NFC North 2016 Fantasy Outlook

Written by Shalin Shah, NFC North Writer, and goes by @shalin on the Fantasy Life App


The NFC North is a gold mine. Constant power struggles between teams, with all four having the potential to make the playoffs. Below is the outlook for ever viable fantasy option on the Chicago Bears, Detroit Lions, Green Bay Packers, and Minnesota Vikings


Chicago Bears

Quarterback - Jay Cutler
Jay Cutler has become the mockery of the fantasy community. Just hearing the word "Cutler" puts a bad thought in the mind of many NFL fans. Jay Cutler still isn't as bad of a QB as many see him. Cutler does not have weekly reliability in 2016, simply because he's too turn-over prone. He will prove to have great DFS value based on his overall price. A healthy pair of receivers, Alshon Jeffery and Kevin White should also boost Cutler's value.

Running Backs - Jeremy Langford, Kadeem Cary, Jacquizz Rodgers, and Jordan Howard
This is an interesting backfield out here in Chicago. Jeremy Langford is currently the starter, but there has been chatter that his fellow backfield mates could steal carries. Something to keep an eye on. Jeremy Langford will have a chance to play a full 16 game season in2016. What he can do with a full slate is not known. Langford showed flashes of greatness when filling in as a starter in 2015, he was somewhat inconsistent. This backfield also has the potential  of becoming a committee so it's worth keeping an eye on. 

Wide Receivers - Alshon Jeffrey and Kevin White
Alshon Jeffery was somewhat of a headache for fantasy owners in 2015. Jeffery played only 9 games last season, but he was a monster when he took the field. Jeffery is Jay Cutler's favorite target and is great fantasy option just by volume alone. He poses as a superb touchdown threat as well. If Jeffery can stay healthy, there's no doubt he can be among the group of elite fantasy receivers. Kevin White will make his long awaited NFL debut this upcoming season. White has been talked up all camp. Kevin White will take away pressure from Alshon Jeffery and could potentially steal targets from him. White has a similar physical appearance to Jeffery; A big receiver who poses a touchdown threat. Based on his ADP, Kevin White can be a potential steal in fantasy drafts. Especially if Jay Cutler misses time. 

Tight End - Zach Miller 
Zach Miller, like Jeremy Langford, also will be playing his first full season as a starter for the Bears. Miller was a great replacement for the injured Martellus Bennet last year, with Bennet out of the door, Miller could have great fantasy value as late-round flyer or a potential backup for your Greg Olsen of Gronkowski. 


Detroit Lions

Quarterback - Matthew Stafford
Let's take a look at these stats: "From Weeks 10-17, Matthew Stafford ranked first in completions, second in completion percentage and had more than 310 passing yards OR multiple touchdown passes in all seven of his games."  This is fact 18b from Matthew Berry's 100 football facts for 2016. Stafford finished 2016 on a high note, and looks to continue. The loss of Calvin Johnson may hurt Stafford, but Golden Tate and Marvin Jones are more than capable receivers. 

Running Backs - Ameer Abdullah and Theo Riddick
Ameer Abdullah in 2015 had high hopes. After a fantastic pre-season, many thought Abdullah was going to be a stud in fantasy. Unfortunately, Abdullah never translated his pre-season performances into regular season success. He comes in 2016 with no hype like last year. Personally, I think Abdullah will have a stronger 2016 season, and put up good numbers. Especially in PPR formats. With no Calvin Johnson, the Lions may need to rely on the run-game much more. Theo Riddick is a PPR stud. He was rated among the highest pass catching RBs in 2015 by Pro Football Focus. He will be used a lot on passing downs.  He's a great value in PPR formats, but not too great in standard.

Wide Receivers - Golden Tate and Marvin Jones
It was a surprise to many when Calvin Johnson announced his retirement. No one is really sure how the Lions will fare without their hall of fame wide receiver. Golden Tate is the next man up. In 2014, when Johnson was hurt, Golden Tate was an absolute dominant receiver. Tate very well could repeat his masterful 2014 campaign this upcoming season. He should have a lot of volume in this offense. I expect Tate to put together a solid season, but nothing close to what Calvin Johnson has done. Marvin Jones comes in from Cincinnati, he will provide help to this receiver corps. Jones and Stafford have already built up a strong rapport and he will certainly be involved heavily in this offense. Jones is currently the better value pick. 

Tight End - Eric Ebron
Many are seeing 2016 as Eric Ebron's break out season. Ebron has never had fantasy value since entering the league, and he's worth a flyer in deep leagues. He is currently nursing an injury, so it's worth keeping an eye on that.


Green Bay Packers

Quarterback - Aaron Rodgers
There's not much to say here, it's stipulated that Aaron Rodgers is an elite fantasy QB. Last year, Aaron Rodgers did struggle without his go-to target Jordy Nelson. Rodgers could not get the ball to his receivers, and had some very ugly games. This made fantasy owners furious. Rodgers gets his guy back, and certainly a top 3 option at the QB position. This should be bounce-back year for Rodgers

Running Backs - Eddie Lacy and James Starks
Fat Eddie. That describes Eddie Lacy’s 2015 season. Eddie Lacy could not get it going last year, which led to many angry fantasy owners who took him as early as the number one pick overall. Lacy gained lot of weight in the offseason, and it showed itself during games. Lacy was slow, ineffective, and not the running back that fans were used to seeing. It looks like Lacy’s workout with P90X is this offseason has helped him slim down a lot, Lacy is receiving tons of praise for his weight loss. I expect Eddie Lacy to erupt in 2016. James Starks should take away snaps from Eddie Lacy early in the season, as the Packer enjoy their two-headed monster of a backfield. If Lacy starts off strong, Starks is nothing more than a handcuff. 

Wide Receivers - Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb
Jordy Nelson missed all of the 2015 season when he went down with an ACL injury. The Packer’s offense was a mess all year, Aaron Rodgers and his wide receivers struggled. Rodgers’ receivers couldn’t seem to get open, and Rodgers was not synchronized with his receivers. Jordy Nelson returns, and it appears he’s back to his former strength. Nelson will do wonders for this Packer offense if he comes back to his pre-injury form. But there are concerns of a 31 year old receiver coming off a major knee injury. Randall Cobb entered 2015 with a lot of hype. Many thought he would erupt as the number one receiver in this offense. He was a flat out bust and didn’t play well at all when defenses were focusing on him. He’s back in the slot now, his main position. Nelson's return  allows Cobb to play in the slot where he put up big numbers in 2014

Tight Ends - Richard Rodgers and Jared Cook
Richard Rodgers wants to be more than just a guy who catches Hail-Mary passes. Rodgers had an inflated role last year due to the ineffectiveness of the receivers. With Nelson back, Rodgers is nothing more than a touchdown dependent option. Jared Cook's arrival in to Green Bay is unusual. He was signed by the Packers this offseason. Cook only poses big play value and doesn't have the volume to be a TE1. 


Minnesota Vikings

Quarterback - Teddy Bridgewater
The Vikings are a run-first offense. They like to pound the ball and earn yards with one of the greatest running backs of all time. Bridgewater's upside is capped because of this. Bridgewater doesn't pose any fantasy value simply because of his lack of opportunity. As long as Peterson is in the backfield, Bridgewater won't have QB1 fantasy value. He can be a great DFS value, should Peterson miss any time.

Running Backs - Adrian Peterson and Jerrick Mckinnon
After missing 15 games in 2014, Adrian Peterson returned in 2015 with a bang. Peterson started off slow, but was truly dominant, and silenced everyone who thought he would be rusty. Peterson at times did look old, and he clearly has lost a step and some explosiveness. Peterson will be great in 2016 nonetheless. He’s still a top 3 running back, and is a candidate to finish the year as the league’s leading rusher (again). Peterson’s age does raise concerns. When will his decline start? It very well could happen this season. That factor hurts Peterson’s fantasy appeal, but it shouldn’t stray you away from him. Peterson is an elite RB1, take him with complete confidence. Jerrick McKinnon did have an increased role towards the end of the 2015 season, but that shouldn't be a concern. He's simply a handcuff.

Wide Receivers - Stefon Diggs, Laquon Treadwell, and Charles Johnson
Stefon Diggs was a great surprise last year. His play from weeks 6–8 were fantastic. He didn’t do much afterwards. Diggs is in a run-first offense, so it will be hard for him to be a high-volume receiver. He should have a better 2016 season. Teddy Bridgewater will improve, Diggs will follow. Expect him to be a great PPR asset with the ability to catch the deep ball. LaQuon Treadwell was drafted in the first round by the Vikings. He’s a big physical receiver who can catch the ball in traffic. He's not having the greatest of camps, and he still is in a run-first offense. This caps his upside. Charles Johnson can very well pass Treadwell on the depth chart, his showings in camp and the preseason have been great. He's worth a late round flyer in deep leagues. 

Tight End - Kyle Rudolph
Kyle Rudolph is a blocking Tight End, and doesn't receive enough targets to be fantasy relevant. So if you're thinking about grabbing him late in drafts....please for the love of all that is good....DON'T. HES NOT GOOD. There... I believe I've made my point.