NFC North – Fantasy Perspective
NFC North: Fantasy Perspective
This is the most important time of year for teams. Players hoping, dreaming, and striving for the goal of a championship toil for hours in preparation.
No, I’m not talking about the preseason, I’m talking about draft season; fantasy draft season that is.
Fantasy drafting is a lot like the NFL Draft, value and need have to coexist for a strong pick. Whether it is Ted Thompson of the Green Bay Packers or Joe Schmo of the McCluster F***s, the idea is to get the best value at your pick. There is no need to take a QB at pick one overall when you can get a QB of that tier at the end of the second round.
While a large portion of fantasy players take good steps to prepare for the draft, inevitable bias comes from both their team and their rival teams. Below you will find my “Goldilocks Grades” on the NFC North, players whose average draft position is too high, too low, or just right in the first ten rounds. This is based on ESPN standard scoring and a ten-team league as a reference.
Adrian Peterson, ADP: 1st pick overall, 1st RB – Just Right
Peterson has played six years in the NFL and has never failed to crack double digit touchdowns. The year he tore his ACL was the only year he failed to run for 1000 yards, and he ran for 970. No player has more upside than him and he is consistent, you dance when you get him on your roster. He had over 100 yards in every game in the NFC north and 409 combined against Green Bay, so nearly half of his schedule looks promising already.
Calvin Johnson, ADP: 8th pick overall, 1st WR – Too High
Let me brake down to you why running back is too valuable to pass up at the 8th pick. The difference between the 1st and the 10th best back was 6.8 points per game. The difference between the 1st and 10th wide receiver was 2.8 points per game. Expand that you ask? Well, the 1st and 20th best running back (since in standard leagues you start a minimum of two) was 9.9 points per game. 1st and 20th on wide receiver was 5. Basically, look at it this way; running back scoring degrades on a player-by-player basis of almost twice as much. Calvin isn’t too high because there is a better wide receiver, Calvin is too high because you have to draft running back in round one. There are ten elite level running backs in fantasy, your first pick should be on one if you can (sorry twelve team leagues).
Aaron Rodgers, ADP: 9th pick overall, 1st QB – Too High
As I brace for cover from the inevitable insults on this blog, let me explain! Rodgers is and should be the number one quarterback taken and you aren’t that upset that you took him in the first. But quarterback is even closer than wide receiver in terms of discrepancy of the top players. The top scorer last year was Drew Brees at 21.1 ppg (on ESPN standard scoring). Five other quarterbacks averaged 19 points or more per game. Right now, Brees and Manning are going in the second, and Brady is going in the third. Rodgers should be an early second round pick, right after the top flight running backs are gone. Also worth mentioning, Green Bay last year was battling with Arizona for the worst offensive line in the NFL and especially with Bulaga down, Rodgers will take some shots.
Matt Forte, ADP: 18th pick overall, 12th RB – Just right
Matt Forte is a very good back. Despite being nicked up all last season, he was 12th in scoring. However, this is two straight years with lingering injuries. If he is healthy for a complete season, this is too low for him. That is a very large IF.
Brandon Marshall, ADP: 20th pick overall, 4th WR – Just Right
Brandon Marshall is beloved by his QB, and his QB does everything he can to get him the ball, whether it is the right play or not. Fortunately, this is about Marshall, and not about Cutler or the Bears which makes Marshall an excellent fantasy target. Marshall will be at or near the top this season in receptions and will have 1000+ yards and 10+ TDs, as Cutler will make sure Marshall, “gets his.”
Randall Cobb, ADP: 34th pick overall, 12th WR – too low
In the last two years, no one on Green Bay has had a higher percentage of receptions per target than Cobb. Last year, Rodgers targeted Cobb more than any other receiver as well. And after recent comments about how Rodgers thinks Cobb is about to become a, “big-time star,” I think it shows who Rodgers’ go-to will be. Cobb could be even higher in points per reception (PPR) leagues, as he will look to try for a 100 catch season. Draft Cobb with confidence in the third round among the top 10 WRs.
Reggie Bush, ADP: 44th pick, 21st RB – too low
Reggie Bush was the 14th best running back last year and moves to a better situation and is drafted worse? Lions’ backs Leshoure and Bell combined last year for 86 catches. Bush will be the feature back and be probably second on the team in catches. Pick in the early fourth and still get good value on him.
Matthew Stafford, ADP: 55th pick, 9th QB – just right
Stafford is the kind of guy to point to as to why to wait on quarterbacks. The Lions were unlucky last season with a receiver being tackled 23 times within the five yard line. At some point, those will become points. Add in Reggie Bush and the fact the lions threw it a staggering 720 times last season and you know Stafford will put up numbers. Last season was his floor, and he was 10th in scoring at over 16 points per game. He will get you great value here in the sixth.
James Jones, ADP: 58th pick, 22nd WR taken – just right
Just right? At that late?!? Yes, but simply because of how deep receiver is. Jones is unlikely to get over ten touchdowns again especially if Nelson is healthy (which is a huge if though). Rodgers generally spreads it around too much which will fluctuate Jones’ numbers. However, with more field time with Jennings in Minnesota, Jones looks to have another productive year.
Eddie Lacy, ADP: 60th pick, 23rd RB taken – just right
This is the perfect time to gamble on a rookie poised to start. Lacy could become very good, score double digit touchdowns and carry you to a title. He also could continue to have hamstring problems and frustrate you on your bench. If you have drafted properly, this will be your third or fourth back, which makes the gamble all that much easier to make.
Jordy Nelson, ADP: 64th pick, 23rd WR taken – just right
If Nelson was not such an injury risk, he would go higher. He is the second best receiver on Green Bay and Rodgers spreads it enough that Nelson was as likely as any Packer for double digit touchdowns. However, due to the fact that Nelson is at best Rodgers second choice and at worst rehabbing an injury, I think this is the right spot to snag him.
Kyle Rudolph, ADP: 74 pick, 6th TE – too high
Fun fact about Kyle Rudolph- he never had more than 67 yards in any game last season. Touchdowns can wildly swing for receivers and Rudolph is not a safe enough bet to assume he repeats last year’s numbers, and he was only the 9th best tight end then anyway.
Greg Jennings, ADP: 77th pick, 29th WR – just right
Jennings is like Nelson, he could explode or implode. The simple lack of weapons and the one on one coverage from defenses focusing on Peterson open things up for Jennings. The fact he has trouble staying healthy, goes from Rodgers to Ponder, and is not particularly tall or explosive could keep him in the mediocre range. In fact, his comments lashing out at Rodgers can be a sign of just how much he really wanted to stay in Green Bay and how hurt he was he ended up with Christian Ponder.
Bears D/ST, ADP: 94th, 4th defense – too high
Outside of the freakish year from Chicago last year, the difference between the 2nd and the 10th best defense was 2.9 points per game. Especially with how surprising defenses can be, I always draft a defense with the second to last pick in snake or only $1 in auction strategies. The last pick is reserved for kicker, which basically follows a similar pattern to defense. You are better off gambling on running back #6 than reaching for a defense when more than likely your eventual defense may be sitting on the waiver wire and your star running back’s handcuff on your rival’s roster. Add to the fact Chicago lost its vocal leader and the defense is long in the tooth, there will be regression on the defense.
At this point, it is more so about filling out the rest of the roster slots on need. Ideally, your picks should be two running backs within the first three picks mixed with either a third running back or a quarter back and wide receiver. Through ten rounds, you should have five running backs, three receivers, a quarter back and the last pick is based on how the draft went. Obviously, each draft is unique, but this is a good blueprint to follow as running back is the most volatile position and you want as many chances at a home run there as you can. Last advice, do not draft players who will not be playing this season, like Aaron Hernandez…
Good luck on draft day!