NFC North Pre Draft Offseason Risers & Fallers
Part 3 of our series brings us to the NFC North. There is a lot to discuss in this division so letʼs not waste any time and dive right to it. Below is a look at each team in this division from a dynasty fantasy football perspective. An important reminder for all of the dynasty FF players out there, we are always walking a fine line in this game. We all know the dangers of over reacting, but there can be just as many problems if we under react. 2019 wonʼt look anything like 2018 in the same way 2018 did not mirror 2017. We have to react according to the information we have and confidently make our trade offers for the players we value where we see opportunity. With that said, lets take a look at the changes in the NFC North so far:
Coaching Changes - Chuck Pagano takes over the Defense, but Nagy and Helfrich keep the reigns of the offense.
Free Agency - Former first round pick Kevin White signed a new deal with the Cardinals and the Bears
replaced him with another disappointing former NFC North first round pick in Cordarrelle Patterson. They also added Mike Davis, which could be meaningful after Jordan Howard was dealt to Philly.
Risers - Thereʼs nothing better than seeing a coach that knows how to use a special player, especially
when they donʼt fit the traditional mold of the position. No one benefited more from Matt Nagyʼs hire
and John Foxʼs departure than Tarik Cohen last season. It became obvious over the course of 2018 that
Cohen was going to be a very important piece of this offense. Cohen finished the season with 8 TDʼs, 74
catches, and 1140 total rush/rec yards. Add to that the trade of Jordan Howard to the Eagles and you could have a recipe for a growing role for Cohen. Heʼs not match up proof yet, but I donʼt believe weʼve seen the best of Cohen. Speaking of Bears RBʼs, Mike Davis could be in for a nice role if the Bears donʼt
add any meaningful backfield mates over the next few months. Raise your hand if you had Taylor Gabriel projected to lead the Bears in WR snaps last season and getting over 100 targets. Anyone? In fairness, some of that had to do with Allen Robinson missing 3 games and struggling to stay healthy all year, but itʼs still encouraging that he was as involved in the offense as he was all year. He averaged 51.8 snaps per game and 6 targets. Only once did he have less than 3 catches which represents a much better floor than I ever wouldʼve thought Gabriel could have with this team. Where he struggled was in his involvement in the red zone as he only had 8 red zone targets all season. There are other questions as well, but I believe Gabriel proved to be more than a gadget player in this offense. If you can add him as a throw in on a trade, you should. I also want to mention that Iʼm intrigued by Anthony Miller and preseason superstar Javon Wims, not to mention a hopefully healthy Allen Robinson. Miller and Wims could be good lottery tickets, but with this many mouths to feed (not to mention the TEʼs) it might be best to avoid and instead make a play for Trubisky who could be the beneficiary of all the offensive weapons this team has.
Fallers - Iʼll utilize this spot to talk about Jordan Howard since the trade come through after my Eagles
overview. Despite the new opportunity in Philly, I donʼt know that much changes about Howards value in
fantasy. The offenses are similar, the backfield is crowded and Howard's seeming inability to contribute in the passing game leaves me wanting to shed myself of any shares as fast as I can. The cost to acquire him was minimal, so I donʼt expect the Eagles to force feed him the ball. If the news of the trade allows
an opportunity to sell, I would.
Coaching Changes - Jim Bob Cooter is out as OC and replaced by former Seahawks OC Darrell Bevell.
Bevell has a run first reputation and has piloted offenses with Adrian Peterson and Marshawn Lynch over the course of his career. Detroit has long relied on Matt Stafford and the passing game, but hiring Bevell seems to indicate a desire to balance the offense.
Free Agency - LeGarrette Blount doesnʼt appear to be a priority for Detroit to resign, although it remains a possibility. Other than that, not much lost on offense worth mentioning. Needing some passing game
weapons, Detroit brought in Danny Amendola, Tommy-Lee Lewis, Jesse James, and Logan Thomas.
Risers - Does anyone like to establish the run more than Darrell Bevell? He has plenty history working with talented running backs and now Kerryon Johnson hopes to be the next beneficiary of his run first style. An MCL injury last season cost Johnson 6 games and itʼs up to him to prove he can be a bell cow running back for a full season, but if he does Johnson is going to be special. Heʼs match up proof in that he can be relied upon to nurse a lead and can also catch the ball well out of the backfield if the team is
chasing points. In ten games he only scored four touchdowns and itʼs possible that Detroit could use Zenner as a goal line back. There are some comments from head coach Matt Patricia that sound as
though he may not be given the full load, but with a shift to more balance, he could still get plenty enough opportunities to be an RB1 when healthy. Iʼm not ready to put him in the elite tier yet, but I could see things breaking that way for Johnson this season if the stars align.
Fallers - Matt Staffordʼs value probably falls the most this off season as it appears the team will take a more run heavy approach. To be honest, I wonder if that could be a good thing for him. Since 2011, Stafford has never had less than 555 passing attempts. Compare that to Aaron Rodgers who has only passed that mark 3 times in his career. Could less mean more for Staff? It could, but more important
than that is probably whether or not his offensive weapons can stay healthy. Kenny Golladay, Marvin
Jones, Kerryon and even the newly acquired Amendola have had varying levels of reoccurring injuries in the past, but if they can put together a healthy season as a unit Stafford could have a more efficient passing numbers than he ever has.
Green Bay Packers
Coaching Changes - Matt LaFleur replaces Mike McCarthy and will call the plays in GB, although
Nathaniel Hackett (New OC) will reportedly be very involved as well. Lafleur is only 39, but he has roots in
Washington with the Shanahanʼs and with Sean McVay for a season in LA. He spent last year as the play caller in Tennessee with mixed results on offense. Heʼll get a talent upgrade with his move to GB and itʼs
hard to know what to expect based on how different the offenses are constructed.
Free Agency - Green Bay moved on from Randall Cobb this off season presumably to give more snaps to their 2018 crop of wide receivers as they did not bring in anyone to replace him. They did upgrade the defense which will hopefully result in more possessions for the offense.
Risers - Aaron Jones still has to prove he can stay healthy, and sure, there have been rumors that he may not be the bell cow in 2019, but at least now we have some hope. It appeared obvious to anyone with eyes that Aaron Jones was the most talented RB in GB each of the last two seasons. Heʼs explosive, can run well between the tackles and catches the ball well out of the backfield. Heʼs a weapon that needs to be on the field. Jamaal Williams is fine and will have a role, but I believe Lafleur will not make the same mistake he made in Tennessee and hold back his most talented running back for half the year. We all know Adams is going to ball, but Randall Cobb and his 466 snaps last season will need to be replaced by
someone. Could Geronimo Allison be in line for a bigger role? Possibly, but my money is on Marquez
Valdes-Scantling. Cobb worked almost exclusively out of the slot last season (401 of 466 snaps) and
thatʼs where MVS seemed to spend most of his time as well racking up 372 snaps in the slot versus 289 outside. Equanimeous St. Brown could factor in here as well and could be worth a flyer. Add to this the unknown of the coaching change and I expect this to be one of the best camp battles to watch.
Fallers - Thereʼs no other way to describe Jimmy Grahamʼs 2018 other than disappointing. His value is
already low and there could be some optimism with the coaching change, but unless he earns more of Rodgers trust in the red zone I donʼt see how he helps fantasy owners much in GB. He only had 9 red zone targets all last season, well off the previous seasons mark of 27 while in Seattle. The 32 year old TE is facing a critical season that could determine his future in the NFL.
Coaching Changes - John DeFilippo was relieved of his duties during the 2018 season and was replaced by the Vikings QB coach Kevin Stefanski. We got nothing more than a very small sample size from him and the games against Miami, Detroit and Chicago probably not didnʼt teach us much about how heʼll call
plays in 2019. If I had to tease out one detail, Iʼd point out that he seemed to adjust his approach based on the opponent. Miami was bad against the run, so they ran the ball. Chicago was great against the run so they didnʼt. Detroit was in the middle so they were more balanced. Not sure itʼll be this simple, but its the best I can do with a 3 game sample.
Free Agency - The steady Latavius Murray leaves Minnesota for New Orleans, but other than that their core is in tact and the Vikings didnʼt bring in any offensive players of note.
Risers - Will 2019 be the year Dalvin Cook breaks out? If heʼs healthy, absolutely. The uber talented RB struggled with injuries early on, but as the season went on he got stronger posting an average of nearly 18 fantasy points a game over his last 6 games. The thought in Minnesota is that the new OC will be able
to utilize the ground game more effectively than his predecessor and the departure of Murray shows
confidence in Cooks ability to handle the load. Heʼs as match up proof as it gets, being equally as valuable
between the tackles and out of the backfield. The hype is for real and so is his dynasty value right now which will probably keep me from buying him, but Iʼm excited about what he can do for this team next year.
Fallers - Here me out here, but something weird happened for Adam Thielen when the Vikings changed
OCʼs for their final 3 games. I know itʼs a minuscule sample.... But check this out: games 1-13: 21.8 ppr points, 10.8 targets, 7.9 rec, 95.1 rec yards per game. Games 14-16: 8 ppr points, 4 targets, 3.3 rec, 45.7 rec yards per game. I donʼt know why, but itʼs not crazy to start thinking about selling the 28 year old wide
out. Of course heʼs super talented and the Vikes are even discussing an extension with him so this could all look ridiculous to start next season. Iʼm planning to test the waters on what I can get for him where I have him, but I will not be selling cheap.