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NFC North Player Analysis

Chicago Bears


QB Rex Grossman – Rex got his chance at the end of last season after the Kordell Stewart experiment in Chicago failed.  He didn’t light the world on fire, but he did enough to win the starting job.  However, make sure you select your starting QB long before all that is left is Grossman or you will find your team at the bottom of the standings.


QB Other – Jonathan Quinn, Craig Krenzel.  If you haven’t heard of these guys, don’t worry most people haven’t either.  Bears fans are hoping that they don’t have to see either of these guys on the field because it will be a long season if they do.  Quinn is a big man at 6’ 6” but he has bounced around with a few teams in his career.  Neither deserves consideration on your fantasy team.


RB Thomas Jones – Signed away from Tampa Bay to hopefully solve the Bears running game problem.  He was a high draft pick out of college and the expectations on his career were just as high.  He has yet to live up to those expectations, but this could be the year.  If you can take him in the 4th or 5th round as your RB3, you could be pleasantly surprised.


RB Anthony Thomas – Although he had 1000 yards rushing in 2003, he was not able to play the entire season.  Chicago was not comfortable in relying on Thomas as their feature back.  As long as Jones plays well enough to keep the starting job, don’t expect much here.  At best it will be a RBBC situation.


WR Marty Booker – Has the potential to gain over 100 yards and a couple of scores in every game he plays.  However he has yet to show any consistency over his career that elevates him into the elite group of receivers.  Look for Marty to have a very good season and gain over 1000 yards and 8-10 TDs.


WR Justin Gage – In his second season and is expected to start alongside Booker.  His rookie campaign was not too spectacular, but he could be a good sleeper pick especially in deeper leagues.


WR Other – David Terrell has yet to live up to his billing coming out of college when he was selected in the first round of 2001.  If he provides anything for the Bears this season, it would a surprise.  Terrell should be on the waiver wire when the season starts which is where he belongs. 


TE Desmond Clark – Last year I promoted Clark as a sleeper TE pick.  Although he improved the Bears TE position, he didn’t really do much from a stats perspective.  If you get desperate for a TE, there are worse options that Clark.


K Paul Edinger – A solid kicker but unless you feel the need to carry 2 on your roster, you should be able to find a better option.




Detroit Lions


QB Joey Harrington – The expectations are high as Joey enters his 3rd NFL season.  The offensive pieces are all in place for this team and the Lions are on the move up.  However, don’t lose sight that this offensive unit is very young and will make mistakes.  Harrington will make a solid backup QB for your fantasy team.


QB Other – Mike McMahon was drafted a year ahead of Harrington.  At the time, he looked like he would be the one to take over the Lions helm.  There is no reason to draft McMahon, but if Harrington would get hurt Mike should be available on the waiver wire.


RB Kevin Jones – A highly touted rookie, the potential for a huge season is real.  Jones has something to prove to all the teams that passed him over during the draft.  Kevin should get the most playing time of any of the rookie RBs.  He will make a very good RB2 or RB3 and is a great option in keeper/dynasty leagues.


RB Other – Artose Pinner is currently listed as the starter, but look for him to be on the bench by the time the season starts.


WR Charles Rogers – Rogers is back and healthy from the injury that cut short his rookie campaign.  Look for him to have a big season.


WR Roy Williams – Rookie WRs usually don’t make good fantasy options.  Williams could be the exception to that rule and he should be given the opportunity to shine.


WR Other – Tai Streets, Az-zahir Hakim – These two veterans are backing up the young receivers on this team. Streets signed as a free agent and should get some decent playing time.  Hakim was the leading receiver last season on the Lions.  If everything goes as planned, he won’t even be in the top 4 for this team.


TE Stephen Alexander – an intriguing option with a once promising career.  Alexander signed on with the Lions after a 2003 campaign where he didn’t catch a pass.  He looks to revive his career in Detroit, but don’t bet your fantasy season on his comeback.


K Jason Hanson – Jason is a very dependable kicker, who unfortunately has spent his entire career in Detroit.  This year should provide more offense for this team and Hansen will benefit.



Green Bay Packers


QB Brett Favre – Brett is still one of the top fantasy QBs in the league.  Last season he won the Fantasy Sharks’ Ultimate Fantasy QB contest and there is no reason to expect he will slow down in 2004.  Brett has recently come out and stated that he expects the Packers to make it to the Superbowl.  They came close last season and are poised to take another shot in 2004.


QB Other – Tim Couch was added to the roster after a disappointing run with the Browns.  He should not get any playing time, unless Brett is injured.


RB Ahman Green – Was second in the league in TDs scored last season and there is no reason to expect him to slow down.  He will probably be drafted 3rd behind Holmes and Tomlinson, but he could end up being the top fantasy RB at the end of the year.


RB Other – Najeh Davenport, Tony Fisher – if you draft Green, make sure you also grab whichever of these two wins the backup job.  Davenport looks to be the favorite.


WR Donald Driver – He broke out in 2002 and many fantasy owners drafted him with the expectations of a big season in 2003.  Driver struggled and there are now many people who will never draft him again.  Take a late flyer with him this year and you will be happy you did.


WR Robert Ferguson – Although he starts for the Pack, he has not had a 100 yard receiving game, and only scored 4 TDs in 2003.  Walker is a better option if you want to draft a Packer WR.


WR Javon Walker – Was the primary scoring option at WR and I expect his statistics to improve in 2004.


TE Bubba Franks – Isn’t projected to do as well this season and you could probably draft him later in your draft and get a very solid TE. 


K Ryan Longwell – Is one of the top kickers in the league and will get many opportunities to score.



Minnesota Vikings


QB Daunte Culpepper – One of the most exciting quarterbacks to play the game.  He is a threat to run the ball on every snap and has offensive weapons that could make this offense one of the most potent in the last several years.  Expect Culpepper to be drafted in the second round of your draft which means you will need to sacrifice RB depth to get him.


QB Other – Gus Frerotte is the backup and did well when he was needed last season. 


RB Michael Bennett – The running back job in Minnesota is still up for grabs and whoever wins should have a very good fantasy year.  Bennett is the current front-runner, but is not a lock yet.  However, this could also turn into a RBBC so watch this situation closely.


RB Other – Onterrio Smith, Moe Williams, Mewelde Moore – Wow, there is some serious rushing talent on this team.  The problem is there are only a limited number of carries to go around.  Smith should get some and could still win the starting job.  Williams will not be as productive with both Bennett and Smith sharing the load.  Moore is a rookie and really has no fantasy value in 2004.


WR Randy Moss – Easily the best Wide Receiver in the entire league.  Randy has a bad toe that does cause concern, but his potential is difficult to pass over especially if you draft late in the first round.  Not too many WRs are worth building a fantasy team around, but Randy is one of them.


WR Marcus Robinson – Once had a promising career that was almost ended with a severe knee injured when he was with the Bears.  Last season he came on at the end and was signed as a free agent to start alongside Moss.  He should have a good season, and could really do well if Moss misses any playing time.


WR Other – Nate Burleson and Kelly Campbell are the backups but have no fantasy value.


TE Jim Kleinsasser – On this potent offense, every starter is worth consideration.  If you can’t get one of the top TEs, Kleinsasser would make a good option.


K Aaron Elling – With all the TDs this team will score, there won’t be many chances for field goals.  There are better options for your fantasy kicker.

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