Football finally makes its seasonal return back into American lives this Sunday as the New York Giants will head to Buffalo to take on the Bills. It is still yet too early to start making boastful prediction on fantasy implications; the preseason has not even begun yet. However, one cannot restrain themselves from taking a gander into the fantasy universe coming upon the nation. SKOL Notes will take its first step into uncharted territory in the NFC North division, one of the most brutal division in the league.
Quarterbacks – A position that is pretty easy to identify in the NFC North division. Aaron Rodgers of the Green Bay Packers is a stat machine. Arguably one of the best in football, and one of the very few quarterbacks in the NFL that could carry a fantasy team throughout the season. Rodgers is coming off a season where he only played nine games the whole year, but the risk is worth the reward. Rodgers is due a bounce back season in a big way. Matthew Stafford was quietly putting together quite the fantasy year before he hit a road block with four games left last year. The Lions big money man threw five interceptions in their final four games, and literally walked themselves right out of playoff contention. The Lions have possibly the most talent on the offensive side of the football in this division, and should put up points with ease. Consistency is key, if Stafford can find it, the sky’s the limit.
Sleeper Pick – Potential is written all over on whomever wins the competition in Minnesota. The Vikings have an abundance of talent on offense and a new offensive coordinator predicated on getting his play makers the rock. Whether if it is the veteran Matt Cassel, or the rookie Teddy Bridgewater, either quarterback could be worth a late round pick or a waiver wire addition.
Running Backs – The ground game comes in a variety in the NFC North. There is the quick and light-footed Reggie Bush in Detroit; the Bears have the do it all downhill back in Matt Forte; Eddie Lacy won the Offensive Rookie of the Year award and has barely sniffed his potential as an elite running back in the NFL, and do not forget about the game’s best running back, Adrian Peterson. Each of the division four starting backs could all warrant picks in the top 15 fantasy picks, if not the top 10. Adrian Peterson has performed the most consistently of the bunch, but has been fighting off nagging injuries the past three seasons. Reggie Bush is also being pushed by Joique Bell as he slowed down towards the end of the season.
Sleeper Pick – Joique Bell has been spoken highly of this whole offseason and could warrant an early waiver wire gamble if productive to begin the season. Grabbing Peterson’s back up could also pay off in the long run. Peterson missed two games last year, and has played three full seasons since entering the league back in 2007. Jerick McKinnon could win the role over Matt Asiata, providing a “Darren Sproles”-like back that fits Turner’s system perfectly. Be wary of gambling on McKinnon with a draft pick, but keep an eye on him as the football season continues.
Wide Receivers – Easily another strong point in a very deep division. The Bears might have one of the best duos in the league with Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffrey. Both are not the quickest or have the lightest feet in the black and blue north, but both are two of the most physically dominant in the game. Detroit’s Calvin Johnson is the best wide receiver in the game, and the team added the cherry on top with Golden Tate. If the Lions can find balance on offense and involve their tight ends, it will be extremely hard to double Johnson on a down-to-down basis. Green Bay does not boast the tallest or the strongest receivers at their position, but Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb get the job done. It also helps that they have a quarterback like Rodgers throwing them the football. The Vikings also boast a surging duo in Greg Jennings and Cordarrelle Patterson. Turner plans on releasing the beast in his explosive play maker in Patterson, a big sophomore season would not be a surprise for the second year stud. Johnson, Marshall, and Jeffrey should all be taken off the board within the first three rounds of the draft. Cobb, Nelson, and Patterson should follow suit in the fourth rounds on up.
Sleeper Picks – Take note of the Packers third wide receiver in Jarrett Boykin, who has one of the best in the game throwing to him. Marquess Wilson of the Bears is another likely candidate to keep track of as the season progresses.
Tight Ends – The tight ends round out the conclusion of the offensive gems session of this section. Detroit used their first round pick this season to make sure their weapons are stock piled to begin the new year. Eric Ebron could become the next big thing at the position with some fine tuning during the off-season. Not to mention they also have Brandon Pettigrew and Joseph Fauria on the roster, each could hold a starting position on any other team in the NFL. Needless to say the Detroit Lions are knees deep at the tight end position. The Vikings carry a former Pro Bowl MVP on their roster in Kyle Rudolph; recognizing his talent, the Vikings wisely signed Rudolph to a five-year extension. Rudolph will not exactly blaze up the field, but knows how to adjust and adapt his body to any ball thrown, and has some of the strongest hands at the position. Norv Turner did wonders for Jordan Cameron in Cleveland last year, and this year he could put Kyle Rudolph right back into the discussion as one of the best in the league. Packers are still configuring their tight end position with Jermichael Finley now no longer on the roster. It has been reported that Richard Rodgers has the upper hand at the starting position so far this offseason. Martellus Bennett provides stability at the position for Chicago. Jeffrey and Marshall will continue to take away his looks though, so temper the Chicago tight end expectations just a bit.
Sleeper Picks – Worth noting is Rodgers from the Packers. Not many know the name, but like Julius Thomas did with the Broncos last year, if there is an elite quarterback on the team, anybody could see a spike in production at any given time.
For more news on the NFC Division or the Minnesota Vikings, make sure to follow the SKOL Notes section on the Guardian Liberty Voice. The NFL is only four days away, and it is never too early to discuss some fantasy football.
Commentary by Justin Huffman
Follow Justin’s coverage in the SKOL Notes section