The AFC North used to be known for its ferocious defense. As the teams slowly faltered, they had a chance to bring their defenses back to prominence. Did they do anything to help you with your fantasy team?
Best Pick: Danny Shelton, Nose Tackle, Washington, 1st round
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Most Surprising Pick: Charles Gaines, Defensive Back, Louisville, 6th round
Biggest Sleeper: Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, Corner Back, Oregon, 7th round
Best Pick: Paul Dawson, Inside Linebacker, TCU, 3rd round
Most Surprising Pick: A.J. Hawk, Linebacker, Free Agency Acquisition
Biggest Sleeper: Derron Smith, Free Safety, Fresno State, 6th round
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Best Pick: Carl Davis, Defensive Tackle, Iowa, 3rd round
Most Surprising Pick: Tray Walker, Cornerback, Texas Southern, 4th round
Biggest Sleeper: Za’Darius Smith, Defensive End, Kentucky, 4th round
Best Pick: Alvin “Bud” Dupree, Outside Linebacker, Kentucky, 1st round
Most Surprising Pick: Senquez Golson, Corner Back, Mississippi, 2nd round
Biggest Sleeper: Anthony Chickillo, Defensive End, Miami, 6th round
It is hard to be optimistic about the Cleveland Browns in any capacity. But this year might be the year, for the defense anyway! The Browns have re-loaded the defense. That will be needed. Remember this offense will make their defense even more valuable. And if Ekpre-Olomu can get healthy, the Browns secondary will be formidable.
Last season the Bengals were 20th in the NFL in rushing defense. Now they have Hawk and Dawson and your fantasy team is the better for it. And lest we forget, the return of defensive end Michael Johnson is a bonus. The Bengals were last in the NFL in sacks. Last season with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Johnson collected 27 tackles, four sacks and two forced fumbles in 14 games. The Bengals are better on defense. But seriously there was nowhere to go but up. And this is really good for your IDP fantasy team.
The mantra in Baltimore is have faith in Ozzie Newsome. This season that may be asking a lot. Other than the signing of safety Kendrick Lewis, I dunno? I want to believe in fourth round pick Walker. He of the small school drafted with a chip on his shoulder. And oh yeah, he has size and speed. We know the story. Cornerback feels dissed. Cornerback balls out. Fantasy bonsai!
Steelers off-season is a tale of loss. Gone is Troy Polamalu. Gone is Ike Taylor. Gone is Dick LeBeau. You remember the last time a Steeler coach was retired via let go. I believe he won coach of the year? Augh! So the Steelers secondary is currently bereft of any fantasy football hope. Maybe the linebackers will offer some hope? Stay tuned.
For our fantasy draft we are taking a wait and see attitude as far as the AFC North is concerned. No problem with being hopeful. Just don’t draft according to tradition. Tradition is not going to score you fantasy points.
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