NFC North Division Preview: Will Aaron Rodgers enjoy a fantasy bounce-back in 2020?

Yahoo Sports Fantasy Staff
·11 min read

The Yahoo Fantasy analysts will preview all eight NFL divisions during the 2020 fantasy football draft season. Here, we’ll tackle each team’s most pressing fantasy question, and team win totals. Be sure to also check out each team’s full preview linked up below. Next up, the NFC North.

Green Bay Packers: With the Packers deciding not to add any help for Aaron Rodgers are you avoiding him or is there value with him being drafted as QB11?

Matt: I would not call Rodgers an all-out avoid. There’s enough of a damper on the future Hall of Fame quarterback right now that he no longer comes with the premium draft slot that he once did. Yahoo drafters are now letting him fall into the double-digit rounds. At that point, selecting him falls well within the late-round quarterback strategy. Didn’t see that one coming. He falls to such a point where all the downside of his supporting cast and the potentially run-heavy offense is baked in. Rodgers may not be a priority target any more but he’s certainly worth considering given his ADP.

Scott: Rodgers is a fade for me. The circus eventually leaves town for everyone, and this offense has just one favorable pass catcher. Matt LaFleur didn’t do much of anything exciting with the 2018 Titans, and Green Bay is quietly trying to transition to a run-heavy offense. Rodgers has also scaled back his rushing in recent years. I’d prefer to go for a younger quarterback, or one more upside-friendly, in 2020.

Liz: Is a top-12 fantasy finish in Rodgers’ range of possible outcomes? Of course. Does that mean you have to draft him? Not at all. The position is so rich with talent that plenty of later-round options exist. As storied a talent as Rodgers is, he’s playing in a run-focused offense with a limited number of proven pass-catchers available to drag his production. Folks rostering him are doing so because of reputation and perceived value. And that’s fine. However, I’d argue there are players with similar ADP and more upside — like Matt Stafford — who could boom in a bigger way.

OVER/UNDER on 9 Win Total from BetMGM

Scott: Let’s first consider what this number represents; the books are expecting Green Bay to fall off four wins from a 13-3 season, mindful that the team’s modest point differential in 2019 (plus-63) only earns them 9.7 wins on average. How you feel about the Packers O/U is tied to how you feel about the Vikings and Bears; given that I love Minnesota’s depth and I see Nick Foles being a reasonable upgrade for Chicago, I will lean slightly UNDER on the Pack.

(Click here for our full, in-depth Green Bay Packers team preview)

Minnesota Vikings: Dalvin Cook was RB5 last season. Going in the top seven in most drafts, is that about right, is there still room for more, or is this ADP too high?

Dalton: Cook is both terrific and used as a true workhorse when on the field, but his health concerns are too great to spend a first-round fantasy pick. There’s a list of past injuries, including a chronically dislocated shoulder. It’s truly bizarre when Clyde Edwards-Helaire is considered a risky first-round fantasy pick while Cook is regularly going in the top-five, and we haven’t even begun to discuss him possibly holding out. I’ll be grabbing Mike Boone at the end of my fantasy drafts.

Matt: We know there’s holdout risk with Dalvin Cook now. That creates a big cloud of uncertainty around what would have otherwise been a really appealing fantasy outlook. I don’t think there’s any value in speculating how he’ll approach the holdout either. He could skip a season, several games, show up right before Week 1, how the hell am I supposed to know? He’s a human being capable of changing his mind at any moment or simply follow his convictions to whatever end he sees. So take that risk into account when deciding to click his name in a fake football draft.

Scott: Between the holdout angle and the injury risk, I’d prefer not to spend the big draft capital for Cook. Granted, this is professional football, everyone has some injury risk, and the sure things run out quickly. But Cook is more reactive than proactive pick for me, not wanting to price in his breakout year and still worried about the medical and contract issues.

OVER/UNDER on 8.5 Win Total from BetMGM

Dalton: The Vikings were better than their 10-6 record suggested last year (plus-104 points), and I expect the Packers to take a major step back, so this division is there for Minnesota. Kirk Cousins has finished No. 4 and No. 3 in CPAE over the last two seasons, so the Vikings are legitimate Super Bowl threats. With continuity on the coaching staff, this is an easy OVER, so I can understand the heavy juice (-160).

(Click here for our full, in-depth Minnesota Vikings team preview)

Chicago Bears: David Montgomery never got going as a rookie. Is he a post-hype sleeper with no backfield competition or little more than a flex option?

Andy: To be perfectly honest, I hate having to commit to an answer on Montgomery when Devonta Freeman and various other vets are just hanging out there as unsigned free agents. It doesn’t appear the Bears are going to pull the trigger on adding another back (because they haven’t done it yet), but I can’t say it would be shocking. Montgomery, after all, was remarkably inefficient last season in terms of both traditional (3.7 YPC) and advanced metrics. He wasn’t great. He barely crept over 1,000 scrimmage yards by the end of the season, yet averaged just 4.0 yards per touch.

But still, I’m not gonna write off a 23-year-old entering his second season. There are plenty of examples of NFL rushers who struggled as rookies and broke out as sophs. (Yeah, sure, there are also plenty of examples of rushers who struggled as rookies and struggled as sophs and landed in the CFL. It happens.) At the moment, Montgomery has no serious competition on the depth chart. He’s potentially looking at a monster workload. If we’re drafting tonight, I’d view him as a viable No. 2 fantasy RB.

Liz: There’s no denying Montgomery struggled with inefficiency in his rookie campaign, posting a true carry rate of 3.5 YPC (RB56) and a production premium of -23.2 (RB69). Yet his numbers absolutely improved as the year progressed. Over the first eight games of the season, Monty averaged 14 carries per game, but over the last eight weeks of 2019 that number went up to 16.25 attempts per contest. Additionally, he became more efficient with those attempts, improving his yards created average by 50 percent from Weeks 8-17. It’s therefore reasonable to expect the second-year back to further his development as a rusher, especially given the lack of competition in this backfield and, consequently, the volume he’ll receive.

Plus, he was the RB25 in fantasy last year and is being drafted as the RB26 this go-around. That’s a solid value for a flex player with RB2 potential.

Dalton: He’s coming off a miserable rookie season that saw him finish 48th out of 50 running backs in YPC after contact (even septuagenarian Frank Gore got more). In rushing DVOA, Montgomery graded 40th among 45 backs (and also poorly as a receiver) while finishing No. 109 in fantasy points per opportunity. It’s pretty clear Montgomery’s impressive broken tackle numbers in college were deceptive, as that metric matters less for (and can even benefit from) runners who lack explosion.

However, I still have Montgomery ranked as a top-25 fantasy RB, as volume remains king, and he truly appears to be the only game in town. Chicago needed to upgrade the position in the draft as much as any team in football but selected its ninth tight end instead. I want there to be a sleeper in this backfield considering Montgomery’s underwhelming rookie season, but it’s unquestionably the thinnest in the NFL. The backup appears to be undrafted Ryan Nall. The team used a third-rounder on Montgomery last season, and they enter 2020 fully expecting to make him their workhorse.

OVER/UNDER on 8.5 Win Total from BetMGM

Dalton: With heavy juice on the under and as a believer in the Foles upgrade being greater than the public perceives, part of me wants to go contrarian here, but it just seems like this original line was off. In a division also featuring the Vikings, a Lions team I like more than most (Matthew Stafford was getting 8.6 YPA before going down last year) and a Packers squad that just went 13-3 and appeared in the NFC Championship Game, and with the Bears still making decisions like signing washed Jimmy Graham, I’m taking the UNDER.

(Click here for our full, in-depth Chicago Bears team preview)

Detroit Lions: Kenny Golladay led all receivers with 11 TDs in 2019, and he’s now being taken as the seventh WR in drafts. Will touchdown regression ruin his potential fantasy ROI, or is his production safe thanks to Stafford's return?

Scott: I’m not going to sweat regression for Golladay, given that he’s likely to get a full year tied to Stafford. Those 11 touchdowns came despite two months of absolutely grotesque quarterback play in Detroit. And even if Golladay slips to seven or eight scores, so what? It’s the era of the wide usage tree (something the Lions, incidentally, do not have); a mere three players had double-digit touchdown catches in the NFL last year. Only injury can keep Golladay from set-and-forget status; he’s a very reasonable target in the second or early third round.

Matt: Odds are he scores fewer touchdowns in 2020 but that doesn’t mean he can’t return on an ADP that falls within the top-10 wide receivers and the top-25 overall picks. Kenny Golladay came into his own as a true No. 1 receiver. He beat press coverage routinely and separated at all levels of the field. While Marvin Jones looks like a value at his ADP, for sure, that doesn’t mean he has to wreck Golladay’s ceiling. In fact, Golladay delivered 80.5 yards per game at 21.1 yards per catch with Jones on the field compared to 56 yards per contest without his teammate. Some of that is noisy because of Stafford’s injury absence but having both of these guys on the field makes the offense more efficient.

Liz: I’ve been high on Golladay since his days as a Huskie. I even have an FF squad — Rosé all Golladay — named after the 26-year-old. There’s no doubt that Golladay has emerged as one of the league’s most exciting deep threats. In 2018 he posted a top-15 total target depth and top-nine contested catch rate, illustrating how he could best be used.

[2020 Draft Rankings: Overall | QBs | RBs | WRs | TEs | DST | Kickers]

As a third-year player in 2019, he officially broke out and averaged 4.3 catches and 80 yards per contest with Matt Stafford under center. Even after a back injury prematurely ended Stafford’s season, Golladay continued to put up numbers, posting at least a top-20 fantasy finish in four of seven games with Jeff Driskel and David Blough starting. In fact, from Weeks 10 through 14, before Marvin Jones hurt his ankle, Golladay averaged 73.6 yards per contest and managed three spikes. If he can be productive with Driskel, he’s going to smash with Staff.

OVER/UNDER on 6.5 Win Total from BetMGM

Scott: Matt Patricia hasn’t fixed the defense or won the locker room during his Detroit tenure, so I have to fade this team, no matter my admiration for Stafford and friends. Poor coaching is harder to overcome in the NFL than in any of the other major American sports. Punch the UNDER.

(Click here for our full, in-depth Detroit Lions team preview)

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