NFL 2018: AFC North – Projected Starters – Fantasy Football
As the 2018 season draws closer, all the teams in the NFL will start to assess their options at different positions. Performances in OTA’s and training camps will determine the order of depth charts across the league. Here I take a look at the AFC North, which consists of the Bengals, Browns, Ravens and Steelers and see which players will be starting at the fantasy-relevant positions.
QB – Andy Dalton
Dalton and the Bengals are coming off of a poor 2017 season. An inefficient offense, caused mainly by a poor offensive line, meant the Bengals finished with a 7-9 record. Dalton still managed to finish as the QB17, by throwing 25 touchdowns to just 12 interceptions. I expect Dalton to bounce back in 2018 after the Bengals addressed the Offensive Line this offseason. Increased time in the pocket will give his receivers the chance to create greater separation. Dalton is currently going undrafted in 1 QB leagues.
RB1 – Joe Mixon
Joe Mixon had a largely disappointing rookie season. He didn’t make the impact that some experts thought he would make, finishing as the RB34. This season he is seen as a big breakout candidate. The Bengals let Jeremy Hill leave, meaning Mixon has less competition for early down work. Mixon has cut weight this offseason to improve his elusiveness and speed, just like Leveon Bell did when he first came in the league. Mixon could easily finish as an RB1 this season.
RB2 – Giovanni Bernard
Bernard had a few good performances when given the chance last season. He finished the season as RB27, outscoring the other backs in Cincinnati. This season he will be largely used as a third down back and a complementary piece to Mixon. He will still hold value in PPR leagues but is little more than a handcuff in redraft leagues.
WR1 – AJ Green
Green is easily the most talented player on this offense. He finished as the WR10 last year, which isn’t bad for a somewhat down year. He was a little more inconsistent than previous years due to the struggles of the offense. Green is a superb athlete who creates great separation and makes catches he shouldn’t. This year he isn’t in the ‘elite’ Wide Receiver category, but he’s still going as the 8th WR off of the board in PPR leagues.
WR2 – Brandon LaFell
LaFell finished the 2017 season as the WR35. He caught 52 passes for 548 yards and 3 touchdowns. I expect him to lose targets to the returning Tyler Eifert and the next player on this list. He is likely to undrafted in many leagues and will likely be unplayable most weeks.
WR3 – John Ross
The Combine hero, John Ross, had a horrible rookie year in the league. The Bengals reached way too far to draft him with the number 9 pick in last years draft. Hampered by injuries, Ross amazingly finished the season with minus fantasy points. Mismanagement by the coaches was mainly to blame for his disastrous first campaign in the league. This year there is a lot more optimism for his fantasy output. I expect him to overtake LaFell on the depth chart and start to show why the Bengals drafted him in the first round.
TE – Tyler Eifert
Eifert was another Bengal who had a forgettable 2017. He is a talented Tight End who is a RedZone monster when he plays. However, Eifert always seems to be riddled with injuries. A back injury ruined his 2017 season, with Eifert recording just 4 catches in 2 games played. He was resigned to a 1 year deal with the Bengals after not a lot of interest was shown in him on the open market. If Eifert can get healthy then he is a great fantasy TE option, however, it might be best to steer clear of a player who hasn’t played a 16 game season in his 5-year career.