Thursday, Sep 5th
Monday, Sep 9th

AFC North

Ravens ::

  • JK Dobbins lost for season
  • Dynamic RB replaced by straight-line Gus Edwards
  • RB shift likely to lead to increased designed runs for Lamar Jackson
  • Sammy Watkins/Rashod Bateman added to WR room
  • Patrick Ricard top FB in the league
  • Mark Andrews/Nick Boyle at TE look set to capitalize on a high TE target rate once more (fifth-ranked 27.8% in 2020)
  • Targeted RBs at the seventh lowest rate in 2020 at 15.8%
  • Offense averaged the most rushes per game and fewest pass attempts per game in 2020, likely to remain the same in 2021
  • Justice Hill and Ty’Son Williams appear headed for complimentary roles after BAL failed to add further depth at the RB position post cutdowns 
  • Brandon Williams/Calais Campbell healthy (BAL top of the league vs the run when both are healthy)
  • Marcus Peters/Marlon Humphrey form top CB duo in the league
  • Defense most vulnerable over intermediate-middle of field (not a defense to target in DFS)
  • TE Mark Andrews is typically over-owned and overpriced relative to standard range of outcomes

Bengals ::

  • Offseason moves indicate not much will change philosophically moving forward
  • Spent 2nd, 4th, and 6th round picks on OL
  • Added new OL and DL coaches in Frank Pollack and Marion Hobby
  • Corner Trae Waynes is expected to miss the first month of the season, leaving recent additions Chidobe Awuzie (52.0 PFF 2020) and Eli Apple (played only two games in 2020) to start the year at corner
  • Corner William Jackson (secondary’s top-rated player) left for Washington
  • Lou Anarumo’s man-heavy defensive scheme struggled to get to the QB in 2020 and ranked in the middle of the league in blitz rate
  • Chidobe Awuzie and Eli Apple are going to get absolutely eaten up if left in man coverage on the back end to start the year
  • CIN ran 11-personnel a league-high 76% of the time in 2020, a trend likely to continue with the addition of first round selection Ja’Marr Chase, who had a bad case of the yips during his first preseason
  • The Bengals brought in tackle Riley Reiff, drafted second round rookie Jackson Carman, fourth round rookie tackle D’Ante Smith, and sixth round rookie center Trey Hill to help a dreadful OL
  • PFF grades this unit as the 25th-ranked OL heading into 2021
  • CIN played at the 16th-ranked situation neutral pace of play in 2020 at 30.31 seconds per play
  • The team will look to improve on their 27th-ranked drive success rate from 2020

Browns ::

  • return all 5 starters on OL (ranked 1st in pass-blocking and 2nd in run-blocking in 2020)
  • Fourth highest situation neutral rush rate in 2020
  • Nick Chubb’s snap rate was managed more last season than we’ve seen previously, averaging just a 51.6% snap rate in the eight weeks post injury
  • He averaged 18.5 running back opportunities (rushes + targets) per game in those eight contests
  • Overall, Cleveland averaged 30.4 rush attempts per game in 2020, fifth most in the league
  • It is likely we see this team continue to manage Chubb’s reps as they look to keep him healthy for a larger portion of the season
  • That means to expect another trickle of 14-16 running back opportunities for Kareem Hunt
  • Cleveland attempted the fifth fewest pass attempts per game in 2020 at 31.8
  • Jarvis Landry ran primarily outs, crosses, slants, and hooks in 2020
  • Odell Beckham, Jr. ran primarily slants, goes, posts, and comebacks in 2020
  • Big picture here: the dynamic, playmaking abilities of these WRs was not fully utilized
  • The Browns were at their best when they had their best players on the field, which was clearly in 21-personnel (both Hunt and Chubb on the field)
  • This allowed them to create mismatches on all levels with the threat of Chubb rushing, Hunt out of the backfield, and Landry and OBJ
  • It remains to be seen how they adapt in the second year under OC Alex Van Pelt
  • For comparison’s sake, this team ran almost four times as much 12-personnel as they did 21 in 2020, with only 5% (!!!!!) of total offensive snaps coming from 21-personnel over the second half of the season
  • They were the league’s sixth most efficient offense and played at a middling pace of play (21st-ranked 30.61 seconds per play) in 2020
  • Joe Woods enters his second season as DC in Cleveland
  • The Browns lost a combined 45.8 games to injury in the secondary
  • Woods likes to utilize a very conservative 4-2-5 base cover-3 zone defense; very much of the “bend but don’t break” mantra; allows the talent up front to create organic pressure
  • Cleveland ranked in the top half of the league in yards allowed per rush attempt but bottom half of the league in yards allowed per completion (primarily due to injuries)

Steelers ::

  • Matt Canada OC (QB)
  • Lost OL Alejandro Villanueva, Matt Feiler, and Maurkice Pouncey; lost James Conner to FA
  • Lost corner Mike Hilton and OLB Bud Dupree on the defensive side (NT Tyson Alualu initially agreed to terms with Jacksonville and ultimately returned to the team)
  • Added Najee Harris as new workhorse RB
  • Last year’s struggles along the OL were primarily due to aging players; while much younger now, PPF has this unit ranked 31st entering the season
  • Najee Harris gives off some legacy Le’Veon Bell vibes when projecting his expected workload this year; a situation to look to capitalize on early in the year
  • Offense likely to be a bit more dynamic, but Ben Roethlisberger’s decrepit arm strength will hold it back (if you haven’t seen his deep ball attempts from preseason, they’re a great laugh)
  • Drafted rookie TE Pat Freiermuth in the second round, and used third and fourth round picks on the offensive line with center Kendrick Green and tackle Dan Moore, Jr.
  • Targeted WRs a whopping 70.4% of the time in 2020
  • Targeted RBs a lowly 12.4% of the time in 2020, lowest in the league; I expect this trend to reverse heading into 2021 with dynamic, all-around RB Najee Harris
  • So, where do those targets come from? To me, it is likeliest at the expense of Juju Smith-Schuster as a now tertiary option in the passing game (majority of his routes are of the crossing variety; low upside)
  • Diontae Johnson will lead this team in targets once more, with dynamic playmaker Chase Claypool owning the outside looks
  • The offense played at the sixth fastest situation neutral pace of play in 2020 at 29.24 seconds per play
  • New OC Matt Canada prefers to play with pace, so we could see this team play even faster in 2021
  • Expect a simplified offense that utilizes a pistol base and power, inside zone, and pin and pull rushes
  • This should allow the Steelers more opportunity for play action, a large boost to Diontae Johnson and Chase Claypool
  • Through the air, expect more depth to the routes being run by the wide receivers, with crossing concepts mixed with intertwined routesThis offense will look a good deal different than it did in 2020, with likely a boost to effectiveness (ranked 25th in the league in drive success rate in 2020)

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