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AFC North Player Analysis

Pittsburgh Steelers

QB Ben Roethlisberger – If you listen to Big Ben about how he will do this season, then you have a lot to hope for.  “I feel a lot more comfortable and relaxed.  The guys feel more comfortable with me, and that will help us. I can improve because I’m more comfortable, and I know what’s going on with the offense a little more, so I can go out there and be relaxed instead of wondering what my guy’s going to do. I can read defenses now, I can do a lot more things. I think that’s all going to help me when I step on the field next season.”  Look for a more confident QB at the start of 2005.  If he has some success early the confidence will only grow.  He has the talent to be a top 10 QB, I don’t expect that this year, but look for an improvement over last years lackluster performance.

 

RB Duce Staley – Unfortunately he seems to be hurting again.  His right knee is currently irritated and if that keeps up it will definitely hinder him.  If he can get healthy and stay that way, then look for Staley to get 1000+ yards and five or so TDs.  If he can’t, look for Jerome Bettis, Vernon Haynes, and Willie Parker to RBBC it with Bettis getting most of the carries.

 

RB Jerome Bettis – It is hard not to like this guy, great player, great attitude, great nickname.  ‘The Bus’ will be the short yardage RB this year.  Look for him to bust in five to seven TDs over the season, but don’t expect much from him yardage wise.  This all changes of course if Duce cannot start due to his knee or some other injury.  If Bettis becomes the starter, 1000+ yards is not out of the question.

 

WR Hines Ward – Still a no show to camp, Ward when playing is a top five WR talent.  Both sides are currently being stubborn, but I expect a deal to be flushed out soon.  Therefore look for Ward and Ben to get some chemistry going this year and for him to finish the season with at least 1200 yards and seven TDs.  Follow the contract negotiations though and if they fall through it will be Randle El just falling short of the above projected numbers.

 

WR Antwaan Randle El – Has an off chance of being the #1 guy this year if Ward holds out, but assuming Ward plays look for El to battle with Cedrick Wilson to retain his #2 spot.  I expect him to keep his position and put up just under 500 yards with a few TDs.

 

Baltimore Ravens

QB Kyle Boller – Don’t expect too much out of him this year, but the addition of Mason and him feeling a bit more comfortable will increase his yardage as well as TDs.  If Mason and him can mesh and find there rhythm Boller’s talent might shine though even more.

 

RB Jamal Lewis – Look for him to have another season on average with his last 3.  1500 yards, seven or eight TDs.  He will be giving up 3rd down touches to Chester Taylor, but it will not cripple his fantasy value.

 

RB Chester Taylor – He is being primed and worked to become a #1 RB.  In the mean time expect four or five TDs and 500+ yards as he backs up Lewis and serves as a 3rd down back.  I see him starting somewhere next year if he proves himself this year.

 

WR Derrick Mason – Boller and him are starting to connect and good things are to come.  1000 yards and 6 or more TDs should be the minimum we will see out of him this year.

 

WR Mark Clayton – Battling for his position, I believe Clayton to be the best they have after Mason.  Should see plenty of action in 2005 and you can double that come 2006.

 

LB Ray Lewis – If you start individual defensive players, Ray Lewis should be your first defensive pick.  The man is a monster, expect him to lead the Raven’s to another year being a top one or two defensive team.

 

Cincinnati Bengals

QB Carson Palmer – Poised to perform, Palmer is more fit, more healthy, and more ready to rock then he has every been before.  I see good things in his future.  A glimpse of it is possible this season.

 

RB Rudi Johnson – Underrated, overlooked, and forgotten.  Johnson is one of the better RBs in the league, even if he doesn’t get the credit that he is due.  The Bengals are planning on using more RBs this year and it appears the dreaded RBBC might hit in Cincinnati, but hopefully Johnson will still be able to get the key touches he needs to show off his talent.

 

RB Chris Perry – If anyone steals value from Johnson it is Chris Perry.  He has been impressive thus far might start sneaking in more and more touches.  Keep an eye on him, might be a good early season waiver pick-up.

 

WR Chad Johnson – Top 10 fantasy WR.  Look for him to play as hard as he ever has so that he holds all the chips come contract bargaining time next year.

 

WR T.J. Houshmandzadeh – He made some key plays last year and the Bengal’s have out their trust in him enough to sign him for four more years.  His role and numbers should slightly increase this year.

 

Cleveland Browns

QB Trent Dilfer – Do not expect much from Trent this year.  I almost stopped there, but I will continue.  He does not have the receiver, the talent, the drive, or the ability to be anything desirable fantasy-wise.  He currently sits as a free agent in my main league and should be the same place in yours.

 

RB Lee Suggs – Expect Suggs to keep the starting job this year.  1000+ yards and 10 TDs will be possible as he is the most talented player on the team.

 

RB Reuben Droughns – He will get a little action, but nothing to write home about.  The talent is there though and if Suggs goes down, Droughns could shine.

 

WR Antonio Bryant – The best WR the team has.  Dilfer and him have been working it and there is the slight possibility that he could perform this season.  His main problem will be the guy throwing to him.

 

WR Braylon Edwards – More value for keeper leagues and special teams positions, don’t expect too much from him this year though as there are plenty of other WRs (Northcutt & Davis) fighting for playing time with him.

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