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AFC North Player Analysis

Baltimore

Ravens

QB Steve McNair

– McNair finished the 2006 season ranked 14th in passing yards and 19th in passing TDs. Both of these numbers represent solid #2 QB numbers. Expect much of the same in 2007. The passing game should be a little better as the young WRs improve and the running game should be more consistent. His ADP has him as the 23rd QB so he’s a little undervalued.

 

RB Willis McGahee

– At first I thought the Ravens were smart to get McGahee to replace Jamal Lewis. However, in looking at things a little more closely, I’m not 100% sold on the situation. People slam Lewis for his YPC (appropriately so at 3.6) but McGahee’s have never been much better. In fact, he’s NEVER reached 4.0 YPC (3.97 in ’04, 3.83 in ’05, and 3.82 in ’06). Also, McGahee doesn’t catch the ball any more than Lewis (both players had 18 receptions last year). So all the Ravens really got was a younger and faster (but smaller) Jamal Lewis. McGahee is being drafted early in the 2nd round. This is a little early but don’t let him out of the 2nd round (he is the undisputed starter…)

 

RB Musa Smith

– Smith held off veteran Mike Anderson to keep the backup and 3rd down roles for the Ravens in ’06. Expect much of the same in ’07.

 

WR Mark Clayton

– People see Clayton’s 939 receiving yds and 5 TDs from last year. They see he is entering his 3rd season. They see “Potential Stud Sleeper”. I’m not buying it. 2 of his 5 TDs (and 80 yds) from last year came on passes intended for SOMEONE ELSE. He caught 2 deflected passes for TDs in the same game. Take those 2 flukes away and he had an average season. Also, 4 of his last 6 games he had 42 or fewer yards and 0 TDs. So he wasn’t consistent when he “came on at the end of the year”. He’s a nice WR and worth a spot on your roster as a WR3 but be smart … don’t reach.

 

WR Derrick Mason

– The decline has definitely started for Mason. Despite being reunited with his former QB last year, he still had his worst season since 1999. He’s worth a spot as a WR4/5 but don’t count on him for much more.

 

WR Demetrius Williams

– Williams is a young WR that may replace Mason in the starting lineup at some point this year. He’ll probably remain the 3rd WR for the Ravens but he will have a big game or two.

 

TE Todd Heap

– Heap is a solid #1 TE in any format. He remained healthy for 2006 and put up very consistent numbers. He won’t give you the monster games but you’ll get a consistent 60 yds and 0.5 TDs per game. These are very nice numbers from your TE.

 

 

Cincinnati

Bengals

QB Carson Palmer

– Palmer bounced back from his knee injury in 2005 to have an excellent 2006 season (#5 passing yards; #2 passing TDs). Missing WR Chris Henry for the first 8 games of the year will hurt Palmer’s numbers but he’s still clearly one of the top 3 QBs available this season.

 

RB Rudi Johnson

– Johnson reminds me of Curtis Martin – a solid and very consistent RB that never gets hurt. He’s not “sexy” but he is reliable and consistent. He’s coming off his third 12-TD season in a row but his YPC and rushing yardage dropped a little. I attribute that more to the o-line issues than to a decline in skills. His ADP has him as the #10 RB which is pretty good value.

 

RB Kenny Watson

– Watson is an excellent 3rd down back. He’ll get a few opportunities this year but he’s not worth a roster spot.

 

RB Kenny Irons

Cincinnati

drafted Irons this year in the 2nd round. Some think this pick was made to replace Johnson in the future. I disagree. Johnson signed a 5-year deal in 2005 so barring injury Irons will sit at #2 on the depth chart for a few years. Irons is more likely to replace Perry and Watson while providing depth and injury insurance.

 

WR

Chad

Johnson

– Johnson is currently the #1 WR based on ADP. Johnson is probably my favorite WR (probably because I have him in my dynasty league) but I’m not sold on him as the #1 WR this year. He was an average WR for the first half of 2006, fabulous for the next 5 games, and then average again. WRs have never been real consistent but I want a little more consistency for the #1 overall WR. That said, he’s clearly top-5.

 

WR TJ Houshmandzadeh

– “Who’s your Daddy” is the perfect compliment to Johnson and a perfect fit for the

Cincinnati

offense. He’s great at moving the chains and catching TDs near the end zone. He’s not likely to have the huge days that his counterpart will have but if you want a consistent #2 WR for your team, look no further than “Houshamazoo”.

 

WR Chris Henry

– As you (should) know, Henry will miss the first 8 games of the year thanks to the new NFL personal conduct policy. His absence will hurt the overall passing game for the Bengals but not enough to drop any of the other players. He’s worth a roster spot starting week 8.

 

WR Tab Perry

– Perry will probably fill Henry’s shoes while Henry is serving his suspension. He’s mostly a special-teams player so don’t waste a pick in your draft.

 

TE Reggie Kelly

– Kelly’s the starter in

Cincinnati

. He shouldn’t even be a backup on your roster. I’m sure he’s a very nice person but there aren’t enough opportunities for him to warrant a spot on your roster.

 

Cleveland

Browns

QB Derek Anderson

– Word out of

Cleveland

is that

Anderson

is the front-runner for the starting QB job. I heard a former

Cleveland

scout talking about the match-up. The former scout favored Frye but said that “

Anderson

has a much stronger arm and with the winds and bad weather that they experience in

Cleveland

, it was understandable why the coaching staff would favor

Anderson

”.

Anderson

is not mobile, however. If the line isn’t any better this year,

Anderson

will get beat up quickly.

 

QB Charlie Frye

– Despite being the starter for most of last season, it appears Frye will open the season as the backup in

Cleveland

. It’s hard to argue against benching a player that had 10 TDs vs 17 INTs last year.

 

QB Brady Quinn

– The Browns’ 2nd first round pick will open the season as the 3rd QB. He hasn’t been overly impressive so far with the Browns but look for him to improve as the season progresses. He could be starting by the end of the year so keep an eye on the situation if you end up with QB issues.

 

RB Jamal Lewis

– I know he’s the undisputed starter. I know he’s a former 2000 yard rusher. But I’d be extremely leery about drafting Lewis for my fantasy football team. He’s coming off back-to-back years of 3.6 YPC or worse. He had only 5 games over 80 yards and 2 of those were against

Cleveland

. Substitute

Baltimore

in for Cleveland and you’re down to 3 games of 80 yards or more… and we haven’t even talked about the O-Line downgrade. Don’t count on him for more than your RB3.

 

RB Jason Wright

– Wright is currently scheduled to get the bulk of the 3rd down opportunities but that will probably not remain the case when the season starts.

 

RB Jerome Harrison

Harrison

is the RB to watch for on this team. He had a very nice preseason last year but didn’t get many opportunities during the season. If you’re looking for a late flyer at RB,

Harrison

is a guy to target. He may start the year as the 3rd down back and end it as the starter.

 

WR Braylon Edwards

– After a (very) brief demotion this offseason, Edwards returned to the starting spot. He needs to control his temper and his mouth but he is a very talented WR. The QB situation will hurt his numbers this year but he will end the year with nice numbers and a few big games.

 

WR Joe Jurevicius

– After an injury-plagued 2006, it’s hard to imagine Jurevicius having a worse 2007. He is, however, 32 years old so it is very possible he’ll be injured again at some point. The QB situation is poor and the offense in general could struggle. Don’t waste a spot on your roster.

 

WR Tim Carter

– Carter is an upgrade in talent at the WR position but he won’t contribute enough to warrant a spot.

 

WR Travis Wilson

– After holding out of training camp last year,

Wilson

struggled to get playing time. He has the talent to be the #3 WR this year and eventually replace Jurevicius in the starting lineup. He’s worth a spot on a dynasty roster but not much else.

 

TE Kellen Winslow

– Winslow had microfracture surgery on his knee this offseason. He had a nice 2006 season but this is NOT a minor surgery. The Browns are putting a good face on the situation but be very leery. Knock him down a few rungs on your cheat sheets.

 

Pittsburgh

Steelers

QB Ben Roethlisberger

– Big Ben is really confusing to FFers this year. What happened last year? Was it the motorcycle accident? The appendectomy? Coach Cowher’s pending “retirement”? Whatever it was, it’s led to a lot of confusion this year – so take advantage. His ADP has him as the 18th QB but he has a high Standard Deviation. So, he could really drop in your league.

Pittsburgh

has a new offense this year and they plan to throw the ball more. Ben will rebound from his horrible ’06 season and the offense will be good. He’s a solid #2 and possible #1 QB this year.

 

RB Willie Parker

– Parker scored at least one TD in 10 of the 16 games he played in last year. He accomplished this despite playing 8 games against the top 12 rushing defenses in the NFL last year. This year’s schedule looks easier – he’ll only face 6 of last years top 12 defenses but 4 of those will be in the last 6 games of the year. His ADP has him as the #8 RB this year. I would rank him a little higher but with the unknowns surrounding the new offense it’s understandable that he would fall a couple spots.

 

RB Najeh Davenport

– The backup RB is

Davenport

’s to lose. There’s not much competition on the roster.

 

WR Hines Ward

– Injuries and Ben’s inconsistencies hurt Ward’s numbers in 2006 but he still put up WR2 type numbers. Neither issue should be present this year. Look for Ward to rebound nicely and put up numbers worthy of a 10-15 ranked WR.

 

WR Santonio Holmes

– Holmes had a very nice rookie campaign. He started out slowly but really started to show his talent as the year went on. With the new offense, Holmes will be the big-play receiver. As of right now, he is a nice value pick. His ADP has him as the 40th WR available but he should be about 10 spots higher than that. He’ll be a solid #3 WR this year with the possibility of being a #2.

 

WR Nate Washington

/

Cedrick Wilson – Both Washington and Wilson will be fighting over the 3rd WR spot. Neither is worth a spot on your roster.

 

TE Heath Miller

– Miller has more receiving skills than his historical numbers might indicate. In the run-first offense that Coach Cowher liked, he didn’t get an opportunity to show his skills. The new offense will allow him to do just that. His ADP has him at 12 among the TEs. This is probably about right but you’ve got some upside potential.

 

 

* All ADP stats are for mock drafts on antsports.com from 6/26 through 7/17 that were 12-team HP Normal Lineup, TE Req – Only Serious Mocks

 

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