With just over a month until the NFL draft I will approach each division one at a time and breakdown each team. I will let you know where some sleepers might be and what could be some good landing spots for free agents and draft prospects. I will first discuss the NFC North:
Matt Stafford: He is the unquestioned starter. He had some up and down games over the season but it looks like he is the real deal. He also has some excellent weapons to dish the rock to. I think he could be a great bye week fill in quarterback and even worth starting with favorable match-ups. If the line provides some blocking for the kid he could push into the top 15 for fantasy quarterbacks. If Stafford stays healthy he could be a solid player for years to come.
Kevin Smith: This guy is in trouble. He was slow and lacked a burst before the injury so no one knows how he will return. He does have great hands and can make a solid third down back but I doubt he could be a lead back again. I would stay away from him if possible. More will be known when training camp rolls around and you see how his knee recovers.
Maurice Morris: He has showed flashes on the Seahawks and also on the Lions after the injury to Kevin Smith. His value rest on the shoulders of Kevin Smith’s recovery and if the Lions go for a running back in the draft. He could be a solid fill in play if the stars a line for Morris.
Calvin “Megatron” Johnson: One word … Manbearpig. This cat is one of the top five wide outs in the league. The only thing that can stop Johnson is the Lions crappiness. He has all the tools to be a dominate wide out in the league and it shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone if he puts up a line of 1,200 yards 10 touchdowns. While I would be ok with him as my number one wide out in fantasy, If he is your number two you are going to be in excellent shape. In dynasty, it’s a buy now market for Johnson. If the Lions start to get it together, he could enter the realm of untouchable. Remember what Linehan did with Randy Moss, the numbers could be similar with Johnson.
Nate Burleson: He is reuniting with Linehan, under which he had his best season as a pro. He should face a lot of one-on-one coverage with Johnson on the other side. He still has some home run ability and he could put up some solid numbers. I would be confident with him as my WR3 and he should be a excellent bye week fill in. He should see 5-7 targets a game and could finish with pretty good numbers as the Lion’s second wide out. Also even if the Lion’s take a wide out in the draft I think his position is safe for the coming season.
No other wide out is worth owning or even keeping on your roster.
Brandon Pettigrew: He was having a promising season prior to his knee injury. It seemed as if the Lions were really working him in to the plans. I would hold off and see how his recovery comes from the injury but if he is ready to go for the start of the season, I would be happy to have him as my second tight end. He has the potential to get a lot of good looks with the middle of the field being open due to the options at wide receivers.
Draft Possibilities: The Lions should draft a running back and very well could go after a wide out in the draft. It seems that the Lions will use the first pick overall on some aspect of the line. They could target a running back like Matthews or Best in the second round and some young receiver such as Jacoby Ford in the later rounds. Any back selected by the Lions will be worth picking up in any rookie draft since touches will be a plenty. A wide out will be worth a look in a dynasty league where you have an extra spot to stash a player.
Green Bay Packers:
Aaron Rodgers: After waiting and waiting for Favre to stop playing or the Pack to just ship him out, Rodgers has hit the ground running. He throws the ball all over the field and does it well. He has had north of 4,000 yards passing and over 30 total touchdowns in the past two seasons. With no slowing down in sight he is going to be good for years to come. His weapons are young and he somehow improved monster 08 season in 09. While I don’t think he could possibly do any better in the coming season if he gets close to 4200 yards and 32touchdowns with 7ints you will be a happy owner.
Ryan Grant: Welcome to the roller coaster. When he is good he is real good and when he is bad he is real bad. He will get some yards because teams have to respect the pass game of the Packers. The biggest problem for Grant is that he sucks in the pass game. With the Packers moving to a pass heavy attack this could spell trouble for Grant if they get a solid pass catching back. He is no more than a RB2 and there a lot of people I would take ahead of Grant. I would tread lightly with Grant in the coming seasons.
Brandon Jackson: While he is a much better receiver than Grant he lacks what one would call talent. He is a good third down back and he will be a good change of pace back. He will get value if the Packers neglect to pick a back in the draft and then Grant gets hurt. Unless that happens there is nothing to see here move along.
Greg Jennings: Have faith young grasshopper. Jennings is still the best receiver on one of the best passing teams in the NFL. He had a crappy year but he will still be the #1 option in the offense and with the emergence of Jermichael Finley he should see a little more single coverage. I expect him to go back to his 08 stats and get right around 1200 yards and 10 touchdowns. Draft him with confidence as a No. 1, but if you get him as your No. 2, you are going to be in great shape.
Donald Driver: I would be weary of him. He is slowly going down in production and with all of the other options in Green Bay he could slowly be put down the depth chart. I see him as low quality WR2 and a good WR3. I just fear that he might hit the wall much like Terrell Owens did. Although with the high powered attack should preserve his value.
James Jones/Jordy Nelson: These two have been back and forth as who is the #3 receiver. Both are worth owning due to the large number of three wide out sets the Pack run. As soon as Donald Driver steps over both players will see a hike in production and value, but until this happens neither one is worth owning in a redraft league. They should just be monitored on the waiver wire. In a dynasty league I think Jones has a slightly higher value than Nelson.
Jermichael Finley: This kid is a freak. He is big, tall, and fast. He has great hands and at the end of the season the Pack would split him out wide and use him in one on one situations in the red zone. He provides a huge miss match against any corner and is just too fast for the line backers to cover. I think he will be in the top 5 of tight ends next year and is 23 years old. The sky is the limit for Antonio Gate 2.0.
Draft Possibilities: Running back is most likely the only position that will be selected that will make an impact. The Packers have holes to fill on the defensive side of the ball so they most likely will not address running back until the 3rd round or so. Nonetheless, the running back they select will be worth a look.
Jay Cutler: He has talent and he has the offensive coordinator to help him maximize that talent in fantasy. Martz has turned garbage quarterbacks in to fantasy gems … now he has a signal caller with some talent. He may still throw some interceptions, but in the end he should have pretty solid numbers and should be one of the top 10 quarterbacks next year. I think he will be slightly overvalued because of Martz come draft time but I think he will be able to be had in the 6-8th rounds. He is young and is worth making a move for in dynasty and keeper leagues.
Matt Forte: This is the year you will figure out if Forte has it or if he was just a one-year wonder. He can catch, which will help him but the addition of Chester Taylor really kills his value. I just don’t think Forte is that good and I think they went and got a proven back in free agency for a reason. I would avoid Forte on draft day unless the value is too good to pass up.
Chester Taylor: The time share is going to kill him and much like was stated for Forte you should avoid him on draft day. He can catch the ball and runs the ball pretty well also. If there is an injury to one of the two backs their value will increase but without the injury every week will be a guessing game. Buyer beware.
Devin Aromashodu: He has the most potential of any of the wide outs in Chicago. Cutler likes him and he seems to have developed a good rapport with Cutler. He is a huge gamble though and is most likely going to enter the season as one of the top “sleepers.”
Devin Hester/Johnny Knox/any other clown they pick up: None of the receivers the Bears have are actually a #1 or even a #2 they are all slot guys that need some other receiver to help provide them with help. The Bears wide out position is something to avoid come draft time
Greg Olsen: Martz doesn’t use the tight end … end of story. He had Vernon Davis. who is better than Olsen. and he was a nonfactor … so there is no reason to believe Olsen will get decent numbers.
Draft Possibilities: They don’t have a 1st or 2nd round pick, so they will have to either trade up or do a lot of homework to get an impact player in the 3rd round and beyond. I think a take a wide out, but there is no way to project who but they could be worth looking at in deep dynasty leagues.
Brett Favre: He won’t repeat his 09 performance, but he should still put up solid numbers and will be worth selecting. He will continue to help Sidney Rice and Percy Harvin develop and could project to have a solid season. I think he will be a solid pick, but I wouldn’t count him as your No. 1 quarterback for the coming year.
Adrian Peterson: He has some fumbling problems but he is a stud. Pick him second overall and just plug him in to your line-up. Without Chester Taylor there to snatch up the third down carries and touches he could see a slight spike in numbers. If he keeps the receptions up, he could challenge for No. 1 running back overall in the coming season.
Sidney Rice: If Favre comes back he will be worth being your No. 2 wide out, if Favre doesn’t return, tread lightly. Rice is big and tall with decent speed. I think he is a prime sell-high player, but if you are in a redraft league then you should draft him with no worries.
Percy Harvin: He turned into one of the best slot receivers. He will be a great flex play and could turn out to be a solid WR2 if he gets an uptick in production. His value is very much up in the air for years to come. He combos good receiving ability with good rushing ability he can hurt a team in many ways. Draft him as a 3rd wide out and be confident in him as a bye-week fill-in.
Bernard Berrian: He regressed and has taken a backseat to the other options. Nothing to see here unless someone gets hurt.
Visanthe Shiancoe: A red zone monster and favorite target of Favre. He found the endzone 11 times last year and should be close to that number again. He didn’t get a ton of yards but owners were happy with his production. He scored in all but six games, and had two touchdowns in one game once. He will hold down your TE1 position, but at the same time there are better options out there.
Draft Possibilities: There is no telling who they will take. They could use a running back and corner back. The running back would most likely fill the void that Chester Taylor left, although I doubt he is as effective. They are close to the Super Bowl so they will most likely try to add the best available player in the draft, so there is no telling what position that will be at. I don’t see a rookie offensive player coming in a making a huge impact.
What are your opinions on the NFC North, the upcoming draft and fantasy implications? We’d love to hear your comments below.