Training camps are just weeks away from happening. With that in mind, this is a prime opportunity to look at some of the biggest fantasy football questions heading into training camp. Eight divisions, 32 teams, 32 questions. Every team has something intriguing to think about heading into training camp and also fantasy draft season. Let’s dive into them and continue with the NFC North.
For our, AFC North Edition go HERE!
One Big Question – NFC North Edition
Detroit Lions – Is This The End For Matthew Stafford?
2018 was one of Stafford’s worst seasons in the league since he began his career. It was the first time he threw for less than 4,000 yards since 2010 and the fourth in the last five seasons that he has had 40 or more sacks. Now part of this can be linked to poor offensive line play. More than that though, the hiring of Matt Patricia means this offense will be running the ball more than passing it. Throw in the fact that Jim Bob Cooter is no longer the offensive coordinator, and Stafford’s days as an elite fantasy quarterback are over.
Darrell Bevell is now taking over the offensive scheming for the Lions and if you know anything about Bevell, is that he also enjoys running the ball. In seven of his 12 years being an offensive coordinator, he has had a top-10 rushing offense in attempts (five of those being top-three). On the flipside, he has had a top-10 passing offense in attempts just twice in those same 12 years, including three where it was dead last. So this spells bad news for Stafford to put up the gaudy numbers we are used to seeing.
Now, what this does mean, is that Detroit Lion running backs become a lot more intriguing. New to the offense is C.J. Anderson and he had a bit of a renaissance season with the Rams last year. He joins a position group that has promising young-gun Kerryon Johnson and the pass-catcher, Theo Riddick. Johnson and Anderson would be the players to target, but in PPR leagues Riddick deserves some attention as well. Best guess is that Johnson will lead the backfield in touches, followed closely behind by Anderson.
So while Stafford may not be the fantasy player he once was, he will become a more valuable player in the league for all your Lions fans. The running game will take the pressure off of Stafford which can lead to better performance and more balance on the offense. In regards to fantasy football though, he is better left going undrafted in your league. A possible chance for some BYE week streaming, but gone are the days of him being a weekly starter.
Projected Draft Round:
Matthew Stafford – Undrafted
Kerryon Johnson – 5th
C.J. Anderson – 8th
Theo Riddick – 13th
Green Bay Packers – Will We Finally Get A True Aaron Jones Experience?
In 2018, the Packers offense threw on 61% of their plays in the first half. This number increased by 10% in the second half, to 71%. Everyone could see that Jones was an effective part of their offense, but the play-calling and game situations led to his less involvement in the second half of the game.
Now with a new coaching regime in town, there is a strong chance that Jones will finally get more involved in the game. He has a good blend of speed, agility, and awareness to make him an effective player out of the backfield. Not just as a runner either, he can be just as effective as a pass-catcher. One thing to note about Matt LaFleur too is that he enjoys involving the running back in the passing game. In Los Angeles, Todd Gurley led the team in receptions while LaFleur was the offensive coordinator (Although McVay was the true signal caller). While he was in Tennessee last season in the same position, Dion Lewis was second on the team in receptions. There is a pattern here that can be a good sign for all future Jones owners.
Having Jones more involved in the offense can only be a good thing for Green Bay to make it back to the playoffs, after missing it for two straight seasons. The balanced offense can also mean that Aaron Rodgers can be more of an effective player as well. As good as a quarterback as he is, Rodgers knows that Jones can only make his job easier. Currently, Jones is ranked anywhere between 10th and 17th in various fantasy sites. This could be a bit of an under evaluation because there is a good chance that Jones finishes in the top-10 this season. Lots of trendy names being tossed out this year, but drafting Jones could get you a spot in your fantasy playoffs.
Projected Draft Round:
Aaron Jones – 3rd
Aaron Rodgers – 4th
Minnesota Vikings – Can Adam Thielen Succeed In Kevin Stefanski’s Offense?
This is an interesting situation. On one hand, you have a player in Thielen who burst onto the scene in Minnesota and has become one of the league’s best pass-catchers. On the other hand, you look at his production down the stretch of the 2018 season and question if that fire that was once hot has flamed out.
Now it’s a small sample size of only three games, but Thielen just wasn’t involved in those games when the Vikings needed wins to make the playoffs. In the three games to close out 2018, Thielen was targeted 12 times, caught 10 of those targets, had 137 receiving yards, and no touchdowns. These are not similar numbers to what he averaged over the previous 13 games of 2018 under then-offensive coordinator, John DeFilippo.
So we can only hope that Thielen was a victim of learning Kevin Stefanski’s new offensive scheme and not have this plague his 2019 campaign. Not to mention the re-signing of Kyle Rudolph and the drafting of Irv Smith Jr. lowers his amount of targets now game in and game out. We also saw in those final three games, that the run to pass ratio was split pretty much down the middle, with 82 pass attempts and 83 rushing attempts. So a healthy Dalvin Cook can also eat into the play of Thielen in 2019.
All of this should be taken with a grain of salt. Thielen is still going to be one of the best pass catchers in the league, but his level of play may start to taper off. There are a lot of weapons to help Kirk Cousins succeed in his second year in Minnesota. Thielen will still be a target machine, but there are a lot of mouths to feed now and Stefanski might be leaning more towards the ground compared to the air.
Projected Draft Round:
Adam Thielen – 3rd
Kyle Rudolph – 13th
Irv Smith Jr. – Undrafted
Kirk Cousins – Undrafted
Dalvin Cook – 3rd
Chicago Bears – Can Mitchell Trubisky take the reigns of this offense?
Matt Nagy took Trubisky’s level of play to another level in his second year as the Bears starting quarterback. He made the Pro Bowl as well and now comes into a crucial year in his career. Playing in his second season under Nagy, Trubisky really needs to show more growth and take over the control of the Chicago offense. One thing that helps is having an elite level defense that can put the offense in multiple positions to get points on the board. Another is getting more weapons to help this offense move the ball down the field.
They did ship Jordan Howard to Philadelphia, but they replaced him with a dynamic rookie in David Montgomery. Pairing him with Tarik Cohen will lead to a lethal duo coming out of the backfield as both runners and receivers. Speaking of receivers, Allen Robinson will be supported by the Swiss-army knife, Cordarrelle Patterson, and great young receivers like Anthony Miller, tight end Trey Burton, and undrafted rookie receiver Emanuel Hall.
This offense is built to support Trubisky and the defense will give him the chance to score early and often. While Trubisky may not be the weekly starter that will lead to him being drafted in fantasy leagues, he is a hot target come the BYE weeks and also could be a great match-up based starter as well in DFS leagues. All in all, Trubisky is going to become one of the more prolific passers in Chicago history and he could very well take that first step in the 2019 campaign.
Projected Draft Round:
Mitchell Trubisky – Undrafted
Tarik Cohen – 7th
David Montgomery – 7th
Allen Robinson – 6th
Anthony Miller – 12th
Cordarrelle Patterson – Undrafted
Taylor Gabriel – 14th
Emanuel Hall – Undrafted
Trey Burton – 11th