NFL Fantasy Exit Interviews: AFC North

AFC North

Statistical Leaders (Final positional ranking/PPR ranks)
Passing:Lamar Jackson -- 3,127 yards, 36 TD, 6 INT (QB1)
Rushing:Lamar Jackson -- 1,206 rush yards, 7 TD (QB1)
Receiving:Mark Andrews -- 64 rec., 852 yards, 10 TD (TE5)

What went right: Lamar, Lamar, Lamar. Plenty of fantasy analysts had high hopes for Lamar Jackson in 2019. Few expected Jackson to be a record-setter. The Ravens quarterback set the single-season record for rushing yards by a quarterback, breaking the mark set by Michael Vick in 2006. But we all knew he could run. What set Jackson apart in 2019 was his obvious improvement as a passer. After being inconsistent throwing the ball as a rookie, Jackson came back slinging this year, surpassing 3,100 passing yards with a league-best 36 scoring throws. In all, it may have solidified Jackson as a top 20 pick in most fantasy leagues next season.

Jackson's numbers might have overshadowed some of his teammates' accomplishments but in reality, they merely enhanced them. Mark Ingram posted his third 1,000-yard rushing season in the past four years thanks, in part, to the rushing threat posed by his quarterback. Mark Andrews was Jackson's favorite target and enjoyed a breakout season with 852 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns, adding a new productive face at a position that sorely needed it.

What went wrong: If there was one Achilles' heel in the offense, it was an underwhelming wide receiver corps. Marquise "Hollywood" Brown flashed in Week 1, exciting the football world, but as the season wore on it was apparent that Brown would be an occasional flash of lightning rather than a consistent rolling thunder. For fantasy managers, it meant that if Brown didn't find the end zone, he rarely offered usable weeks.

What needs to improve: The first key will be to see how Brown progresses in the offseason and if he can become more than just the occasional big play guy. Beyond that, the Ravens will need to find some other wide receiver help -- something that shouldn't be difficult in what is considered to be a very deep wide receiver draft. If Baltimore can solve that issue, it would fill the one glaring hole in one of the scarier offenses in the league.

2019 Team Offensive Ranks
Total offense: 30th
Passing: 19th
Rushing: 25th

Statistical Leaders (Final positional ranking/PPR ranks)
Passing:Andy Dalton -- 3,494 yards, 16 TD, 14 INT (QB25)
Rushing:Joe Mixon -- 1,137 yards, 5 TD (RB13)
Receiving:Tyler Boyd -- 90 rec., 1,046 yards, 5 TD (WR18)

What went right: It took awhile but Joe Mixon finally blossomed into the fantasy running back that many imagined he could be when they spent an early-round draft pick on him. Alas, it's likely that plenty of the people who drafted Mixon weren't the ones to reap the rewards of his best games. In Weeks 1-7, Mixon averaged fewer than seven fantasy points per game -- a number that would have been far worse were it not for the pair of touchdowns he scored. From Week 8 until the end of the season, that per game average more than doubled to 15.9. That's great ... provided you didn't trade Mixon away first. We can't overlook the season Tyler Boyd put together. The fourth-year wideout topped 1,000 yards for the second consecutive year and performed reasonably well after being unexpectedly thrust into a WR1 role due to A.J. Green's ongoing injury.

What went wrong: Let's start with A.J. Green. News broke during the preseason that Green was dealing with a foot injury that could force him to miss the first half of the season. From that point on, the Bengals played a weekly game of "will he or won't he" with the general football public. After a certain point, it became obvious that waiting for Green was a futile effort. Yet Cincinnati never placed their star receiver on injured reserve until Week 17.

So many of this offense's problems stemmed from an offensive line that couldn't pull its weight. That doesn't completely excuse Andy Dalton failing to do much to lift this offense. It was bad enough that midway through the season, first-year head coach Zac Taylor made the move to start Ryan Finley for three games. Of course, that turned out even worse and the Bengals went back to Dalton to finish out the season -- although it's likely that we've seen the last of Dalton in a Bengals uniform.

What needs to improve: The Bengals secured the No. 1 pick in the draft thanks to winning just two games in 2019 and all signs point to Cincinnati selecting LSU star quarterback Joe Burrow. If he can be the franchise signal-caller Cincy believes he is, that should do wonders for the other skill position players on the roster. That still won't absolve the organization from doing something to fix an otherwise poor offensive line.

2019 Team Offensive Ranks
Total offense: 22nd
Passing: 22nd
Rushing: 12th

Statistical Leaders (Final positional ranking/PPR ranks)
Passing:Baker Mayfield -- 3,827 yards, 22 TD, 21 INT (QB20)
Rushing:Nick Chubb -- 1,494 yards, 8 TD (RB8)
Receiving:Jarvis Landry -- 83 rec., 1,174 yards, 6 TD (WR12)

What went right: If you had asked me in August, I would have told you that this section was going to be pretty lengthy. The speed at which life's events approach you is great. But it wasn't all black smoke billowing from the Factory of Sadness. There was some positive production in the form of Nick Chubb. The second-year running back just missed on a 1,000-yard season as a rookie, became a true workhorse in the early part of 2019. While his numbers were curtailed by Kareem Hunt's mid-season introduction into the offense, Chubb still tallied more than 1,700 scrimmage yards and outperformed his fantasy draft value. Further down the line, Jarvis Landry posting a career-high in receiving yards was probably not something we anticipated. But here we are.

What went wrong: The Browns were arguably the NFL's biggest overall disappointment in 2019. Head coach Freddie Kitchens' offense didn't look much like the attack that showed so much promise near the end of the 2018 season. After a standout rookie season, Baker Mayfield showed major regression in his second season. The much-ballyhooed addition of Odell Beckham, Jr. fizzled in a big way with OBJ logging just two 100-yard games. Unfortuntely, none of the receivers further down the depth chart did much to pick up the slack. What was anticipated to be a breakout season for tight end David Njoku fell apart when Njoku broke his wrist early in the season, played just four games and had just 10 targets.

What needs to improve: There's yet another head coach in Cleveland with former Vikings offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski taking the reins and trying to revive the offense. After going all-in on Mayfield last season, fantasy managers are likely to be wary of reaching too high to select the Browns quarterback in 2020. His potential revival next season (or the perception thereof) will have a large impact on what could happen with the draft values of Beckham, Landry, Njoku and more. Optimism will still surround Chubb heading into the summer, but that should fluctuate based on where Kareem Hunt will end up.

2019 Team Offensive Ranks
Total offense: 27th
Passing: 31st
Rushing: 29th

Statistical Leaders (Final positional ranking/PPR ranks)
Passing:Mason Rudolph -- 1,765 yards, 13 TD, 9 INT (QB30)
Rushing:James Conner -- 464 rush yards, 4 TD (RB35)
Receiving:Diontae Johnson -- 59 rec., 680 yards, 5 TD (WR39)

What went right: You have to squint really hard to find anything that looks like unequivocal success in the 2019 Steelers offense. If we're doing our best, we can point to James Washington having a few breakout games later in the year. Or we can talk about Diontae Johnson flashing occasionally throughout the season. But in general, the Pittsburgh offense was a shadow of the attack we once knew.

What went wrong: So if not much went right, there had to be plenty that went wrong, right? Well ... yep. It starts with the former Killer B's losing their sting. One season after essentially losing Le'Veon Bell to a season-long holdout, the Steelers traded Antonio Brown to the Raiders. The group's disintegration was completed when Ben Roethlisberger suffered an elbow injury in Week 1 and went on injured reserve two weeks later, forcing the Steelers to rotate between Mason Rudolph and Devlin "Duck" Hodges -- with minimal success.

Everything fell apart from there. JuJu Smith-Schuster -- who was expected to step into a larger role after Brown's departure -- was locked up and unable to forge a connection with either of Pittsburgh's subsequent starters under center. In 2018, James Conner's on-field performance made Bell expendable. In 2019, Conner struggled to find the same level of production, hampered, in part, by a nagging shoulder injury that repeatedly kept him out of the lineup.

What needs to improve: Questions abound as to Roethlisberger's future with the club. That is likely to have a major domino effect on the rest of the offense. Can Smith-Schuster truly be a No. 1 receiver in this offense? Was 2019 a hiccup for Conner or will the nagging injuries and underperformance continue? The Steelers were once a consistent source for quality fantasy production. Heading into 2020 drafts, managers might be hard-pressed to find any Steelers worthy of being selected anywhere within the top 50 picks.

Marcas Grant is a fantasy editor for NFL.com and a man who is ready to do a little binge-watching. Send him your aspirations to apathy via Twitter @MarcasG. If you read all of that, congrats. Follow him on Facebook and Instagram.

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