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Fantasy Players on Each Team to Exceed Expectations: NFC North Edition

The NFC North should prove to be a competitive division with a lot of fantasy stars.

Photo courtesy of Hunter Given

Chicago Bears

The departure of Jordan Howard can certainly translate to a big year from Tarik Cohen. However, David Montgomery is the running back that is even more interesting. The rookie out of Iowa State proved that he can handle a big workload in college, but his pass-catching ability is perhaps his most intriguing factor. The Bears moved on from Howard because he didn’t fit in Matt Nagy’s offensive scheme. Then, Chicago traded up in the third round to draft Montgomery, so it seems like they have big plans for the former Cyclone.

The opportunity will certainly be there for Montgomery. Based on last year’s defensive numbers, the Bears have the easiest schedule for running backs in 2019. While owners may be scared about Cohen stealing snaps from Montgomery, Cohen’s snaps are likely going to be similar to last season. His 5-foot-6-inch frame isn’t meant to take hits like that of a workhorse back. I think Nagy continues to use him as a special weapon and pass catching back. Even if Cohen has a big year, Montgomery has a fairly high floor, as the Bears will likely never be blown out with their elite defense. 

Detroit Lions

The Detroit Lions were plagued by injuries in 2018, which led to a last place finish in the NFC North. Despite the lack of success, the Lions still produced multiple fantasy-relevant players. Kerryon Johnson was perhaps one of the most intriguing fantasy breakout rookies in 2018. Johnson tallied 641 yards on just 118 rushing attempts, which was good enough for 5.4 yards per carry (second in the NFL).

Clearly, Johnson’s talent surprised a lot of people last year. His balance and speed in the rushing game to go along with his pass-catching ability make him a tough player to take off the field. Now, there may be some caution as Johnson said he doesn’t want to be a 20-plus touch workhorse back, but his talent is too good to pass up. He is being drafted as the 20thbest running back but has the tools to finish as a top-15 back. 

Green Bay Packers

Sure, Marques Valdes-Scantlinghas the potential to be a very talented player, receiving passes from Aaron Rodgers. But the real appeal is Valdes-Scantling’s value. He is currently being taken as the 55thbest wide receiver and seems to be Rodger’s second receiving option. ESPN’s Rob Demovsky reported that Valdes-Scantling is in line for that second starting receiving position on the outside, opposite of Davante Adams. 

With a healthy year of Aaron Rodgers, along with a full offseason to build rapport, Valdes-Scantling can take a massive leap from his rookie season. I believe he will outperform his ADP and hop into a WR3 conversation as the season progresses.

Minnesota Vikings

Once the Vikings switched offensive coordinators last season, Kirk Cousins’ volume went down, as Minnesota became more committed to the run. However, there are plenty of reasons to be optimistic about Cousins in 2019. Last season was considered a struggle, as he finished as QB13, his worst finish as a starter in his career. A below average fantasy season for Cousins was in the form of 4,298 yards and 30 touchdowns. And if there is one thing that you can count on, it’s Cousin’s health. He hasn’t missed a start in over four years. 

With a healthy Dalvin Cook in the backfield, fantasy owners will finally get a chance to see Cousins with his full repertoire of weapons. Latavius Murray, who took the majority of snaps in the backfield last season, limited the Vikings offensive game plan with his lack of catching ability. Cook has the ability to take a screen pass from Cousins to the distance. His receiving ability will help Cousins tremendously. 

Even if you aren’t completely sold of Cousins, think about his ADP. Right now, he is being drafted as the 17th best quarterback. In his career as a starter, Cousins fantasy finishes have been QB8, QB5, QB6, and QB13. I think Cousins bounces back from last year and gets back into the top-10 quarterback range.

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