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AFC North and East 2020 NFL Draft Team Needs

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We could all use a bit of normalcy in these trying times. Draft season is approaching, and in my book that officially constitutes the start of the new fantasy season.

Most of us have April 23rd circled on our calendars, and for good reason. This crop of incoming rookies boasts an enormous amount of talent.

There are a number of players who can make an immediate splash in fantasy.

I’m going to be breaking down AFC pre-draft team needs and their fantasy implications. For the purposes of this article, I’m going to omit players that won’t be impacted by incoming rookies.

The focus here is which players will be affected in redraft leagues and which incoming rookies deserve dynasty attention.

Let the 2020 season begin!

AFC North and East 2020 NFL Draft Team Needs

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AFC North

Baltimore Ravens

The Ravens are in prime position to add to an already deep roster.

Thanks to their trade of tight end Hayden Hurst for Atlanta’s second and fifth-round picks, Baltimore has plenty of draft capital at their disposal.

There aren’t too many holes on this team. They need a replacement on the offensive line for future Hall of Famer Marshal Yanda, who retired this offseason. They also need a solid edge rusher and linebacker.

Offensively, it’s all about providing more weapons for their superstar quarterback.

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Running Back

The Ravens have a three-headed backfield that features a strong amount of talent. They brought Gus Edwards back for another year to spell Mark Ingram, and Justice Hill gets involved as well.

They may bring in another back with Ingram getting up there in age and Edwards potentially becoming a free agent in 2021.

A rookie wouldn’t be a factor in re-draft leagues but would be worth a look in dynasty.

Wide Receiver

There’s plenty of young talent in the Ravens wide receiver corps with Marquise Brown and Miles Boykin.The former of which put up an impressive rookie campaign.

The other options on the team didn’t offer inspiring performances.

Boykin missed OTA’s last season with a hamstring injury, but another offseason with Lamar Jackson could hopefully lead to improved production.

Due to the lack of production from Boykin and his peers,  Jackson had to rely heavily on his tight ends.

With the exception of the Eagles, who had to fly in Bobby Boucher from the bayou down the stretch to compensate for the lack of healthy receivers, the Ravens threw the ball to the tight end the second most amount of times in the league with a target count of 180.

Bottom-line, they need to bring in another option behind Mark Andrews and Hollywood Brown.

A rookie would compete with Boykin for targets if Boykin fails to show improvement in training camp.

Cincinnati Bengals

Heading into the offseason, the Bengals are littered with holes on both sides of the ball. For starters, their offensive line was nothing short of atrocious last season.

Pro Football Focus graded them out as the 30th ranked unit in the league. They’ll get their 2019 first-round pick, Jonah Williams, back from injury, but they’ll still need to bolster their interior line in the draft.

Defensively they didn’t fare much better. They made moves in free agency to address their secondary and defensive line, but there’s an immediate need at linebacker.

Quarterback

There’s not a lot to discuss here. The Bengals are going to lock down Joe Burrow as their franchise quarterback. Andy Dalton’s future remains to be seen, but don’t be surprised if he’s suiting up in another team’s jersey come September.

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Wide Receiver

The Bengals have two receivers with expiring contracts after this season in A.J. Green and John Ross. The former of which will be 32 before the start of this season. Tyler Boyd has been a productive target in the passing game, but he’s not an alpha receiver.

There won’t be any fantasy shake-up in redraft leagues if they pick up another pass catcher. Still, they could look to the future with a receiver in the middle to late rounds of the draft.

Depending on their draft capital and training camp reports, their rookie could prove to be interesting in dynasty.

Tight End

With Tyler Eifert’s departure to Jacksonville, the Bengals are left without a viable pass catcher at tight end

C.J. Uzomah was known as a blocking tight end entering the league. Even when injuries to his peers put him in the driver’s seat at the position, he had limited production.

Joe Burrow had a good connection with Thaddeus Moss last year at LSU. So with the thinking that he likes throwing to his TE, It would be in their best interest to bring someone in.

Tight ends rarely, if ever, prove themselves to be fantasy options in their rookie season. But if they bring someone in, they could be worth a dynasty stash.

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Cleveland Browns

The Cleveland Browns were among the biggest disappointments of 2019. For all of the preseason hype that surrounded the team, things quickly fell apart under former head coach Freddie Kitchens.

Offensively, Baker Mayfield took a major step back after a historic rookie outing in 2018. Part of this was due to the poor offensive line play, where they desperately need help at left offensive tackle to pair with incoming right tackle, Jack Conklin.

Pro Football Focus listed the Browns offensive line as 18th in the league. This led to Baker finishing the year tied for the seventh most sacked quarterback of 2019.

Defensively, the Browns made a slew of one-year signings to fill gaps during free agency. They need to look to the future in the upcoming draft.

Wide Receiver

It can’t be understated how much offensive firepower the Browns have at their disposal. Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham Jr. are both among the elite group of receivers in football.

However, they don’t have any notable talent (sorry Taywan Taylor) backing their stud guys. To me, it makes sense for them to spend a mid-round draft pick to add to the position.

However, if there are too many mouths to feed for any rookie they bring in to have fantasy value in redraft leagues at the time of your drafts.

With Beckham’s injury history, however, their rookie could be a mid-season waiver-wire gem.

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Pittsburgh Steelers

The Steelers were something to watch last year. Despite losing Ben Roethlisberger in the second game of the season, they managed to compete for a wildcard spot.

The team’s success came on the back of their tenacious defense. They kept the team afloat despite the quarterback fiasco that effectively tanked the fantasy value of their offensive weapons.

Unfortunately for Pittsburgh, they only have one pick in the first three rounds of the draft to work with.

Quarterback

In an ideal world, the Steelers would be able to draft Big Ben’s successor. With limited draft capital in the first three rounds, their top candidates likely won’t be there for their first pick. The Steelers may just have to pray that Ben can stay up on two feet for an entire season.

Running Back

It’s unfortunate to see what happened to James Conner last year. After a successful 2018 season, the Steelers let Le’Veon Bell walk in favor of making Conner their bell-cow running back.

Conner wound up missing six games last season, and he showed signs of injury in some of the games he appeared in.

In a recent interview, Steelers GM Kevin Colbert expressed the team’s frustrations over Conner’s problems with staying healthy. Although Colbert says the team views him as their starting running back, it’s hard to ignore his health concerns.

The team could use a solid backup in case of injury. Jaylen Samuels has proven to be an ineffective runner, and Benny Snell Jr. is moderately effective at best.

If the Steelers add another back to the mix, they could be an intriguing waiver wire add later in the season should Conner go down. They could also be a dynasty stash with Conner potentially on his way to free agency next season.

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Wide Receiver

To put it nicely, Mason Rudolph and Devlin Hodges were a hot mess after taking the reins in Ben’s absence. Yes, that is putting it nicely.

The lack of decent quarterback play scorched the fantasy value of Pittsburgh’s young star wideout.

Fantasy owners were left with a bad taste in their mouth after taking JuJu Smith-Schuster with an early draft pick. He got the Stephon Gilmore treatment in Week 1 against the Patriots, and immediately lost Big Ben in the next game.


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Smith-Schuster will get a lot of consideration as a rebound candidate for next year with Ben coming back from injury. The question is whether or not it will be enough to earn him the contract he’ll be looking for in 2021? With that in mind, it’s in the Steelers best interest to address the position.

The Steelers have options in James Washington and Diontae Johnson, but it couldn’t hurt to add another young stud to the mix. Depending on how early they take a receiver, it could negatively impact the fantasy values of both Johnson and Washington.

AFC East

Buffalo Bills

The chokehold the Patriots have had over the AFC East looks like it may have loosened. Buffalo is a strong contender to take the division title away from its rival.

With a stellar defense and a massive free-agent signing in Stefon Diggs, the Bills have one of the most complete rosters in the league.

Running Back

Bills fans and fantasy owners alike would love to see Sean McDermott turn Devin Singletary loose. However, at the postgame press conference following the team’s loss in the wild card round to Houston, McDermott made it known that he does not believe in having a bell-cow running back.

Backup, T.J. Yeldon is a good option in the passing game, but he doesn’t serve as an adequate complement to Singletary on the ground.

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The Bills let Frank Gore walk, and they haven’t made any splashes at the position in free agency. It’s fair to assume that they’ll add talent to the backfield via the draft.

If they use one of their first two picks on a running back, that could spell trouble for Singletary’s fantasy value.

Wide Receiver

In the last two offseasons, Buffalo has assembled a solid group of wide receivers for Josh Allen.

The Bills gave up their first, fifth, and sixth-round draft picks this season, plus a fourth-round pick in 2021 for Stefon Diggs and Minnesota’s seventh-round pick.

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Of their three main receivers, Diggs stands tallest at 6’0. Allen isn’t known for his accurate passing. Even with Duke Williams in the mix, Buffalo needs another viable big-bodied target for Allen to go to.

If another capable receiver is added on a run-first offense, fantasy owners should be cautious when drafting this group.

Miami Dolphins

The Dolphins were on track to be one of the worst teams in recent memory through the first several weeks of the 2019 season. The only thing they did for fantasy owners was to free Kenyan Drake from his fantasy bondage.

The Dolphins have been aggressive in free agency this offseason, making major signings on defense. They brought in help for the offensive line, and they gave Jordan Howard a spot on what is now his third backfield in as many years.

With three first-round picks in their hands, the Dolphins are going to be in the spotlight come draft weekend.

Quarterback

Tank for Tua didn’t exactly pan out the way sports fans thought it might. Tua Tagovailoa isn’t the top quarterback prospect in the draft, and the Dolphins didn’t end up with the first pick.

But hey, this feels pretty serendipitous to me.

Even if Miami passes on Tua, it’s unlikely that they walk out of the draft having not taken a quarterback.

Ryan Fitzpatrick will be the placeholder until the rookie is ready to go. In Tua’s case, that could be the entire season.

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Running Back

Miami’s backfield last season was a fantasy wasteland. It’s going to be difficult for anyone to feel excited about taking a running back from this team after last year’s performance.

This year, however, there may be reason to be excited. The Dolphins have made improvements to their offensive line in free agency. They’re also likely going to walk away with a first-round offensive tackle.

Jordan Howard won’t be the only guy in town after the draft. So with a vastly upgraded offensive line, whoever enters his timeshare will be worth a mid to late-round pick in redraft leagues.

Wide Receiver

It happened, it finally happened. DeVante Parker escaped the clutches of fantasy irrelevance and showed us all what we hoped he could be.

Parker is going to be a high-risk, high-reward pick come draft season depending on how things shake out. He and Preston Williams sit atop Miami’s depth chart at the moment.

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Their signing of Allen Hurns was a good depth move, but the Dolphins still need more talent at the position.

There are a lot of question marks surrounding Miami’s passing attack at the moment. Was Parker’s season a mirage? Will Fitzpatrick start the majority of the season or will we see a rookie take the helm?

Should they select a rookie, he’s going to be an exciting dynasty prospect to pair with a new franchise quarterback.

New England Patriots

Say, I don’t know if you’ve heard or not, but Tom Brady left New England. The GOAT is gone, and Bill Belichick is left to decide who will line up under center next season.

The foundation of the Patriots defense is still in place. With a few improvements, they can still be elite. The offense, however, needs talent.

Quarterback

Tom Brady’s departure left a massive hole in the heart of this organization. His leadership and understanding of the game can’t be replaced.

That being said, Belichick has made capable starters of players like Jacoby Brissett and Matt Cassell in Brady’s absences over the years.

A lot remains to be seen when it comes to the fantasy value of the Patriots incoming quarterback. We don’t know if they’re going to stick with Jarrett Stidham, pick up a veteran like Andy Dalton, or address the position with a draft pick.

For fantasy purposes, it would be best to see an experienced signal-caller team up with Belichick and Josh McDaniels.

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Wide Receiver

This is a position of need for the Patriots, and it’s a good year to be receiver needy.

Julian Edelman remains the top option in the passing game, and he’s backed up by second-year player N’Keal Harry, Mohamed Sanu Sr., and undrafted free agent Jakobi Myers.

Harry and Myers both showed promise, but New England lacks a dynamic playmaker aside from Edelman. If they bring in a rookie pass-catcher, they shouldn’t be on your radar as more than a late-round flyer.

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Tight End

Matt LaCosse is currently the Patriots top tight end. Do I need to say more? They have to and will address this position in the draft.

This isn’t the deepest class for tight ends. If they can land someone like Thaddeus Moss, their pick could turn into a good dynasty grab.

New York Jets

In his second year as Head Coach, Adam Gase is already on the hot seat. Fans were calling for his firing halfway through last season, but the organization wanted to give him more time.

Gase didn’t do Sam Darnold any favors with his play-calling, and their offensive line was another story. They’ve attempted to patch up the offensive line through free agency. The signings they’ve made, except for Conor McGovern, won’t bring any peace of mind to Darnold.

They’re going to have to further address this unit in the draft. If Gase wants to keep his job, he’s going to have to give his third-year quarterback some help.

Running Back

Le’Veon Bell is still firmly in control of this backfield. Despite a highly inefficient season, he’s far and away the most talented back on the roster.

There’s not much depth behind him with Josh Adams and the perpetually injured Kenneth Dixon. The Jets will probably take a late-round back to pad the depth chart.

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Wide Receiver

Aside from keeping Darnold upright, the Jets have to provide him with weapons if they want him to succeed. Robby Anderson left for Carolina in free agency. They replaced him with Breshad Perriman on a one-year $8 million deal.

Perriman had an explosive end to last year’s season after Chris Godwin and Mike Evans went down. Before that, he hadn’t shown much of anything in his career.

New York needs to add a true number one receiver to the roster, and they’ll have their pick at number 11. They have the option to add the likes of Jerry Jeudy or CeeDee Lamb to the team.

If they pass on a receiver in favor of their offensive line, there will still be plenty of talent available.



Anyone they add will have immediate fantasy value.


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