2019 Fantasy Football Preview: NFC North

Friday, Jul 5, 2019 at 12:00 pm ET

Training camps will be here before you know it followed quickly by the preseason. That means that fantasy drafts are right around the corner as is your fantasy research. Let's start that research with the NFC North.

Aggregated team reviews are below.

NFC North

Minnesota Vikings Minnesota Vikings

By all accounts, it looks like the Vikings will try to present a more balanced approach to offense. For most of the 2018 season, their run percentage ranked near the bottom of the league. That should change this year under OC Kevin Stefanski. The receiving threats are potent fantasy options. Although he ended the year on a low note, Adam Thielen was a fantasy stud for most of the season. Both he and Stefon Diggs have the talent and opportunity to put up solid numbers again in Kirk Cousin's second year under center.

Top Fantasy Player

Dalvin Cook

Dalvin Cook - RB

Dalvin Cook could have the chance for a career season in 2019 if he can finally stay healthy. And since he's healthy heading into training camp, Cook is worth drafting toward the end of Round 2 in most formats. Cook suffered a torn ACL in Week 4 of his rookie season in 2017, which cost him 12 games, and he battled a hamstring injury last year, which made him miss four outings. But in the 15 games he's played over the past two seasons, he's scored at least 11 PPR points in 11 of them. And last year, once Kevin Stefanski took over as the offensive coordinator for the final three games of the season, Cook averaged 16.7 PPR points over that span. Stefanski and assistant head coach Gary Kubiak will call plays this year, and that should benefit Cook in a big way since both want to lean on the ground game. Cook also had eight catches in the three games under Stefanski on 10 targets. Don't worry about the addition of rookie running back Alexander Mattison, who was selected in the third round of the NFL Draft. Mattison is the handcuff for Cook, but he shouldn't take away too much work since Cook is by far the superior talent. The more important draft pick for the Vikings was rookie center Garrett Bradbury in the first round, and he will significantly improve the offensive line. Cook has the chance to be a star in 2019 if he can play 16 games.

Best Fantasy Players By Position

PositionPlayerPosition RankAuction Price
QBKirk Cousins21st$1
RBDalvin Cook11th$42
WRStefon Diggs14th$34
TEKyle Rudolph18th$3

Sleeper: Alexander Mattison

Alexander Mattison has a great chance to back up Dalvin Cook in Minnesota this season and beyond. A strong, well-built runner with good hands, Mattison had back-to-back 1,300-total-yard campaigns at Boise State with 30 total touchdowns. To get those numbers, he needed 514 carries and 55 catches, volume he won't see in 2019. However, Cook has missed time in each of his first two seasons, so Mattison should see some action at some point assuming he's the Vikings' No. 2 runner. He's not a burner and needs a lot of touches to be an impactful running back. Drafting him in Round 10 and beyond as the handcuff to Cook seems like a good idea in seasonal leagues. He'll get taken in the same spot in dynasty/keeper leagues and will find his way into Round 2 (maybe early Round 3) in rookie-only drafts.

Breakout: Stefon Diggs

As rock-solid as No. 2 receivers come in Fantasy, Stefon Diggs is worthy of a third-round choice, especially in PPR leagues. We're hoping continuity with his quarterback will pay off as Diggs learns his fourth new playbook in five NFL seasons. He adjusted fine last year, connecting with Kirk Cousins to the tune of career-highs in catches, yards and touchdowns. He has 17 scores in his past 29 regular-season games and delivered 10-plus non-PPR points in nine of 15 matchups in 2018 (way better than the 5 of 14 mark he had in 2017).

Bust Alert: Kyle Rudolph

For three consecutive years, Rudolph has produced just enough stats to finish in the top-10 among tight ends in all formats. And for three years, he's done it in an inconsistent, frustrating way. Rudolph has recorded seven-plus Fantasy points (non-PPR) in 18 of his last 47 games. He's typically needed a touchdown to come through for Fantasy managers as he has just two games in his eight-year career with over 70 yards and no scores. He's among the handful of tight ends who will play a bunch but still not warrant a start every single week. His early-season matchups against the Falcons, Packers and Raiders aren't horrible, so if you're strictly looking for a tight end to press into rosters to stream, go ahead. But with a fat new contract extension in his back pocket and rookie tight end Irv Smith Jr. joining him on the field, don't expect much to change with Rudolph's production.

Green Bay Packers Green Bay Packers

The eyes of Titletown are on the relationship between stud QB Aaron Rodgers and new HC Matt LaFleur. Even Packers' legend Brett Favre has weighed in on the discussion. It's not unreasonable to expect LaFleur to pay more attention to the ground game given his history, and that's not a bad thing. LaFleur is likely to invest more in RB Aaron Jones than Mike McCarthy ever did.

Top Fantasy Player

Davante Adams

Davante Adams - WR

Count on Davante Adams being taken in Round 1 among the group of elite receivers. Should he be the first one? Last year's breakout may merit it -- he had 16-plus PPR points in every game he played and 10-plus non-PPR points in 14 of 15. Aaron Rodgers' top wide receiver typically has big numbers, and after throwing 169 targets thrown his way in 2018, Rodgers believes he could lean on him even more in 2019. Adams' Fantasy consistency has been a positive trend through three seasons, making him equally safe and productive for your championship chase.

Best Fantasy Players By Position

PositionPlayerPosition RankAuction Price
QBAaron Rodgers4th$23
RBAaron Jones16th$26
WRDavante Adams2nd$51
TEJimmy Graham19th$1

Sleeper: Jamaal Williams

There aren't a lot of sleeper options in Green Bay; however, one guy that may outperform his ADP is Jamaal Wiliams. Williams has sleeper value primarily because of the potential for injury to Aaron Jones (history: two right MCL sprains and one left MCL sprain). While HC Matt LaFleur said shortly after being hired that he believes in a "committee approach" in the backfield, the starting gig and workload belongs to Jones.

Breakout: Geronimo Allison

Geronimo Allison has the chance for a big year in 2019, and he's worth drafting as early as Round 6 in all leagues. Allison was really only healthy for the first four games of the season in 2018 because of a groin injury, and he had 19 catches for 289 yards and two touchdowns on 29 targets over that span. Over 16 games, that would be 76 catches for 1,156 yards and eight touchdowns, and he has that kind of upside playing with Aaron Rodgers and opposite Davante Adams. With Randall Cobb (Dallas) gone, playing time shouldn't be an issue for Allison, even with Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Jake Kumerow and Equanimeous St. Brown vying for targets. Hopefully, we can see Allison healthy for 16 games this year. And, hopefully, new coach Matt LaFleur does the right thing in using Allison as a featured part of the Packers offense. Allison is worth trusting as a No. 3 Fantasy receiver with top 20 upside.

Bust Alert: Jimmy Graham

It's hard to imagine Jimmy Graham becoming a top-flight Fantasy tight end again. He's exceeded 700 yards once in his last four years and scored just two touchdowns twice in his last four seasons -- and 2018 was not kind to him in either category. He also had just 89 targets last year (the lowest total in any season he played 16 games) and had just five targets inside the opponents' 10-yard line. All that could be evidence that the Packers didn't trust him enough, but the addition of rookie tight end Jace Sternberger probably doesn't bode well for Graham's 2019. The bottom line is that Graham needs touchdowns to succeed in Fantasy since he's exceeded 70 yards in a game three times in his last two seasons. That makes him hard to trust on a weekly basis, and he's an undesirable streamer to begin the year as the Packers host the vaunted Bears defense in Week 1. matchup against the Bears are enough to pass on Graham on Draft Day. Don't count on him being productive enough, or consistently available, to help you win your league. You're probably better off letting someone else take him.

Detroit Lions Detroit Lions

LeGarrette Blount and Golden Tate are out and have been replaced with CJ Anderson and Danny Amendola. They also went out and added TE T.J. Hockenson in the draft. The real question for the Lions is how they will use Kerryon Johnson. He has a lot of potential, but his usage and injury potential are concerns. When he was finally given a heavy workload last season, he ended up getting hurt and missing the final six games. With veteran CJ Anderson signed, Zach Zenner, Theo Riddick, and rookie Ty Johnson vying for touches, there's a good chance that the Detroit backfield will be a committee.

Top Fantasy Player

Kerryon Johnson

Kerryon Johnson - RB

After a rookie year in which he was wildly efficient but under-used and injured, Kerryon Johnson should get a chance to carry the load in 2019. With the Lions talking about how much they want to run the football, that makes him a worthwhile pick in the late third or early fourth round. If the Lions execute the game plan and Johnson proves he can handle the role, he could legitimately be a first-round pick by 2020. Just remember it's the Lions we're talking about and don't reach too high for one of their running backs.

Best Fantasy Players By Position

PositionPlayerPosition RankAuction Price
QBMatthew Stafford23rd$1
RBKerryon Johnson18th$24
WRMarvin Jones32nd$14
TET.J. Hockenson22nd$1

Sleeper: Marvin Jones

If you want a piece of the Lions' offense and don't want to pay a hefty price for it, look for Marvin Jones at the end of the sixth round. Jones and Kenny Golladay should dominate targets for a Lions team that figures to be playing from behind more often than not. Jones' targets and production should go up from 2018 without Golden Tate, but he won't match his 2017 campaign.

Breakout: Kerryon Johnson

Johnson averaged a big 5.4 yards per carry and caught 32 balls in 10 games as a rookie. He ranked 13th among RBs in PPR points during an 8-game stretch as Detroit's lead back. Now he heads into year 2 atop the depth chart and playing under new OC Darrell Bevell, who has consistently produced strong fantasy seasons from his RBs. The main concern here is durability. Johnson's rookie season ended with a knee injury, and he dealt with shoulder, ankle and hamstring injuries at Auburn. If he can stay healthy, Johnson might flirt with RB1 production.

Bust Alert: Kenny Golladay

Golladay broke out for a 70-1,063-5 line and 21st-place PPR finish last year. He should still be on the ascent entering his 3rd NFL season. But Golladay benefitted from the absences of WRs Golden Tate and Marvin Jones down the stretch last year. Jones is back for 2019, and rookie TE T.J. Hockenson brings more target competition. More worrisome is the arrival of run-loving OC Darrell Bevell. He's produced a top-20 fantasy WR in only 4 of 12 seasons as an NFL play caller. Golladay is an exciting talent, but volume might keep him from taking another statistical step forward in 2019. Consider him a low-end WR2.

Chicago Bears Chicago Bears

There are absolutely no questions surrounding the Bears defense as superstar Khalil Mack makes them the leagues' top ranked defense. If the offense could match the pace of the defense, the Bears would be unstoppable. The backfield is interesting with Tarik Cohen atop the depth chart after Jordan Howard left. The Bears traded up to grab RB David Montgomery who should provide a solid 1-2 punch. Mitch Trubisky will be under center and throwing to Allen Robinson, Anthony Miller, and Taylor Gabriel. TE Trey Burton has the potential to outperform his ADP.

Top Fantasy Player

Allen Robinson

Allen Robinson - WR

If you're hoping for Robinson to put up numbers like he did in 2015, pass on him. If you're hoping he can achieve what he did in 2016 or 2018, go get him with a pick in Round 7 or 8. His modest totals will keep expectations in check, particularly since he's far from the only target in Chicago. He might not even be the best receiver in Chicago. He did average 7.2 targets per game but had 13-plus PPR points three times in 13 games last year.

Best Fantasy Players By Position

PositionPlayerPosition RankAuction Price
QBMitchell Trubisky18th$3
RBTarik Cohen24th$16
WRAllen Robinson25th$24
TETrey Burton13th$7

Sleeper: Allen Robinson

Robinson finished 39th in total PPR points and 33rd in points per game in his debut season with the Bears. He's now ranked better than 28th in just 1 of 4 healthy NFL campaigns. Robinson has a shot to be more productive in 2019. He's not returning from a serious knee injury like he was last year. And he'll be in his 2nd season with HC Matt Nagy and QB Mitchell Trubisky. View him as a high-end WR3 with upside.

Breakout: David Montgomery

If you want to invest in a rookie with bright upside, David Montgomery is a great target since he'll go anywhere from 12 to 20 picks after Josh Jacobs. Expect him to get taken between 45th and 60th overall. Montgomery should fill the Jordan Howard between-the-tackles role (and also pick up some targets) in Chicago, lining up him for 15 touches on a regular basis. He's coming off of back-to-back 1,400-total-yard seasons at Iowa State with 11-plus touchdowns in each, so he's used to a big role. Only a disappointing preseason would slow down his momentum.

Bust Alert: Anthony Miller

Miller's rookie campaign was marred by a shoulder injury 1st suffered in Week 3 and then aggravated multiple times throughout the season. He finished with just 33 catches but did lead the Bears with 7 receiving scores. Miller had surgery on that shoulder this offseason, so we'll need to keep an eye on him when training camp opens. If healthy, though, he has a shot to emerge as the #2 WR in what looks like an ascending offense under HC Matt Nagy and QB Mitchell Trubisky. For that to happen though, he'll need to haul in more receptions than he did last year where he trailed Robinson, Gabriel, Burton, and Cohen.

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