The AFC North will featured a number of intriguing fantasy football options in 2014, particularly at running back. While the Browns and Ravens aren't entirely sure who will be their featured back this season, the Steelers and Bengals are counting on a pair of second-year backs to explode onto the scene.
Le'Veon Bell was one of the best backs over the final two months of 2013 as the Steelers almost made a ridiculous rally to earn a playoff spot. The Bengals relied on a slow and steady diet of Giovani Bernard throughout the year on their way to winning 11 games and the AFC North.
The guys at 2 Mugs Fantasy Football did a preview of the AFC North's best fantasy football options, and Bernard was one of their 'Cream of the Crop' players.
I hesitated to include Gio on this list, but I’m starting to believe that he is going to be unleashed with Hue Jackson taking over as the Bengals’ offensive coordinator. Grinders Jeremy Hill and BenJarvus Green-Ellis will battle for carries as well, but Gio is the guy that will make Hue’s offense go. Hue was in charge of the offense in Oakland when Darren McFadden had his best years.
McFadden averaged 5.27ypc (!!!) from 2011-2012 and nearly 90 rushing yards per game. An underrated offensive mastermind, count on Hue finding plenty of ways to get his best running back the ball. If he can manage just 3 more touches per game this year (17, up from 14), he’ll likely produce like a top 10 running back.
A.J. Green was also in their COTC tier, but we knew that already. Perhaps, the most interesting note they made was putting Andy Dalton and Ben Roethlisberger together in the 'Solid Producers' tier.
This duo quietly finished among the top 10 quarterbacks in fantasy points scored in 2013. Even more surprising is that Dalton was the #3 overall quarterback. This speaks loudly to the fantastic squad that they have built around him.
While I would bet heavily against him even finishing inside the top 5 again this year, he and Ben will always be underrated among fantasy circles. At this point they can be had in the 12th round as the 17th and 19th quarterbacks off the board, respectively.
As much flack as Dalton catches for being so erratic, he's one of the more stable QB options in fantasy football.