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NFC North Preview

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What a mess this division has turned into. You had a team that made sure that its starting quarterback didn’t come to camp, while they couldn’t get their starting running back to attend. You had another team that was desperate to acquire said quarterback, but now they say they are happy with what they’ve got.  There is a team that can’t decide on starters, so they list players as “co-starters”.  And lastly, there was yet another coaching change for the other team in the division.  And above all that for the fantasy player, there are so many positions within this division up for grabs, and even if clear-cut winners are declared, will the players involved have a fantasy impact?  My friends, the NFC North, a fantasy wasteland!

Chicago

Bears

QB Discussion

The Bears are listing

Kyle Orton and

Rex Grossman as “co-starters.”  That shows you how much confidence

Chicago has in having Grossman be the starter in 2008.  Grossman would have to have a tremendous preseason to win the job, but I don’t think that he has it in him.  I see Orton as winning the starting job; however, neither player, even as the clear-cut starter, are worth considering for your fantasy team.

RB Discussion

The Bears’ streak of mistakes at the running back position looks to continue in 2008. They chose Cedric Benson over the capable Thomas Jones a year ago, and now Benson is no longer on the roster. Though some will say this is because of his off-the-field activities, let’s be honest here, he was terrible and the only way to make it look like management hadn’t made a mistake was to make him disappear from the roster. 

Entering 2008, everyone is looking for the rookie

Matt Forte to be the starter. As has been said before, it is the rare rookie running back that can step in and have a big fantasy impact, so temper your expectations for Forte in 2008. 

Kevin Jones has been cleared to practice, and he will certainly command some touches for

Chicago

Adrian Peterson is still in the mix, though I see his role as greatly reduced. 

Chicago may finally come around to the fact that the best runner on their team right now is, wait for it, wait … second-year man

Garrett Wolfe.  Wolfe has shown flashes that he can run the ball, but the Bears seem convinced that his size prevents him from being on the field.

No matter who wins what here, the

Chicago running back situation is not one that the fantasy owner can count on, so only middle-to-late round selections here. 

WR Discussion

Are you sensing a trend here with the Bears that this is a team that the fantasy owner should avoid?  Especially the passing game?  What to say here …

Marty Booker will probably be one of the starters. The Bears are committed to making

Devin Hester a starter. 

Brandon Lloyd could emerge. Geez. Let’s move on. 

TE Discussion

Chicago

has two tight ends that will see regular playing time. 

Desmond Clark will get slightly more playing time than

Greg Olsen, and the Bears do have a number of formations that will put both of them on the field (and why wouldn’t they when their receiving core is so pathetic?!). The presence of both will limit the individual fantasy numbers, but keep an eye on this situation to see if one of them becomes the main red-zone threat as whoever that is could become a decent fantasy backup. 

K Robbie Gould

In what might be the only sure draftable position for

Chicago, Robbie Gould will be the kicker.  Last year, Gould was a Top 10 fantasy kicker, but given the struggles of the Bears offense (which should continue in 2008), he drops a bit outside the preseason Top 10. That said, there should be scoring opportunities and the job is 100% his so don’t be afraid to draft him in the late rounds as your starter.

 

Detroit

Lions

QB Jon Kitna

The Lions went to the air early and often in 2007, but with Mike Martz out of the picture, look for

Detroit to go to a more balanced attack. As a result, starter Jon Kitna‘s attempts will go down.  This is a good thing, as it should also reduce the potential for interceptions. The Lions have a formidable array of receivers, so Kitna should be able to put up decent numbers.  Draft him as your fantasy backup.

QB Other

Dan Orlovsky and

Drew Stanton are the backups – nothing to see here.

RB Discussion

The backfield in

Detroit continues to be filled with questions. 

Tatum Bell seems to have wasted a golden opportunity to make the job his by reporting to camp overweight (marriage can have that affect on people!).  His early preseason games haven’t been anything to write home about either. Rookie

Kevin Smith has looked much better than

Bell, so I’d say at this point he’s the early leader to become the starter. 

Artose Pinner and

Brian Calhoun are also in the mix.  So the question then becomes, what will the starting running back for the Lions be worth to the fantasy owner? I say not much, because despite their early commitment to run the ball, I don’t see the Lions as a team putting up much yardage on the ground.  This is shaping up to be close to a 50-50 split between Bell and Smith, with Calhoun being a third-down guy stealing time from the top two. 

WR’s Roy Williams and Calvin Johnson

Finally a position and specific players the fantasy owner can count on!! Roy Williams and Calvin Johnson will be the starters in

Detroit, and they won’t disappoint. Both will end up in the Top 20 at their position, so don’t be afraid to get either on your squad. Williams will end up with slightly better numbers, but look for the Lions to become a two WR team so Johnson will get enough touches to be a solid fantasy WR. 

WR Other

Last year in the Mike Martz offense,

Mike Furrey became a guy that the fantasy owner could get into the starting lineup on occasion to cover a bye week. That won’t be the case this year.  Furrey will be WR3 on

Detroit, but in 2008 that won’t be a position to produce much for the fantasy owner. Take a late-round flyer on him and stash him in case something happens to Williams or Johnson. 

Shaun McDonald is also around, but don’t look for anything from him

TE Discussion

None of the TE’s on

Detroit‘s roster are exciting.

Michael Gaines might be a deep sleeper (very deep sleeper). 

Dan Campbell could also see some action (zzzzz!). 

K Jason Hanson

Jason Hanson, as has been the case for many years, is a capable kicker and he should continue to hold had job title for the Lions.  

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