With the Summer Sleeper series at its conclusion and the preseason underway, it’s time to review what we’ve learned since the beginning of camp and take a closer look at position battles, emerging players or roster surprises. With that in mind, we’re going to fire up the DLF RV and go division-by-division with some news and notes. While we won’t mention every single player (we have our player news feed for important news), we’ll take some time to run down some important dynasty information for each team. If you have a question on a particular player, ask below and I’ll do my best to answer it as well. If you missed a previous report, just click on it below.
Dynasty Fantasy Football Training Camp Update: NFC East
Dynasty Fantasy Football Training Camp Update: NFC West
We continue with the NFC North.
Green Bay Packers
This Aaron Rodgers guy seems to have the starting job sewn up. If he’s healthy, he should compete for overall QB1 honors yet again. Brett Hundley and DeShone Kizer were supposed to battle it out for backup duties but Tim Boyle is really surprising in camp. The dynasty value of Hundley and Kizer is shaky to non-existent at the moment.
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Some dynasty owners are falling all over themselves in an effort to secure the Green Bay running back position. In the end, it just may not be possible. We know Jamaal Williams will have a prominent role at the start of the year and it looks like Ty Montgomery is being groomed to be a third down back. Aaron Jones will be suspended for two games to begin the year but could offer the most upside of the group. However, Williams seems to be the most dependable and that goes a long way in Green Bay. I like Jones the most from an upside perspective but it’s also pretty tough to pencil any of these players into lineups as this is shaking out to be a committee backfield at its finest. Besides, the Packers offense relies on Rodgers and his ability to throw so much that running backs on the team aren’t as valuable as some may believe.
Now it gets fun.
We have a good idea of what we’re going to get from Davante Adams and even Randall Cobb. The rest of the depth chart is up for the taking and whoever wins the third receiver job is destined to hold short and long-term dynasty value. The candidates include J’Mon Moore, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Equanimeous St. Brown, Geronimo Allison, Trevor Davis, DeAngelo Yancey, Jake Kumerow and Adonis Jennings. J’Mon Moore has been getting the most time of the group and was the highest drafted rookie they had this year. However, it sounds like Valdes-Scantling and St. Brown have both had their moments. In short, Moore has made the most spectacular plays but St. Brown has been the most dependable of the group. One thing is clear, though – the competition is just starting and nobody has truly separated themselves from the pack. I still wouldn’t give up on Allison, either. The only thing we know for sure is this receiver depth chart would kill it on Words with Friends.
The Packers have been needing a productive tight end, so they signed three of them in the off-season, headlined by Jimmy Graham, who had a very disappointing run in Seattle. Marcedes Lewis and Lance Kendricks are also on the roster now but this is all about Graham. After averaging more than 87 catches per season from 2011-2014, he saw his numbers decline in the Emerald City, though he did re-establish himself as a great red zone weapon with ten scores last season. He’ll have better potential for yards in Green Bay, especially if the Packers play him outside a little more, as has been reported. While Graham is primed for a bounce-back, I believe owners are overvaluing him at the moment. I just don’t see a 90/1,200/12 season coming since he’s lost a lot of the explosion he had prior to his injury, as indicated by his yards per catch average dropping to a career low 9.1 last year when he should have been fully recovered from his 2016 injury.
This is a huge year for Mitchell Trubisky. It seems he’s taken a step forward with new Coach Matt Nagy as they’ve broken down his fundamentals and started to build them back up as we approach the preseason games. The news so far has been mostly positive and Trubisky has reportedly had his best few days of camp this week.
Last year was supposed to be a dominant one for Jordan Howard after he averaged over five yards per carry en route to 1,313 rookie rushing yards in 2016. Unfortunately, he took a step back as his yards per carry average fell to 4.1 and he lost a huge chunk of work to rookie Tarik Cohen. On the positive front, the new coaching staff is expressing a ton of confidence in him and have vowed to use him as a workhorse. Time will tell, but Howard is a bounce-back candidate – the challenge will be just how the Bears use Cohen this year. Some believe he’ll be utilized similarly to how the Chiefs used Tyreek Hill last year and that would be good news for Howard. At this point, I’d expect Cohen to better his 140 touches from last season but I’d also expect Howard to have a better year and catch at least 30 passes as well if the Bears really move Cohen around as much as they’re leading on. I really believe Howard has a chance to outperform his ADP and draft position this year and Cohen should maintain his value as well.
The Bears have completely re-tooled their receiving corps by adding Allen Robinson and Taylor Gabriel, then trading up to draft Anthony Miller. Let’s face it, though. Miller has been the star of camp thus far. Each day seems to bring us a new highlight, news blurb or beat writer predicting big things from the rookie. So far, he has simply outproduced expectations and he has the inside track to the starting slot receiver job from week one. I’ve simply never been keen on drafting receivers from Chicago as the weather is unpredictable and the quarterback play has been sub-standard most years. However, Gabriel has some sleeper appeal and Miller is quickly starting to ascend up our rookie draft boards. In short, it’s time to pay attention. The rest of the depth chart will likely end up being filled out with less dynasty appeal, save Kevin White, who many folks are still holding out hope for. He just needs a year back to full health before showing up on dynasty radars again and I’m not burning a roster spot to see if he does it. Robinson is clearly the lead dog here, Gabriel is going to get his targets and Miller looks like the real deal. With Trey Burton in tow and Cohen being worked in all over the field, I just don’t see a clear path for White or really anyone else to regain or develop much dynasty relevance.
The Bears made a huge splash by adding Burton this off-season and many dynasty owners see him as a more athletic Travis Kelce in a Matt Nagy offense. Nothing like lofty expectations, eh? At this point, the window to buy on Burton is closed. Currently sitting as the TE11, with an ADP of 82, it’s clear dynasty enthusiasts believe big things are coming from him and startup owners have to pay the price to get him. With that type of pricetag, it’s going to be tough for dynasty owners to acquire him now via trade, however. If you grabbed him last year, you have to be thrilled. I’m still tempering my expectations a bit as there are only a few tight ends to truly build around and a large tier of other players who are statistically so similar. However, I’m clearly in the minority on that stance at this point.
After attempting to build a team around Case Keenum, Sam Bradford and some form of Teddy Bridgewater last year, the Vikings moved on from all of them and signed Kirk Cousins to be their franchise quarterback. Opinions on Cousins are really split as some believe he’s a legitimate QB1 in dynasty leagues while others believe he’s better served as a high-end QB2. I’m not building my own teams around him based on his current price but it’s also hard to ignore the numbers he’s put up. In addition, he has a whole host of weapons and a defense that won’t keep him on the sidelines (he also won’t be playing from behind much, which needs to be taken into consideration). Regardless, it’s his show. The Vikings also added Trevor Siemian as their backup, completing his fall from grace. You’d have to be in a really deep league to have Siemian rostered at this point.
Remember this time last year when Dalvin Cook was overrated based on his combine performance and all the off-the-field issues? Well, that went away quickly as he came in and dominated until a torn ACL derailed his season. By all measures, Cook seems to be all the way back and is in the RB1 conversation for certain. If things go south, we know what Latavius Murray can do. Beyond that, the competition for the third spot on the depth chart is interesting. Mack Brown and Roc Thomas are two players I’m watching closely this preseason.
The Vikings locked up Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen has proven himself to be extraordinarily valuable in dynasty leagues. The news from Vikings camp has revolved a lot around the disappointing Laquon Treadwell, who has reportedly made major strides this off-season in an effort to avoid the label of bust in both reality and fantasy. Beyond those three, we have Kendall Wright and a whole host of other players likely positioning themselves for one of six spots. With Diggs, Thielen, Treadwell and Wright all penciled in, the player I’m actually keeping tabs on is Brandon Zylstra, a 25 year-old former CFL star (he led the CFL with 100 catches and 1,687 yards last year) who has been tremendous in training camp. Again, another killer score on the Words with Friends front as well.
Over the years, Kyle Rudolph has proven to be a pretty reliable option at the position for teams who fail to nab a truly elite option at tight end – that really shouldn’t change this year.
After seven straight seasons of playing in each and every game, Matthew Stafford returns to the Lions’ helm again in 2018. It seems pretty safe to expect somewhere near 4,300 yards and 25 touchdowns as Stafford continues to be underrated in many dynasty leagues. He really is a signal caller you can win a dynasty championship with and one of the very few “plug and play” options in dynasty leagues.
The Lions have been searching for a running back to post a 100-yard game since Thanksgiving of 2013, which seems impossible. Unfortunately for Lions fans and dynasty owners of their running backs, it’s apparently not. This year brings new promise but also a whole new host of question marks. When you enter the running back room at Lions training camp (I doubt that even exists, but it’s fun to imagine it does), you find Kerryon Johnson, Theo Riddick, LeGarrette Blount, Ameer Abdullah and Dwayne Washington. What you don’t find is a clear workhorse right now. Dynasty owners in rookie drafts are targeting Johnson right around the end of round one or start of round two and that seems just about right. The Lions have invested heavily in him and he has the best long-term appeal. However, owners are going to need to be patient here as we know Riddick is going to get third down duties and Blount is likely their goal line back. I could see Abdullah or Washington either providing something or getting cut. Yes, it’s that unclear. Regardless, I see Johnson as a buy low candidate after a few games as his situation will get better as time goes on.
The top three receivers for the Lions are really clear as Marvin Jones, Golden Tate and Kenny Golladay have a firm grip on their roles. TJ Jones seems to be a lock for their fourth receiver – that leaves players like Dontez Ford, Deontez Alexander, Teo Redding, Jace Billingsley and Chris Lacy to battle out for one or two more spots. The guy I’m most interested in within that group is Redding, who seems to be adding to an impressive Spring. On the whole, the player I’m most fascinated with among the entire corps is Golladay – he’s flashed star potential and could really come into his own this season. I’m buying him everywhere I can.
The Lions moved on from the consistently underachieving Eric Ebron and replaced him with Luke Willson. I actaully believe Willson will be a surprise this year and I can see him become a popular streamer or matchup play in dynasty leagues. There are lots of owners who really punt on the position in order to build their teams in other areas and I can see Willson being a good waiver pickup or late round flyer who produces good enough numbers to merit a roster spot. Just remember he has two “L’s” in his name if you attempt to use it on Words with Friends.