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Fantasy Redraft Sleepers: AFC North

Written by: Austin Thomas

Welcome to the first of many fantasy football sleeper articles, I'll be writing for the upcoming 2023 NFL season. Over the next several weeks I'll be releasing my favorite sleepers on each team by division. Personally, I identify a sleeper as a player going outside starter territory or top-100 players in average draft position (ADP) with the upside to slide into your lineups and start meaningful games for your fantasy football teams. You can find these ADP's here over at FTN Fantasy's website. Sleepers and/or bench players can play just as much a factor in your championship quest as your starters, so making sure you draft the right ones will be crucial. First up, is the physical division of the AFC North.


Zay Flowers (ADP 109.9; WR47)

"New" seemed to be the theme for the Baltimore Ravens' offensive changeover this off-season prior to the 2023 campaign. Greg Roman was replaced by new offensive coordinator Todd Monken. Lamar Jackson received a new record-breaking contract. Lastly, the Ravens upgraded to a new wide receiver core. Pairing up with Rashod Bateman is free agent acquisition Odell Beckham Jr. and first-round rookie Zay Flowers. The trio will by far be the best group of pass catchers Lamar Jackson has ever had, heading into his sixth year in the league. Oddly enough, all three receivers are ranked similarly in their position. Zay Flowers is at WR47, Rashod Bateman at WR48, and Odell Beckham Jr. at WR50. The uncertainty of the target distribution is baked into each individual player's ADPs and at least one of them is going to be a steal at the current cost. My bet is on the new shiny toy drafted this past April.

Rashod Bateman has been active for a total of 17 games where he's played over 40% of the snaps. In those games, he's averaged 9.24 points per game (PPG). Not very inspiring nor indicating a breakout anytime soon. Looking at Odell Beckham Jr., he's faired a little better in his previous two active seasons averaging 11.16 PPG where he's played in over 50% of the snaps. But remember, that was during the 2020 and 2021 NFL seasons as he sat out in 2022 nursing an ACL injury. Beckham once was considered one of the best receivers in the league, but you'll have to go all the way back to the 2019 season to see his last 1000-yard receiving effort. Don't get me wrong, Zay Flowers has some competition for targets with these two nipping at his heels, but I wouldn't be the least bit surprised if he leads the trio in all major receiving categories. Buy into the rookie hype and get the discount while you can!


Tyler Boyd (ADP 133.6; WR56)

Among fantasy wide receivers, sometimes the third option on a team is overlooked. Most warrant being faded due to low passing volume, maybe even being a boom or bust player, but Tyler Boyd isn't a typical third receiver. Since Tyler Boyd has been pushed down the depth chart with the additions of star receivers Tee Higgins and Ja'Marr Chase, he's finished as the top-scoring third wide receiver option in PPR among all NFL teams over the last two seasons. Not only has Boyd been consistent in his role, but in Joe Burrow's three seasons as the starter, he hasn't finished lower than WR34. During the same three-year span, Boyd has an average of 11.74 points per game, which would've landed him at WR33 in PPG last season. Let's not forget the injury factor either. If Chase or Higgins were to miss any time due to injury, Boyd steps into an even larger role. Getting a constant WR3 with upside at a WR5 price seems like a bargain to me.


Elijah Moore (ADP 120.6; WR52)

Hype season is officially here and one of the biggest talked about Cleveland Browns players is wide receiver Elijah Moore. The Browns traded with the Jets for the disgruntled receiver shortly after the start of NFL free agency, and he instantly became the second option behind Amari Cooper. The Browns claim they want to pass more in 2023 with Deshaun Watson having a full off-season with the team and actually being available for the full season, now that the suspension is behind him. The talent and playmaking ability have been there for Elijah Moore, but the offensive schemes and passers haven't been too kind to him over his short time in the league. Going from the QB carousel Moore endured with the Jets, to an elite passer in Watson, is going to do tremendous things to reboot his career. If Moore can improve upon his promising rookie season where he finished WR54, not only will the Browns get a steal in the trade, but the fantasy managers that take a gamble on his talent will be rewarded as well. I was burned last year, but I'm willing to take the plunge again!


Jaylen Warren (ADP 161.3; RB53)

There's been chatter in the fantasy community about whether or not Najee Harris is a good running back or not. Regardless of where you stand on the matter, you cannot ignore some of the stats in favor of Jaylen Warren. Najee Harris was bested by Jaylen Warren in yards per carry (4.9>3.8), yards per reception (7.6>5.6), yards per touch (5.6>4.0), fantasy points per touch (.89>.71) and had over half as many broken tackles on a third of the touches, to name a few stats. Among the 8 running backs with over 300 total touches, Warren was the only "backup" to surpass his starting teammate in more than one of those stats. Furthermore, he was one of two "backups" to earn over 100 total touches behind these high-touch total players. Warren finished the 2022 season as the RB47 and heading into his sophomore season he's being drafted six spots lower than that. I just don't envision how he doesn't at least replicate last year's totals and give you a little return on his value. Also note, Warren is one of the very few backup running backs with tremendous upside if anything were to happen to the workhorse in front of them for a period of time. Perfect bench stash for a Zero-RB strategist or a great handcuff if you take Najee Harris in an earlier round.

Keep in mind these players are being drafted as bench assets and should remain as such. The upside is there for each of these players playing a key role for your fantasy squads this season and might even find themselves being a constant lock for your flex spot. Your rosters depth plays as much a factor as your starting lineup and obtaining good value throughout the draft is how you keep an advantage over the competition. Go win your drafts and select these players every possible chance you get!

Enjoy the article? Give me a follow on Twitter @Austin_Thomas18 for more Fantasy Football content - Appreciate you!

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