NFC NORTH OUTLOOK for 2016

by @NothinkingGURU

Chicago Bears
The Bears were one of the worst offenses in the league, especially in the passing game. The O-line might actually be worse this year but has upside for a strong inside run blocking squad. With this being said, the Bears’ best bet will be to run the ball and control the clock. This is why they spent so spent much on free agency and used the draft on defense. They did lose RB Matt Forte to the Jets in free agency but last year’s rookie RB Jeremy Langford stepped up to the plate. Langford is 6 ft 208 lbs. but lacks the necessary power to be an inside running threat and does not have the hands to be a receiving back. I believe that the Bears understand this and thus drafted RB Jordan Howard, (my #4 rookie RB) in this years draft. Howard is a 6’1” 230 lbs. power back. Although he has not had a great preseason, when the season starts and Langford proves his inadequacy it will force the Bears hand to play Howard. Howard has better hands, can pass block, and runs good routes. The only 2 relevant WRs are Alshon Jeffery who going in the 2nd RD in the NFFC and Kevin White with ADP of 65 but going anywhere from the end of the 4th to the 9th rd. Jeffery had 54 receptions on 94 targets. With a bad passing O-line. If Cutler gets in trouble, I don’t see him trust throwing to Jeffery. Last year, Jeffery only scored 6 TDs on 19 endzone targets. TE Zach Miller had 5 Tds on 6 endzone targets. On another team, Jeffery might be worth a pick in the 2nd rd but on this team he should be drafted as your WR3 with upside. As for WR Kevin White, he did not play at all last year and was considered raw coming out of college. Many scouts believed he needed a year to live up to his potential. Sitting on the sideline all year, it is impossible for him to pick up much. After a couple weeks of the regular season, it is possible that he will be the top receiver on this team. At 6’3” 215 lbs. he was one of the fastest WRs to come out of last years NFL draft. He has better hands than Jeffery and can run short and long routes. At best, his upside might be 75 receptions in this offense and limited TDs with Howard, Jeffery, Langford, and TE Zach Miller all battling for touches. The best pass catcher on this offense is TE Zach Miller who caught 74% of his targets last year. He is 6’5” 240 lbs. BEAST but is very injury prone and should have big games when healthy, plus he fits this offense.

Detroit Lions
The Lions are one of three teams aiming to play a fast paced, no huddle offense. The Lions defense last year was average and not looking much better this year. No huddle offenses play more offensive plays, but does keep the opposing team’s defense from switching out players. The O-line was not very good last year but they have dramatically improved at run blocking and the pass blocking is slightly better. Last year’s rookie RB Ameer Abdullah has not shown he can be an every down back or an inside runner and has fumble issues. In the off-season the Lions were trying to get Rb Theo Riddick to be an every down back but he is not built for that role and the best receiving back on this team. As for power back 5’11” 222 lbs. Zach Zenner he might be the best fit for the 1st/2nd down role and short/goal-line situations. Zenner’s only issue is he has very little upside, as he does not have long speed or agility to make people miss. Theo Riddick should get 6-10 carriers a game but his real value is him getting 3-8 receptions a game if he can stay healthy. The wideouts on this team are interesting as Calvin Johnson retired in the off season. This leaves WR Golden Tate, WR Marvin Jones, WR Anquon Boldin, and TE Eric Ebron. All of these players are #2 WR on most teams in the NFL. Just based on that, the ball will most likely be spread around and at the end of the season all of these players could have 60-80 receptions and 600-1000 rec yards. But on a weekly basis it might be tough to know which wideout will have the big game. Tate will most likely lead the team in receptions, with Jones being the deep ball threat, and Boldin the matchup nightmare as the 3rd WR, and TE Ebron will most likely lead the team in TDs.

Green Bay Packers
The Packers have a top 10 O-line and a top 10 defense. This points all fingers to the Packers running the ball with Eddie Lacy. As everyone knows, Lacy was overweight last year but the untold story is that he was not the only one overweight. If one takes a look at photos of the 2014 and the 2015 team, Aaron Rodgers and Cobb were both significantly more bulky. Rodgers went on a diet over the summer using the same diet as Tom Brady. Cobb had multiple injuries last year that might have caused a couple extra pounds. Eddie Lacy, according to multiple reports, is in the best shape of his life. During the preseason, the Packers were stressing to run the ball. Lacy is considered a foundation back even though Starks does get carriers. As bad as the offense was last year, they only ran about 10 carriers less than the year before. Im expecting an increase to 400 rushes this year, with most going to Lacy. The wideout debacle was due to how Rodgers gets the ball the receivers. Aaron Rodgers throws the ball to a spot and does not wait until the receiver is open. Since Jordy Nelson is the best player on the team at doing this, having him out for the season really hurt the passing game. Randall Cobb is also good at getting to a spot but with all the injuries, added weight and added pressure to be the #1 target in this offense was a bad combo. Cobb will have a rebound year as long as he and Jordy are healthy. Davante Adams was my WR bust last year because in the preseason he was running the wrong routes and was running before he caught the ball. This is also a bad combo in any offense and unless Adams has a reawakening, I don’t see him being fantasy relevant as the 3rd WR. That does not mean he will not have big games this year as he is a physically gifted WR on this team. TE Richard Rodgers had some big games last year but is not a true receiving TE and that is why the Packers picked up TE Jared Cook in off season, but Cook has the same issues that Adams has in that he does not run the right routes and has focus issues.

Minnesota Vikings
One can’t start talking about the Minnesota Vikings without talking about RB Adrian Peterson. Peterson played all 16 games last year and rushed 327 times for 1485 yards and 11 TDs. He led the league in all these categories. The only 3 issues with Peterson is his pass catching, age (31), and his QB. Because there are plays that require a pass catching back usually on 3rd down, Peterson will be taken out of the game in favor of RB Jerrick McKinnon. Peterson had 30 receptions last year and that is most likely his ceiling for receptions. In PPR leagues, Peterson’s value drops to a low end RB1. Due to Peterson’s age, it is very rare for an RB to be successful in the NFL but Peterson is an all time great and should not have a big decrease in YPC. The final issue with Peterson is his O-line and his QB. Minnesota finished as one of the worst pass blocking teams in the league last year and that does not help a bad QB situation with Teddy Bridgewater out for the season. This will cause Peterson to see more stacked boxes. Minnesota’s best WR last year, Stefon Diggs, has not played a full season in college or the NFL due to injuries. Defenses will put 8 men in the box and make it hard for Peterson to have big games. Minnesota drafted WR Laquon Treadwell from Ole Miss but he is still not 100% from an injury suffered 2 years ago. However, he has huge upside and could end up being the best wideout on this team. Keep an eye on Charles Johnson since his has the ability to flash and with Wallace gone will have more of an opportunity this year.

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