The AFC North has some great defenses which often scare some people from taking some of their players for fantasy because many of the games they play will be against tough opponents. However I recommend that you don’t over think and go with the best talents, when your drafting and don’t let things like tough schedules keep you from selecting them. Always go with your gut, that’s the best strategy in my opinion. So following are three players who’s talent should outshine their tough schedules and be fine picks who offer great value. (all points/mocks/analysis based on ESPN standard scoring)
1. Antonio Brown: Brown stepped up last year for Pittsburgh as he recorded 69 receptions for 1,108 yards and 2 scores. Just for perspective Mike Wallace who is being selected 4 to 5 rounds ahead of brown only recorded 3 more receptions and 85 more yards. Wallace did however manage to find the end zone 8 times compared to Brown’s 2. Brown has excellent value this season as he essentially matched Wallace the whole season and is available in rounds 7-8 compared to round 3 where Wallace has been falling. If Brown had somehow managed to score a few more TD’s last season I feel he would be drafted somewhere in round 5. Half of the games played last season Brown recorded 8 or more fantasy points and had 5 with double digits. Critics will say that his size will limit his potential, but he has quickness to burn corners and I don’t see undersized receivers like Steve Smith, and DeSean Jackson struggling too bad. The touchdown total should come up this season making Brown a steal in round 7.
2. Torrey Smith: Smith has been taken mostly in round 8 or 9 between 70 and 85 overall. Funnily enough he is usually the WR taken after Brown as ESPN have them ranked pretty close. Smith was the definition of unpredictable last season as he scored 11 or more fantasy points in 5 games (including a 22 point and 34 point performance), while scoring 5 or less in 10 contests. He finished his season with 841 yards and 7 touchdowns helping him accumulate 123 fantasy points good enough for a 23rd place finish among WR’s. Smith is the WR you want to own in Baltimore this season as Boldin has been slowing down and has failed to post 900 yards in consecutive seasons. Smith should outperform his rookie campaign and could see close to 1000 yards and 5-8 touchdowns, not bad considering he can be had in round 8. I wouldn’t recommend Smith be your WR2 but he is a good WR3 who can be used as a flex spot in hopes he has a monster game because of his explosive game play.
3. Jermaine Gresham: Gresham had a very solid sophomore season as he had 56 rec for596 yards and 6 touchdowns scoring 87 fantasy points for a 13th finish among TE’s. He has very nice size at 6’4 and has great athletic ability making him a good target in the redzone. When you look at the receiving options in Cincinnati outside of A.J. Green you don’t see very many talents that could take looks away from Gresham. This will be the first off season he gets to work with Andy Dalton so his totals from 2011 should easily go up. I think he is in line for an increased role this season as the lack of WR will cause Dalton to target Gresham more often leading to a potential 3rd year breakout for the young TE. He has added value in PPR leagues as he had 9 games last seasons with at least 4 catches. Gresham has been going in the last 2 rounds and even un-drafted in the mocks I have completed meaning he can be taken with very little risk. I would draft Gresham to be a solid TE2 who actually has potential to be in the top 10 at his position this year.
So there you have it fantasy fans my draft bargains for the AFC North. These players offer you great value in your drafts so when the time comes don’t hesitate to take them. As always comments are encouraged.