NFC North Divisional Breakdown Recap for 2021 (Fantasy Football)

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With only a few weeks away from the pre-season, Andy, Mike, and Jason close out their divisional breakdowns with the NFC North. In this article, I highlight some of the key points from their episode. Below you will find offensive and defensive statistics, key players and their ADP, and finally, some of the biggest questions for each team entering the 2021 season.

Green Bay Packers

Head Coach: Matt LaFleur

Offensive Coordinator: Nathaniel Hackett

Offense

  • 32nd in Pace of Play
  • 1st in Points Per Game
  • 5th in Total Yards
  • 24th in Passing Attempts
  • 29th in Passing Yards
  • 1st in Passing Touchdowns
  • 12th in Rushing Attempts
  • 8th in Rushing Yards
  • 15th in Rushing Touchdowns

Defense

  • 13th in Defense Rushing Yards Allowed
  • 7th in Defense Passing Yards Allowed
  • 13th in Total Points Allowed

Schedule

  • First Four Matchups: @ NO, vs DET, @ SF, vs PIT
  • 2021 Projected Vegas Win Total: 10.5

Current ADP

After a tumultuous off-season filled with uncertainty for the Green Bay Packers, all signs point to Aaron Rodgers returning as their starting quarterback in 2021. In addition, Aaron Jones will once again lead this backfield, likely building off of his RB6-finish last year. However, in a run-heavy offense, expect A.J. Dillon to take on a larger role for Matt LaFleur. He should be considered more than just a backup RB as Andy, Mike, and Jason currently have him projected as the RB39 in PPR leagues.

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Shifting to the wide receiver position, Davante Adams has been a model of consistency over the last few years. Since 2016, Adams has finished as a top-10 wide receiver in PPR per game scoring every single year. Expect that trend to continue in 2021. As for the 2nd option in the receiving game, that will likely be a combination of Jones and Robert Tonyan. While Tonyan’s touchdown efficiency is bound to regress (18.6% TD rate in 2020), expect him to remain heavily involved. And as long as Rodgers is under center, the Packers will continue to produce for fantasy as they pursue a 3rd-straight appearance in the NFC championship.

Biggest Fantasy Questions

  • How will A.J. Dillon‘s involvement affect Aaron Jones‘ upside?
  • Which receiver will emerge as the WR2 behind Davante Adams in this offense, and can they be productive and consistent for fantasy?
  • Can Robert Tonyan continue to score touchdowns at an efficient rate?
Chicago Bears

Head Coach: Matt Nagy

Offensive Coordinator: Bill Lazor

Offense

  • 14th in Pace of Play
  • 22nd in Points Per Game
  • 25th in Total Yards
  • 8th in Passing Attempts
  • 22nd in Passing Yards
  • 18th in Passing Touchdowns
  • 27th in Rushing Attempts
  • 25th in Rushing Yards
  • 27th in Rushing Touchdowns

Defense

  • 15th in Defense Rushing Yards Allowed
  • 12th in Defense Passing Yards Allowed
  • 14th in Total Points Allowed

Schedule

  • First Four Matchups: @ LAR, vs CIN, @ CLE, vs DET
  • 2021 Projected Vegas Win Total: 7.5

Current ADP

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With the Mitch Trubisky era coming to end, the Chicago Bears turn over a new leaf after moving up to draft Justin Fields with the 11th overall pick. Despite an impressive college career, questions remain whether Matt Nagy will actually start Fields in week one. As a result, we could be looking at Andy Dalton leading this offense for the first few weeks, at a minimum. Regardless, Allen Robinson has proven that he can remain fantasy-relevant despite poor quarterback play. In fact, since 2018, Robinson ranks 5th in targets (399), 8th in receptions (255), and 12th in receiving yards (3,151). In addition, expect Darnell Mooney to be even more involved and productive this season. After an impressive rookie year where he accumulated 98 targets and 1,133 air yards, his path to production is wide-open as the clear-cut WR2 for this offense.

The backfield will continue to be led by David Montgomery, who had an electric run to end the 2020 season. Over the final six weeks, he finished as the RB2 in total PPR points, only behind Derrick “Yeti” Henry in that timespan. While Tarik Cohen will likely siphon a few opportunities once he returns, Montgomery should remain a high-upside RB2 for fantasy managers. Lastly, Cole Kmet is a popular late-round TE target, whose fantasy production will hinge on Jimmy Graham’s involvement in this offense. Keep in mind, however, that Kmet did out-target and out-snap Graham from week 10 onward, which could be a sign of things to come.

Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Biggest Fantasy Questions

Minnesota Vikings

Head Coach: Mike Zimmer

Offensive Coordinator: Klint Kubiak

Offense

  • 17th in Pace of Play
  • 11th in Points Per Game
  • 4th in Total Yards
  • 27th in Passing Attempts
  • 14th in Passing Yards
  • 6th in Passing Touchdowns
  • 8th in Rushing Attempts
  • 5th in Rushing Yards
  • 6th in Rushing Touchdowns

Defense

  • 27th in Defense Rushing Yards Allowed
  • 25th in Defense Passing Yards Allowed
  • 29th in Total Points Allowed

Schedule

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  • First Four Matchups: @ CIN, @ ARI, vs SEA, vs CLE
  • 2021 Projected Vegas Win Total: 9

Current ADP

Boasting one of the more efficient offenses in 2020, it would not be surprising if the Vikings produced a top-12 fantasy option at every single position in 2021. The player most likely to finish in that range is Dalvin Cook, who finished RB2 in total opportunities and RB3 in PPR points per game last season. In fact, Cook had the 2nd-highest RB1 consistency rate in 2020, finishing in the top-12 71.4% of the time. At the wide receiver position, the Vikings had one of the most productive WR-duos in the NFL, as both Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen finished in the top-12 in PPR and half-PPR leagues last season. Jefferson will look to build on a historic rookie year, becoming the only 21-year old WR to finish as a WR1 in PPR per game over the last two decades. 

Another intriguing receiving option in this offense is Irv Smith Jr., who finished the final four weeks as the TE8 in PPR per game. While Smith will likely be the lead TE for the Vikings, expect Tyler Conklin to be involved in 2-TE sets, slightly limiting Smith’s upside. Of course, this offense will only produce if Kirk Cousins continues to perform at an efficient rate. Last season, he threw for a career-high 35 touchdowns and was tied for QB3 in yards per attempt (8.2) and QB4 in completion percentage over expected (+4.3 per Next Gen Stats). If he can maintain this level of efficiency, expect this offense to produce several fantasy-relevant players this upcoming season.

Biggest Fantasy Questions

  • Approaching his age-31 season, will Adam Thielen finish within the top-24 for fantasy?
  • Can Irv Smith Jr. break out now that Kyle Rudolph is no longer with the team?
  • If the Vikings’ defense does improve, how will that affect the passing and receiving volume?
Detroit Lions

Head Coach: Dan Campbell

Offensive Coordinator: Anthony Lynn

Offense

  • 7th in Pace of Play
  • 20th in Points Per Game
  • 20th in Total Yards
  • 13th in Passing Attempts
  • 10th in Passing Yards
  • 13th in Passing Touchdowns
  • 30th in Rushing Attempts
  • 30th in Rushing Yards
  • 14th in Rushing Touchdowns

Defense

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  • 28th in Defense Rushing Yards Allowed
  • 30th in Defense Passing Yards Allowed
  • 32nd in Total Points Allowed

Schedule

  • First Four Matchups: vs SF, @ GB, vs BAL, @ CHI
  • 2021 Projected Vegas Win Total: 4.5

Current ADP

The Detroit Lions enter the 2021 season with a completely revamped coaching staff and offense, after trading away Matthew Stafford and hiring Dan Campbell as their new head coach. At first glance, the most reliable options for fantasy will likely be D’Andre Swift and T.J. Hockenson. Swift should be the focal point for the offense, which could lead to plenty of opportunities both in the rushing and the receiving game. After finishing as the RB17 in PPR leagues last season (in only 13 games), Swift could be a value at his current ADP if he maintains his efficiency at an increased workload. Similarly, Hockenson could lead this team in targets and further improve on his 14% target share from last year. After ending the 2020 season as TE5 in PPR per game (11.1), Hockenson could have an even better season with a higher baseline of targets in 2021.

Behind those two options remains plenty of uncertainty, as Breshad Perriman, Tyrell Williams, and rookie Amon-Ra St. Brown will battle for targets. Fortunately, if you do want to take a chance on any of these wide receivers, their ADPs are well into the double-digit rounds, which could prove to be a value come draft day. Regardless, this wide-receiver corp will only go as far as Jared Goff takes them. He will undoubtedly have his streamable weeks, though Goff is likely a downgrade from Matthew Stafford’s play last season. In a likely run-heavy offense with limited weapons, King Goffrey will be more of a low-end QB2 most weeks.

Biggest Fantasy Questions

  • Will D’Andre Swift receive more than 250 touches in this offense?
  • Which Lions WR will be most consistent and productive for fantasy?
  • Can T.J. Hockenson finish as a top-3 fantasy TE this season?

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