This is it, I’ve reached the end of my half of the Razzball Division previews with the rest coming from Zach. It’s been quite a journey researching the NFC for the upcoming season. It was great going through all of the players that have disappointed me in the past and still loving them for this year and vice versa. Now, I feel somewhat ready to start my rankings for 2017. Within a week, I will put out my top 200 for the season and I will also put out a top 100 IDP players post as well. We’re reaching the home stretch of the NFL offseason, but we still have a lot to cover over here at Razzball. Without further ado, let’s get to the Starks of the NFC North.
Green Bay Packers
Aaron Rodgers is obviously the Jon Snow of the NFC North for multiple seasons running. He’s annoyingly handsome but also good so good at his job that it’s often times mesmerizing even as we mock him. Last season, was by all accounts, his second-best season as a pro. The return of Jordy Nelson also brought back the Rodgers that can heave 40 touchdowns through the air when his artillery is fully stocked. After a slow start to begin the season, Rodgers went on an absolute tear in weeks 9-12, averaging 333 YPG through the air and 2.5 TD per game. Aaron recently said that he has changed his diet in an attempt to begin the season with more energy so hopefully he will be able to start the season as hot in 2017 as he finished it in 2016. Look for Rodgers to be locked in as the second quarterback off of the board at your fantasy draft right behind the only slightly more handsome and talented, Tom Brady.
The Packers finished second last season in percentage of passing plays on offense. I’m in no rush to seek out Packer’s running backs in my drafts because this is obviously a pass first team to the extreme. I think Ty Montgomery’s ADP of 42 is a little high, especially in standard leagues. A lot of his usage will be in the passing game and he’s not a prototypical line up behind the quarterback runner. If you are going to draft a Packer’s running back, I’d suggest looking Jamaal Williams’ direction. He’s a power running back who is reportedly pushing Ty Montgomery for first team reps. He’s the 51st running back off the board and could provide decent return on his ADP if he wins the starting job down the line.
Jordy Nelson returned with a bang from the ACL injury that he suffered in 2015. Jordy’s past two fully healthy seasons have been elite and he plays with one of the two best quarterbacks in football. 97 and 98 receptions in 2014 and 2016 prove that he is high volume. Also his 27 touchdowns between the 2014 and 2016 seasons prove that he is a first option red zone threat. Davante Adams truthers scream that the 12 touchdowns that he scored last year are an unrepeatable outlier. I disagree because Aaron Rodgers is plenty capable of firing off 40 touchdown seasons. Adams’ current ADP has him as the 21st receiver off of the board and he will likely be starting opposite of Jordy Nelson. Don’t let his miserable 2015 scare you away, this will either be the cheapest that you are ever able to get Adams again, or he be a 900-1,000 yard receiver who doesn’t score as many touchdowns. It’s hard to imagine him being a dud in this offense.
Randall Cobb will likely once again start in the slot. His 2014 breakout is a couple of years in the rearview and he’s struggled to stay relevant ever since. We have to keep in mind that he is only 26 years old and anything can happen if you are a pass catcher in this offense. This could be a buy-low year on Cobb as he is the 43rd receiver off of the board. Cobb is not somebody that I’ll be reaching for, but if he slips past his ADP, he is low-risk and possibly high-reward. His 10 YPC over the past couple of seasons make me hesitant as well as the addition of Martellus Bennett making him possibly Rodgers’ fourth receiving option. Speaking of Martellus Bennett, he is a great addition to this Packers’ offense from a purely football standpoint, I’m not so sure about fantasy. While Jared Cook became a favorite target of Rodgers late in the season and into the playoffs, Rodgers historically doesn’t use his tight ends as much as a fantasy player would like, especially in the red zone.
Matthew Stafford is one of those quarterbacks who gets lost in the mix of the middle-tier. His touchdown total of 24 left something to be desired last season but he did have at least 3 games with 300 yards passing and 2 touchdowns. Matthew Stafford is one of the more accurate passers finishing 11th in 2016 and 3rd in 2015 in completion percentage. Stafford has 5,000 yard season capability as we saw in 2011 and a high floor when it comes to season long passing yards. Detroit finished right behind Green Bay as the team who finished 3rd in passing play percentage in 2016. Stafford’s current ADP is the 15th quarterback off of the board and that’s great value.
Ameer Abdullah being the 28th back off of the board is a little high for me. Like I mentioned above, the Lions are a team that likes to throw a lot. Anything coming out of Detroit about giving the rock to Abdullah more is just coach speak until proven otherwise. Paul Perkins, Doug Martin, Danny Woodhead, Terrance West, and Legarrette Blount are all coming off of the board after Abdullah and I’d rather have all five of them before Ameer. Theo Riddick definitely has some value in this pass-first offense. Riddick caught 80 balls in 2015 and 53 last year for a combined 9 touchdowns overall the past 2 seasons. He is the 38th running back off of the board.
Golden Tate will always have a soft spot in my heart and he’s somebody that I look to roster on at least one team every season. Tate started slow last year and was for the most part looking like a bust. It looked like Marvin Jones was the man through 5 weeks and then Tate caught fire in week 6 with 8 catches for 165 yards and a touchdown and the rest is history. In each of his 3 seasons with the Lions, Tate has caught at least 90 balls, making him a better PPR option than standard. He has never been a high-volume redzone player. His career high in touchdowns is the 7 he received in 2012 and he only finished with 4 last season. Marvin Jones fell off of a cliff almost as soon as Tate emerged. Marvin Jones was virtually unusable in the 2nd half of the season and he didn’t score a touchdown in the final 9 games of the season.
The apple of my eye for the 2016 season is Kenny Golladay. The 6’4 3rd round pick out of Northern Illinois has garnered a lot of buzz for torching his team’s secondary in training camp and being a fixture in the redzone, the latter being something that Detroit desperately needs. He is a rookie, so there will be dropped balls and mistakes, but I think he will be one of the highest volume rookies at the wide receiver position and is definitely in play for fantasy rookie of the year. Eric Ebron is a risky pick because historically he can’t stay healthy. He is now back on the practice field and if he can stay healthy this season, he will almost certainly be a top 10 tight end, which outperforms his current ADP.
For more on the Detroit Lion’s offense, check out Zach’s great post.
We all know by now that Sam Bradford is a streaming-only option. Bradford has never thrown for 4,000 yards in a season nor has he thrown more than 21 touchdowns in a season. Bradford is the 26th quarterback off of the board so expectations aren’t high in the first place. He most likely won’t be drafted in leagues with less than 14 players.
I do like Dalvin Cook, despite the offensive line leaving a lot to be desired. Dalvin Cook has received a lot of praise from the Vikings’ coaching staff for his pass blocking which doesn’t help us, but he was an absolute star at Florida State and the Vikings got a gift in the 2nd round. Cook should legitimize one of the worst rushing teams of 2016 and I would rather have him than Leonard Fournette, especially after Fournette’s latest injury.
The one shot that Sam Bradford has at redemption is if a legitimate star emerges from his receiving corps. Last month I wrote about Stefon Diggs being overvalued, but really all he has to do to prove me wrong is be more consistent. I think that I would still rather take Adam Theilen 40 picks later especially after he finished with more yards and touchdowns than Diggs last season. If Diggs can stay healthy, he has WR2 potential. Laquon Treadwell has spent much of camp practicing with the first team offense which is great considering that he was a first round pick last season in the NFL draft. Unfortunately, it’s reported that Treadwell is already injured, which you hate to see from a player who has so much potential but probably needs all of camp to be in the conversation. Also, quit fighting your teammates in camp, Laquon. Kyle Rudolph had a breakout season last year catching 30 more balls than his previous career high. He also caught 7 touchdowns last season, so he has obviously built up a good relationship with Bradford. Rudolph definitely warrants top 7 consideration amongst tight ends.
It’s tough to gauge how good Glennon will be for the Bears from one poor outing against the first team defense of the Denver Broncos. Yes, he threw a pick six and the bears hardly moved the ball at all, but the Broncos have the best defense in the league. He’s being drafted behind Sam Bradford, but by the time bye weeks roll around and these guys become options for fantasy owners who are in a squeeze, we should have a better idea of Glennon’s value. There’s just not a lot of data at this point because Glennon backed up Jameis Winston the past two seasons.
In week 3 of 2017, Jordan Howard emerged as a star in Chicago. Averaging 5.2 yards per carry and having seven 100 yard games as a rookie is no small feat in a bad offense. Jordan Howard might be slightly undervalued. He is 13th off of the board, which is the second round in many of our drafts. He is a top 10 or 11 player for me, and I have no problem taking him at the end of the first round. Howard is about as high of a volume player as you can get as he may get upwards of 280 to 300 touches between rushes and receptions.
Kevin White is the 53rd wide receiver off of the board and even though he has top 30 potential, nothing about his career tells me that he should be any higher off of the board this season. To this point in his career, he has been unable to stay healthy. In his four career games, he doesn’t have a signature performance to hang his hat on to this point, and was blanked in the preseason opener against the Broncos. There are reports that he is a bit of a head case, but I refuse to ignore the career he had at West Virginia and hold out hope that he can have a breakout season in 2017.
Cameron Meredith was another Bear’s receiver that was blanked in the preseason opener against the Broncos. Meredith is definitely a safer pick if you must have a Bears receiver on your roster. His 13.5 YPC last season was a nice bump up from 2015 and one would imagine that he is primed for a 1,000 yard season in 2017. It’s great to see Victor Cruz preparing for hopefully a 2nd consecutive healthy season, but he is nothing but a late round flyer in deep leagues for fantasy purposes. As far as the tight end position, Zach Miller has never had a 500-yard season and it’s hard to imagine that his break out year is going to happen at 32-years-old. The Bears expect rookie tight end Adam Shaheen to contribute early, but he is nothing more than a waiver-wire watch at best to this point.
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