Yes, it is the middle of June and you are reading a fantasy football article. Let us be honest with ourselves though, the NBA and NHL Finals are both within a week of crowing its champ. Baseball still has 100 games left and is the only thing helping pass time before NFL kickoff. Well maybe Apex Legends and time out at the pool/lake is dripped in there too. Just thank me for sprinkling in a few fantasy football articles for you to digest this summer. 

I am starting my weekly division previews, leading us through July. Just in time for the start of pre-season football and the heart of fantasy football draft season. Today, I begin with the NFC North followed by the AFC North next week and so on around the compass…Never Eat Sour Watermelon, or is it Worms? Something like that. I will present information and data for fantasy relevant players on each team. All rankings and stats are based on full point PPR leagues, if you are still running a standard league so is my grandfather that is using newspaper stats and hand calculations to determine league scoring…get with the times. Here we go!

Projections, ADP, and strength of schedule stats referenced below are based on fantasypros.com data.

NFC North

Chicago Bears

  • QB Mitchell Trubisky
    • 2018 Recap
      • QB15
      • 2 games missed with a shoulder injury to his throwing arm
      • Beat weekly projections 6 out of 14 games played
      • 24 Passing Touchdowns (QB15) to 12 Interceptions
      • 3 Rushing TDs
      • 421 rushing yards (QB5) on 68 rushing attempts (QB6)
      • 434 passing attempts (QB19)
      • AVG 18.8 fantasy point per game (QB11)
    • 2019 Outlook
      • Strength of Schedule at-a-glance
        • He starts the season (week 1-4) facing two of the toughest fantasy defense against QBs, DEN & MIN wk 2 and 4, and no defense that ranks in the top 10 easiest against the QB position
        • 4th overall easiest strength of schedule for QBs
        • Leading up to and during the fantasy playoffs (weeks 13-16) Trubisky faces the 25th easiest (7th hardest) fantasy defense, vs. DAL week 14, and faces the #2 easiest fantasy defense, vs. KC week 16
      • It is hard to see Trubisky breaking into the top 10 with the low number of pass attempts relative to the other QBs on that list, due to a dominant defense preventing the need for ‘shootouts’. Even if you take his average attempts per game and add it to the two games missed he still ranks as QB 16 in pass attempts. With an ADP of 146, Mitchell is being taken as the 18th QB off the board. Players like Kyler Murray, suffering from the Mahomes affect, and Jameis Winston are being drafted ahead of him. Mitchell’s running ability gives him added value at the position. If you wait on QBs like me Trubisky might be available at the right spot for us to grab him. I can see Trubisky jockeying around a top 10 season and finishing somewhere in that QB11-14 range. Another year under Matt Nagy, Allen Robinson another year removed from his knee injury, and adding offensive utility weapon Cordarrelle Paterson all bode well for Trubisky in 2019
  • RB Tarik Cohen
    • 2018 Recap
      • RB11
      • Played in all 16 games
      • Beat weekly projections 9 out of 16 games played
      • 2 games over 100yds receiving
      • 4.4 receptions per game and 5.6 targets per game
      • 4.5 yards per rush and 10.2 yards per reception
      • 14.6 fantasy points per game
    • 2019 Outlook
      • Strength of Schedule at-a-glance
        • Weeks 1-4, Cohen faces one top 10 hardest fantasy defenses against RBs, vs MIN week 4
        • Overall the #1 easiest strength of schedule for RBs in 2019, facing only three fantasy defenses ranked top 10 against the position
        • Weeks 13-16, Cohen faces the #3 easiest fantasy defenses (KC) against RBs in week 16 and the #27 easiest (6th hardest/DAL) during week 14
      • When it comes to fantasy value, opportunity is the name of the game. Jordan Howard heads East to Philadelphia leaving behind 250 rushing attempts and 10 touchdowns. Sure, new comers Mike Davis, David Montgomery and Cordarrelle Patterson will eat some of these attempts but we would be fools not to believe Cohen will get his fair share. Cohen finished as RB11 even after being criminally under used as a traditional back, only exceeding 10 rushing attempts in a game ONE time. Look for this stat to increase in 2019. His pass catching duties is what makes him such an asset in PPR leagues. He finished as RB6 in total receptions in 2018 with 71. Cohen is being drafted as the 26th running back off the board (ADP at 51). If you were to tell me that the 11th ranked PPR back in 2018 was being drafted as a high-end RB3 in 2019, I’d ask you to sign me up for that league as many times as possible. I won’t be surprised to see his ADP rise as draft season nears but I’ll take Cohen ahead of his current ADP anywhere I can, he has the #1 easiest strength of schedule for RBs.
  • CHI Quick Hits
    • No Chicago wideout ranked in the top 35 for 2018. Nagy’s offense is designed to spread the ball around and Trubisky did not show any tendencies to ‘force’ it to any given receiver. This makes it difficult to draft any WR in CHI with confidence as a sure fire WR1/2 for our rosters, similar to the wideouts in Philadelphia. Adding WR Riley Ridley in the 4th round of the draft does not make it any easier to sort out the receiving core, especially for the likes of Anthony Miller and Taylor Gabriel. David Montgomery is being overvalued with Mike Davis most likely to begin the season as the early down and goal line back. Davis was effective and efficient when toting the rock for SEA last season. I’ll take Davis at his current draft price over David Montgomery. We’ll learn the most about Montgomery when we get to see him during pre season. I don’t see Trey Burtons role drastically increasing this season leaving him as low end TE1. It won’t surprise anyone to see the Bears D/ST unit taken as the #1 defense. I don’t waste early-mid round draft picks on defenses so you will not see me partaking, neither should you. 

Detroit Lions 

  • RB Kerryon Johnson
    • 2018 Recap
      • RB34
      • 6 games missed due to a knee injury (week 11-17)
      • Beat weekly projections 5 out of 10 games played
      • 2 games over 100yds rushing
      • 3.2 receptions per game and 3.9 targets per game
      • 5.4 yards per rush and 6.7 yards per reception
      • 13.9 fantasy points per game 
    • 2019 Outlook
      • Strength of Schedule at-a-glance
        • Johnson will face the 1st and 3rd easiest ranked fantasy run defense (ARI & KC) in the first 4 games of the season.
        • Johnson will face 6 of the top 10 easiest run defenses in 2019 and 8 of the hardest 10 defenses to run on
        • Leading up to and during the fantasy playoffs (weeks 13-16) Johnson will face the 32nd easiest (#1 hardest) and 24th easiest (9th hardest) fantasy run defense and only one top 10 easiest fantasy run defenses (#6 TB in week 15).
      • It wasn’t until after the Lions week 6 BYE that Johnson emerged as the “lead” back in Detroit, averaging 13.6 carries per game weeks 7-11 before leaving the season with an injured knee. Johnson is entering 2019 as the clear cut lead dog but with the additions of bruiser CJ Anderson, adding speedster RB Ty Johnson in the draft, PPR stalwart Theo Riddick still on the roster, and having a Bill Belichick disciple, Matt Patricia, at the helm are forces against Johnson turning in to a reliable RB1 in 2019. His current ADP sits at #39 and the 21st running back off the board making him a low-end RB2 which is a fair price for him. Depending on your draft strategy, I give you the nod to grab Johnson at his current ADP and as your RB2/3 with no real threat to lead duties except for injury, which can be said for every player. 
  • WR Kenny Golladay
    • 2018 Recap
      • WR21
      • Played every game except a meaningless week 17 matchup where he sat out with a chest injury
      • Beat weekly projections 7 out of 15 games played 
      • 3 games over 100yds receiving
      • 7.9 targets per game 
      • 4.7 receptions per game
      • 15.2 yards per receptions and .33 TD per game
      • 13.8 fantasy points per game
    • 2019 Outlook
      • Strength of Schedule at-a-glance
        • DET will face two of the top 10 easiest fantasy pass defenses in the first 4 games of the season (#3 PHI week 3 & #9 KC week 4)
        • DET will face 6 of the top 10 easiest fantasy pass defenses and 8 of the hardest defenses
        • Weeks 13-16, DET will face 3 of the hardest fantasy defense to pass on and only one top 10 easiest pass defenses 
      • With little talent competition in DET last season, with the exit of Golden Tate and injury riddled Marvin Jones Jr, Golladay failed to dominate as the consistent WR1 that his opportunity presented for him. Now in year two under Patricia, the Lions have added weapons for Matthew Stafford to spread the ball around; including TE Jesse James, rookie 1st rounder TE T.J. Hockensen and slot WR Danny Amendola. I believe the Lions offense will take steps forward in 2019 but can Golladay be relied on as a true fantasy WR1/2 for our roster? He has a tough fantasy playoff schedule and more mouths to compete with in DET. For the Golladay faithful, yes you can argue with more talent for defense to scheme for it will allow more opportunity for Golladay to see single coverage. His current ADP sits at #42 and the 16th wide receiver off the board putting him as a mid-high WR2. Too rich for my blood with the likes of Julian Edelman and Tyler Lockett getting drafted behind him. 
  • DET Quick Hits
    • Who will become the safety valve for Stafford and eat up all of the targets in the middle of the field vacated by Tate’s exit? Amendola, Hockensen, and James will all have a crack at it. Amendola and James are both going undrafted, 309 and 310 ADP. Amendola is an interesting buy as he is practically free. I liked James’ potential, at a shallow TE position, before the Hockensen pick in the draft. T.J. is interesting flyer, currently the 12th TE taken off the board. As I wrote in my NFC free agency preview, I like the DET D/ST unit as an intriguing steaming unit. With a QB20 finish in 2018 and an average of 13.3 fantasy points per game Stafford leaves much to be desired this draft season. 

Green Bay Packers

  • QB Aaron Rodgers
    • 2018 Recap 
      • QB6
      • Started all 16 games
      • Beat weekly projections 6 out of 16 games played
      • 25 Passing Touchdowns (QB13) to 2 Interceptions
      • 2 Rushing TDs
      • 269 Rushing yards (QB12) on 43 Attempts (QB15)
      • 597 Passing Attempts (QB5)
      • 19.5 Fantasy Points Per Game (QB9)
    • 2019 Outlook
      • Strength of Schedule at-a-glance
        • Rodgers has a brutal start to the season, 4 out of his first 5 games he faces the 3rd (CHI), 4th (MIN), 8th (DAL), and 7th (DEN) ranked toughest fantasy defenses against QBs
        • Rodgers has the 31st easiest strength of schedule (2nd toughest)
        • Down the fantasy playoff stretch (weeks 13-16) Rodgers will see the 3rd (CHI), 4th (MIN), and 9th (NYG) ranked toughest fantasy defenses against QBS
      • In what was considered a “down” year, for elite QB Aaron Rodgers, he still finished as QB6 on the year. He dealt with a lingering knee issue the whole season preventing his ability to make the routine Houdini plays we’ve grown accustom to watching. All reports point to him being fully healthy for the 2019 campaign. Will we see a resurgence from Rodgers with a new offensive minded coach at the helm, Matt Lafleur? Aaron has the 31 easiest (2nd hardest) strength of schedule for QBs with a brutal start and finish to the season. If you take QBs early then you can get Rodgers’ at the lowest price we have seen for him in recent years. He is the #3 QB taken off the board and has an ADP of 63, going early in the 6th round. There is plenty of QB value late in this draft and I recommend waiting until later rounds to grab your field general. 
  • RB Aaron Jones
    • 2018 Recap
      • RB24
      • 4 games missed, two to suspension and two for a season ending knee inury
      • Beat weekly projections 7 out of 12 games played
      • One game over 100 yds rushing
      • 2.2 receptions per game and 2.9 targets per game
      • 5.5 yards per carry and 7.9 yards per reception
      • 14.3 fantasy point per game
    • 2019 Outlook
      • Strength of Schedule at-a-glance
        • Jones faces 3 of the top 10 hardest fantasy defenses against RBs in weeks 1-5 and no defense ranked in the top 10 easiest against the position
        • 20th easiest (12 hardest) strength of schedule for RBs
        • Faces the #32 easiest (#1 hardest/CHI) and #24 easiest (8th hardest/MIN) fantasy defenses in weeks 15 and 16
      • Criminally underused in the Mike McCarthy lead offense to start the season, Jones finally found himself in a lead role after returning from their week 7 BYE. Jones averaged 13.9 carries per game weeks 8-14 and averaged, a game changing, 19.7 fantasy points per game. Jones’ minimal usage in the passing game limits his ceiling but he is in queue to start the season as the lead dog. No suspension to start the season and no McCarthy to hold him back. Aaron Jones is being drafted as the 15th running back off the board and an ADP of 28, going in the top of the 3rd round. A full season as the starting running back in a Rodgers/Lafleur lead offense, Jones is fully capable of finishing as a top 15 RB in 2019.
  • WR Davante Adams
    • 2018 Recap
      • WR2
      • 1 game missed with a knee injury that held him out of a meaningless week 17 matchup against DET 
      • Beat weekly projections 10 out of 15 games played
      • 5 games over 100yds receiving
      • 11.3 targets per game and tied-WR2 in total targets (169)
      • 7.4 reception per game and Tied- WR5 in total reception (111)
      • 12.5 yards per reception and .87 TD per game
      • 22 fantasy points per game
    • 2019 Outlook
      • Strength of Schedule at-a-glance
        • To begin the season (weeks 1-5), 4 out of 5 matchups are against the top 10 hardest fantasy defenses for opposing WRs. 
        • Adams has the 27th easiest (6th hardest) strength of schedule
        • Weeks 13-16, he will see the #3, #7, and #9 ranked hardest fantasy defenses against WRs
      • Just when you thought there was no more room for Adams to grow in this offense, there are plenty of reports coming out of Green Bay pointing to Rodgers continuing to look Adams’ way in 2019. Rodgers said “I’d like to throw to Davante more…” after a recent OTA practice presser. Lafleur is expected to move Adams around allowing him to line up more in the slot and in other advantageous spots to allow Rodgers to feed him the ball.  This reminds me of last offseason when no one bought the hype coming out of Carolina that the goal was to get Christian McCaffery over 400 touches.  We all witnessed the season that CMC produced for us. With an ADP of 9 and the #2 WR taken off the board, don’t lose any sleep over taking Adams as the first WR in your draft.
  • GB Quick Hits
    • The dynamic in Green Bay, with Rodgers getting Mike McCarthy ran out of town, reminds me of how Lebron James handles his NBA teams. Look for Rodgers to “show” us that he was right when convincing leadership that they needed to move on and find a fresh offensive minded coach for him to operate under. The big question, who will take up WR2 and primary slot duties in this offense with the departure of Randall Cobb. Will it be Geronimo Allison, Marques Valdez-Scantling, J’Mon Moore, Equanimeous St. Brown, or Jake Kumerow? I will monitor this situation closely for you as we won’t get a clear picture of who this will be until pre-season games. Jimmy Graham extremely disappointed last season finishing as TE12. Maybe under a new regime we will see a resurgence from this once highly coveted fantasy TE. Unless you are grabbing Travis Kelce, Zach Ertz, or George Kittle early, wait on drafting your TE until later rounds. 

Minnesota Vikings

  • QB Kirk Cousins
    • 2018 Recap
      • QB12
      • Played all 16 games
      • Beat weekly projections 6 games out of 10
      • 30 passing TDs (QB9) to 10 INT
      • 1 Rushing TD
      • 123 Rushing yds (QB24) on 44 attempts (QB13)
      • 606 Passing Attempts (QB4)
      • 17.7 fantasy points per game (QB16)
    • 2019 Outlook
      • Strength of Schedule at-a-glance
        • To start the season Cousins faces two of the top 10 easiest fantasy defenses against QBs (#4 ATL week 1, #9 OAK week 3) and only 1 of the top 10 hardest fantasy defense (#30 easiest CHI week 3)
        • 10th easiest strength of schedule for QBs
        • From weeks 13-16, Cousin faces zero defenses ranked in the top 10 of the hardest fantasy defenses against QBs.
      • Out of all quarterbacks in 2018 that attempted over 150 passes, Kirk Cousins had the 3rd best completion percentage of 70.1 only trailing Drew Brees and Big Nick Foles. After grabbing offseason headlines last year with a huge guaranteed contract, Cousins left much to be desired for his Skol faithful by missing the playoffs completely after the Vikings were in the NFC Championship the year before. Kirk has an ADP at 134 and the 16th QB off the board. The high volume of pass attempts, stable of dynamic playmakers on the offense, and favorable strength of schedule keeps Cousins an interesting late round fantasy QB. 
  • WR Adam Thielen
    • 2018 Recap
      • WR7
      • Played all 16 games
      • Beat projections 8 out of 16 games
      • 9 games over 100yds receiving (record setting 8 games in a row)
      • 9.6 targets per game and WR6 in total targets (153)
      • 7.1 Receptions per game and Tied-WR3 in total receptions (113)
      • 12.2 yards per reception and .56 TD per game
      • 19.s fantasy points per game
    • 2019 Outlook
      • Strength of Schedule at-a-glance
        • Thielen faces the #5 and #8 ranked easiest fantasy defenses against WR to start the season, vs ATL week1 & @ GB week2, and only one top 10 hardest fantasy defenses against WRs through the first 4 weeks of the season
        • 10th ranked easiest strength of schedule for WRs. Adam only has 5 matchups against top 10 toughest defense for WRs over the course of the season
        • During the fantasy playoffs Thielen faces the #5 easiest and #7 hardest fantasy defenses for WRs
      • All in one season, we witnessed what the ceiling and floor could look like for Thielen. Unfortunately his floor hit us down the stretch of the fantasy season and in to the playoffs. The odds for Thielen being able to repeat a record setting streak of consecutive game of over 100yds has to extremely low. After his streak ended, Thielen still averaged 14 fantasy points per game weeks 9-16. His high target share keeps him in the back end WR1/high-end WR2 discussion along with his partner Stefon Diggs. If Cousins continues his high volume of pass attempts look for Thielen to continue to put up double digit fantasy numbers on a weekly basis. 
  • WR Stefon Diggs
    • 2018 Recap
      • WR10
      • Played in all 16 games
      • Beat weekly projections 9 out of 16 games
      • 4 games over 100yds receiving
      • 9.3 targets per game and WR8 in total targets (148)
      • 6.4 receptions per game and WR8 in total receptions (102)
      • 10 yards per reception and .56 TD per game
      • 17.8 Fantasy Points Per Game
    • 2019 Outlook
      • Strength of Schedule at-a-glance (same as his partner Adam Thielen)
        • Diggs will face the #5 and #8 ranked easiest fantasy defenses against WR to start the season, vs ATL week1 & @ GB week2, and only one top 10 hardest fantasy defenses against WRs through the first 4 weeks of the season
        • 10th ranked easiest strength of schedule for WRs. Stefon only has 5 matchups against the top 10 hardest defenses for WRs over the course of the season
        • During the fantasy playoffs Diggs faces the #5 easiest and #7 hardest fantasy defenses for WRs
      • Playing second fiddle to Thielen during his record setting game streak, Diggs was still able to carve out his role in this offense and finished the season as WR10. Both WRs are premier route runners in this league and headache for opposing defense to scheme against leaving the opportunity on any given week for either receiver to go off. Diggs is going full round later than Thielen, ADP 37 versus 25. As stated above, the chances are slim for Thielen to repeat the 100 yard streak this season giving me the sense of slight regression for him. I rather take Diggs at his current price if I’m committed to grabbing one of MIN wideouts.
  • RB Dalvin Cook
    • 2018 Recap
      • RB30
      • 6 games missed with a hamstring injury (weeks 3-8)
      • Beat weekly projections in 5 out of 10 games played
      • 1 game over 100yds rushing
      • 4.0 receptions per game and 4.9 targets per game
      • 4.6 yards per carry and 7.6 yards per reception
      • 13.8 fantasy point per game
    • 2019 Outlook
      • Strength of Schedule at-a-glance
        • Dalvin starts off the season facing (weeks 1,3,5) the #5th, #7th, and #8th ranked easiest fantasy defenses for RBs and only one top ten hardest fantasy defenses against RBs, #32 easiest (#1 hardest) CHI
        • 3rd easiest strength of schedule for RBs and only has 3 matchups against fantasy defense ranked in the top 10 hardest toughest on RBs
        • Weeks 13-16 Dalvin avoids facing a single top 10 hardest fantasy defenses for RBs
      • If you only look at the average fantasy points per game, Cook finished the season as RB19. The departure of, goal line vulture and early down back, Latavius Murray will provide a huge boost to Dalvin this fantasy season. The eye-popping stat for Cook last year was only scoring a rushing touchdown(s) in one out of the 10 games he played. Yes, only one game did he hit pay-dirt from the ground. Latavius Murray heads South to the Big Easy leaving behind 140 rushing attempts and six rushing touchdowns. Dalvin Cook will reap the benefits of Murrays departure and present him with ample opportunity during a prove it year for Cook. Will he be able to stay on the field and earn his next contract in MIN. After returning from his hamstring issue, Cook averaged 15.6 fantasy point per game. Dalvin is currently being drafted 19th overall and the 12th running back off the board, putting him at the end of the second round and as a low-end RB1. Given the opportunity and strength of schedule I like grabbing Cook in this spot. 
  • MIN Quick Hits
    • The Vikings grabbed dynamic TE Irv Smith in the 2019 draft which will give Kirk an additional target in the middle of the field. That being said, if Smith can earn himself regular playing time and foster chemistry with Cousins it could hurt Thielen’s value as the season progresses. Until we know where Kyle Rudolph is playing in 2019 I’ll hold my thoughts. I like Diggs over Thielen at their current draft price given the potential of Irv eating targets in the middle. Vikings D/ST will remain a top tier fantasy defense but, as I have said numerous times, I stay away from drafting any defense early. RB Alexander Mattison was drafted in the 3rd round and does not fit the profile of an early down bruiser. It looks like he was added as an insurance policy for Dalvin Cook. If you draft Cook then Mattison will be your handcuff to own. MIN has dynamic playmakers at every offensive position and a more than capable QB at the helm. I advise in making an investment in the offensive unit this draft season. 

This completes my NFC North preview. Leave your comments and question below or as always you can interact with me on twitter, @NicRomeroFF

See you all next week with my AFC North preview!