Four Fantasy Notes: AFC North
With training camps heating up around the NFL, it’s time to take one more offseason spin around the league. Below are some interesting stats from 2014 that will be relevant as we head into the new season. It will help get us through the “my new team operates much better than my old team” soundbites, until real news starts flying in. Let’s head up to the AFC North.
It’s no secret that opportunities are up for grabs in the Ravens offense, and drafters have wisely hopped aboard ADP-rocket Justin Forsett, and relative bargain Steve Smith. After those two, a host of rookies and retreads will vie for a portion of the leftover 96 handoffs and 182 passing targets from a season ago.
New offensive coordinator Marc Trestman favored a shallow workload distribution in Chicago, something that roster’s top-heavy talent pool only encouraged. Look for the same approach early on, but more diversity as the season progresses. First rounder Breshad Perriman has missed several practices with a knee bruise, and fellow wideout Marlon Brown’s injured back has him sidelined. Maxx Williams will take a while to hit cruising altitude, as all rookie tight ends do. Rookie Buck Allen and sophomore Lorenzo Taliaferro should handle more of the backfield load late in the year as well.
Forsett saw his yards after contact average fall to 1.7 (41st of 42 qualifying backs) after Week 12, at which point it ranked seventh-best (2.7). He is small (5’8”, 195), and no spring chicken (30 in October). The 36-year-old Smith averaged 19.3 PPR points through six weeks (WR4), and 10.5 after that (WR41). While both warrant investment, be prepared to sell before the schedule turns rough soon after their Week 9 bye.
Pat Thorman is a Lead Writer for PFF Fantasy and was named 2013 Newcomer of the Year by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association. You can follow him on Twitter at @Pat_Thorman