AFC North fantasy football sleepers

Jason Bridge-USA TODAY Sports

Dan Ciarrocchi embarks on an eight-part series, previewing fantasy sleepers for every NFL team. First up, the AFC North.

Baltimore Ravens: TE Ed Dickson

Things haven't gone so well for the Ravens offense this offseason. Losing Anquan Boldin in a trade and Dennis Pitta to a season-ending hip injury doesn't bode so well for Joe Flacco's arsenal of weapons this season. But the Ravens didn't pay Flacco $52 million in guaranteed money to have him constantly handing the ball off. He will throw the ball, and Dickson could be the under-the-radar tight end to climb the ranks.

Dickson is dealing with a hamstring injury that deserves monitoring, but it doesn't appear to be jeopardizing his Week 1 status so far. Prior to that, reports of Dickson having an impressive showing during organized team activities lead to an increase in targets. Now, targets will likely come his way by default with Pitta's injury, and because tight end is such a shallow position this season, the volume may be all that Dickson needs to become a solid fantasy starter. Keep an eye on his health of course, but if he's on the field, Dallas Clark and Visanthe Shiancoe shouldn't steal many of his targets.

Cincinnati Bengals: RB Giovani Bernard

Can he even be classified as a sleeper at this point? He hasn't gotten the preseason hype of fellow rookies Le'Veon Bell and Montee Ball, but Bernard could force the coaching staff's hand sooner than later if he continues to shine this summer. To an extent, he already has, as Cincinnati Enquirer's Joe Reedy reports that Bernard is slated to split carries 50/50 with the incumbent BenJarvus Green-Ellis. So far, the Bengals appear to be doing everything they can to get the ball to Bernard, even lining him up as a receiver in certain situations.

As it stands, Bernard could still afford to shore-up pass protection duties before he gets his coaches' vote of confidence, and he has shown a tendency to prematurely bounce out to the outside while carrying the football. But while there's room to improve, Bernard's progress has been evident. Even if Green-Ellis starts the year as the team's early-down back, Bernard will supplant him on the depth chart very soon if he continues to impress.

Cleveland Browns: TE Jordan Cameron

Lost in the hype of first-round lock Trent Richardson and exciting speedster Josh Gordon is pass-catching tight end Jordan Cameron, who enters the best situation of his young career so far. Cameron will be working under head coach Rob Chudzinski and offensive coordinator Norv Turner, both of whom have histories of utilizing tight ends in the passing game. Cameron's no Antonio Gates of course, but the ex-basketball player has been steadily improving with each practice and has been heavily targeted.

Consistency will be Cameron's main obstacle to overcome, and there's perhaps no better evidence of that than his first preseason game under his new regime. Cameron was targeted twice, once catching a 30-yard pass and once allowing a ball to slip through his hands and bounce off of his facemask. He has a real chance to put everything together this year, and because of the aforementioned uncertainty at the tight end position, Cameron could not only be a viable fantasy starter, but a potential breakout candidate.

Pittsburgh Steelers: WR Markus Wheaton

Third-round pick Markus Wheaton is already making a name for himself in Pittsburgh, and that's music to the ears of dynasty owners everywhere. Wheaton has already seen snaps with the first-team offense, manning the slot position with Emmanuel Sanders and Antonio Brown on the outside. However, he has also spent time outside the hashes and was told to learn multiple positions, sparking rumors of him even lining up at tailback for a few snaps.

Though he's a smaller, quicker receiver, he has demonstrated versatility and isn't afraid to catch passes over the middle. The Steelers have a void to fill with Mike Wallace leaving for the Dolphins and the fact that Wheaton has been flashing early in the preseason and in camp bodes well for a passing attack still trying to stay afloat in an increasingly competitive division.

Wheaton is an explosive receiver who could benefit from screens out of the slot as well as deep passes, putting him very much on the radar in deeper PPR leagues. Though he would only be a late-round flier in at this point, it's apparent that Todd Haley and Mike Tomlin aren't shy about incorporating him in the offense. Because of that, he is worth keeping an eye on as the summer progresses.

More from SB Nation:

Fantasy War Room

SB Nation Top 100 Big Board

Five new coaching regimes that will help your fantasy team

2013 fantasy football QB rankings

Best wide receiver on all 32 teams

2013 fantasy football running back rankings

X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

Join SBNation.com

You must be a member of SBNation.com to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at SBNation.com. You should read them.

Join SBNation.com

You must be a member of SBNation.com to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at SBNation.com. You should read them.

Spinner

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.