2014 NFL Fantasy Studs, Duds and Sleepers. (AFC North)
The AFC North is home to the AFC’s toughest defenses. The Baltimore Ravens, Cleveland Browns, Cincinnati Bengals and Pittsburgh Steelers.
This division is notorious for its competiveness and low scoring bouts. However still manages to produce some pretty solid performers year in and year out.
There has been some coaching changes and a ton of player movement this off-season, impacting these teams in a large way. It should shape up to be another dogfight for the division title in 2014. Let’s see if we can’t pin point who will play a large roll in that fight and who we should be leave riding the pine.
- 1. (CIN) AJ Green WR
- 2. (CLE) Josh Gordon WR
- 3. (PIT) Antonio Brown WR
- 4. (BAL) Torrey Smith WR
- 5. (PIT) Le’Veon Bell RB
- 6. (CIN) Andy Dalton QB
- 7. (CLE) Jordan Cameron TE
- 8. (PIT) Ben Roethlisberger QB
- 9. (BAL) Steve Smith WR
- 10. (PIT) Heath Miller TE
AJ Green. He has only been in the league for three seasons. In those three seasons he has seen an increase in targets, receptions, yards and touchdowns. All while NEVER having missed a game due to injury.
The emergence of wide receiver Marvin Jones as a threat, only helped AJ complete the best season of his young career. With almost the exact same starting offense from a year ago, look for the Cincinnati Bengals to achieve similar success and for Green to experience another increase in his numbers.
Antonio Brown. He caught 110 passes for 1,499 yards in 2013. Only 7 WR’s have caught at least 110 balls in a season since 2008. Only twice did they not reach that mark the very next year.
Also, since 2008 Only 6 WR’s have surpassed the 1,499 yd mark in a single season. Of those 6, not a single one failed to eclipse 1,000 yards the following year.
- 1. (PIT) LeGarrette Blount RB
- 2. (BAL) Ray Rice RB
- 3. (CLE) Greg Little WR
- 4. (CIN) BenJarvus Green-Ellis RB
- 5. (BAL) Dennis Pitta TE
- 6. (CIN) Jermaine Gresham TE
- 7. (PIT) Darrius Heyward-Bey WR
- 8. (BAL) Marlon Brown WR
- 9. (CLE) Travis Benjamin WR
- 10. (BAL) Jacoby Jones WR
Ray Rice. Over the past 4 seasons he has seen a yearly decrease in his carries from 307 attempts back in 2010, to only 214 in 2013. The Baltimore Ravens have slowly but surely, changed their identity from a strong defensive team that will run the ball and control the clock, to a pass first, run second and hope we outscore you kind of team.
They only solidified that mindset when they signed Steve Smith and Owen Daniels in the off-season. The Ravens look as if they will be throwing the ball even more in 2014 than they did the previous year. Not good news if you’re a Ray Rice fan.
Rice has also had some off the field incidents, primarily his domestic violence charge against his wife in Atlantic City. The reason I acknowledge this situation is because since the year 2000, 8 different RB’s have been arrested for domestic violence.
Of those 8 RB’s, 7 were either cut or traded and only 1 proceeded to put up better numbers in the season following the incident. (Michael Pittman, 2003) Be very cautious when considering Rice as your #1 back.
Greg Little. With QB Brian Hoyer returning from injury and the acquisition of Ben Tate. Many browns fans as well as people within the Browns organization are excited for the possibilities of 2014.
The only person that I think should not be as excited, is WR Greg Little. We have witnessed a gradual decrease in receptions and yards for Little since his rookie season of 2011.
QB Brian Hoyer only played 3 games for the Browns in 2013. Yet he led them to three straight victories. During those 3 games Hoyer targeted Little only 14 times while completing only 6 of those 14 passes.
WR Davone Bess who currently isn’t even on an NFL Roster, caught 11 passes on 21 targets from Hoyer in those same 3 games. With the addition of WR Nate Burleson and the apparent lack of chemistry between Little and his QB, don’t expect very big things out of the former second round pick in 2014.
- 1. (BAL) Joe Flacco QB
- 2. (CIN) Giovani Bernard RB
- 3. (CLE) Brian Hoyer QB
- 4. (CIN) Marvin Jones WR
- 5. (CLE) Ben Tate RB
- 6. (PIT) Lance Moore WR
- 7. (CLE) Nate Burleson WR
- 8. (CIN) Tyler Eifert TE
- 9. (BAL) Owen Daniels TE
- 10. (PIT) Markus Wheaton WR
Lance Moore. The ex New Orleans Saint was signed by Pittsburgh this off-season to help fill the void left by the departure of Jerricho Cotchery. He is fresh off his worst statistical season since 2007, but no need to worry if you’re a Steeler fan.
From 2010-2012. Moore averaged 61 REC per season as arguably the Saints third and sometimes fourth option. Ranging from 2008-2012 (Moore’s most productive time span) he saw the end zone 34 times! The man he is there to replace (Cotchery) only caught 12 TD’s during that same stretch.
Moore is also two years younger than Cotchery and has more career TD’s as well as better YPG (yards per game) average. He will be Pittsburgh’s clear-cut slot receiver and should be on your radar as a plug in at WR #3.
Ben Tate. After years of searching for and coming up empty. The Cleveland Browns have finally found their RB. The former Houston Texans backup has been nothing shy than spectacular when he is on the field.
When Tate plays 14 or more games he averages 178 rushing attempts for 857 yards. The league average for starting RB’s was 220 attempts. If Tate only meets the average in 2014 his estimated stat line (based on past performance) will be 220 ATT, 1,071 yds and 6 TD’s.
That would have made him the 12th ranked fantasy RB in 2013. Let’s face it, the Browns have ZERO other options at RB this season. New Head Coach Mike Pettine comes from Buffalo where his RB’s (Fred Jackson and CJ Spillar) had tremendous success.
New Offensive Coordinator Kyle Shanahan comes from calling plays for Alfred Morris in Washington the last 3 seasons and we all know the numbers Morris posted. This all is very good news for not only Tate but for those of us who get stuck with a mid round pick.
Ben Tate will be a top 10 RB in 2014 and he should be high on your radar come draft day.