Season-Long Fantasy Outlook - NFC North

Check out this post for a breakdown of my philosophy on each position

NFC North

Chicago Bears

The Bears are coming off a 12 win season and are expected to continue that success, with their projected regular season win total set at 9. Matt Nagy has another year of experience under his belt with this group and they have a chance to contend for the NFC yet again this season.

Quarterback: If Mitchell Trubisky is my top fantasy quarterback this season I will not be upset about it.

Running Back: It appears we have yet another shared backfield this year in Chicago, with David Montgomery expected to get the early down work and Tarik Cohen playing more of a 3rd down pass catching role. Damnit.

I love Tarik Cohen. I love watching him play. I love his quickness. I just honestly love everything about the guy. I really really wanted him to be the featured back in this offense this year, so I’m a little bummed this guy David Montgomery is getting such high praise. But the praise is really high. And it’s really warranted. This guy has looked fantastic so far and apparently impresses day after day in practice as well. All signs point to him being the real deal.

So what do we do with this situation? I say we draft either one of these guys. And here’s why: It has been made clear that the Bears are infatuated with both of these guys and plan to work them into the offense. Aside from these two, the only offensive weapons this team has are Allen Robinson, Taylor Gabriel, Anthony Miller, and Trey Burton. Maybe I’m not giving those guys enough credit, but it looks to me like Tarik Cohen is the best offensive weapon this team has.

Here’s what I’m getting at – I think they’ll use both of these guys on the field at the same time. I do think Montgomery will be more of an early down guy and maybe come off the field on third downs, so his upside might be somewhat limited. But Tarik Cohen is going to get some work at WR this season. Matt Nagy loves him and has a creative mind and I believe he will find new ways to work him into the offense in 2019.

This might be the most unique running back timeshare in all of the NFL this season. I’m willing to take a shot on both of these guys playing in what should be a pretty explosive offense.

Wide Receiver: The only receivers I see getting drafted from this team are Allen Robinson and Anthony Miller. I think Robinson is a good player and you can take a shot on him in the 5th round if you really like him, but I think there are better options in his range.

I’m a little more interested in Anthony Miller, who is a second year player with a ton of upside. Similarly to Cohen and Montgomery, the Bears really seem to love this guy. He’s projected as an 11th round pick, which just seems too late when you look at the names around him (Kenny Stills, Tyrell Williams, Adam Humphries). I think he has the most upside of anybody in that range and I will be prioritizing him in the 10th or 11th round this year.

Tight End: Trey Burton is the ultimate example of a “pick him if he’s there” guy. I’m not going to go out of my way to get Trey Burton but if I need a tight end and he’s the best available I may do it. He’s projected to go in the same range as Jordan Reed. If I already have another TE, I’d prefer Reed. If I need somebody I can count on to not get injured, I’d go with Burton.

Detroit Lions

The Lions are seemingly an OK team in a really tough division, which really makes them look like a not-so-great team. Their Vegas win total is 7, which is probably right where I’d expect it to be. My issue with taking Lions players is that they play 4 of their 16 games against the Bears and Vikings – two of the best defenses in the league. Either way, there are some decent fantasy players on this team.

Quarterback: If Matt Stafford is my top fantasy quarterback I won’t be mad about it.

Running Back: This backfield belongs to Kerryon Johnson. His only competition is C.J. Anderson, but I don’t see that bowling ball being much of a threat to steal carries from KJ. I like Kerryon, but I think he could end up being a little overdrafted this season. He’s up there in the range of Leonard Fournette, Devonta Freeman, and Melvin Gordon, when I think he belongs down in the range of Chris Carson, Derrick Henry, and Aaron Jones. If he starts to fall, I’ll take a shot on him, but otherwise I think I can find better options in this range.

Wide Receiver: Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones Jr. are the top options here and we pretty much know what we’re getting out of both of these guys at this point in their careers. Golladay is entering the 3rd year of his career and has shown that he’s a pretty solid wide receiver. Marvin Jones Jr. is like the slightly older, slightly worse version of Kenny Golladay.

Both of these guys are getting drafted exactly where they should be. If I’m drafting in the Marvin Jones range, I’d prefer Jarvis Landry, Dede Westbrook, and Will Fuller V. If I’m drafting in the Kenny Golladay range, I’d prefer Stefon Diggs and that’s about it. Both of these guys are in the “pick him if he’s there” category. I like them both, but I’m not going out of my way to get them.

Green Bay Packers

The Packers are right in line with the Bears with a projected regular season win total of 9. We know what we’re getting out of Aaron Rodgers, but we really don’t know what to expect out of Matt Lafleur. This could be a completely new-look offense in 2019.

Quarterback: Aaron Rodgers is great but will be drafted long before I even consider taking a QB.

Running Back: Aaron Jones flashed some signs of being a seriously good running back last season and I think he’s starting to separate himself as the clear-cut number one guy in this backfield. I’ve always been somewhat anti-Packers running backs, but that is changing this year with Lafleur at the helm. I think Jones is the most talented player in this backfield and I think he can eat up the large majority of the workload this season. I’m operating under the assumption that he’s going to be a feature back, so I’ll reach a little bit on him. If I need a running back in the third round, he’s my guy.

Wide Receiver: This is Davante Adams and then a giant mess behind him. Adams is the top guy and one of the top receivers in fantasy entering the 2019 season. I strongly prefer OBJ over Adams but if I see him start to fall at all I will snatch him up.

After that it’s the hodge-podge of Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Geronimo Allison, and Jake Kumerow.

Scantling is my favorite of this group entering his second season with the team. He showed some signs of being able to play football last season and that’s more than we can say about some NFL receivers. This team is going to throw the ball this season, and MVS could find himself as the second-most targeted guy on the squad.

I have slightly less interest in Geronimo Allison because he’s already entering his 4th season and really hasn’t impressed anybody in his first three. He could be a serviceable fantasy receiver because he’s a human being who may catch balls, but I don’t think he has the upside we’re looking for with our late round picks.

Jake Kumerow is the other receiver in this bunch and is just worth mentioning because he’s a white receiver with a pretty cool name. Like, can’t you hear this name as a great wide receiver? I don’t know. I have no reason to think Kumerow will be good but like I said, somebody has to catch passes in Green Bay.

Tight End: Jimmy Graham is the top TE here. My cop-out answer is that you can take him as your second tight end and hope he finds his old form. In reality I have no idea what to expect. Does he have upside? Maybe. Can we trust him? Not at this point in his career.

Minnesota Vikings

The Vikings, Packers, and Bears all have the same projected regular season win total at 9. This division should be really tight this year and I honestly have no idea what’s going to happen. The Vikings are probably the biggest wild card of the bunch. They could win the Super Bowl or go 6-10 and I wouldn’t be surprised either way.

Quarterback: If Kirk Cousins is my top fantasy quarterback I won’t be upset about it.

Running Back: Dalvin Cook is the clear top option in this backfield and he casually might be one of the most talented running backs in the league. After Saquon, McCaffrey, Kamara, and Zeke, Dalvin Cook is my next favorite fantasy running back for this upcoming season. His production wasn’t all the way there last season but I think he finally has a stranglehold on the workload in this backfield and I expect him to be a top 5 fantasy running back if he stays healthy.

I want to pick Dalvin Cook in the 2nd round regardless of my draft position this year. I’ll handcuff him with rookie 3rd round pick Alexander Mattison out of Boise State in the late rounds and call it a day.

Wide Receiver: Not a lot needs to be said here – It’s Diggs and Thielen as the two top guys and I really don’t have interest in anybody else. I think Stefon Diggs is the more talented player so I would tend to give him the edge, but you can’t go wrong with either of these guys as late-3rd/early-4th round picks.

Tight End: Kyle Rudolph is ranked as the 19th overall tight end which just seems very low. If I don’t have a sure-thing tight end from the early rounds, I’ll be stockpiling them in the later rounds and Rudolph will definitely be included in that bunch.

About the Author

  • Matt Shanahan (mshanahan)

  • Matt Shanahan is an engineer by trade and firmly believes in data-driven analytics. He grew up in Pennsylvania and graduated from the University of Pittsburgh. His betting strategy is to develop theories, create models to test those theories, and then collect data to see what works and what doesn’t.


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