Around the NFC North: Fantasy Football Preview

Should you draft NFC North players this year? 

In my youth, I had concrete rules about never drafting NFC North players. Back then, as long as I skipped Calvin Johnson or Matt Forte it didn't make much of a difference. You're not exactly taking a stand by refusing to draft Jay Cutler or  Kyle Rudolph. Now that the division is on the upswing (at least offensively) and each of the teams will have an easy schedule as far as opposing defenses go (because every NFC North team has a bad defense), it doesn't really make sense to avoid NFC North players in your drafts altogether. Sure, you'll factor it in: if it comes down to Amon-Ra St. Brown or Jaylen Waddle and you see them as similar players points wise, go ahead and take Waddle.

Of course, you could look at it the opposite way, Justin Fields is almost guaranteed to run rampant on the Packers' defense and Justin Jefferson will likely have at least one good game against them. You may as well get the fantasy points to tone down your real-life depression. Let's take a look at which NFC North players could be worth drafting. And to get it out of the way now, I think including defenses and kickers in fantasy football is nonsense, so I won't be talking about them. Fantasy football is supposed to be about exciting plays. 

Quarterback

Throughout the article, when I reference ADP, or average draft position, I'll be using this resource from Rotowire. Justin Fields, unsurprisingly, has the highest ADP, as the 5th QB taken, in the division. The talent he lacks in passing is more than made up for in rushing talent and game planning. I will have Fields as a starter in at least one league. I'll also make sure to have a good back-up. Ride those rushing yards and TDs while you can, but be ready for a benching or injury.

Cousins and Goff are both meh. You should take them if you don't actually like fantasy football of watching football or winning.

Love is an interesting case. On one hand, he's a first-year starter, with a very young supporting cast, likely in a run-first offense. On the other, he should be doing a fair bit of running, has plenty of upside with all the downfield threats in the offense, and it's just fun to have good Packers on your team. 

Running back

This is a strange year for RB. Jones is the 15th one going on this list, which feels insane to me. I'll be buying him in every league. He had just 4 touchdowns last year and Aaron Rodgers, who puts the P in RPO, won't be here to steal touchdowns from him anymore. I would be shocked if Jones doesn't finish top-8 in a healthy season. 

After Jones, none of the RBs in the division are very trustworthy. The Lions starters are either bad (David Montgomery) or <200 lbs (Jahmyr Gibbs). Alexander Mattison is a just alright player who never really showed much during Dalvin Cook's many injuries. The Bears starter is probably either Khalil Herbert, who is shorter than me, or 4th-round rookie Roschon Johnson. And AJ Dillon earned the nickname the Plodfather last year. 

You could take any of those backs as a lottery ticket. It's easy to see how Gibbs could play like Kamara in that offense or if Aaron Jones got hurt early in the season Dillon could easily have over 1,000 yards. But I'm not counting on any of them to be productive. 

Wide Receiver

Wide receiver is the money position in the division. Justin Jefferson has a case to be the first overall pick, The Sun God should go in the first two rounds, and each of Christian Watson, Romeo Doubs, DJ Moore, and Jordan Addison has the potential to perform at a top-15 WR level.

Of the two main Packers receivers, I'd probably take Doubs over Watson. In some drafts, Doubs is going as many as 100 picks later. Watson has a higher ceiling, but he might have a lower floor too. One of my main takeaways from the pre-season is that Watson gets open once or twice every game for a massive gain, but those might only work out 30% of the time. Doubs is the receiver Love is looking to first. But, of course, Doubs now has an injury to further complicate matters. Either way, you shouldn't depend on the Packers receiver for one of your top 2 (or 3) WR spots. 

DJ Moore is also an interesting case. If I had to bet on it, I'd say he will end up with top-15 WR numbers by the end of the season, but with wild volatility. Moore can take almost any pass to the house, but he will be dealing with a sporadic offense and, likely, a ton of off-target throws. 

Tight End

Tight end is hard in this division. TJ Hockenson is the obvious choice. He had some of the best stats in the league last year and was Cousins's go-to receiver last year on third down. But he was also bad for the first 3.5 years or so of his career and is doing a semi-holdout/quiet quit for a new deal. Cole Kmet is sort of a homeless man's version of TJ Hockenson. 

Next are Luke Musgrave and Sam LaPorta, but rookie tight ends have basically never worked out in fantasy (or in real life TBH). It's possible that both of these guys will break the mold, but I'd rather invest more in a sure thing like Mark Andrews or Dallas Goedert.         

 

 

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Mike Price is a lifelong Packers fan who recently moved form Utah to Stoughton (a Madison suberb). You can follow him on twitter at @themikeprice.

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Comments (1)

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Biabia's picture

September 10, 2023 at 11:54 pm

Hehshs

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