Guest of the League
ANEZ LEAGUE Est. 2017
NFL Playoffs League - FFL: Week 1 | NFL: Week 2

Training Camp Preview: NFC North

Fri Jul 26 9:16am ET
By JEFF PAUR
Sr Fantasy Writer

Rodgers played hurt last year


This is the sixth preview in a series of training camp previews. We will continue to release the previews throughout the week. The previews give you a quick look at each team, going over position battles and injuries to watch in camp. The season is right around the corner.

Packers

The Packers have a new coaching staff for the first time in a long time. This means the team has to learn a new offense and defense for the coming year. This will be the big theme of training camp for Green Bay. Aaron Rodgers has a new offense to learn for the first time in his entire career, so there could be a learning curve for him. Keep an eye on the team’s progress during camp. There could be some bumps along the way.

Position battle: The big position battle in Packers camp is for the right to start opposite Davante Adams. The two most likely candidates are Geronimo Allison and Marquez Valdes-Scantling. The Packers have a lot of young receiver vying for playing time but these two players stand out above the rest. Many think Valdes-Scantling is the most likely to earn the job but don’t discount Allison, who has produced with past chances. The winner of this job will have some fantasy value for the coming year in the Packers pass-first offense. 

Injury watch: Aaron Rodgers played the entire season last year, but was hurt much of the year. He played at less than 100 percent because of a tibial plateau fracture and a sprained medial collateral ligament. It is pretty amazing he was able to play with these injuries. He is recovered from the injuries but his health is really a key to the Packers season. He played hurt last year and was limited to just seven games the previous year. Injuries have been a factor for him in recent years.

Vikings

There were high hopes for the Vikings last year with Kirk Cousins now on board as their franchise quarterback, but things didn’t go quite as planned. Cousins had an up and down season and the team followed his lead with inconsistent play. Minnesota will look to right the ship this training camp. Much of the year might depend on Cousins. He will need to play more consistent football if the Vikings hope to return to the playoffs. Cousins has a new offense to learn but could be a better fit for the system, which bodes well for him. We will get our first look at Cousins and the new offense, starting in camp. 

Position battle: The Vikings surprised some by using a second-round pick on tight end Irv Smith in this year’s draft. Smith is a pretty complete tight end that does well as a blocker and receiver. He will look to push Kyle Rudolph for the starting job this year. Rudolph has produced for the Vikings in recent year but probably hasn’t been the player the team hoped. He could lose out on playing time to the rookie this year.

Injury watch: Running back Dalvin Cook has played 15 games in two seasons. He missed time again last year after missing nearly all of his rookie year. Cook has really struggled to stay on the field to start his career. He seems to be over his hamstring injury from last year, though, and should be 100 percent for the start of the camp. The trick for Cook is now staying healthy for the entire season. We’ll see if he is able to do that. 

Lions

Detroit had a season to forget last year, finishing 6-10. The team is in a bit of rebuild mode after trading and letting some key players from past teams go. Some younger players will get their chance to shine this year, though, so much of this camp should focus on the progress of those young players. Can guys like Kerryon Johnson and Kenny Golladay take their games to new levels this year? The Lions sure hope that is the case, giving them a chance to shine this year. 

Position battle: The Lions made some changes at tight end this offseason, signing Jesse James and drafting T.J. Hockenson. Both these guys will challenge for the right to start. James might have the edge because of his experience, but Hockenson is the future of the position for the Lions. He should be given every opportunity to start because he provides the most potential for big things. James can be a bigger asset as a blocker. 

Injury watch: Quarterback Matthew Stafford played every game last season but played with a back injury much of the year. He reportedly played with broken bones in his back, which could explain his down play. Stafford didn’t play at his usual level, struggling with accuracy and consistency. He should be over his back injury for the start of this year but keep an eye on him in camp to make sure he looks back to old form. Stafford could be a sneaky late pick for fantasy teams this year if he is healthy and back to his old self. 

Bears

The Bears had a great season last year, going 12-4. Expectations are going to be very high for this team and with good reason. It is a pretty complete squad. The big thing to watch this training camp could be the progression of starting quarterback Mitchell Trubisky, though. He played well last year but had some consistency issues. If the Bears truly hope to be a special team, they will need Trubisky to play at a high level all season. 

Position battle: The Bears will have a battle on their hands for the starting running back job. The team signed Mike Davis this offseason and drafted David Montgomery. These guys will battle it out for the right to start. Davis had a breakout season last year with the Seahawks, showing he could start and produce at a high level in the league. Montgomery is a three-down back that can carry the load. He probably has the edge to start but don’t discount Davis. He just made plays when given the chance last season. 

Injury watch: Tight end Trey Burton had hernia surgery this offseason. He should be ready for the start of camp but nothing is 100 percent certain right now. Keep an eye on his progress to make sure he doesn’t have any setbacks. Burton can play a big role in the offense, an offense that likes to look for the tight end. He didn’t have quite the season as expected last year but could turn things around this year in year two with the Bears.

Jeff Paur is a two-time finalist for FSWA Fantasy Football Writer of the Year and won the FSWA award for Best Fantasy Football Article on the Web in 2011. He also was the most accurate expert in 2012, winning the FSTA Fantasy Football Accuracy Award. If you have any questions for Jeff, email him at jeff@rtsports.com. Follow Jeff on Twitter @jeffpaur.

Player Notes
Deshaun Watson Sep 20 7:50pm ET

Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson did managed to throw for 275 yards against the Baltimore Ravens in Week 2, but with just one touchdown and an interception, Watson didn't have the strong day that fantasy managers expect from Watson. His 17 rushing yards on five carries were also a disappointment. Watson's opened 2020 with a pair of tough matchups and is clearly missing with former top target, DeAndre Hopkins, and things don't get much easier against a good Steelers Defense in Week 3. Still, Watson's always a must-start in season-long leagues.

From RotoBaller

Rob Gronkowski Sep 20 7:50pm ET

Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end Rob Gronkowski was targeted once but didn't record a catch in a 31-17 win over Carolina. It was incredibly disappointing for fantasy managers to see, especially considering there were vacated targets with Chris Godwin (head) sitting out. Gronkowski has looked like someone who's been away from football after two games, as he's mustered just four targets in two contests. At this point, fantasy managers should begin looking for tight end help on the waiver wire, if they haven't already. Gronkowski obviously has the talent to bounce back, but his days as an every-week, elite TE1 are clearly over.

From RotoBaller

Kyler Murray Sep 20 7:50pm ET

Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray completed 26 of 38 passes for 286 yards, one touchdown and one interception and added 67 rushing yards and two rushing touchdowns in Week 2 against the Washington Football Team. Murray now has 156 rushing yards and three rushing touchdowns over two games, in addition to solid passing numbers. If he keeps these rushing numbers up, he's easily going to be one of the top quarterbacks in fantasy this season. He'll look to stay hot in Week 3 when the team hosts the Detroit Lions.

From RotoBaller

Ryan Fitzpatrick Sep 20 7:50pm ET

Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick was unable to pull off the victory in Week 2, but gave it all he had. Fitzpatrick completed 31 of 47 passes for 328 yards and two touchdowns in the loss to the Buffalo Bills. The 37-year-old veteran was almost able to lead his team to a comeback victory. His solid performance here has likely earned him another start versus the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 3. You really never know what to expect from Fitzpatrick, but this seems like a favorable streaming matchup for him.

From RotoBaller

David Johnson Sep 20 7:50pm ET

Houston Texans running back David Johnson could never find his sledding on Sunday in a loss to the Baltimore Ravens. Johnson carried the ball 11 times for 34 yards and added two catches for 16 yards. With Duke Johnson (leg) out, David Johnson was the only running back to get a touch in this contest. Duke's status moving forward is unclear, but as long as he's sidelined, there's no threat on this roster to take running back touches away from David Johnson, which makes him an RB2 play, even if he's got a pretty low floor.

From RotoBaller

Myles Gaskin Sep 20 7:50pm ET

Miami Dolphins running back Myles Gaskin was a busy man during the Week 2 loss to the Buffalo Bills. He carried the ball seven times for 46 yards and hauled in six receptions for 36 yards through the air. The Dolphins have a three-back committee, but Gaskin appears to be the best out of the trio. He is quickly gaining fantasy value, especially in PPR leagues. Fantasy owners might be able to trust him as a flex option versus the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 3.

From RotoBaller

Mark Ingram Sep 20 7:50pm ET

Baltimore Ravens running back Mark Ingram II ran for 55 yards and a score on nine carries during the win over the Texans in Week 2. He also caught two passes for 22 yards. Although the veteran managed to find the end zone, he still conceded carries to Gus Edwards and rookie J.K. Dobbins, who combined for 12 attempts. Fantasy managers in deeper formats should continue to consider Ingram for starting lineups as long as he continues to remain the primary ball-carrier for the team moving ahead. Ingram and company will next head back to M&T Bank Stadium to await the arrival of the Kansas City Chiefs for a Monday Night Football showdown.

From RotoBaller

LeSean McCoy Sep 20 7:40pm ET

Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back LeSean McCoy hauled in five of seven targets for 26 receiving yards in Week 2. McCoy also handled one carry, though he went backwards on it. The veteran back was expected to occupy some sort of pass-catching role for Tampa Bay and he was able to do that well, helping to fill the void in the offense left by the absence of Chris Godwin (head). With Leonard Fournette and Ronald Jones II occupying most of the backfield touches, McCoy is mostly an afterthought for fantasy purposes.

From RotoBaller

Lamar Jackson Sep 20 7:40pm ET

Baltimore Ravens running back Lamar Jackson threw for 204 yards and a touchdown during the win over the Texans on Sunday. He also added 16 carries for 54 yards. The reigning MVP didn't get much going on the afternoon, but he didn't need to as the team relied heavily on the three-headed monster rushing attack of Mark Ingram II, Gus Edwards, and rookie J.K. Dobbins, who combined for 21 attempts. Although he didn't play as well as he did during his splendid Week 1 performance, it was still a welcome fantasy performance overall. Jackson will have his most formidable task of the season ahead in Week 3 when the Ravens meet the Chiefs on Monday Night Football.

From RotoBaller

Tyler Bass Sep 20 7:20pm ET

Buffalo Bills kicker Tyler Bass struggled during his NFL debut, but turned it around during the Week 2 victory over the Miami Dolphins. Bass knocked down 2 of 4 field goal attempts last week, which was a rough showing for the rookie kicker. However, he landed a 39-yard field goal this week. That was his only attempt of the game, but he made all of his PAT attempts as well. There's really no reason to add Bass in most fantasy leagues right now. He doesn't get enough chances and has been inconsistent to begin the season.

From RotoBaller

James White Sep 20 7:20pm ET

New England Patriots running back is inactive for his team's Sunday night game against the Seattle Seahawks. In tragic news, White's father was in a car crash earlier on Sunday and did not survive. His mother was also involved in the crash and is in critical condition. White obviously has more important things on his mind than football and will be inactive for personal reasons. Prayers go out to him and his family. From a fantasy perspective, look for Rex Burkhead and possibly rookie J.J. Taylor to fill in for White on passing downs.

From RotoBaller

Scott Miller Sep 20 7:20pm ET

Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Scotty Miller had a quiet day in a Week 2 win over the Panthers. Miller was targeted three times and caught two of them for 11 receiving yards. The 23-year-old looked like a great sleeper pick with Chris Godwin (head) sidelined, but all of the glory ended up going to Mike Evans. Perhaps Miller is better when the defense is honed in on both Evans and Godwin, leaving him to work against the opposing team's third-best corner. Miller will get a chance to redeem himself in Week 3 against a struggling Broncos' secondary.

From RotoBaller

Pittsburgh Steelers Sep 20 7:20pm ET

The Pittsburgh Steelers Defense turned in a dominant performance in a 26-21 win over the Denver Broncos in Week 2. Pittsburgh racked up seven sacks and forced two turnovers after knocking Denver quarterback Drew Lock out of the game early. T.J. Watt led the way with 2.5 sacks in the win. The Steelers defense has been excellent through the first two weeks of the season and should have a field day against a leaky Houston Texans offensive line in Week 3.

From RotoBaller

Gabriel Davis Sep 20 7:20pm ET

Buffalo Bills wide receiver Gabriel Davis was able to find the end zone during the Week 2 victory over the Miami Dolphins. He caught his lone target for a six-yard touchdown. It was the first of his career, but hopefully there is more to come. Davis has been on the field quite a bit this season, but only been targeted three times total in two games. It's unlikely that his targets increase by much with the Bills offense fairly loaded. Maybe Davis is worth a look in deep leagues, but belongs on the waiver wire in most formats.

From RotoBaller

Sammy Watkins Sep 20 7:10pm ET

Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Sammy Watkins (head) left Sunday's game against the Chargers after a huge hit to the head. Watkins was attempting to make defenders miss after the catch when he took the hit and had to be helped off the field. It's unlikely that he returns to this game, as he's probably in the concussion protocol. Fellow receiver Mecole Hardman could see more action in this contest and moving forward if Watkins is forced to miss time.

From RotoBaller

Eric Ebron Sep 20 7:10pm ET

Pittsburgh Steelers tight end Eric Ebron caught three of his five targets for 43 yards in a 26-21 win over the Denver Broncos in Week 2. While it wasn't a dominant performance, it was much better than Ebron's debut with Pittsburgh last week where he caught just one pass for 18 yards. Fellow tight end Vance McDonald saw just two targets to Ebron's five, so at least he's starting to pull away in that respect. Fantasy gamers should stay patient with Ebron for at least a few more weeks as it is possible he starts to produce more as he gets more comfortable in the Pittsburgh offense. The Steelers face the Houston Texans in Week 3.

From RotoBaller

Dawson Knox Sep 20 7:10pm ET

Buffalo Bills tight end Dawson Knox (head) was unable to finish the game during the Week 2 win over the Miami Dolphins. Knox recorded a 38-yard catch-and-run, but was crushed Kyle Van Noy and exited the game. The team put him in concussion protocol, so it's unclear if Knox will be ready for next week. He remains the starting tight end, but doesn't have much fantasy value. Knox can be left on the waiver wire in most formats because he won't get enough targets to warrant owning him.

From RotoBaller

James White Sep 20 7:10pm ET

New England Patriots running back James White (personal) is inactive for Sunday night's game against the Seahawks. There was a death in White's family, leading to his surprise listing as inactive. The 28-year-old won't play in Week 2 and could understandably be away from the team for several days. Sony Michel, Rex Burkhead and J.J. Taylor will pick up the slack in White's absence.

From RotoBaller

Greg Zuerlein Sep 20 7:00pm ET

Dallas Cowboys kicker Greg Zuerlein made all six of his kicking attempts in Week 2, including four extra points and two field goals. One of the field goals was a game-winner from 46 yards out, giving the Cowboys an improbable 40-39 win after being down 20-0 at the end of the first quarter. Zuerlein's other kick came from 33 yards out. With the Cowboys offense clicking the way they (eventually) did in this one, "Greg the Leg" should be a strong fantasy contributor the rest of the way.

From RotoBaller

JuJu Smith-Schuster Sep 20 7:00pm ET

Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster caught seven of his eight targets for 48 yards in a 26-21 win over the Denver Broncos in Week 2. While the seven catches were nice, Smith-Schuster's 6.9 yards per catch is not what fantasy gamers were looking for out of their WR1. To make matters worse, Smith-Schuster watched as rookie Chase Claypool and second-year man Diontae Johnson scored touchdowns. Smith-Schuster is looking more like a WR2 for fantasy purposes going forward. He will face the Houston Texans in Week 3.

From RotoBaller