Yesterday, we talked about the biggest questions for each NFC team heading into the NFL Draft, and today, obviously, it's all about the AFC teams. We'll get answers to at least some of these questions starting tomorrow, though some will linger well beyond the draft, into the rest of the offseason, training camp, and beyond.
Before we get to the biggest questions for the AFC teams, here's another reminder that you can get to know the top prospects at each position heading into the draft here in Heath Cummings', where he highlighted the top prospects at each position, with breakdowns from the whole FFT team.
And, as a reminder, we'll have a newsletter for you right here Friday morning breaking down everything you need to now from the first round, plus we'll have analysis on the FFT podcast and our YouTube channel all weekend long, with updates on each top prospects landing spot and breakdowns of any trades that go down during the draft.
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Now, let's preview what to look out for from the AFC side:
Ravens – What happens with Lamar Jackson?
This isn't really a question that is likely to be answered at the draft, though I suppose if the Ravens made some kind of move to take an early-round QB, that might tell us something about their willingness to ultimately meet Jackson's demands for a trade. If they add playmaking in the passing game, especially at wide receiver, that would suggest they feel confident Jackson will be back and they plan on building around him. They should probably do that anyway.
Bills – Where do they add playmaking?
I think the second half of last season exposed a lack of playmaking in this offense outside of Stefon Diggs. James Cook could help solve that, but this is a team that needs guys who can go do something with the ball in their hands right now. A slot receiver who can rack up yards after the catch could make this offense even more dynamic and would fit in perfectly with Diggs and Gabe Davis. The Bills also tend to be mentioned in rumors for big-name running backs every offseason, though I'm not sure that's actually much of a need with Cook, Damien Harris and Nyheim Hines there. I wouldn't be particularly excited to see one of the high-end running backs land here, personally.
There's been a lot of speculation that the Bengals could move on from Mixon this offseason if he isn't willing to re-work his contract, so an early-round investment in a running back would tell us at least a bit about the team's plans here. It's a phenomenal opportunity for a running back, as the Bengals tend to run the ball heavily and lean on their backs in the passing game – Mixon averaged 15 carries and 5.4 targets per game last season. If the Bengals add a running back in the first or second round, that back might be a second-round pick this summer if they get rid of Mixon.
Browns – Do they bring in another RB?
It seems all but certain they will, with Jerome Ford and his career 12 rushing yards at the top of the depth chart behind Nick Chubb. Given how much this team runs the ball, it's hard to imagine they'll go into the season with Chubb and a bunch of also-rans. However, if they wait until the fourth or fifth round, that might suggest they'll bring in that primary backup in free agency – Kareem Hunt is still out there, for whatever that's worth. This is a good situation for a handcuff, so we'll be keeping a close eye on who they bring in.
Broncos – Do they move one of their WRs?
The Broncos have publicly pushed back on rumors that they are open to moving one of Jerry Jeudy or Courtland Sutton, but coming off such a poor season, with relatively few assets and Tim Patrick expected back from his torn ACL, that's one place they might have a surplus at. The Broncos are also a potential landing spot for an early-round running back, and if they do go that route, it could suggest that Javonte Williams' recovery from a knee injury is going slower than expected. The Broncos figure to use multiple backs regularly under new coach Sean Payton, so whether Williams is good to go for Week 1 or not, there will be an opportunity for someone to make an impact here.
Texans – Who is the QB here?
It can't be Davis Mills again, can it? The Texans have put up repeated smokescreens indicating they'd be perfectly willing to take a non-QB at No. 2, but the betting markets don't necessarily buy it. The Texans are hardly just a QB away from contending, and even on offense there's little to get excited about beyond Dameon Pierce here, so this would hardly be an ideal landing spot for a young QB. They do have two picks in the top 12 and another three in the top 75, so I'd expect to see some playmakers added here. However, if they don't add a QB along with them, this would still probably be one of the least exciting offenses in football for 2023.
Colts – Which QB do they end up with?
The Colts are in an interesting spot at No. 4 in the draft. They could very easily end up with their pick of the second-best QB if the Texans pass on one and the Cardinals don't trade out of the No. 3 spot. Or, they could see the Texans take one and then someone else swoops in for one at No. 3, leaving them to choose from whichever is left of the Bryce Young, C.J. Stroud, Will Levis, Anthony Richardson group. We're pretty certain they're going to take one of those four, and that guy will have a pretty good chance of starting in Week 1 in what could be a decent situation with Jonathan Taylor, Michael Pittman, and Alec Pierce – though the offensive line could certainly use some help, too. If Richardson drops here, he might end up the best of the rookie QBs for Fantasy in 2023, at least.
Jaguars – Do they need to make any changes?
I'm not quite as excited about the Jaguars being ready to make a big leap as everyone else – as my pick of Trevor Lawrence as a bust for 2023 last week indicates. But when you look around at this team, there aren't a lot of obvious needs, at least on offense. Every team could use offensive line help, and they could maybe use a backup RB behind Travis Etienne. But the receiving corps seems set with Calvin Ridley returning to join Christian Kirk, Zay Jones, and Evan Engram, so there isn't an obvious spot where a rookie could step in and be a difference maker here. That's fine, we don't like uncertainty anyways.
Chiefs – Do they add any playmakers?
The Chiefs apparently tried to sign Odell Beckham, so they're not totally punting on the position after losing JuJu Smith-Schuster and Mecole Hardman this offseason – and they remain an intriguing possibility for a DeAndre Hopkins trade at some point. But this team could also use Jeric McKinnon replacement in the backfield – remember, McKinnon scored nine receiving touchdowns last season, a fact that had honestly slipped my mind until recently. They're going to add someone who can make plays with the ball in their hands, though as Skyy Moore and Kadarius Toney taught us last season, that doesn't necessarily mean that player is going to make an impact for Fantasy.
Chargers – Where do they add playmaking?
This is another spot where, like the Chiefs and Bills, it seems likely they'll add some offensive weapons, though exactly where is less obvious. The Chargers could really use some speed in the receiving corps, though with Keenan Allen and Mike Williams returning, there might not be an obvious opportunity for an immediate Fantasy impact there. Where there might be – might – is at running back, where Austin Ekeler has requested a trade after looking for a contract extension. I think it's kind of unlikely the Chargers will move on from Ekeler this season, but if they decided to add someone like Jahmyr Gibbs or Bijan Robinson early in the draft, that could change things. This will be a fascinating one to watch, especially for Dynasty purposes, where any back they draft could be in line for a massive, super-valuable role in 2024.
Raiders – Do they bring in an RB?
The Raiders seem pretty set at the key offensive positions, at least for 2023, after adding Jimmy Garoppolo, Jakobi Meyers, and Austin Hooper while retaining Josh Jacobs on the franchise tag this offseason. There isn't a ton of room for a rookie to make a big impact for 2023, so this one is more about the long term. Jacobs could ink an extension and render this moot, or the Raiders could opt to go year-by-year again, in which case, any back they bring in could be in line for a very valuable opportunity beginning in 2024.
Dolphins – Do they make a big splash somewhere?
Excuse the obvious play on words here, but the Dolphins are known to make a splash. They did so already in acquiring Jalen Ramsey earlier in the offseason, and there have been whispers of them being interested in a possible Dalvin Cook trade, though that ultimately seems unlikely. The Dolphins biggest needs are probably along the interiors of both offensive lines, but it wouldn't be a total shock to see them do something like add another playmaker in the running game – Raheem Mostert and Jeff Wilson are fine, but are probably a little more than that at this point. This offense is going to run through Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle, but there's room for a three-down back to make an impact if they opt to go that route.
Patriots – Do they add any playmakers?
After adding JuJu Smith-Schuster and Mike Gesicki this offseason, the Patriots may view their receiving corps as more or less finished. I don't really agree. Of course, their recent history of adding pass-catchers does not inspire confidence, and this offense isn't likely to be particularly explosive either way, so maybe it doesn't matter so much. If you can't tell, I'm struggling to come up with much reason to care very much about this offense at this point, outside of Rhamondre Stevenson.
Jets – What's the fit like for Aaron Rodgers?
With the Rodgers trade finalized, the Jets seem pretty much set on offense. Which is good, because they just spent a bunch of draft capital to add Rodgers, a move you don't do unless you think you're a QB away. The WR room seems set with Garrett Wilson, Allen Lazard, Corey Davis, and Mecole Hardman, and Breece Hall is going to be a three-down back if he recovers well from his torn ACL. They could probably use another back as insurance, though Zonovan Knight and Michael Carter are probably good enough if they need to fill in in a pinch. So, the biggest question here is one we can't really answer until, at minimum, training camp: How much does Rodgers have left, and how does he fit with his new teammates?
Steelers – Do they bring in any RB competition?
I'm pretty down on the Steelers offense as a whole, but they're going to give second-year QB Kenny Pickett an opportunity, and the receiving corps seems pretty set, led by Diontae Johnson, George Pickens, Allen Robinson, and Pat Freiermuth. Najee Harris was, of course, a first-round pick just two years ago, but he's been pretty underwhelming, with just five carries of more than 20 yards in two seasons, while Jaylen Warren started to cut into his passing game work last season. I think they're likely to invest in the offensive line pretty heavily, but if they do spend a Day Two pick on a back, that might indicate they've soured on Harris as much as the Fantasy community has.
Titans – Do they try to bring in their QB of the future?
The Titans are in a weird spot, because they probably can't just tank this season, but they almost certainly aren't actual contenders. But their two most important offensive pieces, Derrick Henry and Ryan Tannehill, are probably past their primes, so they could be on the verge of a rebuild here. Do they try to kick it off by snagging someone like Levis or Richardson if they fall, or else trading back to take Hendon Hooker? I wouldn't be surprised at all if they did, and Hooker would especially be interesting, because he could have a very Fantasy-friendly skill set in an offense that would probably let him run quite a bit – he rushed for 430 yards and five touchdowns in 11 games last season. He probably wouldn't be worth drafting in most re-draft leagues, but Hooker could very well emerge as a useful Fantasy option if Tannehill missed time or they decided to turn the keys over to the young guy.