AFC North 2020 Fantasy Breakdown
By Steve Uetz
Our next stop is a division is full of intrigue in both real life as well as for fantasy purposes; The AFC North! Before we get into the team breakdowns, here is a reminder of what the team breakdowns are all about!
The team breakdowns will contain an overarching theme for each team or more specifically each offensive core. The offensive cores will be organized into four categories: FADE, NEUTRAL, BUY, and BIG BUY! ADP and auction values will somewhat reflect this but I will be adding some personal perspective with keeping some rules of thumb in mind.
Rule of Thumb #1: Each offensive core may have specific player exceptions.
Rule of Thumb #2: Every player has value at the right price.
The breakdowns will include the players to target from each team, the players’ ideal positional count for your roster, target cost for auction budget % and round #, league type preferences, along with optional blurbs from yours truly. Throughout the team breakdowns be sure to keep your eyes wide open looking for the players with coveted “Ladder Pick” label. The “Ladder Pick” players are who I have identified as those who will help you climb the ladder of fantasy football success for the 2020 season.
I have 6 teams whose offensive core make up the BIG BUY category, 8 teams in the BUY category, 12 teams in the NEUTRAL category, and the remaining 6 teams will generally be considered as a FADE. Just so we are on the same page…BIG BUY=offensive cores to target aggressively; BUY=offensive cores that are reach worthy; NEUTRAL=offensive cores (with some players exceptions both positive and negative) to be drafted at value – not to be reached for nor to be shied away from; FADE=offensive cores to pass on at consensus ranking, players to be drafted weighing risk, or players to be drafted only if at a value, larger the discount the better; always!
Roethlisberger is back! The Steelers are an absolute BUY, targeting these players and reaching to get a piece or two of this group. Last year was a lost season but upside remains as they look to return to being a fantasy friendly offense.
QB Ben Roethlisberger: “Ladder Pick”, low QB1, 1-2% auction, round 13, Big Ben returns from injury with an outstanding offensive core surrounding him. If he is able to stay healthy (like Cam Newton in NE) he could have the largest ROI in fantasy football.
RB James Conner: RB2, 14-15% auction, round 3, I believe the Steelers will return to be an elite offense if Big Ben can stay healthy. Conner can be a major beneficiary with top 10 RB upside! A big riser for me this summer!
RBs Benny Snell, Anthony McFarland, and Jaylen Samuels: As of now I’m not drafting these guys unless it is a deep league. All priority FAs!
Snell seems to be the favorite for backup duties, McFarland is the rookie PPR target, and versatile Samuels has pass catching upside as well. Waiting to see how it plays out. Again we want players in offenses with upside.
WR Juju Smith-Schuster: WR1, 12-13% auction, round 3, I believe Juju is a major bounce back candidate and as a versatile WR in an elite offense, he is a player worth reaching for!
WR Diontae Johnson: Low-WR3, ideal WR4, 4% auction, late round 7/ideal round 8, Johnson showed flashes of greatness as rookie with poor QB play, he might be the best value of the skill position players on this team!
WR James Washington and Chase Claypool: Priority FAs, deep league end of bench stashes. These two 2nd round picks have immense upside in this offense, especially if Juju or Diontae were to miss time!
TE Eric Ebron: TE2, priority FA, $1 deep auction, he is one of the many good TE options late in drafts. Maybe the deepest the position has felt in years, I wouldn’t be disappointed if he ended up on a deep league roster. This athletic TD machine could be a wonderful late Best Ball pick
Lamar Jackson! Wow! An incredible and wildly satisfying fantasy performance! He does it all and executed the offense to absolute perfection! He alone makes the Ravens a Big Buy! I’m aggressively targeting players in this elite offense!
QB Lamar Jackson: QB1, 10% auction, round 4, I typically wait on QB but Jackson (as well as Mahomes) is extremely tempting to get early. He’s the GameShark because has the cheat code! (Remember GameShark?! How cool were those?!). Immense rushing and passing upside!
RB Mark Ingram: RB2, 8-9% auction, round 5, Ingram value has plummeted with the addition of JK Dobbins. I say “Good! More for me, please!” This is exciting because there is still plenty of opportunity for both of them to have fantasy success and Ingram is all the cheaper in drafts.
RB JK Dobbins: “Ladder Pick”, RB4 with RB2 upside, 6-7% auction, round 5-6, he was part of an epic RB class, It will be fascinating to see how their careers play out. He shares the backfield with Ingram for now. I’m targeting both in drafts, an easier feat to accomplish in auction
Dobbins like Jonathon Taylor have paths that are eerily similar to that of Ezekiel Elliott. Even with a crowded backfield, the Ravens selected Dobbins in the 2nd round! He checks all the boxes and lands in an elite offense! I am going to be aggressively targeting him in all formats!
WR Marquise Brown: WR3, 6% auction, round 6-7, this Best Ball target flashed as a rookie even while dealing with injuries. He is healthy, has added muscle to his undersized frame. He is a unique talent and a perfect weapon for the modern day NFL.
WRs Boykin and Devin Duvernay are both priority FAs. I would keep a close eye on any of the depth WRs in Baltimore. We want players in elite offenses!
TE Mark Andrews: TE1, 8-9% auction, round 5, nick-named MANDREW, which is awesome, he broke out along with Jackson last year, in glorious fashion. It is easy to forget how much he struggled with injuries last year, as he was essentially “questionable” to play for the majority of the contests last season.
However, he is a clear focal point of the passing game, and now has more target share potential with Hayden Hurst in Atlanta.
A new HC is in town which will hopefully lead to some stability in the organization. It’s been a rocky road to say the least. For fantasy purposes, having big upside at every offense core position The Browns are a BUY!
QB Baker Mayfield: QB2, priority FA, $1 deep auction, this post-hype sleeper is surrounded by great pass-catchers and still has rushing upside. Since QB is so deep, I typically look elsewhere even when waiting on QB, but if he can limit turnovers he could be a real steal.
RB Nick Chubb: RB1, 17-18% auction, late round 1, early round 2, extremely talented in an offense that has scoring upside. Hunt can take away a little bit of his ceiling which is why I prefer Chubb in the 2nd round, but he is too good to pass up when he is available on the board.
RB Kareem Hunt: RB3, 5-6% auction, round 6, pass catching upside makes him an interesting FLEX, I typically like to grab WRs where Hunt’s ADP is but if I start robust WR with elite TE, he can be utilized as a RB2. He becomes an instant RB1 if Chubb were to miss time!
WR Odell Beckham Jr: WR2, 12-13% auction, round 4-5, the dynamic play maker looks to build off of a mostly down first year in Cleveland. He could be a major steal as WR2 on your roster. Beckham’s success does rely a bit of Baker. I hope he can return to his old form!
WR Jarvis Landry: WR3, 7-8% auction, round 6, PPR stud, one of my favorite players creates an excellent duo with his college teammate OBJ, it is a scary combination and should be fruitful if Baker’s play can be elevated from last year. He is one of the safest floor plays in the league! One of my first players I add to my queue!
TE Austin Hooper: TE2, with sneaky TE1 upside, it was a curious signing with Cleveland already having Njoku on their roster but more HC Kevin Stefanski loves to incorporate TEs into the offense.
Not the most “exciting” pick but should have a nice floor with room to grow! Keep an eye on David Njoku as well, Uber-athletic, priority FA, especially if Hooper were to miss time!
Young HC Zac Taylor’s rough first year led the Bengals to a new franchise QB! The Bengals have nowhere to go but up as their offensive core falls into the NEUTRAL category. The QB play will determine how much juice is squeezed from the lemon. Hopefully Joe Burrow can make some tasty lemonade.
QB Joe Burrow: QB2, priority FA, Burrow broke college football last year with dominate play week in and week out, while seemingly played better as the competition grew. The Bengals get their new face of the organization. Very good weapons surround him, so I would not hesitate to add him if your starter misses time!
RB Joe Mixon: RB1, 22-23% auction, late round 1, Mixon is a really good player even with mediocre QB play. Burrow is an upgrade and provides new found upside to offensive core, most of which to Mixon. Should potentially see easier looks since defenses will have to respect the QB play even more.
RB Gio Bernard: RB5, 1-2% auction, round 13, Gio is old reliable, he can do it all, but he is behind Mixon, if Mixon were to miss time, Gio becomes FLEX option! One of best late round stashes (and moustaches) for your team!
WR Tyler Boyd: Low-WR2 (robust RB with elite TE), ideal WR3, 10% auction, round 6, PPR target, he will be a bit of a safety net for the young QB, I think his value is the least affected of the all the pass catchers! Very safe pick, nice weekly floor!
WR AJ Green: WR3, 8-9% auction, round 7, of AJ Green can do AJ Green things he will be the biggest steal of drafts. When he is healthy all he does is put up top 10 WR seasons! High risk high reward!
WR John Ross and Tee Higgins: Priority FAs, both should be rostered in all leagues if healthy when and if AJ Green were to miss time! Higgins is more of a dynasty buy compared to redraft! John Ross is best utilized as a Best Ball target!
Steve Uetz has over 15 years of experience in fantasy football. He enjoys writing fantasy football content and articles. He is very passionate about Auction Leagues. Other than his own fantasy football teams, Steve is a huge fan of the Philadelphia Eagles & Penn State! Steve (@FantasyLadder on Twitter) is very accessible and involved in the Fantasy Football Twitter community! Reach out to him anytime for questions or advice! His primary goal is to help you win your leagues.