draft now months behind us 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 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 most current ADP (pending the lead time necessary for authorship), and the DLF Top-250 rankings;
  • The 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 do not represent all of DLF; 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 begin 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: Zay Flowers, WR (ADP = 36.7, Rank = 37.2)

I just wrote about the dynasty riser, faller and longshot for Baltimore so I’ll absolutely take the reuse material! To that point, as stated just a few days ago:

“As a rookie, Flowers already led the team in target share while running every available route. He was rewarded with a plethora of “lay-up” looks, with his average depth of target (ADOT) only 8.4 yards. He supplemented this with an average of 5.1 yards-after-catch per reception (YAC/R), and 10 broken tackles (BrkTkl), or one every 7.7 receptions (Rec/Br). Continuing, he also managed to corral a robust 79% of his 14 red zone targets, while receiving 20 deep targets. This diversity of utilization should continue in 2024, which is further supported by his fine conclusion to the 2023 season which included five touchdowns in his last seven games, along with two 100+ yard efforts.”

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Statistics courtesy of Pro Football Reference.

Not shockingly nothing has changed! Flowers remains a great buy, despite the fact he’s already well regarded in the dynasty community.

Sell: Keaton Mitchell, RB (ADP = 158.2, Rank = 166.7)

Why yes, let’s hit that copy/paste combo once again!

“The injury is the elephant in the room, as Ravens Head Coach John Harbaugh has already stated that Mitchell will not be ready for week 1 of the 2024 season. Perhaps more direct were their off-season moves at the position, which epitomized the phrase “walk the walk.” Gone are holdovers Gus Edwards and JK Dobbins, replaced by the seemingly immortal big dog [Derrick] Henry. This is a player who has averaged 19.8 carries per game since becoming Tennessee’s starter, and who has only been slowed during this time by one significant injury and the sheer ineptitude of the Titans’ 2023 offense. Not only does he fit Baltimore’s preferred archetype at the position, he will inarguably represent their most talented ball carrier since Ray Rice.

“Never a team to remain idle, Baltimore doubled down by selecting Marshall running back Rasheen Ali in the fifth round of the 2024 NFL Draft (I said I’d be coming back to this). It’s true this doesn’t represent significant draft capital, but the fact is the Ravens brass felt the need to continue to bolster the position, despite the presence of Mitchell and fellow holdover Justice Hill. Playing Devil’s Advocate, the fact that any draft currency was spent even with the Henry signing could be viewed as a massive shot across Mitchell’s bow.”

Hold: Rashod Bateman, WR (ADP = 159.5, Rank = 164.0)

Through three years, Bateman’s rookie line of 46-515-1 stands as his best. For a former first-round pick, that’s not exactly ideal. One can argue injuries were a big part of the problem, but Bateman only missed a single contest in 2023 and finished as the PPR WR85, never breaking into double-digit points.

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Your guess is as good as mine, but there are targets to be had in Baltimore behind Flowers and Mark Andrews. The puff pieces have begun anew, and should be taken with a glacier of salt – but it’s better than the alternative. The fact is that previously highly regarded players and early draft picks like Bateman will be more likely to regain and retain value if they eventually break out. Given his current status as an afterthought, you won’t be getting anything for him via trade, and he’s not quite enough of a roster clogger to drop him. This makes him a solid, if perhaps uninspiring hold.

Cincinnati Bengals

Buy: Chase Brown, RB (ADP = 153.7, Rank = 149.7)

Dynasty masses, re-introducer yourselves to Brown and his lovely measureables, which he coupled with a junior season where he eclipsed 1,600 rushing yards. Dynasty masses, also bid adieu to former Bengal Joe Mixon, who accumulated approximately 1,000 total opportunities (carries plus targets) over the past three years.

As could have been surmised Brown didn’t receive a ton of opportunity last season, but when available he acquitted himself well with 4.1 YPC and a whopping 11.1 YPR. It’s true rival ball carrier Zach Moss was imported from the Colts, but only on a two-year deal worth a maximum of $8 million, and only $3 million guaranteed. This is a high school “promise ring” level of commitment, not an engagement ring. And given Brown is going a few rounds later than Moss, I’d be willing to take a chance on the cheaper commodity.

Sell: Zack Moss, RB (ADP = 129.8, Rank = 114.7)

Well here’s that man again! Again, nothing personal against Moss, who had a fine season in replacing Colts starter Jonathan Taylor before he returned. But he simply hasn’t lived up to expectations after being drafted by Buffalo – the returns have been solid, but a bit sporadic. To that point he has yet to eclipse 200 yards in a single season, and after starting the 2023 season hot had diminishing returns closer to the year’s end.

Moss is listed as the nominal starter per current depth charts, but that seems a bit squishy to me. I think at best he’s set to start the year as a 1a option, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Brown overtakes him sooner rather than later. Given this, and given the fact Moss still has a little bit of value prior to the season’s inception, he might make sense as a reasonable sell.

Hold: Tee Higgins, WR (ADP = 39.7, Rank = 29.2)

This one is fairly straightforward. Let’s consider Higgins’ dynasty trajectory per DLF’s ADP.

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You’re either a believer in the talent or you aren’t, but the fact is this is the cheapest you’ll be able to buy at in recent memory. I’m not stressing about his future, and it will be what it will be – but he’s playing in 2024 and quarterback Joe Burrow is back. If Higgins stays healthy, he should be in for a solid year, meaning his value could be due for another bounce upwards.

Cleveland Browns

Buy: Amari Cooper, WR (ADP = 70.8, Rank = 68.8)

This is Amari. This is Amari’s ADP over the years.

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And yet, last season Cooper was the PPR WR20 in 15 games. The year before, the WR10. Despite the fact he recently turned 30, Cooper is still producing. There’s roughly a zero percent chance his value will ever increase again, but he still has fantasy production in him on the cheap.

Sell: David Njoku, TE (ADP = 92.8, Rank = 99.5)

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With any story, there are three versions: mine, yours, and the truth. The above splits are mine, and given the small sample size it’s probably not the whole story. But the fact is former Brown Jo Flacco unlocked something in Njoku that hasn’t been done previously. Perhaps quarterback Deshaun Watson can return to form and continue that trend, but I’m not personally banking on it. The splits are simply too wildly divergent. I’d rather look to cheaper options such as Pat Freiermuth (more on him later!) or Dalton Schultz.

Hold: Nick Chubb, RB (ADP = 109.3, Rank = 128.2)

The phrase “Chubb is the best natural runner in the NFL” may seem overused, but to date he hasn’t met a season where he didn’t average at least 5.0 YPC, including on some lean Cleveland squads. 2023 was initially shaping up as no exception, as the hard-nosed ball carrier was averaging 6.2 YPC prior to his potentially catastrophic knee injury.

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As shown above, over the past year no ball carrier other than Austin Ekeler has lost more value than Chubb. You either believe he’s coming back to some decent form or you don’t – if it’s the former, then there’s no reason to not sit on him a bit longer.

Pittsburgh Steelers

Buy: Pat Freiermuth, TE (ADP = 132.2, Rank = 143.0)

Told you we’d be coming back to him!

Insomuch as we can give any player a pass, why not Freiermuth? The Steelers passing offense was an unmitigated disaster last year, to the point where former first-round quarterback Kenny Pickett was traded to the Eagles this off-season for a song and a dance. To quantitate these shenanigans, George Pickens was the best fantasy option as a PPR WR3, and Diontae Johnson (now a Panther) was a WR4 while missing several games due to injury. All told, on average the Steelers signal callers provided a pathetic 43.7 weekly PPR points to the totality of their pass catchers.

So while Freiermuth’s abysmal season doesn’t get a total pass, this hopefully puts it in context. And considering he was a PPR TE1 just the year prior, in only his second season in the league, perhaps the fall isn’t quite so warranted. Now considered the TE15 per the current ADP, Freiermuth is being priced well below his ceiling, and as such makes for a sensible buy.

Sell: George Pickens, WR (ADP = 36.2, Rank = 46.3)

Consider this my Parks and Rec “Lil Sebastian” defense. Pickens had an objectively solid year, especially considering the abysmal nature of the Pittsburgh passing game. But when it comes to valuing him as a third-round asset and above a guy like Flowers, much like Ben Wyatt with mini-horses I just don’t get it.

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While the season-long stats are legit, the game-by-game numbers tell a different story. Pickens was borderline unstartable in 11 games in 2023, finishing as a WR4 or worse 65% of the time. You can pick a side on the “spike weeks versus consistency” debate, but my guess is Pickens’ week 16 explosion probably didn’t help many owners forced to start him for the rest of the year.

With Johnson gone, I understand the appeal as it seems like Pickens will be the alpha target hog. That’s entirely possible, but it’s also possible that with defenses not being forced to key in on Johnson, Pickens could see extra attention – and if his big plays are diminished, so are his spike weeks. He’s a young player so I don’t want to sound disingenuous, but I’m not spending this kind of currency on DeSean Jackson-lite.

Hold: Roman Wilson, WR (ADP = 118.3, Rank = 134.5)

In reading the above, it’s rather likely you’ve gleaned the Steelers have an issue at the pass-catching positions! In an alternate reality, perhaps the phrase “Van Jefferson as your WR2” passes the laugh test, but definitely not in this multiverse timeline.

Wilson didn’t put up the numbers in college, but then again the Michigan Wolverines were not exactly a passing juggernaut (despite JJ McCarthy being picked in the first round of the 2024 NFL Draft). But he had a top-end college dominator rating, and was a four-star recruit entering college. Wilson may even be a buy, but it definitely a hold as the Steelers are going to have to throw the ball to someone. As a third-round pick, Wilson may just be the next man up.

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

AFC North Team Buy Sell Hold
Name ADP Rank Name ADP Rank Name ADP Rank
Baltimore Ravens Zay Flowers 36.7 37.2 Keaton Mitchell 158.2 166.7 Rashod Bateman 159.5 164
Cincinnati Bengals Chase Brown 153.7 149.7 Zack Moss 129.8 114.7 Tee Higgins 39.7 29.2
Cleveland Browns Amari Cooper 70.8 68.8 David Njoku 92.8 99.5 Nick Chubb 109.3 128.2
Pittsburgh Steelers Pat Freiermuth 132.2 143 George Pickens 36.2 46.3 Roman Wilson 118.3 134.5
eric hardter