NFC North Fantasy Preview

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By Pasha Hashemzadeh

Here we provide you with a fantasy outlook for each NFC North team:

Chicago Bears:

The Bears bolster what could be an elite pass-catching duo in WRs Alshon Jeffery and Kevin White. Alshon is an easy second round choice despite his injury history. When the man is on the field, he is arguably one of the top three wideouts in the game. Kevin White missed his whole rookie year with a foot injury and does not have much on tape besides one dominant year at WVU. Nonetheless, the second year man has all the tools to succeed at the NFL level. These two are the Bears top offensive fantasy choices. Enter QB Jay Cutler. He is a gunslinger, which has led to inconsistency in fantasy in the past. He is on the QB2 radar with upside given the talent he has at his disposal in Jeffery and White. The RB situation is a bit messy at the moment, with Jeremy Langford and rookie Jordan Howard duking it out for first team reps. Langford had a subpar rookie year with a low YPC, an aspect of the RB game that is quite indicative in how a play will produce going forward. It is recommended to steer clear of Langford, while taking a late round flier on Howard isn’t the worst idea. Journeyman veteran Zach Miller is the starting tight end and is nothing more than a TE2 in a Bears offense that figures to struggle at times. Shy away from the Bears’ defense, as it simply doesn’t have the talent to produce fantasy stats this year.

Detroit Lions:

Arguably the biggest news of this offseason was the retirement of stud wideout Calvin Johnson. This put a huge hole in the Detroit offense, and QB Matthew Stafford has plummeted down the rankings because of it. WR Golden Tate figures to see the biggest share of targets and makes for a solid WR2/3, while newly acquired Marvin Jones will look to establish himself as a redzone threat, something he once was with the Bengals. Eric Ebron may be the most fascinating fantasy prospect on this offense, as he took a leap in year two and looks to build on his success, and has all the tools to do so as he is essentially a WR serving as a TE. With all the losses on defense last offseason, Detroit struggled mightily in 2015, and figures to do so again this year.

Green Bay Packers:

Jordy Nelson is back, meaning the Packers are back. QB Aaron Rodgers and WR Randall Cobb both struggled at times last year. Rodgers was without his top target and Cobb simply couldn’t fill Nelson’s shadow as the WR1 in Green Bay. All players gain the fantasy relevance they once had with Nelson back. Nelson has claimed he is “game ready”, a great sign for this offense. QB Aaron Rodgers is our top fantasy QB. TE Jared Cook was brought into town this offseason and hopes to establish himself in the redzone and could be a sneaky late round flier. RB Eddie Lacy has reportedly gotten his weight down and looks good at OTAs. He is a solid second/third round fantasy pick this year in Green Bay’s stalwart O. Their defense does not have season-long fantasy appeal, though could be a nice streamer at times given how potent they will be on offense, leading to teams trying to come back and sling the ball, which could lead to turnovers.

Minnesota Vikings:

The Vikings shocked the NFL world when they topped Green Bay and won the NFC North last year. Teddy Bridgewater proved to be a great game manager, something that didn’t translate to fantasy success. He is not on the fantasy radar despite being a good “real life” QB. AP is 31 and still figures to carry the boatload this year. He is a true workhorse and is worth a top two round selection in drafts this year, but one does wonder when his age and wear and tear will catch up to him. SPARQ-y Jerick McKinnon has all the talent in the world to be a beast in fantasy, and is a must handcuff to Peterson this year. Charles Johnson disappointed last year in the passing game, and Cordarrelle Patterson can now be considered a huge first round bust. Stefon Diggs had a nice year in 2015 and looks to build a stronger rapport with Teddy this year. He is a WR3. Rookie WR Laquon Treadwell has some late round fantasy appeal, as he was simply an athletic freak at Ole Miss. TE Kyle Rudolph is nothing more than a TD-dependent TE2. This defensive unit could be a strong one, with Harrison Smith leading the secondary. They are worth a late pick, though will have some tough matchups this year.