This week we are taking a look at the AFC North. If you are just tuning in be sure to check out last week’s article covering NFC North draft day values.
RB Terrance West, Baltimore Ravens (Average Draft Position: 186)
Let me start by saying Terrance West is not a world beater. He is certainly not a guy who I want to count on late in the season either. He is however the two down back for the Baltimore Ravens for the first four weeks of the season due to Kenneth Dixon‘s suspension. During those four weeks the Ravens face Cincinnati, Cleveland, Jacksonville and the Los Angeles Rams. Of those four, only the Rams finished inside the top half of the league in rushing yards allowed (and they only finished 16th out of 32 teams, nothing special). I realize defenses change from year to year but I think it is semi-safe to say the first four games are plus matchups for running backs. West has proven he can be a viable option when given opportunity, posting six double-digit outings last season. He could be an excellent loaner RB3 for the first four weeks of the season especially at this price. Again, I’m not counting on him beyond Week 4 but you could do far worse with your 15th-round selection.
TE Tyler Eifert, Cincinnati Bengals (Average Draft Position: 80)
I could easily put Joe Mixon here with his average draft position of 59 but I feel like every writer in America is drooling over Mixon this summer, and rightly so! You don’t need to hear another endorsement for Mixon, so who is the next best Cincinnati draft day value? We need look no further than Tyler Eifert at 80 overall. His durability is absolutely a question mark but his production when healthy is right up there with the top guys in the league. He has 18 touchdowns over the last two years which is tops among tight ends despite only competing in 21 contests over that span. Only A.J. Green has more red zone targets that Eifert since 2015 (30 for Green, 24 for Eifert despite missing so many games). While touchdowns are tough to predict I think it is safe to say Andy Dalton looks for Eifert quite often in scoring situations. Watch Eifert’s injury status closely throughout the summer as he recovers from back surgery, but if he’s a full go you could land an elite tight end at a deep discount. This guy has a legit shot at being the top fantasy tight end in the league if his back allows him to play. The longer his injury status lingers, the more he should drop so keep him on your radar!
WR Martavis Bryant, Pittsburgh Steelers (Average Draft Position: 87)
Martavis Bryant is dynamic playmaker who is a legit threat to take it to the barn anytime he touches the ball. He compliments Antonio Brown perfectly as well; in fact Brown is better when Bryant is on the field. Ben Roethlisberger has the arm it takes to fully utilize Bryant’s 4.42 speed but Bryant has also proven useful in screens and short passes too – he is not a one trick pony. Coming off a year-long suspension, we’ll need to see how he looks in preseason action before fully endorsing the third year wideout. Bryant gained 10 pounds in his hiatus – he says its muscle, but I’m waiting to see what the film says! It is not a perfect science, but if you take his 2015 averages and add them to the five games he missed that year (yes, he was suspended then too …) he could have finished with 1,106 receiving yards and eight touchdowns – both would have been good for 16th-best among wide receivers! Realistic Top 16 potential at this price simply cannot be ignored. He carries risk but who doesn’t? If you take Bryant at 87 overall the payoff could be huge.
RB Duke Johnson, Cleveland Browns (Average Draft Position: 103)
Duke Johnson was quietly a decent flex play in spot usage last season hitting double digit points in five contests while just missing that mark in three more. We know he is an asset in the passing game with 53 receptions last season (good for sixth most among running backs and notably just one reception shy of the beloved Devonta Freeman) but few realize that he also averaged nearly 5 yards per carry as well. The hype train for Isaiah Crowell is officially off the tracks at his current 3rd-4th round average draft position (42) and I think there is a good chance he disappoints at that price. Johnson’s lack of scoring has his value way below Crowell’s but the backfield split was 55/45 in favor of Crowell. The divide is not as wide as it feels based on average draft position. If Johnson had only found the end zone a few more times I bet the narrative would be “Johnson is set to take over” as opposed to what we are currently seeing with Crowell being taken ahead of guys like Davante Adams, Allen Robinson and Joe Mixon – just to name a few. If you’re investing in the Cleveland backfield, Duke Johnson is the best bang for your buck.