Fantasy Football Outlook: NFC North Pre-Draft

It is never too early to start game planning for the next fantasy football season. That being said, the NFL Draft is less than a 1 month away, so now is the perfect time to start analyzing the fantasy-relevant needs of teams across the NFL. We will continue with the NFC North. 

Chicago Bears

2023 Draft Picks- 1.09, 2.53, 2.61, 3.64, 4.103, 4.133

    The Bears have already made some major moves this offseason that have impacted their fantasy outlook and more may definitely be coming in the draft as well. The Bears traded away the 1st pick in this year’s draft in a blockbuster trade with the Carolina Panthers that included multiple picks and WR, DJ Moore. The Bear’s QB position is now set in stone with the trade back. Justin Fields is the Bears QB of the future and the future looks bright for him, especially in fantasy. Fields is a high-end QB1 heading into the 2023 season. The RB position is currently filled by D’onta Foreman, Khalil Herbert, and Travis Homer. It is very possible that the Bears end up using an early draft pick this year as neither of those two backs offers elite upside. For now, I will pretend that they enter the year with just Foreman and Herbert at the head of the backfield. Both Foreman and Herbert would be in the flex conversation from the get-go. There is a possibility that one could separate themselves from the pack but it is hard to assume which one that would be. Homer is better left on fantasy waivers or can be added as a low-end backup. The Bear’s WR position is a lot better now than it was 1 year ago. The current fantasy-relevant depth chart consists of DJ Moore, Darnell Mooney, and Chase Claypool. I would expect Moore to have the most consistent fantasy value out of the 3 and should be able to be a low-end WR2/high-end flex. Mooney should be able to offer flex appeal on a weekly basis and Claypool is nothing more than a boom/bust option. The TE position for the Bears is solidly filled by Cole Kmet and newly acquired TE, Robert Tonyan. I am not entirely thrilled from a fantasy perspective about the Bears acquiring Tonyan as I believe he will unfortunately eat into Kmet’s target share throughout the year. Kmet is still the more fantasy-friendly option and should still be considered a late-round TE to target. He is currently my TE14. The Bears offer a bunch of upside throughout their players in 2023, the main player I would be willing to roll the dice on will be Justin Fields. He is the only player on the team that I am confident will be worth his draft value in 2023. 

Detroit Lions

 2023 Draft Picks- 1.06, 1.18, 2.48, 2.55, 3.81, 5.152, 6.183, and 6.194

    The Lions future is looking a lot better than it’s recent past. They have been very active in free agency and have enough draft equity to get some big-impact players. The Lions QB position is filled by Jared Goff as of right now. I would expect that Goff is the starting QB come September, but there is a chance that the Lions add a QB early in the draft. If one of the top 3 QBs were to fall to 6, I could certainly see the Lions taking their potential QB of the future at 6. That being said, Goff is still a capable QB and should be able to support some solid fantasy options in 2023. Goff should be viewed as a mid-tier QB2 in 2023. The running back group for the Lions has certainly changed during this off-season. The Lions lost fan favorite, Jamaal Williams, to free agency. They replaced/ upgraded Williams by adding David Montgomery. Montgomery should be the RB1 for the team come September. I expect that DeAndre Swift will have a role but I believe his upside will be limited due to his usage. I don’t expect the Lions to draft an RB early in the draft, as they have much greater needs at other positions.  I currently have Montgomery ranked as a low-end RB2 and Swift as a high-end flex heading into the season. The wide receiver position for the Lions is a little more interesting. The Lions have a solid group of wide receivers heading into the draft. It is possible that they could choose to take a top-tier option with their second pick in the 1st round but I find it unlikely that they do so. Regardless, the Lions have one of the better young WR duos in the league. The current fantasy-relevant wide receivers on the team are Amon- Ra St. Brown, Jameson Williams, and Marvin Jones. Amon-Ra and Jameson offer the higher upside of the three. Amon-Ra has proven that he will continue to be a solid producer and that his production is not a fluke. I have him ranked as a low-end WR1 heading into the season. Jameson should show his true potential in his second year in the pros, especially if he stays healthy. He offers high-end flex upside with massive upside if everything works out the way it should. Jones is a low-end flex with boom/bust potential depending on the matchup. The tight end position is a glaring need for the Lions. It is not clear if they will use their 2nd 1st round pick on one, but it would certainly make sense as they need to replace the production that was lost from Hockenson being traded last season. If they were to take a top 3 option such as Mayer, Musgrave, or Kincaid, they would automatically have fantasy value in 2023. For the time being, there are no tight ends on the Lions that I would currently want in a fantasy football league.

Green Bay Packers

2023 Draft Picks- 1.15, 2.45, 3.78, 4.116, 5.149, 5.170, 7.232, 7.235, 7.242, and 7.256

    The Green Bay Packers are certainly having an interesting off-season but not in the way they would probably like. The main issue in Green Bay is that they have not been able to successfully put together a trade with the Jets for Aaron Rodgers. Once they do the trade, we would have a better understanding of their overall team layout. But for now, we’ll pretend that Rodgers is traded and off of the team for the 2023 season. The QB is set but a little unsteady in the sense that nobody truly knows what Jordan Love brings to the table. Love could be the future of the QB position for the Packers, he could also be just a bridge QB until they figure things out. Love is currently my QB 24, but he does have the upside to outproduce that significantly. The RB position is much easier to figure out as both Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon are under contract for the upcoming season. I would expect the Packers to rely heavily on the run game with an inexperienced QB behind center. Jones should be the running back to own in fantasy in 2023. He has the most upside and should be a mid-tier RB2 with an upside. Dillon is once again a high-end flex-type fantasy RB. He should offer a safe floor and decent redzone upside. The WR position for the Packers is definitely a need but I am not sure that they would take one terribly early. They are known for not taking 1st round receivers but maybe all of that will change since they are planning on moving on from Rodgers. If they were to take one of the top two options in JSN or Quentin Johnston, they would have a high-end flex upside straight from the beginning. When talking about fantasy-relevant receivers that are already on the team, Christian Watson and Romeo Doubs are the only ones worth talking about. Watson should be viewed as a low-end WR2 with an upside and Doubs could be viewed as a low-end flex option with an upside. The TE position is a major need for the Packers. It is easily the position that has been the most mocked by them at the 15th pick in the first round. If the Packers chose to use their 1st round pick on a TE, that TE would be in the low-end TE1 conversation from the beginning. Love may not be a rookie but it will be his first year as a starter. We all know how “rookie” QBs rely upon the tight end position, which makes me excited about whichever prospect they could possibly take in this year’s draft. 

Minnesota Vikings

2023 Draft Picks- 1.23, 3.87, 4.119, 5.158, and 6.211

    The Minnesota Vikings don’t have too many draft picks and haven’t made too many fantasy-relevant transactions so far this offseason. The QB position is solidified by Kirk Cousins for the foreseeable future. There is the possibility that the Vikings make a move for a QB with their 1st round pick, but I think that is highly unlikely as they have other needs that need to be addressed and have a viable starting QB. Cousins has never been an elite fantasy option but he has consistently been a reliable late-round option that you could start if you waited on a quarterback until the later rounds of your drafts. Cousins is a low-end QB2. The running back group for the Vikings is currently surrounded by a little uncertainty. The Vikings re-signed backup RB, Alexander Mattison, to a decent 2-year deal worth up to $7 Million. With that deal being in place, there is speculation that the Vikings could let Dalvin Cook go after June 1st and save up to $9 million. If they were to keep Cook, I would say that the backfield split would be very similar to last year. I would expect that they would try to get their money’s worth for Cook and would utilize him as heavily as possible in what could be his last year in Minnesota. I would have Cook ranked as a high-end RB2 and Mattison ranked as low-end flex with massive upside if Cook gets injured like he usually does. If Cook were to leave, Mattison would replace him as a high-end RB2 with upside. The WR position is obviously led by Justin Jefferson, but with Adam Thielen being cut there is a decent role that could be filled in the draft. If there is one fantasy-relevant position that they use their 1st round pick on, it would definitely be the WR position. The Vikings are in a good spot to be able to land one of the top 4 receivers in the draft. If they were to land JSN, Johnston, Flowers, or Addison, I would have them ranked as a high-end flex right from the beginning with the ability to have WR2 upside. Justin Jefferson is my WR1 heading into 2023 and should be drafted without any hesitancy. The TE position for the Vikings is filled nicely by T.J. Hockenson. The Vikings did just sign Josh Oliver to a hefty contract but that does not scare me away from drafting Hockenson as a top-tier fantasy TE. Hockenson should once again be a top 3 receiving option for the Vikings this year. He is currently my TE2 heading into the season and should be one of the more reliable options next season.

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