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Deep Dynasty Stashes: AFC North

Are you looking for deep roster lottery tickets? @mysleepers is here with 4 from the AFC North.

Welcome back to Dynasty Nerds newest series of Deep Dynasty Stashes. We’re looking at players that can be picked up late in rookie drafts or off of waiver wires to be hidden away on taxi squads or the end of benches in the event a fantasy opportunity arises. In this article are four of #MySleepers from the AFC North division that could add value and production to your dynasty squad this season.

Baltimore Ravens

Devontez Walker – Wide Receiver

Zero RB adds if available: Rasheen Ali, Keaton Mitchell, Justice Hill

The Ravens offense excelled in 2023. Lamar Jackson was the league MVP under first-year Offensive Coordinator Todd Monken. Baltimore will look to build on their success this season after the addition of Derrick Henry and a second season in Monken’s system. Odell Beckham Jr. left the team in free agency after soaking up 64 targets for 53 receptions totaling 565 yards and 3 touchdowns, leaving the door of opportunity wide open.

Devontez (“Tez”) Walker was the 17th Wide Receiver drafted in 2024. The Ravens took the speedy Walker with the 13th selection in the fourth round. Walker ran a 4.36 40-yard dash at the combine, which explains his production through only eight games last season with Drake Maye (QB, New England), the third overall selection.

In 2023, Walker caught 41 passes out of 66 targets for 699 yards and 7 touchdowns. He was the clear #1 target for Maye when in the game and flashed as the best player on the field with the ball in his hands. The Ravens love to unlock run-after-catch (RAC) yards, and Walker is the profile Monken needs for manufactured deep plays.

Tez Walker is one of the wide receivers who was pushed down the draft board because of the deep receiving class. He is more of a role-specific player as a deep threat, so there were likely fewer suitors for his talents. In past drafts, he would have been a Day 2 selection as a priority field stretcher. He’s entering an offense with vacated targets at his perceived role and has the elite speed to capitalize in RAC situations.

Advice: Draft Devontez Walker if you’re able. He’s being selected in most drafts near the end of the third round. If a rookie draft only has three rounds, he may hit waivers. Walker is worth a third-round pick, so sending a future third to select him in the rookie draft is a savvy move. He’s a great throw-in player for a larger deal as well. Be creative, but try to get Walker if you’re a rebuilding team or the Lamar Jackson manager.

Cincinnati Bengals

Chase Brown – Running Back

Must-adds if available: Jermaine Burton (WR), Mike Gesicki (TE), Jake Browning (QB)

The NFL is a league of parity. One of the clearest examples is the differing approaches by division. The AFC North is shaped by cold weather, tough defense, and closing out games. This puts a lot of stress on creating big plays during a game. One long touchdown can be the difference in these division rivalry games. Every team has big-play threats, and one of Cincinnati’s is at the RB position.

Chase Brown was drafted in 2023 by the Bengals as the 163rd overall pick. He’s the highlight reel waiting to happen and the easy button for Joe Burrow when defenses spread too wide on passing downs. Brown will get touches regardless of starting Bengals RB Zack Moss. Receptions are worth more than carries in PPR scoring, so it’s possible Brown and Moss have similar floors on a weekly basis. The difference is that Brown can house a 60+ yard screen pass for double-digit fantasy points on any play.

When spelling Joe Mixon last year, Brown did an excellent job with his rushing opportunities. Except for the (several) downs where the embarrassingly mid Cincinnati Bengals offensive line allowed multiple defenders into the backfield before Brown could reach the line of scrimmage. Let’s not forget how bad the Bengals offensive line was and how much better they will look with Joe Burrow making shifts at the line of scrimmage this season.

There are a lot of reasons to be excited about the Bengals offense. While I like Zack Moss as a starting running back, the Bengals clearly believe Brown can contribute in a receiving role with the potential to take over if injury strikes. Although Chase Brown is unlikely to be a 20-touch player, he could live around 12 touches per game, and that’s more than enough for a flex RB in a pinch.

Advice: See what the Chase Brown manager thinks of him. If a team could use a player like Brown, then sending a future fourth-round draft pick along with a cut-candidate player is a good move. It might be enough to offer a future third-round selection for Brown and a fourth. If he is on waivers, Brown is worth a sizable amount of Free Agency Acquisition Budget (FAAB). I’d spend up to 20% if Brown is one of the top three players available.

Cleveland Browns

Nyheim Hines – Running Back

Handcuff adds if available: Jerome Ford (RB), Jameis Winston (QB), Tyler Huntley (QB)

Forget about finding this year’s Puka Nacua. Let’s focus on finding this year’s Kyren Williams. Many managers were on to Williams at this time last season because they identified he was injured early in the 2022 season before getting a chance to produce the way coaches expected. Managers saw there was a predefined role waiting for him in 2023 and stashed Williams away. There’s no guarantee the results will be the same, but there’s another situation brewing this season with the Cleveland Browns.

Slot receiver/return specialist Nyheim Hines is one of the darker horses rushing in the 2024 race for ZeroRB MVP. Cleveland hired Ken Dorsey away from the Buffalo Bills this offseason to be their offensive coordinator. In 2022, Dorsey was responsible for the Bills trading for (at the time) Indianapolis Colts RB Nyheim Hines. Shortly before the start of the 2023 season, Hines suffered a torn ACL and LCL during a jet-ski accident.

Courtesy of New York Times via The Athletic

Prior to the bizarre aquatic injury, Hines was preparing for a priority role in the Buffalo offense. He was traded for, primed, and about to be unleashed (in front of rookie James Cook) but had it snatched away before he could represent himself–just like Kyren Williams. In Hines’ absence, the Bills threw 85 times to the RB position, totaling 642 yards, resulting in 5 touchdowns.

Although Cleveland has veteran RBs Nick Chubb and Jerome Ford, neither offers the speed or receiving capabilities of Hines. Hines told Cleveland reporters he was coming in to be the Lightning to Nick Chubb’s Thunder. He has a role waiting for him. Dorsey felt strongly enough to trade for Hines and signed him after a season-ending injury at his new place of employment–this is the droid he’s been looking for.

Advice: Make Hines a priority waiver claim. He has the trust of his coaching staff, the talent to execute, and the skill set to provide additional value with the new return rules in the NFL. Nyheim Hines is a trade target for the right team. It’s an easy way to spend a last-round rookie pick and (although unlikely) could pay off like a first-round investment.

Pittsburgh Steelers

Darnell Washington – Tight End

Receiver adds if available: Roman Wilson, Cordarrelle Patterson, Van Jefferson

The most important indicator of success at the NFL level for tight ends is elite athleticism. Relative Athletic Score (RAS) averages the height, weight, combine drills, and other physical attributes (hand size, wingspan, etc.). The RAS scale ranges from 0 to 10, with 10 being a perfect athletic profile. The only tight end to score a 10 is Jordan Cameron.

This is Darnell Washington’s age-22 season after being drafted in 2023. Washington entered the NFL with a RAS of 9.88 – the third highest score of any TE (who participated in combine testing) in the history of RAS.*

*Theo Johnson (NYG) and Tip Reiman (ARI) from the 2024 class both scored 9.92.

While Steelers Offensive Coordinator Arthur Smith is a death knell for wide receiver production, he involves multiple tight ends in the passing game. Washington will play behind starting tight end Pat Freiermuth and is likely to be a blocking-first cog in the offense. However, Jonnu Smith played the same role in Atlanta (under HC Arthur Smith) behind receiving starter Kyle Pitts. Jonnu Smith finished the 2023 season with 50 receptions on 70 targets for 582 yards and 3 touchdowns.

Darnell Washington is an ideal stash candidate for teams without an elite tight end. Managers using a Frankenstein TE approach might get a week or two of production as early as this season. If Russell Wilson gels early with the tight ends or Pat Freiermuth misses time, Washington could become the top safety valve and rack up some receptions in TE-premium leagues. There’s a small chance Washington will have a sell window at some point this season, so managers may see him as a future 4th round rookie pick when spending FAAB.

Advice: Managers shouldn’t spend more than $1 acquiring Darnell Washington if they can help it. Washington is on this list because he’s practically a free addition to a roster. There’s no need to target Washington in a trade now, but he’s a better option than most of this year’s rookie TEs.

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