• Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

NFC North Pressing Fantasy Football Questions

·7 min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

Detroit Lions: Is D'Andre Swift more likely to finish as a top-10 back as the focal point of the offense or finish outside the top 20 because of the unit's limited upside?

Liz: Per a recent Yahoo expert mock draft, Swift was the RB18 taken. I think that’s fair (especially since I was the one who selected him). Given the Lions’ lack of field-stretching options and noting their defense (bottom-12 per FF Calculator), it’s hard to imagine game flow working in Swift’s favor. At +2500 (via Bet MGM) to win the division, the second-year back figures to lead the backfield on a team that’s rarely milking a lead. His upside as a pass-catcher (3.5 catches per game, RB12 and 7.8 YPR, RB11 in 2020) figures to keep him just inside of the top-20 FF players in the position.

Matt: I’d be blown away if he finished inside the top-10. Placing those kinds of expectations on the lead back for an offense that might legitimately score 20 to 25 touchdowns this year isn’t wise. D’Andre Swift is an intriguing talent on the Lions have done plenty to build up the offensive line but game scripts are going to be an issue with that moribund defense on the other side of the field. On that note, I doubt Swift is a workhorse, especially as a receiver. Free-agent acquisition Jamaal Williams is like catnip to coaches thanks to his reliability. In addition to his pass-blocking chops, he had 30-plus catches in both 2019 and 2020 while Aaron Jones was dominating.

Scott: Running back fantasy production is forever tied to winning situations, positive game flow. I don't know anyone who sees this as a winning Detroit team; the rebuild will take time. I think Liz had the right angle here, Swift should be drafted inside the Top 20 at the position; while he's talented and early in his career (you need youth at running back), the surrounding pieces will cap his upside.

Minnesota Vikings: The electrifying Dalvin Cook finished third in 2020 total fantasy running back scoring. We currently have him ranked second among RBs, behind only Christian McCaffrey. Besides health, what will it take for Cook to finish as the top-scoring running back in 2021?

Dalton: Cook finished with the second-most carries overall (312) and in the red zone (64) last season while missing two games. Put differently, Cook’s 25.4 touches per game led all backs last season, so he’s used as a true workhorse when on the field. Since he’s also one of the league’s best RBs and in a fine situation in Minnesota, it’s easy to see why Cook is going at the top of fantasy drafts despite carrying legit injury risk. There’s an easy path to him finishing as the top-scoring fantasy back in 2021, especially with McCaffrey suddenly showing real durability concerns.

Matt: Cook essentially just needs to stay healthy and maintain his usual workload from an individual standpoint. On a team level, he needs the Vikings to remain a relatively competitive outlet and for the passing offense to continue to pull its weight. Are there any real reasons to project any of those four variables to not be the reality that unfolds this year? Cook could easily be the top back in fantasy this year.

Scott: There's not much to add here. Cook is the consensus No. 2 pick with good reason, and you could legitimately take him first overall. He's versatile, game-script proof, at a good place in his career arc. The only thing that concerns me is a spotty Minnesota offensive line, but heck, you can talk down any pick you want. I'm like most analysts, in the pro-Cook camp.

Green Bay Packers: There were rumors surrounding Aaron Rodgers either holding out or asking for a trade, but he eventually returned as Packers starter for training camp. The reigning league MVP will be 38 in December. Is there another top-three finish in his range of outcomes, or are there too many talented, dual-threat, younger QBs in the 2021 field for him to surpass?

Scott: You never say never with Rodgers, but last year's MVP had Davante Adams having a top-three all-time season for a PPR wideout. Now Rodgers is a year closer to 40, not exactly happy, and still tied to a flimsy wideout cast (that now features 30-year-old Randall Cobb). I can't bet on this stock proactively.

Dalton: Rodgers is one of the best QBs ever, but he simply can’t be projected as a top-five fantasy QB right now given the many alternatives who run. It would take yet another historical season for him to even compete, and last season’s TD percentage is almost certain to regress.

Andy: I am not in the business of declaring that all-time talents can't do things. Rodgers was utterly unstoppable last season, every bit as great as he'd been a decade earlier. He pretty clearly isn't having a normal NFL offseason, but I'm not gonna say that a wizard of a passer coming off a 48-TD season can't possibly do it again.

That said, I'm also not ranking No. 12 as a top-three fantasy quarterback, because he doesn't have the multiple scoring paths we get with the top dual-threat players. Kyler Murray amassed 147.9 fantasy points from his rushing exploits alone last year; Lamar Jackson produced 142.5. Those guys (and various others) don't need to approach Rodgers' passing stats in order to top him in terms of overall fantasy production.

Chicago Bears: Allen Robinson was the WR11 and WR12 the past two seasons despite Chicago’s QB struggles. Our 2021 consensus rankings suggest a similar finish (WR10), so what's the percentage chance he finishes in the top-5 with the best QB talent he’s played with.

Andy: The point of drafting Robinson is that his bust potential is vanishingly small — almost nonexistent, assuming a healthy season. He's already produced WR1-level performances despite being attached to some of the least impressive starting quarterbacks of his era. Songs should have been written about his incredible 2015 season.

Robinson will be working with some combination of Andy Dalton and Justin Fields this year, which is about as good as he's ever had it. We can safely forecast another 150-plus targets, as he's reached that total in each of the past two seasons. There's basically no chance that Chicago's offense can keep pace with KC or Buffalo, so it's tough to put Robinson in the same tier as guys like Tyreek Hill and Stefon Diggs. But a top-5 positional finish? He's done it before and can certainly do it again, with just a small amount of TD luck. If you need a precise percentage, let's say 33.7.

Matt: A top-five finish is within Robinson’s range of outcomes every year because he’s that good of a player. We’ve seen his floor over the last two years amid hideous Chicago quarterback play, and that’s proven to be a trusty proposition. At some point, Justin Fields can be the type of quarterback to boost Robinson back toward the career-ceiling we’ve seen from him. However, projecting that and the type of overall target/scoring volume he’d need during Fields’ rookie year is aggressive. That’s not to mention how deep and top-heavy the position is right now. It’s possible — but a less than 50 percent chance.

Scott: Robinson's overcome bad quarterback play his entire career, and that dates back to Penn State. He's unbreakable. And maybe Justin Fields will be a quick study (or Andy Dalton a quality placeholder). There is no reason to worry about Robinson; he's long been in the circle of trust. I agree that Robinson is likely more a floor pick than upside pick, but when you're drafted in his ADP pocket, there's plenty of upside too.