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NFC North Fantasy Outlook

Posted on: August 25, 2011 4:58 pm

NFC North Fantasy Outlook

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Chicago Bears
It's surprising to see Jay Cutler's numbers so low in a Mike Martz offense. His completions, completion percentage and yards were the lowest since his rookie season in which he only played 5 games. An offensive line that let up 52 sacks a year ago needs to do better and Cutler should flourish with a year of Mike Martz system under his belt. Matt Forte continues to be a dual threat both rushing and receiving the ball and he hasn't missed a game in his three seasons as a pro. Marion Barber was signed and could end up stealing goal line carries from Forte and he will see some series on offense to spell Forte. Roy Williams was signed as a free agent and reunites with Martz from their days in Detroit where Williams had his best seasons. Leading receiver Johnny Knox should improve and will top 1,000 yards this year. Devin Hester can make some big plays at times but he is not a reliable every week starter and the same can be said for Earl Bennett. These two should only be owned in deep leagues as a 5th or 6th receiver at best. It is not surprising that Greg Olsen was traded away to the Panthers but there is no arguing that he will be missed and Martz should have found away to incorporate him into the offense. The inexperienced Kellen Davis takes over but he should be left undrafted.

Detroit Lions
If Matthew Stafford can stay healthy he could be a real steal come draft day. Stafford threw for 6 touchdowns in three games before going out for the season with the shoulder injury. He has the tools to succeed in the NFL and he has one of the best weapons to throw to in Calvin Johnson. Heading into his 5th season, Johnson is primed for a big year, coming off a 1,120 yard 12 touchdown season. In his first season in Detroit Nate Burleson was a nice compliment to Johnson and he should play a similar roll this year but should only be drafted in deeper leagues. Derrick Williams and Rashied Davis are backups with little upside on draft day. Brandon Pettigrew had a career year in 2010 and has turned into a top 10 fantasy tight end. Jahvid Best showed some big play potential early in his rookie season but that all came to a screeching halt when he developed turf toe. He was barely startable most weeks and ended up with a dreadful yards per carry average of just 3.27. The drafting of Mikel Leshoure was writing on the wall that Best is more suited as a spot back and third down specialist. Unfortunately for the Lions LeShoure was lost for the season to a knee injury. We will have to see how much the Lions can use Best without running him down. He has already suffered a concussion in the preseason so there is high risk in drafting him but he does have a lot of big play potential. Someone will have to take the load off rushing the ball and there is a log jam with Aaron Brown, Maurice Morris and new free agent signees Mike Bell and Jerome Harrison all battling for the number 2 position. 

Green Bay Packers
There is so much to like in Green Bay for fantasy owners. Aaron Rodgers is arguably the top fantasy quarterback and he continues to put up solid numbers since taking over in 2008.  Greg Jennings is the number 1 receiving option and is coming off of a monster year with 76 catches for 1265 and 12 touchdowns. Donald Driver had his 6 year 1,000 yard season streak snapped and with him getting up there in age there is a real threat for James Jones to increase his production and very well could be the starter opening day. Jordy Nelson is also in the mix for increased playing time but he should only be drafted in deep leagues unless he happens to win the starting job over Driver and Jones. Rookie Randall Cobb can be a multi-dimensional force and you'll here his name during the season at some point but he should go undrafted. Ryan Grant returns after missing all but the opener a year ago. Speculation is he could get cut but I am not buying it and Grant will end up being the starter and a number 2 fantasy back. Many people think Playoff Hero James Starks is a big sleeper heading into 2011 but as long as Grant is there Starks will play second fiddle. John Kuhn should not be drafted. Big things were expected of Jermichael Finley a year ago but that all ended when he went down for the season in week 5. He will be a factor in this offense heading into 2011 and should be viewed as a number 1 tight end with huge upside. Fellow tight end Andrew Quarless has value if Finley were to get injured.

Minnesota Vikings
The Vikings brought in Donovan McNabb via trade after a 1 year unsuccessful stint in Washington. It will be interesting to see if McNabb can rebound with his new team but heading into 2011 McNabb is no more then a number 2 Quarterback with little upside. Christian Ponder will most likely ride the pine and just learn in his rookie year. Heading into his 5th season Adrian Peterson has been a model of fantasy consistency topping the 1,200 yard mark in each of his first 4 seasons with double digit touchdowns. He is established as one of the top 3 picks in all drafts. Backup Toby Gerhart plays sparingly and is only worth drafting in deeper leagues and as a handcuff for Peterson owners. Leading receiver Percy Harvin is heading into his third season and should lead the team in receiving again and will top the 1,000 yard mark as long as he stays healthy. For the last two seasons, Bernard Berrian has not been a useful receiver and he should only be drafted in deep leagues that carry 5 or 6 receivers but there is not much upside here. Michael Jenkins was brought in from Atlanta but he has done little for fantasy owners in 7 years as a pro. He could challenge Berrian for a starting roll but should be avoided in all standard leagues. Slot receiver Greg Camarillo has little to offer. Visanthe Shiancoe could be a reliable weapon for McNabb who likes throwing to his tight ends but hold your expectations in check as there is not a lot of upside here and he should be viewed only as a number 2 tight end come draft day.

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