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AFC North Preview for 2024 Fantasy Football

Each AFC North team has its offensive strengths and weaknesses. There’s a lot to love for fantasy football purposes. Every team has at least one player that should be a lock for fantasy football lineups every week. Knowing who they are, who to stash, and who to fade from the AFC North could prove to be important as there has been plenty of change, injuries, and more over the last year.

What!? Your fantasy football league wasn’t hosted on Fantrax last season!? Once you see how Fantrax stacks up to the competition, we think you’ll be singing a different tune in the 2024 season.

Previewing the AFC North for 2024 Fantasy Football

Baltimore Ravens


The reigning NFL MVP remains a potential fantasy football MVP for the 2024 season. Lamar Jackson is coming off of a career year as a passer, logging his most attempts (457), completions (307), and yards (3,678) while keeping his interceptions to just seven. The success in the passing game is fantastic to see, but fantasy managers are drafting Lamar mostly due to his elite rushing ability. In 92 career games, including the playoffs, Lamar has an average of 10.3 rush attempts per game. He’s logged no less than 764 rushing yards in five non-rookie seasons with 1,000 or more in two of them. When most fantasy leagues award one point for every 10 rushing yards, you can see why Lamar Jackson is a goldmine.

The Ravens are adding Derrick Henry to the backfield for the 2024 season. He is the best running back this team has had behind Lamar in his career thus far, however, he is north of 30 years old. While I do expect Derrick Henry to pound the rock in the red zone and goal-to-go situations, that doesn’t downgrade Lamar Jackson much for me in pre-draft rankings.

Last season, Jackson still managed a QB4 finish in fantasy football with 21.1 points per game despite handing off the ball to Gus Edwards in the red zone 39 times for 13 rushing touchdowns. He still logged 30 red zone rush attempts of his own, finding the end zone five times. Jackson has a strong set of receiving weapons with one of the best running backs of all time behind him all while maintaining rushing upside of his own. Don’t overthink it. Draft Lamar Jackson anywhere in the top-five of fantasy quarterbacks for the 2024 season.

Running Back

It’s rare, if ever, that fantasy football managers should be excited about a 30-year-old running back for the upcoming season. Plain and simple, Derrick Henry is just different. I shouldn’t need to review Henry’s dominant history over the last five years specifically in the league to convince you to draft Henry for the 2024 season. However, it’s important to know when it’s appropriate to draft him this year.

I currently have Derrick Henry as my RB7 and the 20th overall player on my draft board for 1QB fantasy football drafts. That means I’m more than comfortable drafting Henry in the second round. If I were to do so, I especially want to nail my first-round pick, which is most likely a wide receiver. You can draft Henry in the first round if you really, really want him, but there are just other players I feel better about investing that ever-important first selection with.

Henry steps into one of the most run-heavy offenses of the last few seasons. That, of course, is in part to Lamar Jackson’s own propensity to run. However, last season, Gus Edwards was one of just six players to rush 30 times from inside the 10-yard line, scoring on 13 of his 30 attempts. His 19 rush attempts from inside the five-yard line tied for the league’s most and account for 12 of his rushing touchdowns.

We can’t predict touchdowns, of course, but if you expect the 2024 Ravens to move the ball as well this year as they did last year, then Henry is going to see plenty of opportunities to rumble into the end zone. It’s not out of the question that he punches in 20 or more rushing touchdowns over a full 17-game slate.

Henry’s handcuffs are Justice Hill and second-year back, Keaton Mitchell, whose season ended due to a complete knee tear. You can probably leave them both undrafted, but Hill isn’t a bad insurance policy if you do use a high pick on Henry.

Wide Receiver

The Baltimore Ravens wide receiver depth chart continues to underwhelm, but there is still value to be had. Second-year player, Zay Flowers, leads the group and will look to build upon a successful rookie season. His 108 targets led the team, nearly doubling the next closest player, Odell Beckham Jr. (64), who is no longer on the team.

Mark Andrews only played in 10 games and should compete with Flowers as the team leader in targets for the 2024 season. Especially with Derrick Henry in the backfield, the Ravens passing attack should open up that much more with the threat of a strong run game.

Rashod Bateman remains a late-round best-ball target as the Ravens’ most utilized deep target for Lamar Jackson. Nelson Agholor will probably have a big week from time to time, but it will be too inconsistent to predict when that is. He has a history of stepping up when needed in the event of an injury making him a name to remember as a potential waiver wire target.

Tight End

Mark Andrews feels like he’s been around forever, though he’s turning just 29 years old at the start of the 2024 NFL season. He remains one of the best tight ends in the game and should continue to operate as, or close to, Lamar Jackson’s top target in the Ravens’ passing game. Andrews has averaged approximately seven targets per game since 2019 when Lamar Jackson took over as the starting quarterback for a full season. He should easily surpass 100 targets, something seven tight ends did in 2023, if not push for 120+, which only five tight ends accomplished.

Despite Andrews’ success, he has missed 12 regular season games throughout his career, including nine over the last two. Isaiah Likely is a rare tight-end handcuff for fantasy football for this reason. Likely’s six-game stretch at the end of 2023 shows how valuable he can be in the event of an Andrews absence. He averaged approximately 54 yards on an average of five targets per game scoring at least one touchdown in four of them. In deeper leagues, especially those that are tight end premium, Likely is a good late-round bench stash.

Cleveland Browns


It’s hard to trust Deshaun Watson for the 2024 fantasy football season, having played just 12 total games for the Cleveland Browns over two seasons. In both 2022 and 2023, Watson suited up for exactly six games. Watson has a ton of pressure on him entering the 2024 season after watching Joe Flacco lift the 2023 team to the playoffs. The roster is ready to compete on both sides of the ball with heavy investments in the offensive line and wide receiver group.

Though not as elite as Lamar Jackson, Watson does have a history of running the ball himself that could make him a value for the 2024 fantasy football season. Before the trade to Cleveland, Watson was averaging 5.87 rush attempts per game with the Houston Texans. Even in Cleveland, he has an average of 5.12 per game and it could come into play this season especially while Nick Chubb works his way back from a season-ending knee injury.

The key here is the offensive coordinator change. Cleveland is bringing in Ken Dorsey who has been working closely with Josh Allen in Buffalo since 2019 in various offensive roles for the Bills. Watson could see an uptick in value if more designed runs and even the freedom to take off out of the pocket exists for him like they have for Allen under Dorsey. Given the depth at the position and the risk with his injury history, Watson isn’t a serious consideration until later in Superflex drafts and should remain a free agent following 1QB drafts.

Running Back

Nick Chubb will look to return from a Week 2 season-ending knee injury. It’s his second injury to multiple ligaments in his left knee, having done so in 2015 while in college. While we’re all rooting for Nick Chubb to make a comeback, let’s not overlook Jerome Ford in the Browns’ backfield.

Last season, Cleveland lost their starting and backup right tackles as well as their starting left tackle during the season. With that in mind, in place of Nick Chubb, it’s impressive that Jerome Ford had as much success as he did. He accomplished 23 runs of 10+ yards as well as two that went for 50 or more. Ford’s eight touches as a rookie in 2022 soared to a team-leading 248 out of Cleveland’s patchwork backfield last season.

Jerome Ford’s 63 targets also stick out to me. He is one of just 15 running backs to log more than 60 targets last season. With a healthier offensive line to begin the 2024 season, and Chubb likely still working back from his injury, Jerome Ford is a likely starter in most fantasy football lineups out of the gate. If he is able to maintain his success early on, it will be hard to justify giving Chubb a full workload at any point during the season.

Beyond Ford, there’s D’Onta Foreman andnNyheim Hines. The Browns notably did not select a rookie running back in the 2024 NFL Draft. Foreman can still move the chains, but he’s 28 years old on his fourth team in four years. Meanwhile, Hines is returning from a torn ACL that he suffered late last off-season in a jet skiing accident. All the more reason why I like Jerome Ford a lot from this bunch.

Wide Receiver

Amari Cooper is entering the final year of his contract and looking for an extension from the Browns. While that complicates things somewhat, he will be the clear-cut top receiver for Cleveland in 2024 if the financial side of things is ironed out. Since his trade from Dallas to Cleveland, Amari Cooper has no less than 15.0 fantasy points per game over two seasons. He also hasn’t finished lower than WR18 on a points-per-game basis. That’s a result of at least 72 receptions, 1,160 yards, and five touchdowns each season.

After Cooper, it’s difficult to outright declare another Cleveland wide receiver as a worthwhile investment for the 2024 fantasy football season. After one season with Elijah Moore, it may be significant that the Browns traded for, and paid, Jerry Jeudy to begin the 2024 off-season. Jeudy is still looking for his first 1,000-yard season after four years of failing to do so. I do think he could establish a high floor in points per reception leagues, especially if Deshaun Watson is healthy.

Tight End

David Njoku is very much in the mix of the Cleveland Browns’ passing attack. However, a lot of his 2023 success is a result of Joe Flacco taking over as the quarterback. In six games with Flacco, including the playoffs, Njoku averaged just under 10 targets per game recording an average of 80.5 yards per game. The wide receiver core Njoku is battling for targets with isn’t overwhelmingly good that he will return to nothingness. It will be risky, though, waiting for Njoku toward the end of fantasy drafts expecting TE1 production.

Cincinnati Bengals


As of now, Joe Burrow has Ja’Marr Chase, Tee Higgins, and plenty of other talented role-playing receivers in the Bengals’ passing game. I say “as of now” because Higgins is looking for an opportunity elsewhere via trade while Chase is looking to make Cincinnati a long-term home with a contract extension. It benefits the Bengals for the 2024 season if both are on the roster, but it’s a murky situation that we can only hope finds a resolution before the season starts and we draft our fantasy football teams.

In four NFL seasons, Joe Burrow has played 16 games in two of them and just 10 in the other two. When he’s played 16 games, in 2021 and 2022, Burrow has an average of 20.0 or more fantasy points per game in both of them. Last season, he averaged just 15.3 points per game with less than 10.0 points in four games, one of which he left early. Though his season ended with a wrist injury, if you recall, Burrow suffered a serious calf injury early on in training camp. There were discussions that he could miss a few games to begin the season but ultimately did not.

Just by watching Burrow in 2023, you could tell he was never quite right because of his calf. Heading into 2024, there are even discussions he will “never be the same” because of his wrist injury. It’s really the only thing holding fantasy football managers back from drafting him as a confident top-six quarterback or so. We’ll monitor his progress through camp, of course, but because of some apprehension, 2024 could be a year Burrow is drafted at a complete value if he is in fact healthy just given his successful history and weapons around him.

Running Back

Moving on from Joe Mixon means moving on from a player with at least 270 regular-season touches in each of the last three seasons. That includes 309 last year. The Bengals will now look to free agent signee, Zack Moss, and 2023 seventh-round pick, Chase Brown, as the two leading players on their depth chart.

In a breakout season of sorts, Zack Moss proved he could handle a full workload, filling in for Jonathan Taylor last year, when needed, on the Indianapolis Colts. After missing Week 1 himself, Moss would go on to average 22 carries per game from Weeks 2 through 5 without Taylor, and even upon his return from a contract holdout, until he was ready. In that four-game span, he surpassed 100 rushing yards twice and scored four total touchdowns.

Moss will now look for an opportunity to be the lead back in Cincy, though I expect Chase Brown to rotate in. Given their skillsets, Moss should lead the team in carries while Brown likely handles more of the receiving work. In the event Moss misses time, Brown did have an insane rushing line of 328/1,643/10 in his final season at Illinois two years ago. He has 4.4 [40-yard dash] speed and logged a 10+ yard run in three of four games with seven or more carries last season. He is a very enticing bench stash to start the season.

Zack Moss will really feast if he’s given the same opportunities in the red zone that Mixon was before him. Last season, Mixon logged a career-high 56 red zone rush attempts. That’s the third-most in the league. In fact, he logged 38 or more red zone rush attempts in each of the last three season, cracking the top 12 amongst all players each year. If Moss secures that role on an expected successful offense, he is going to far outplay his fantasy football Average Draft Position.

Wide Receiver

Ja’Marr Chase is looking for a massive contract extension entering his fourth year in the league. Over his first three seasons, Chase has an average of at least 14.0 fantasy points per game each season. He has missed six games over his last two seasons, but still logged at least 134 targets in each. In order for Chase to finish as the overall WR1 in fantasy football, he will need to push for closer to 160 or more targets, which is something he can do, especially if Tee Higgins isn’t on the team at any point this season.

Tee Higgins is a bit difficult to discuss. He’s currently seeking a long-term extension with the Bengals or wishes to be traded. However, he did just sign his franchise tag tender and is expected to join the team at training camp. Higgins is a WR1 on plenty of other teams, but a WR2 for fantasy football if he does remain on the Bengals for the entirety of the 2024 season. Both he and Ja’Marr Chase can co-exist and put up set-and-forget numbers for fantasy lineups.

There is a lot of potential as you continue down the Bengals’ wide receiver depth chart. Andre Iosivas didn’t have enough of a sample size as a rookie but did log at least 7 targets in two of his final three games last season. To wrap up 2023, Iosivas recorded a 5/36/2 stat line. He and 2024 third-round rookie Jermaine Burton are getting plenty of mini-camp reps with Joe Burrow in Higgins’ absence. Burton can absolutely fly as evidenced by his 18.0 career yards per reception average throughout college, including 20.0 yards per catch last season with Alabama. Burton is a better dynasty and best ball investment for 2024, but might surprise us as a rookie especially if Higgins isn’t around.

Tight End

In four years with Joe Burrow on the Bengals roster, there hasn’t been a viable Bengals tight end to plug into fantasy football lineups. Hayden Hurst did have some success, but his 52 receptions for 414 yards and two scores two seasons ago yielded just a TE20 finish with just four games of double-digit fantasy points. Mike Gesicki will be the most capable receiving tight end of Joe Burrow’s career but is probably a week-to-week streamer given the competition for targets. If you’re desperate, Gesicki could establish himself as a good bet to score a touchdown depending on the matchup on any given Sunday.

Pittsburgh Steelers


I’m already changing my tune a little bit since my initial reaction to the Justin Fields trade at the end of April. While I still think Fields is capable of starting for the Pittsburgh Steelers, it’s hard to imagine Russell Wilson isn’t given the first opportunity to do so in Week 1. Winning is the most important thing, especially for this roster whose coach, Mike Tomlin, has never had a losing record since taking over in 2007.

The Steelers will open the 2024 season with back-to-back games on the road against the Atlanta Falcons, and Wilson’s former team, the Denver Broncos. They will then return home against the Los Angeles Chargers before heading back out against the Indianapolis Colts and then opening October against the Dallas Cowboys. When considering travel, it’s by no means a cakewalk of a schedule. If the losses pile up, we could see a quarterback change sooner rather than later.

Both Wilson and Fields are on one-year deals. What happens beyond this season will be a direct result of if either player seizes the opportunity when out there under center. Due to the uncertainty of who starts the season, and for how long, investing in either Wilson or Fields as anything other than a deeper Superflex pick carries a lot of risk. It’s best to target players at other positions if you believe this offense can find success during the 2024 fantasy football season.

Running Back

As much as we would like to see Jaylen Warren in a bell-cow role, Najee Harris will not be denied. Despite playing through a foot injury to start last season, Harris has never missed a game in three NFL seasons. He’s as consistent as they come, too, logging over 1,000 rushing yards and at least seven rushing touchdowns each season. We now know what to expect from Najee Harris after the bar was set a bit too high with 307 carries and 94 targets in his rookie season in Ben Roethlisberger’s final season as the starting quarterback.

The elephant in the room here is Arthur Smith taking over as the Steelers’ offensive coordinator. After driving fantasy football managers insane last season with his confusing utilization of key players on the Atlanta Falcons offense as their head coach, he returns to a coordinator role where he has a history of success. Let’s be clear on something, though. As the former offensive coordinator of the Tennessee Titans during Derrick Henry’s back-to-back seasons winning the league’s rushing title, Smith isn’t directly responsible for Henry’s accolades. However, he did oversee the offense that handed the ball off to Henry 303 and 378 times respectively each season.

Najee Harris and Jaylen Warren are not close to the caliber of running back that Derrick Henry is, however Harris, at 6’1″ and 240 or so pounds, profiles closer to Henry’s size than Warren, who is just 5’8″ and 215 pounds. I expect a similar split to last year in which Najee played just 60 more total snaps than Warren but logged more carries (255 to 149) while Warren handled more work in the passing game (74 to 38 targets). Warren will be cheaper in drafts and perhaps a better value if Najee were to ever miss time. Unless we see differently in training camp, Najee Harris is a high-floor RB2 while Warren is more of a flex play for fantasy football.

Wide Receiver

Upon trading Diontae Johnson to the Carolina Panthers, the Steelers are left with George Pickens, Van Jefferson, and rookie Roman Wilson as the three biggest names in their wide receiver room. There continue to be rumors that Pittsburgh will look to add a big-name receiver before the start of the season, specifically Brandon Aiyuk, Deebo Samuel, or even trading within the AFC North for Tee Higgins. We’ll assess that situation when it becomes a reality.

As of now, George Pickens looks primed for a major breakout out of sheer necessity for someone to step up in this offense’s 2024 passing attack. Pickens did log 1,140 yards in his second season last year on just 63 receptions for a noteworthy 18.1 yards per reception. He had five games of 100+ receiving yards including 195 and 131 respectively in Weeks 16 and 17, the fantasy football semi-finals and championship. That’s a league winner some managers won’t forget.

If Russell Wilson is the starting quarterback and remains so, Pickens will benefit. Wilson still has a strong arm and should have much more success airing it out for Pickens than he typically does looking for receivers in the middle of the field. It’s worth mentioning George Pickens’ 11 plays of 30+ yards in 2023 ranks third amongst receivers while Courtland Sutton, in Denver with Russell Wilson, logged seven of his own.

After Pickens, it’s hard to imagine targeting any Steelers receiver with uncertainty at quarterback and with Arthur Smith as the offensive coordinator. Pickens is the only player worth betting on, though rookie Roman Wilson can be dangerous once the ball is in his hands. I especially like throwing a dart at him later in best ball drafts.

Tight End

After watching Arthur Smith utilize Jonnu Smith instead of Kyle Pitts last season with the Falcons, there’s of course a joking narrative that fantasy football managers should expect Darnell Washington to outplay Pat Freiermuth this season. I don’t expect that to be the case. In fact, I think Freiermuth has a chance to finish as a TE1 for fantasy football without the price tag. He has two seasons of 60 or more receptions in his three-year career logging almost 100 targets in 2022. This season, he’ll adjust to yet another quarterback change, but without Diontae Johnson commanding targets, and no real obvious threat to replace him, Freiermuth could establish himself as a go-to pass catcher for the 2024 Steelers offense.

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