It’s time for the second ADP breakdown of the series as we head North. Actually, half of the teams in this division are South of their AFC East counterpoints, except for the Miami Dolphins. Little geography nugget to start this post off. If you’d like to catch up with how this series works and for my evaluations, read on here. I’ll wait… Ok now that you’re all caught up, let’s dive in!
I’ve written what feels like a ton about the Bengals this offseason, but it’s been mostly negative. During this offseason they have built up their main weakness from last season – the offensive line. Joe Burrow, Ja’Marr Chase, and Tee Higgins should all continue to improve this season. But as we know, that doesn’t mean their ADP is worthwhile.
Tee Higgins (30th Overall, WR12)
I wrote in depth about Tee Higgins already and although I tried to find a different player on this team whose ADP didn’t jive with my thinking, I couldn’t really find one. Except Joe Burrow, I guess… Let’s just move on to the player I like at ADP from this team, shall we?
Tyler Boyd (126th Overall, WR50)
Boyd is the forgotten man in the WR room. It was three to four years ago and with a different quarterback, but Boyd did put up back-to-back WR2 range finishes in 2018 – 2019. He finished WR17 and WR23 in half point PPR scoring those seasons. So we know he CAN do it, he just needs opportunity. The easiest path here would be a Chase or Higgins injury, unfortunately. Not rooting for that at all, but if he has to step up for a game or two this season, you could do a lot worse as a plug-and-play option. He could also surprise us and have a decent role on a weekly basis without C.J. Uzomah occupying the middle of the field. At WR50, say it with me, “WHY NOT?”
Hard to imagine the Steelers made the playoffs last year, but they did! The Big Ben era is over in Pittsburgh and the Mitchell Trubisky era can finally start. Or Kenny Pickett. Or Mason Rudolph?
Diontae Johnson (40th Overall, WR15)
I was shocked when I scrolled down the ADP list looking for Steelers for this segment of the post and found Diontae Johnson being taken at the beginning of the 4th round. As mentioned above, we aren’t 100% sure who the starting QB will be Week 1 for Pittsburgh, but looking at those names, will it really matter? It’s not like defenses feared Big Ben and his 31st ranked completed air yards per pass attempt. While that should go up, we don’t know yet how the offense will look. An increased average depth of target could provide more value to Johnson, but that could also be dominated by Chase Claypool as the more athletic and better deep ball threat.
Don’t forget the dump offs to running backs which is a rookie or struggling QB’s best friend. We already know Najee Harris is a great receiver out of the backfield. The lack of clarity around how this offense scores more than 17 points a game in 2022 scares me away from Diontae at his current price.
Najee Harris (8th Overall, RB6)
These posts are about ADP value so including a player being drafted in the top 10 may contradict that a bit, but let me explain. First of all, I can’t trust any of the wide receivers on this team with their current quarterback situation. Second, outside of those WRs and Pat Freiermuth at TE12, there aren’t any other Steelers you’re drafting anyway. Finally, Najee Harris is about as safe a backend first round pick as you can make in 2022. What do we want above all else in fantasy football? I’ll give you a hint – it rhymes with “slopportunity”. Not my best use of poetic license, but I’m not a poet so what did you expect?
One thing we know about head coach Mike Tomlin is he loves to use one back as much as possible. Last year among Steeler RBs, Harris accounted for 85% of Pittsburgh’s rushing attempts, almost 90% of their rushing yards, and 100% of their rushing TDs all culminating in 92% of the team’s RB points. Oh and the receiving work! Last season, only Alvin Kamara, Christian McCaffrey, D’Andre Swift, Austin Ekeler, and J.D. McKissic had higher target and reception shares among running backs on their respective teams. Najee tied with Ekeler for the league-lead in RB targets as well.
The Steelers are projected to have one of the worst offensive lines in football next season, leading to about the same amount of usage for Harris in the passing game. I don’t see any reason these numbers come down very far, if at all in 2022. He’s got a floor you can build a team around.
A lot is in the air while we wait for the official Deshaun Watson suspension, but I am evaluating players on this team as if the 6 games missed will be upheld. Similarly for Kareem Hunt, until he gets traded, I am evaluating this offense as if he is a part of it.
Amari Cooper (63rd Overall, WR24)
In all of the mock drafts I’ve done so far, I never leave them with Cooper on my roster. Is the reason due to him being on a new team? How about him changing to a run heavy team? Is it the fact he finished 2021 as WR27 in half point PPR despite playing in 15 games and on a high scoring offense? It’s all of the above. Factor in Deshaun Watson’s suspension and you get a hard pass from me. The first month and a half of the season with Jacoby Brissett under center will not be pretty. Wait for your league mates to drop Cooper after that rough stretch and then scoop him up off the waiver wire. Otherwise, he’s not worth the 6th round selection in your drafts.
Kareem Hunt (78th Overall, RB29)
Even though he is in a timeshare, there aren’t many better situations than what Kareem Hunt is currently in. I know he wants to get paid and has a strong possibility of being traded before the season starts. However, if he remains in Cleveland, his ADP is a screaming value in round seven. I don’t know about you, but it just makes me want to yell. Don’t you remember? Pepperidge Farms remembers. And so do I. I’m talking of course about how Hunt started 2021 – with five TDs in his first five games. Then he picked up a calf strain, missing 5 games, tried to return and wound up missing the end of the season with an ankle sprain.
On a per-game basis, Hunt was RB21 last season. If Chubb were to go down with injury, Hunt is a top 10 back. Even without that scenario, Kareem should return at least RB24 value running behind one of the league’s best offensive lines.
Unbelievable that this team missed out on the playoffs after an 8-3 start. Injuries plagued them all season long though, and it finally caught up with them on their way to losing six straight.
J.K. Dobbins (52nd Overall, RB24)
Our team discussed in depth what an ACL injury means to a player and their fantasy outlook upon their return. Based on this data, even if Dobbins is ready for Week 1, it could take him until mid-October to return to pre-injury fantasy production levels. Gus Edwards looks like he’s going to take even longer however, so if Dobbins is healthy enough to start, his main competition is Mike Davis. Doesn’t exactly scare me, but I try to avoid drafting players who are injured coming into the season. In this ADP range, I would rather take someone like Kareem Hunt.
Rashod Bateman (88th Overall, WR36)
Quiz time to end this post. Which team traded away their number 1 wide receiver from last season, lost another to free agency, and then did nothing to replace either of them? It’s the Ravens. Baltimore probably wants to get back to more of a run-first approach with Lamar Jackson and whichever running backs are available. However, it’s still the NFL, so they do need to throw the ball at least 20 times a game if they want to win.
Bateman is the last man standing in the WR room and while Mark Andrews can certainly soak up a ton of targets (he led the TE position last year in team target share percentage), there are 2,341 vacated air yards from last season, good for 5th most in the NFL. Someone needs to catch the ball in Baltimore, so why not Bateman? Marquise Brown finished last season as WR23, so it’s not out of the realm of possibility Bateman finishes near there, based on volume alone.