Roster Roundup: Part Two: NFC North

Taking A Dive Into The Rosters From Around The League

Author: Chris Wolf

This time of year is typically the time when teams, trainers and agents hype up their players. We know how the world has changed in recent months and the NFL is no different in its approach to returning to “normalcy”. With the news of NFL staff and players testing positive for the Corona Virus, fantasy news is taking a backseat. As a result, fantasy players are missing out on the typical hyperbole surrounding pre-season roster news and notes.

In this series we’ll take a look at who’s who on rosters and how that may help in your drafts and early waivers.

Each week we’ll examine a division’s skill position current roster and predictive depth chart heading into training camp to see how that relates to their fantasy outlook.

This week, we start in the NFC North and will follow with NFC South next week:

Chicago Bears

HC: Matt Nagy OC: Bill Lazor

QB: Mitch Trubisky, Nick Foles, Tyler Bray

RB: David Montgomery, Tarik Cohen, Ryan Nall, Artavis Pierce, Napoleon Maxwell

WR: Allen Robinson, Anthony Miller, Coradelle Patterson, Riley Ridley, Ted Ginn, Javon Wims, Darnell Mooney, Alex Wesley, Reggie Davis, Trevor Davis, Thomas Ives, Ahmad Wagner

TE: Jimmy Graham, Cole Kmet, Demetrius Harris, Adam Shaheen, Ben Braunecker, JP Holtz, Jesper Horsted, Eric Saubert, Darion Clark

This QB position is one of the few in the league that might not be settled until after training camp. Trubisky is the incumbent starter since 2017 but will have competition from veteran Nick Foles. Foles has been a career backup that shined in the playoffs and won the Super Bowl with the Eagles in 2018. He was traded from Jacksonville this offseason for a fourth-round pick after starting only 4 games. Trubisky is at times, fun to watch but also cringe worthy. He’s a strong-arm talent with under-utilized wheels that plays better on the move. Foles, is a heady decision maker that might lack top arm strength but makes up for it with his wit and grit.

Montgomery and Cohen could be considered co-starters at the running back position. GM Ryan Pace said that Montgomery could be “the team’s feature back” and “could carry a heavier workload” this season. Montgomery out carried the diminutive Cohen 242-64, but Cohen earned his paycheck in the receiving game. While Cohen had his worst statistical year as a ball carrier, he had his best year catching the ball out of the backfield and from the slot. While his 79 catches on 104 targets were his career best, it came in check down territory dropping his 2018 YPC from 10.2 to 5.8 in 2019.

Allen Robinson is a damn good football player. You really do feel for this guy. He is a WR1 talent that has suffered from sub-par QB play his entire career. He led the team in every receiving category but that wasn’t saying much for the 2019 Chicago Bears that went 8-8 thanks to their elite defense and 28th ranked offense. While Robinson is an over-achiever, the rest of the WR’s just need to put up mediocre numbers. With the departure of cap casualty Taylor Gabriel, the path is clear for Anthony Miller to take a leap forward this year. Miller is a solid football talent that has been slowed by legitimate injuries the past two years. He finished the last six games of the year on fire while averaging 5.7 catches and 72 yards during that time. Miller is the unquestioned WR2 on this team that could return strong WR3 value on your fantasy team.

The rest of the WR’s won’t hold much fantasy value unless something unfortunate happens. Coradelle Patterson, Riley Ridley and the immortal Ted Ginn round out this receiving corps. We really don’t have to spend much time talking about the TE position. Jimmy Graham was dug up to play for yet another NFL team that obviously doesn’t watch his film. Cole Kmet was drafted with the 43rd pick in the 2020 draft and is an inexperienced, yet promising talent with a large catch radius. He may take a bit longer to develop but has plenty of tutors with a whopping 10 TE’s on the roster. Harris and Shaheen will get theirs but this TE group is not very inspiring for 2020.

Detroit Lions

HC: Matt Patricia OC: Darrell Bevell

QB: Matthew Stafford, Chase Daniel, David Blough

RB: Kerryon Johnson, D’Andre Swift, Bo Scarbrough, Ty Johnson, Wes Hills, Jason Huntley

WR: Kenny Golladay, Marvin Jones, Danny Amendola, Geronimo Allison, Quintez Cephus, Travis Fulgham, Victor Bolden Jr, Marvin Hall, Tom Kennedy, Chris Lacy, Geremy Davis

TE: TJ Hockenson, Jesse James, Isaac Nauta, Matt Sokol, Hunter Bryant, Luke Sellers

Coming off of a 3-12-1 record the Detroit Lions have a lot to improve on. The defense was absolutely abysmal grading out as the #31 defense per PFF. Their offense has lots to look forward to with the likes of Matthew Stafford, Kenny Golladay, Marvin Jones, TJ Hockenson and newly drafted D’Andre Swift.

Stafford was in the midst of his most efficient season before succumbing to injuries related to his back and ankle. There is plenty to get excited about for Stafford’s 2020 outlook if healthy.

In his limited 9 full games from 2019, Stafford posted three or more touchdowns and over 290 yards in 5 of those games. Still just 32 years old, Stafford often returns numbers warranting him as a QB1 on your fantasy team. He is a great QB to rely on if you decide to draft a rookie and need a few years to plug him in as a viable starter.

The running back group has received an injection of speed with the drafting of D’Andre Swift. Swift was a dynamic back at Georgia excelling in both the run and passing game. His skill set was desperately needed in the lackluster run game of the 2019 Lions. While Kerryon Johnson carried a respectable 2019 2nd round ADP in dynasty drafts, his on the field play hasn’t quite translated to his draft status. He is an able runner who can be trusted in pass protection, his skill set best suits him in a rotational role with Swift and not as the bell-cow back that he was being drafted as. 2019 waiver wire disappointment Ty Johnson is still in the mix while plodder Bo Scarbrough looks to keep his role in the short yardage game.

This group of receivers, led by Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones, is sure to get back on track with their efficiency. It’s been a bit of feast or famine for the two and you really can’t blame it all on the team executing the unimaginative play calling. When they are good, they are good. When they are not-so-good, they are horrible. Golladay recorded 5 games with over 100 yards last year with TD’s in all but one of them. Then he had five games that looked like this; 2/17/0, 1/21/0, 1/34/0, 3/44/0, 4/61/0. His touchdowns were certainly up last year(11), but his targets, receptions, and drops all took a bit of a hit.

Marvin Jones is admittedly not as dynamic as Golladay and is four years his senior. His touchdowns were comparable (Golladay-11, Jones-9) and his payroll is significantly higher (Jones- 4.29%, Golladay-1.08% of the team’s cap) but Jones may come way cheaper at a WR4-5 ADP range than his running mate Golladay is being drafted as a low end WR1, high end WR2. Entering his fourth season, Golladay is sure to rake in a big payday with a calculated market value of $18.9 million. Rounding out the WR position is the veteran Danny Amendola and Geronimo Allison. Amendola (642) and Alison (689) both saw significant snaps in 3Wr & 4WR sets last year but intriguing 5th round selection Quintez Cephus is one that may press for playing time.

The tight end position is anchored by sophomore T.J. Hockenson and Jesse James. Hockenson got more snaps running receiving routes and graded out better than James while runblocking. Hockenson had a solid rookie year and was thrown right into the fire early in the season. He is sure to be a staple of this offense for years to come. He, like the rest of his offensive teammates, is talented and would do far better with more imaginative and bold play calling.

Source: packers.com

Green Bay Packers

HC: Matt LaFleur OC: Nathaniel Hackett

QB: Aaron Rodgers, Jordan Love, Tim Boyle, Jalen Morton

RB: Aaron Jones, AJ Dillon, Jamaal Williams, Dexter Williams, Patrick Taylor Jr, Damarea Crockett, Tyler Ervin

WR: Davante Adams, Allen Lazard, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Devin funchess, Jake Kumerow, Equanimeous St Brown, Darrius Shepherd, Reggie Begelton, Darrel Stewart Jr, Kabion Ento

TE: Marcedes Lewis, Jace Sternberger, Josiah Deguara, Robert Tonyan Jr, Evan Baylis, James Looney, Jordan Jones

The 2019 season for the Green Bay Packers told us three things; 1.) As great as he is…Aaron Rodgers had more friction with another coaching staff 2.) Rodgers desperately needed a complimentary weapon in the passing game to Davante Adams 3.) The Packers got absolutely whopped by the 49ers run game twice. The Packers 2020 draft was very entertaining and definitely told a story for those paying attention.

Instead of providing Rodgers with a weapon in a loaded wide receiver draft class, they made a statement by drafting a QB in round 1. 

Whether or not Rodgers is in the declining stages of his career is debatable. In 2019 he led first year head coach Matt LaFleur’s team to a 13-3 record while throwing for over 4,000 yards and 26 TD’s to just 4 INT’s.  He definitely took a step back in the rushing department posting his lowest yards per rush average in 11 years. But do the Packers think that Rodgers is at the end of his career or just nearing the end of their time together? Typically, you don’t find NFL teams spending a 1st round pick on a player they project to be a back-up, especially at the QB position. So, you have to assume that Jordan Love is in the Packers very near future plans.

Aaron Jones won lots of team’s fantasy championships last year. In fact, he was downright studly. While rushing for 1084 yards and 16 TD’s, he also caught 3 TD’s on 49 catches for 474 yards. Still only 25 years old, the 2017 5th rounder is in the last year of his contract and hopes to be a Packer for life. But the Packers are not known to sign their running back to second contracts so we might have some insight to why they used a second-round pick on A.J. Dillion.

Dillon is a massive man weighing in around 250lbs. He walks around on tree trunks and shows some top end speed when given the chance. He does tend to need a full head of steam to get going and is not very talented when he has to make quick decisions. He has the build to carry a full workload but will likely find himself in a committee with walk year running backs Jones and Jamaal Williams. Although there is only one ball to share, the Packers are also very high on Tyler Ervin.

As for wide receivers, you have Davante Adams…the End. Green Bay has struggled to find a consistent compliment to Davante Adams and shame on them for not drafting appropriately. Instead, they opted to build a power run game through the draft and ignore a glaring need. Although Allen Lazard rose to the top of the trash heap in 2019, Green Bay WR’s showcased very inconsistent play evidenced by the team’s 24 dropped passes. They did sign the big-bodied Devin Funchess to a $2.2 million salary, but he more or less will help replace the evacuated red zone presence of Jimmy Graham. Valdez-Scantling and St.Brown are still very young and raw and could surprise with some much needed reps. Finally, Jake Kumerow rounds out the list of notable receivers. The tight end group is led by an unaccomplished Jace Sternberger and veteran Marcedes Lewis. Sternberger was the 3rd selection in 2019 and is poised to take a leap in 2020. He is a seam stretcher with so-so blocking skills and should be good to go to replace Graham after missing half of his rookie year due to an ankle injury. He could be the most over hyped dynasty prospect to never catch a pass in the regular season. Mercedes Lewis will siphon some in the passing game while 2020 3rd rounder Josiah Deguara is a Dan Vitale clone who projects more as an H-Back.

Minnesota Vikings

OC: Mike Zimmer OC: Gary Kubiak

QB: Kirk Cousins, Sean Mannion, Nate Stanley, Jake Browning

RB: Dalvin Cook, Alexander Mattison, Michael Boone, Ameer Abdullah, Tony James-Brooks, CJ Ham, Jake Bargas

WR: Adam Thielen, Justin Jefferson, Olabisi Johnson, Chad Beebe, Tajae Sharpe, KJ Osborn, Alexander Hollins, Dillon Mitchell, Quartney Davis, Dan Chisena, Davion Davis

TE: Kyle Rudoplh, Irv Smith Jr, Tyler Conklin, Brandon Dillon, Nakia Griffin-Stewart

Captain Kirk’s contract has caused this team to lose talent. His two-year $66 million extension is near the top of the league and will impact the team’s roster for years to come. Luckily, they kicked butt in the draft. With the early addition of Justin Jefferson falling into their laps, promising tackle Ezra Clevland and some much-needed secondary help, Minnesota had one of the best drafts based on talent alone.

Cousins isn’t considered a top talent in industry circles, but he is a fine player. In 2019 he ranked fourth in efficiency rating, 7th in yards per attempt, and 5th in completion percentage. He does not put up gaudy numbers that will make you jump out of your chair, but he does offer that even keel consistency that you look for on your fantasy team. Behind him you have the reliable but not-so-talented Sean Mannion and the 7th rounder out of Iowa, Nate Stanley.

This backfield is very talented. Dalvin Cook is in early season holdout mode but is incredible with the ball in his hands as well as off-ball play. Cook returned value for those that drafted him last year, but will we take the gamble again this year? He carries uncertainty with his holdout as well as his injury history. Cook has a problematic shoulder which resulted in two torn labrums as well has several lower body issues. He seems to be fully recovered from the 2017 grade 3 ACL tear, but he chronically has hamstring issues. Cook has all of the talent in the world, but you cannot ignore the potential holdout and injury concerns.

Next on the RB depth chart are Alexander Mattison, Mike Boone, and Ameer Abdullah. Mattison was the top backup posting 462 yards with 1 TD in 13 games. Boone is much more comparable to Cook than Mattison is and enjoyed his week 17 “breakout” with 160 total yards and 1 touchdown. Boone is a talented player and deserves a look in the late rounds of dynasty drafts.

At wide receiver we witnessed the social media outbursts of Steffon Diggs lead to his departure to Buffalo. Surviving on the roster is his former running mate Adam Thielen. Thielen has enjoyed a rather clean injury history aside from a 2016 concussion until he slid into a wall outside of the endzone in the first quarter against the Lions. Injuring his hamstring, he missed one game and attempted a comeback against KC two weeks later and re-injured the leg resulting in a 4-game hiatus. He is undervalued due to injury recency bias and is a strong bounce back candidate that should dominate the target share on his team.

To replace Diggs, the Vikings scooped up Justin Jefferson from LSU in the first round. Running nearly 80% of his routes in the slot in his final year at LSU, Jefferson figures to kick inside in 3WR sets. Jefferson offers fantastic straight-line speed (4.41) and is a nuanced route runner. This is a great example where opportunity marries talent. Olibisi Johnson has the leg up on Tajae Sharpe for the 3rd WR spot while Chad Beebe offers more talent in the slot with his short area quickness.

Kyle Rudolph seems like he has played tight end for the Vikings forever. Still just 30yrs old, he operates on third downs and in the red zone evidenced by his 367 yards for 6 TD’s last season. Meanwhile Irv Smith is a candidate for more looks following Diggs departure. Smith played 60% of the snaps as a 20-year-old rookie out of Alabama in 2019. His yards per catch (8.6) are sure to increase, he had a respectable 36/311/2 rookie campaign in a talented offense. Former basketball player, Tyler Conklin sits third on the depth chart offering plus run-blocking ability with decent hands.

That is the NFC North! We hope you enjoyed the read.

Check back soon! We will continue with the NFC South next week.

Chris Wolf is a freelance writer for Dynasty Owner.

Follow us on Twitter: @CKWolf21 and @Dynasty_Owner