Fantasy football players rising, falling and ones to watch: AFC North

With the preseason kicking off Thursday night, fantasy football is just around the corner. Be sure to check back frequently for up-to-date fantasy football rankings. Keep those rankings in mind as we take a look at each division’s players on the rise, on the decline and ones to watch for all 32 teams. Here’s a look at the AFC North.

AFC North

Steelers

Rising

Antonio Brown, WR—It seems nearly impossible that Brown could be held in any higher regard, but it’s happening in early drafts. In half-point PPR leagues, he’s getting drafted fifth overall, ahead of the likes of Alvin Kamara, Melvin Gordon and Saquon Barkley. The next best wide receiver getting taken is DeAndre Hopkins at No. 9. Brown is a can’t-miss player and, despite not being a running back, you can draft him as early as you like.

Falling

Vance McDonald, TE—When you have a potent offense with a lot of weapons it can be tempting to try to cash in on some of the wealth that’s spread around. McDonald has the talent to be a solid fantasy contributor but his injury history doesn’t instill confidence. He just left practice with a foot injury on Sunday so it could be another year of nagging issues. On the bright side, he’s pretty much free in drafts and offers upside.

One to watch

James Washington, WR—The rookie was extremely impressive in college, but with Brown and JuJu Smith-Schuster in town it’s hard to picture Washington having a positive weekly impact. He’s currently going in the 14th round in most drafts, but I expect that to move up once more leagues start drafting. It’ll be interesting to see where he ends up at the end of the season, but be sure you have your starting WRs all set before entertaining drafting him.

Ravens

Rising

Alex Collins, RB—Collins is getting drafted early in the fourth round in fantasy drafts and will be the lead rusher for the Ravens. He rushed for 973 yards last year, playing in 15 games, starting 12 of them. He rushed for six touchdowns, all of them coming in the second half of the season.

Falling

Joe Flacco, QB—Flacco has thrown a touchdown on 3.8 percent of his passes for his career. He’s been below 3.8 percent in each of the last three seasons. Last year he tossed just 18 TDs to 13 interceptions, averaging only 196.3 yards per game. It was his worst per game average since his rookie season when he averaged 185.7 yards.

One to watch

Lamar Jackson, QB—It definitely sounds like Jackson will get on the field even if he isn’t named the starting quarterback. His talent is too much to keep on the bench. I’ve got a feeling he’ll take over full time sooner rather than later, especially if Flacco continues to struggle. Flacco’s contract be damned.

Bengals

Rising

Joe Mixon, RB—I call him the leader of the post hype crowd. He was supposed to be great right out of college, but people were reminded that he was drafted by Cincinnati, a team with a terrible line and a coach who doesn’t play rookies early. That said, he came on late and is set to be at least an RB2 in my opinion.

Falling

A.J. Green, WR—Don’t get me wrong. Green will still be a WR1 and should have a good season, but he’s getting drafted after Michael Thomas, Keenan Allen and Davante Adams. Those are three players he was clearly ahead of before last season’s fantasy drafts. The Bengals’ poor season in ’17 and Andy Dalton still in Cincy has Green slipping a bit.

One to watch

John Ross, WR—Ross is a player who could end up surprising fantasy owners. He played in just three games in his rookie season and scored negative fantasy points due to a fumble on his only touch of the season. After running a 4.22 in the 40 at the NFL combine last season, expectations were high. Injuries stunted his first year, but he’s healthy now and making plays at camp. He’ll be virtually free in drafts, so selecting him late could pay off.

Browns

Rising

David Njoku, TE—Tyrod Taylor will start the season with No. 1 draft pick Baker Mayfield on the bench. Taylor has a history of connecting well with the tight end position and could help Njoku’s value. The second-year player is currently being taken as the No. 13 tight end.

Falling

Josh Gordon, WR—Hopefully this changes soon, but it doesn’t look good when Gordon doesn’t start training camp with his team. We don’t know when he’ll return, but it’s not apparent that he’s facing any league discipline. Gordon is currently getting drafted ahead of Jarvis Landry, who may end up with more fantasy points by the season’s end.

One(s) to watch

Running backs—It’s tough to say which of the backs expected to get playing time will come out on top. Carlos Hyde is being drafted highest, in the seventh round. Duke Johnson is being taken in the ninth while rookie Nick Chubb is right behind Johnson. It’s the kind of backfield I tend to avoid, but if things settle as the season progresses, one could be useful off the waiver wire.

Division previews

AFC North

AFC South

NFC North

NFC South

AFC East

AFC West

NFC East

Fantasy football players rising, falling and ones to watch: AFC North

As we speak, NFL teams are gearing up for training camp, if they haven’t reported already. Fantasy football is just around the corner. Be sure to bookmark this page for up-to-date fantasy football rankings. Keep those rankings in mind as we take a look at each division’s players on the rise, on the decline and ones to watch for all 32 teams. Here’s a look at the AFC North.

AFC North

Steelers

Rising

Martavis Bryant, WR—The natural ability of this talented receiver is something you can’t ignore despite off the field troubles that should be behind him.

Falling

Eli Rogers, WR—The return of Bryant takes some opportunity away, plus the addition of rookie JuJu Smith-Schuster doesn’t help.

One to watch

JuJu Smith-Schuster, WR—It’s a crowded group, but the team is looking to go with more 4-receiver sets so the rookie will have a chance to impress.

Ravens

Rising

Jeremy Maclin, WR—The Ravens love to throw the ball, probably because their run game is weak, and Maclin is a true No. 1 that should benefit.

Falling

Terrance West, RB—With the addition of Danny Woodhead, and the fact the Ravens are pass happy, West should probably see some regression.

One to watch

Danny Woodhead, RB—Speaking of Woodhead, he’ll likely be a monster in PPR leagues with Joe Flacco dumping off the ball on check downs.

Bengals

Rising

Andy Dalton, QB—He’s been solid his whole career, but he hasn’t had as many weapons with so much upside.

Falling

Jeremy Hill, RB—With Gio Bernard likely to hold onto the third-down role and Joe Mixon coming in with a lot of talent, that leaves Hill on the outside looking in.

One to watch

Joe Mixon, RB—He’s as talented as they come and his ability in all areas can make him the No. 1 back on the team before the season’s done.

Browns

Rising

Isaiah Crowell, RB—He was 48 yards shy of 1,000 last year while catching 40 passes. The Browns have a good offensive line for running the ball.

Falling

Duke Johnson Jr., RB—Unless Crowell goes down with injury, Johnson holds little value outside of PPR leagues.

One to watch

David Njoku, TE—The Browns have a lot of young QBs and a security blanket at the tight end position can prove to be valuable.

Divisions:

NFC North

NFC South

AFC North

AFC South

NFC East

NFC West

AFC East

AFC West