2018 Projections: NFC North

This series focuses on projecting players that are expected to be fantasy relevant for all 32 NFL teams. The included projections were built using the Excel Projection Machine which is included in the FFDRAFTPREP package.

Though projections are more meaningful when used to explore player’s ranges of outcomes, those presented represent “best guesses.” Please note that the RB3 and WR4 included for each team have been allocated a percentage of rushing or passing attempts that brings the team’s total to 100 percent. As a result, the stat lines and point totals included for these players may be somewhat inflated. Projected point totals are based on PPR scoring. In an effort to cover all teams as expediently as possible, we will be reviewing the projections on a divisional basis. Key assumptions and notes have been included in bulleted lists.

How will Kirk Cousin’s signing with the Vikings impact Minnesota’s receivers? Can Davante Adams be the WR1? Can Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen coexist? Let’s take a look at the NFC North and see if we can answer these questions.

Minnesota Vikings

RUSHING AND TARGET ALLOCATION

MIN Alloca

  • The Vikings will remain one of the league’s most competitive teams.
    • This will allow the team to compile more rushing attempts and total plays than league average.
  • Dalvin Cook will be the lead back in Minnesota but Latavius Murray can expect 150 or more rushing attempts.
    • Cook suffered a major injury as a rookie. Don’t be surprised if the Vikings take a couple of weeks to get him into the full swing of things.
  • Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs will see similar target totals but Thielen projects with a slight edge.
    • The high target shares for the duo, in addition to Cook’s significant share, leave little room for other WRs to prosper.
  • Kyle Rudolph’s target allocation is decreased from prior years as the projection assumes that Diggs will play a full season.

FANTASY PROJECTIONS

MIN Alloc

  • Minnesota is projected with six fewer touchdowns than last season with a total of 35.
    • The team could certainly improve upon this projection, which does leave room for Cousins or others to improve their scores.
  • Cook is projected with average efficiency levels. It’s his overall opportunity that provides such an optimistic outlook.
  • It’s really a toss-up between Thielen and Diggs. Both have the potential to finish as WR1s, and Cousins could support two top-20 WRs.
    • Both have been projected with above-average efficiency as a result of playing with Cousins.
  • Despite a projection of just 134 points, Rudolph figures to be a TE1.
  • Minnesota is for sure a team that you will want to own parts of, be it at QB, RB, WR, or TE.

Green Bay Packers

RUSHING AND TARGET ALLOCATION

GB Alloc

 

  • The Packers are expected to be one of the most competitive teams in the league and will be able to compile nearly 1,000 offensive plays.
  • The projection assumes that 58 percent of offensive plays will be passing attempts.
    • This is in line with the five-year average.
  • I had to take a stance at RB, and my position is that Aaron Jones is the most talented RB on the team.
    • He’ll be playing from behind, and I expect Jamaal Williams to be solid to start the season. But when given an opportunity, Jones will display his superiority.
  • Ty Montgomery will see minimal work in the ground game but his involvement as a receiver will provide him with quality opportunities.
  • Adams and Randall Cobb will control over 40 percent of targets.
    • I expect Geronimo Allison to work as the team’s WR3 but outside of Adams and Cobb, it’s hard to project another WR with a significant allocation of targets.
  • Jimmy Graham will be Aaron Rodgers’ third option.

FANTASY PROJECTIONS

GB Proj

 

  • The projection forecasts 43 touchdowns for the Packers and positions Rodgers as the highest scoring QB projected in the series thus far.
    • His 33 passing touchdowns is also the highest total.
  • Despite the anticipated crossover period, after his suspension, Jones forecasts as the clear back to draft.
    • Given his performance last season, he is projected with better efficiency marks than Williams and Montgomery.
  • It’s worth noting that if Montgomery were able to capture an increase of three percent of targets (which could happen in a number of reasonable scenarios), he could get into the 150 point range.
  • Rodgers has historically posted high TD rates. This was accounted for in the rates assigned at WR and TE.
  • Given Green Bay’s passing volume and Adams’ share of targets, finishing as the overall WR1 seems very unlikely. He’d need to see an increase of more than 4 percent of the team’s passing share in order for this to become a possibility.
    • Still, he’s undoubtedly a WR1.
  • Cobb should have a strong season but there’s room for another WR to emerge.
    • If I had assigned a share of 15 percent to Allison, he’d be projected with 145 points and would enter into WR3/Flex consideration.
  • Graham’s strong TD rate makes him a great option at TE and provides the potential for top finishes on a weekly basis.

Detroit Lions

RUSHING AND TARGET ALLOCATION

DET Alloc

  • Kerryon Johnson will be the lead back but Theo Riddick will handle the majority of RB targets.
    • LeGarrette Blount will also get into the mix but will be the least utilized of the team’s three main backs.
  • Golden Tate and Marvin Jones will be used similarly to prior seasons and Kenny Golladay will enjoy a significant target share as the WR3.
  • Luke Willson can expect approximately 11 percent of targets but will not see a share of 15 percent like Eric Ebron had in Detroit.

FANTASY PROJECTIONS

DET Proj

  • Detroit’s projection forecasts 34 touchdowns which is a significant drop from the 43 recorded in 2017.
    • This total is likely too low which allows for some upside if you are bullish on Lions this season and can anticipate reasonable ways in which players could increase their TD rates.
  • Johnson is a candidate for RB2 status, but envisioning a scenario in which he can crack into RB1 territory requires an abundance of uncomfotable assumptions.
    • His projection includes a limited TD total as Blount is expected to get significant carries at the goal line.
  • Tate and Jones are projected with efficiency levels in line with prior seasons.
  • Golladay’s projection places him with slightly above average levels for a WR3.

Chicago Bears

RUSHING AND TARGET ALLOCATION

CHI Alloc

  • Chicago is projected with average rushing and passing volume.
    • I’m tempering expectations and avoiding being sucked into the “Chicago is the 2018 version of the Rams” narrative.
  • Jordan Howard will lose a portion of his rushing share to Tarik Cohen. However, 250 rushing attempts remains a realistic possibility.
  • Cohen’s 2018 value will come from his heavy involvement as a receiver.
    • He’s projected with the second most targets on the team.
  • Trey Burton will get more looks than any of the team’s WRs not named Allen Robinson.

FANTASY PROJECTIONS

CHI Proj

  • With just 31 total touchdowns, my projection does not forecast the Bears as an explosive offense.
    • Still, four players in Howard, Cohen, Robinson, and Burton will be solid weekly options.
  • Howard is projected with average efficiency but can thank a strong TD total for his RB2 projection.
  • In PPR scoring, targets are far more valuable than rushing attempts.1
    • This is demonstrated by Cohen’s projection which places him ahead of Howard.
    • I was surprised to see that I ended up with this configuration and must admit that I may be overly optimistic on Cohen.
      • However, he was projected with below average rushing efficiency.
  • Both Robinson and Burton were projected with modest efficiency within their WR1 and TE1 roles.

  1. PPR scoring is the RotoViz default.  (back)