Are you working on a major medical breakthrough or about to reconcile with your estranged grandparents? Well, put that sh*t on pause, because fantasy football is back in its rightful place as the most important thing in our lives. It’s all the fun of being an easily aggravated NFL GM without a pesky seven-figure payday getting in the way. Real GMs must be jealous we pay to do this, right? Right?
We’re currently in that mystical preseason place where anything can happen with your fantasy football squad. (Remember to get that Simpsons-based team name sorted out in advance.) Optimism is plentiful, you’ve decided to never trust Jeremy Langford again and your would-be superteam is destined for glory. We at UPROXX believe in you and your holy quest and we want to help.
Every NFL squad always has a player (or six) that are bound to seduce you into drafting them too high and put you in some variety of Archer certified Danger Zone. These are the sort of fantasy options that could still pay off huge but come with some serious questions before you make your official selection. We’ve wrangled together a tidy collection of 32 players (one for each team, including the dead mall of a football club that is the New York Jets) that we believe are worth having a think about before joining your roster.
Today we visit the NFC North which was named after the not very popular motion picture North. It was a poor business move, but the division stores four veteran football franchises and that evens things out.
Chicago Bears – WR Kevin White
Reason To Salivate: *channels Catherine O’Hara* KEVIN! The Bears appear destined for another season of misery and Jay Cutler yuks (this time with a south Florida flavor!), but that doesn’t disqualify the Bears from being in line for a potential breakout season from Kevin White. The 7th overall pick in the 2015 draft, White’s NFL career has been stalled by injuries rather than lack of talent. White has the ability to beat coverage and compete for the ball, a trait Chicago covets with Alshon Jeffrey out of the picture in 2017. If White’s healthy, he’s getting targets. That’s good news for gambling fantasy GMs and the Sunday night highlight reel on your local news
Reason To Worry: *channels double the Catherine O’Hara* KEVIN! It is incredibly difficult to rack up fantasy glory (even with the garbage time bounty we may get in Chicago) when you’re not in the lineup. White is a boom or bust wide receiver that’s far more likely to leave a scoreless crater on your squad due to injury than from Victor Cruz snapping up his No. 2 position on the WR depth chart. In two seasons in Chicago, the West Virginia product appeared in a grand total of four (4!) games courtesy of leg injuries. The NFL sample size is extremely limited for White (with underwhelming results) and he’s got the added perk of seeing if America’s second-favorite Tall Man Mike Glennon is a fit with the Bears offense. White isn’t ranked particularly high in terms of ADP, but reach at your own risk if you think the pieces are going to come together in his third year of National Football League action.
Detroit Lions – TE Eric Ebron
Reason To Salivate: A 6’4” and 250-pound beast of a tight end, Detroit drafted Ebron 10th overall three years back to be their tight end cornerstone for the next decade. He hasn’t reached his enormous potential just yet, but he’s been a Top 15 fantasy player at the position in his first two seasons. Coming off a 2016 campaign that showed improvement (61 receptions, 711 yards), Ebron’s lack of TDs could be a thing of the past with Anquan Boldin out of the picture. Could 2017 be the official age of Ebron?
Reason To Worry: So far, Ebron’s been a better TE breakout candidate in theory than practice. Ebron hasn’t provided 10th overall pick value. The lack of Boldin might increase the number of candidates to be on the receiving end of a Matthew Stafford TD pass, but there’s nothing suggesting that Ebron’s going to vacuum up a significant portion of those looks. (Blocking struggles are a turd in the Ebron value punch bowl too.) Ebron could blossom into the tight end (and productive fantasy TE1) the Lions brass got weak in the knees for or you could be in line for another season of frustrating inconsistency and an invisible forcefield keeping the dude out of the end zone. So, uh, have fun with all that.
Green Bay Packers – RB Ty Montgomery
Reason To Salivate: Ty Montgomery showcased his Game Genie-level of athletic skill in his transition from Packers receiver to the club’s primary rusher. Boasting an impressive 5.9 YPC in 2016, Montgomery can handle carries and still provides a dangerous receiving threat for Aaron Rodgers in an offense that turned in 27 points-per-game last season. The preseason hype on Montgomery is that he’s packed on the muscle Jinder Mahal style and will be no treat to try and haul to the ground. If everything shakes out according to plan, Montgomery’s place in Green Bay’s Top 5 offense could bring you fantasy trophies and provide the opportunity to cackle over grabbing him in the fifth round.
Reason To Worry: Perched at the No. 50 position in the overall FantasyPros consensus ADP, Ty Montgomery has built up a lot of goodwill based on his emergence as Green Bay’s top rushing back. Not helping the Montgomery case is the influx of new rushing talent Green Bay drafted to push the Stanford alum. BYU’s Jamaal Williams (expected to get goal line work), UTEP’s Aaron Jones and Utah State’s Devante Mays were all selected between rounds four and seven in April and could have the Packers reevaluating how they’ll use Montgomery in their 2017 offense. Also hurting Montgomery’s stock as a potential RB2 is a 2016 campaign that was relatively inconsistent. A monster Week 15 outing in Chicago versus an awful defense has done a lot of the statistical heavy lifting for Montgomery and there’s no promise of getting tons of touches (by starting running back standards) in 2017.
Minnesota Vikings – RB Latavius Murray
Reason To Salivate: Minnesota’s post-Peterson era sees Raiders star Latavius Murray and his 2016 calling card of 12 TDs and 1000+ all-purpose yards to the Vikes. The selection of Dalvin Cook in the 2nd round of this year’s draft has seen Murray’s perceived value plummet, but the 27-year-old new addition to Minnesota’s run game might be in danger of being overlooked. Murray is guaranteed to get the ball in goal line situations and be a part of 2017’s new-look offense. The dude isn’t being paid to work the drive-thru at a Bemidji Dairy Queen. He was signed to help bolster the NFL’s worst rushing team.
Reason To Worry: There’s a reason why Cook is higher valued in ADP and in the hearts of Viking fans. At Florida State, he showed off a tremendous skill set with more of a capability of game-changing than what Murray provides. In that high-powered Oakland offense, Murray’s totals were padded out with a healthy touchdown diet and the assist of one beefy-ass offensive line. The Vikings made some upgrades to their blocking woes in the offseason which should provide an assist (Minnesota finishing dead last in rushing with a paltry 75.3 yards per game in 2016), but Murray’s still in for a tough slog with a rookie home run threat ready to seize the spotlight.