Fantasy Football

AFC North Breakdown of Coaching and Offensive Line

JaMarr Chase


Welcome to installment #5 of the breakdowns, and the kickoff to the second half of the league.

OLine and Coaching Series Quick Links



Baltimore Ravens

NFL Futures: Regular Season Win Odds: 11.5

  • HC: John Harbaugh
  • OC: Todd Monken
  • DC: Mike McDonald

John Harbaugh is in his 16th season as the Ravens HC. He has a track record of surrounding himself with excellent assistants over the years. Names like Greg Roman, Gary Kubiak, Rex Ryan, and Chuck Pagano come to mind. Harbaugh leaves play calling and scheme development to those coordinators, and he has not been afraid to change schemes over the years/

New OC Todd Monken is likely to introduce such a change. Fresh off time as OC for Georgia, Monken is re-entering the NFL ranks, and he brings his Spread offense with him. Lamar Jackson is about to operate in more shotgun snaps and be asked to throw more than he has in his career. Last year’s OC, Greg Roman, had an offense that was heavily run-focused, and Monken’s will be the opposite.

Mike McDonald is in his second year as DC. In year one he mixed up the fronts and coverage on a near snap-by-snap basis. The defense often shows one type of coverage but runs something else by the time the ball is snapped. Baltimore’s defense was one of the best in many categories in 2022. A repeat performance is possible in 2023.

Offensive Line

Projected Starters

  • LT: Ronnie Stanley / Pat Mekari
  • LG: Ben Cleveland / John Simpson
  • C: Tyler Linderbaum
  • RG: Kevin Zeitler
  • RT: Morgan Moses

A good offensive line has become something to be expected in Baltimore. Despite losing Ben Powers to the Broncos, the unit should still be good in 2023.

Stanley, Cleveland and Linderbaum are all home grown Baltimore talents. Linderbaum was a rookie last year but gets a 6th overall rank from Pro Football Focus anyway. Stanley and Cleveland have had some injury issues, but backups Simpson and Mekari are good in their own right.

The Ravens added Zeitler and Moses in the offseason, and both are above average.

In 2022, this group allowed the least QB hits. Having a mobile QB like Lamar helps of course, but this group was also the least penalized.


The offense is new, and there will likely be some growing pains. However, players like OBJ and Zay Flowers were brought in to help this offense be successful in the passing game. Rashod Bateman’s ADP is fluctuating since he’s listed on the PUP list, but 105 – 115 is the range, OBJ is about 120, and Flowers is 126ish. I am not too interested in OBJ considering his age and the fact that he hasn’t played football in over a year, but I could go for Bateman or Flowers depending on my team’s needs.

JK Dobbins will likely benefit more than Gus Edwards will in this offense, but the Ravens run game is likely not going to be what it used to be. As such, 44th overall for Dobbins is something I am not interested in, and he’s on the PUP list as well.

Marc Andrews is going at pick 32. I don’t mind that if you want a top-tier TE by round 3.

While the Ravens’ DST did well last year, banking on this offense being good right away might be a big ask. That could put a lot of pressure on this defense.


Cincinnati Bengals

NFL Futures: Regular Season Win Odds: N/A

  • HC: Zac Taylor
  • OC: Brian Callahan
  • DC: Lou Anarumo

These three coaches are entering their 5th year together with the Bengals. In this day and age, that is a rarity.

Taylor and Callahan work closely together with this offense, but Taylor is the play caller on game day. They employ a West Coast offense in which they have incrementally given Joe Burrow more say in terms of being able to audible into a different call should he see the need. The Bengals are in no rush offensively, so the volume of plays is not where I would like it to be. I learned this lesson the hard way as all of my fantasy teams had at least one Bengal on it last year.

Anarumo uses a 4-3 base and prefers to let the 4 lineman do the rushing while the rest cover. He preaches consistency and discipline. His background consists of a lot of time working with defensive backs. He prefers press coverage, which will test the skills of his younger CBs.

Offensive Line

Projected Starters

  • LT: Orlando Brown
  • LG: Cordell Volson
  • C: Ted Karras
  • RG: Alex Cappa
  • RT: Jonah Williams / La’el Collins

Two years ago, when they made the Super Bowl, the Bengals did so despite an offensive line that couldn’t keep Joe Burrow upright. So prior to last year they went out and brought in players like Karras and Cappa to help the offense. It’s questionable how much they helped as their run blocking was one of the worst in the league, and they incurred some injuries toward the end of the season anyway.

Line coach Frank Pollack, who is in his third year, might need to show improvement in 2023 or risk dismissal, especially since they brought in Orlando Brown this offseason. This signing was interesting because Jonah Williams was the starting LT in 2022. He had a rough year. Apparently he was not happy about Brown being brought in. Cooler heads prevailed, however, and Williams has agreed to a transition to RT, but since he has a grand total of zero snaps at that position, we’ll see how it goes.

Volson is in his second year and hopefully should improve after a tough rookie campaign.

Cappa and Karras are both steady and ranked above average.


Imagine if this offense got some exceptional offensive line play. I went a little too far in on the Bengals last year. That hurt me because Chase got injured and Mixon was largely underwhelming outside of one game. I would be crazy to do it again right? RIGHT????

Mixon comes at a discount this season at his ADP of 42. A mid to late 4th-round pick on an RB still in his prime behind an improved offensive line with basically no other RB challenging him for touches? That’s tempting. The only problem is Mixon’s off-the-field issues which could change things closer to the start of the season.

Chase is a top 5 pick in the draft this year. As long as he’s healthy, he deserves to be there. Some analysts are confident he will outperform Justin Jefferson in 2023. I’m not confident about that, but I’ll admit that it could happen. In some mock drafts I’ve done, I’ve seen Chase slip to 8, though I wouldn’t expect that on draft day.

Higgins’ ADP is 31, round 3. That seems a little high to me considering the lack of pace in this offense. However, if you’re at the back end of round 3, you’re probably making a decision between at WR2, an RB2, Marc Andrews or a high-end QB.

Irv Smith takes over for Hayden Hurst. Smith has flashed for the Vikings, but I’m good with him at this spot and ADP of 157. I’d rather invest in an offense with a track record of using their TEs regularly.


Cleveland Browns

NFL Futures: Regular Season Win Odds: 9.5

  • HC: Kevin Stefanski
  • OC: Alex Van Pelt
  • DC: Jim Schwartz

Stefanski is returning for his 4th year as HC in Cleveland. He is the offensive play caller of what is technically a West Coast offense but is really a run first offense. Now that Stefanski supposedly has his QB, we’re likely to see an evolution of their scheme as Deshaun Watson becomes more comfortable. That being said, the Browns won’t have a fast-paced offense unless they are forced to by game script and time constraints. Van Pelt is here to help execute Stefanski’s wishes.

Jim Schwartz is in his first season as DC with the Browns but has been a DC with the Titans, Bills, and most recently the Eagles when they won their Super Bowl. Schwartz will adopt a 4-3 base for this offense and ask Myles Garrett and Za’Darius Smith to do some heavy lifting in generating pressure. The secondary will likely be a mix of man coverage on the perimeter and zone in the middle. Schwartz in big into causing turnovers as his defenses can frequently be found toward the top of the league in forced fumbles.

Offensive Line

Projected Starters

  • LT: Jedrick Wills Jr.
  • LG: Joel Bitonio
  • C: Ethan Pocic
  • RG: Wyatt Teller
  • RT: Jack Conklin

Bill Callahan returns for his fourth year coaching this line in Cleveland. He has helped to turn it into one of the best in the league.

Bitonio and Pocic are two of the best in the NFL at their positions.

Teller and Conklin have been named All Pros several times though Conklin had a down year in 2022.

Willis was an RT in college but has largely played LT in the NFL. It’s been a mixed bag of results, but he is NFL worthy. It might be prudent to pay attention to Edge rushers that he’ll likely have a problem with (makes a DFS note).

While this group was not as good as predicted last year, keeping all 5 starters together can definitely be a good thing. If Willis improves and Conklin has a bounce back year, then this could be one of, if not the, best lines in football.


“This could be one of, if not the, best lines in football” is something I’ve said about Cleveland for a while now. While they certainly have been exceptional, that sentence has led me to overvalue Browns RB Nick Chubb in terms of fantasy, especially in DFS.

When we last saw Watson doing anything fantasy, he was utilizing a lot of RPOs and play action passes. Using play action with Deshaun Watson’s arm, one of the best RBs in the league, and one of the best offensive lines is one of those things that is so obvious it baffles you when it doesn’t happen.

I can say the same about Chubb. Why they don’t give this guy the ball 20 – 25 times every game is sometimes beyond me. Then I remember that maybe they don’t want to run him into the ground and perhaps preserve him for a season or two more. Then I also remember that Kareem Hunt isn’t here anymore.

Nick Chubb is going in the early second round. If I have the 12th overall pick, he’s likely one of my two NFL picks there.

Amari Cooper is going to have his days. His ADP is 37, the 3rd and 4th round turn. For me that depends on how the draft is going, but I wouldn’t hate him as my WR2.

Elijah Moore is going around 116. I am more interested in him there as the slot WR and possible WR2 in this offense.  Peoples Jones is going around 145. He’ll have his games, but there’s better consistency to be found elsewhere.  David Njoku is around pick 100. I guess I’m fine with that, but honestly, I’m just looking elsewhere at TE this season.

Cedric Tillman will eventually be the X in this offense, but probably not in 2023. Keep an eye out though if Cooper or DPJ go down.

The Browns DST is not getting drafted. It should be.


Pittsburgh Steelers

NFL Futures: Regular Season Win Odds: 8.5

  • HC: Mike Tomlin
  • OC: Matt Canada
  • DC: Teryl Austin

Mike Tomlin is entering his 17th year as HC for the Steelers. If you caught my joke about the Falcons not having a winning season since 2017, guess when the Steelers last had a losing season……2003, and that was Bill Cowher, not Tomlin.

Matt Canada is being brought back in for year 3 as OC. An improved offensive line (see below) will be a helpful addition to the Steelers offense in 2023. Canada will be utilizing a run-first offense and putting second-year QB Kenny Pickett in the best possible position to succeed. Off the run game, Canada will use RPOs and play action to try and set up big plays in the passing game.

For a few years now, the Steelers’ defensive success has revolved around whether or not TJ Watt was on the field. While that’s still true, the Steelers draft choices and offseason moves are indications of them trying to move on from relying completely on him to be dynamic on defense. Both Tomlin and Austin want a diverse defense; they’ll play 4-3, 5-2, and 6-1 on the line and move in and out of man and zone coverages in the secondary. The defense will organize itself specifically to the opponent they are playing, and they will make in game adjustments when needed. Once again, this DST will be one to own in fantasy.

Offensive Line

Projected Starters

  • LT: Broderick Jones / Dan Moore
  • LG: Isaac Seumalo / Kevin Dotson
  • C: Mason Cole
  • RG: James Daniels / Kevin Dotson
  • RT: Chukwuma Okorafor

Surprisingly, the Steeler offensive line was decent in 2022. The starters avoided major injuries and are back for 2023 with some additions like first round pick Broderick Jones and Isaac Seumalo via free agency.

Line coach Pat Meyer was in his first year in 2022, and he did a very nice job with this group. For years the Steelers have prided themselves on having a good offensive line. Things changed in 2021, but on the cusp of 2023, Pittsburgh has rebuilt it in an impressive amount of time.

Most players, including backup Dotson, are ranked in the top 30 at their positions except for Okorafor. However, this line should continue to ascend in 2023.


Najee. Harris. He’s going at pick 27. He should be higher than a 3rd rounder given this scheme, this offensive line, his role, and no real workhorse back threatening him. He will see high volume again, but this time he will be in a better offense than he was in 2022. If I am picking #1 overall, having Justin Jefferson or Ja’Marr Chase and Najee Harris plus another top RB or WR is the route I am likely to go.

Other than the DST, that’s about it for me. Diontae Johnson, Allen Robinson, George Pickens and Pat Freirmuth are all going in spots where I would simply prefer to have someone else. The passing volume will not be high, and Pickett will have to rely less on DJ than Roethlisberger did.


That’s 5 in the books! See you for part 6 soon!

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Boris

    July 27, 2023 at Thursday, July,27

    Obviously, keep tabs on Joe Burrow and the calf muscle injury he incurred at camp today, 7/27.

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