Fantasy Football: AFC North Winners & Losers from the NFL Draft
One of the major storylines of the 2018 NFL Draft was the number of quarterbacks taken early. For the first time in years, five quarterbacks were drafted in the first round. And the AFC North definitely did not want to be left out of the passing party. Three of the four teams likely believe they’ve found their franchise quarterback of the future…and then there’s Andy Dalton. Let’s analyze the winners and losers for fantasy purposes in the AFC North.
Joe Mixon is already locked into high volume and the addition of Center Billy Price in the first round should only help his efficiency in year two. Fear not, the fourth-round draft pick of Running Back Mark Walton. Walton profiles more as competition for Giovani Bernard rather than being a threat to Mixon’s touches. As for 2017 first round pick John Ross, the only direction he can go is up after a disastrous rookie season. But Ross projects to see a ton more playing time in 2018 after the Bengals only selected one WR, Auden Tate, in the seventh round.
Carlos Hyde may have walked away from the 2018 NFL Draft as the biggest loser in all of fantasy. Prior to the draft, Hyde was already projected to be in a timeshare with pass-catching RB Duke Johnson. But after the Browns spent the 35th overall pick in the draft on RB Nick Chubb, Hyde’s fantasy value basically deflated entirely. Chubb projects to capture the early down RB role immediately in Cleveland. But the draft was much more kind to all Cleveland’s pass catchers thanks to the first overall selection of Baker Mayfield. Mayfield was an extremely prolific and accurate passer in college and should provide stability at the QB position for Cleveland for the first time in a long time once he gets his shot.
The “Is Joe Flacco elite?” jokes will now turn into “How long will Joe Flacco keep his job?” questions after the Ravens traded back into the first round to select QB Lamar Jackson. Clearly, Baltimore needs a spark and a franchise changer and that is exactly what Jackson was brought in to be. Odds are Flacco loses his starting job for good sometime during the 2018 season. However, the running back rotation in Baltimore fared much better. That’s because the team didn’t draft one. Thus, Collins, Allen, and Dixon all have a chance to be relevant. Mainly though, this move signals a vote of confidence in Collins, who looks to be locked into the starting RB role once again in 2018.
Winners: Antonio Brown
Not much to see here as we know who the fantasy relevant studs are in Pittsburgh. Even better, the selection of QB Mason Rudolph in the third round has Jason feeling good about Antonio Brown’s prospects post-Ben Roethlisberger. Jason reported he had a Round 1 grade on Rudolph, hardly a contrarian take as there was tons of round 1 Rudolph buzz leading up to the draft. If Rudolph is able to eventually competently replace Big Ben like Jason projects, AB should be juussssttttt finneeeeee.