NFC North Divisional Dive

by Jason Allwine · NFL

The NFL Draft is over, most free agents have been signed, and trades have been made. Barring any more major trades, we now know what each team will be working with in 2022. Before we move completely onto the next year, it is important to remember what players and teams found success in 2021. After all, a player’s fantasy success is largely tied to their team’s success. This series will serve to function as a reminder of last year’s performances and also take a look at who may breakout in 2022. Each division will have its teams dissected and I will find a player who should be a more valuable asset in 2022 than they were in 2021. Every relevant player leaving, every relevant player coming, and every draft pick is here. So without further ado, let’s take the NFC North Divisional Dive.

Green Bay Packers

2021 Record: 13-4

Offense: Points For – No. 10, Yards For – No. 10

Defense: Points Allowed – No. 13, Yards Allowed – No. 9

Top Fantasy Players

1. Davante Adams, WR – 344.3 points

2.Aaron Rodgers, QB – 333.3 points

3. Aaron Jones, RB – 229 points

Fantasy Relevant Players Leaving

1. Davante Adams, WR – Raiders

2. Marquez Valdes-Scantling, WR – Chiefs

3. Equanimeous St. Brown, WR – Bears

Fantasy Relevant Additions

1. Sammy Watkins, WR

Draft Results

R1: Quay Walker, LB, UGA / Devonte Wyatt, DT, UGA

R2: Christian Watson, WR, NDSU

R3: Sean Rhyan, OT, UCLA

R4: Romeo Doubs, WR, Nevada / Zach Tom, OT, Wake Forest

R5: Kingsley Enagbare, LB, South Carolina

R7: Tariq Carpenter, LB, Georgia Tech / Jonathan Ford, DT, Miami / Rasheed Walker, OT, Penn State / Samori Toure, WR, Nebraska

Potential Breakouts

1. Christian Watson, WR

The Packers got what they hope will be a key piece in replacing Davante Adams and shaping their offense for the future in the second round of the draft. Christian Watson out of North Dakota State has big shoes to fill, and has the athletic profile to do so.

Christian Watson Advanced Stats & Metrics Profile

The Packers receiving corps has completely changed. Instead of Adams and Marquez Valdes-Scantling, we are now looking at Watson and Sammy Watkins. Considering Watkins hasn’t played a full season since his rookie year, Watson will likely be the center piece for at least the next season. He’s used to the pressure since he wasn’t only a WR. He ran the ball more than a few times and handled kickoff returns for the Bisons. Going from North Dakota to Wisconsin won’t be too drastic in getting used to cold weather either. If Watson can handle the heat, he should finish as at least a top 3 rookie WR as he will be fed to the wolves early and often.

Minnesota Vikings

2021 Record: 8-9

Offense: Points For – No. 14, Yards For – No. 12

Defense: Points Allowed – No. 24, Yards Allowed – No. 30

Top Fantasy Players

1. Justin Jefferson, WR – 330.4 points

2. Kirk Cousins, QB – 300.34 points

3. Dalvin Cook, RB – 206.3 points

Fantasy Relevant Players Leaving

1. Tyler Conklin, TE – Jets

2. Dede Westbrook, WR* (still a free agent)

Fantasy Relevant Additions


Draft Results

R1: Lewis Cine, S, UGA

R2: Andrew Booth, CB, Clemson / Ed Ingram, G, LSU

R3: Brian Asamoah, LB, Oklahoma

R4: Akayleb Evans, CB, Missouri

R5: Esezi Otomewo, DL, Minnesota / Ty Chandler, RB, UNC

R6: Vederian Lowe, OT, Illinois / Jalen Nailor, WR Michigan State

R7: Nick Muse, TE, South Carolina

Potential Breakouts

1. Irv Smith, TE

The trend of a tight end being Kirk Cousins‘ third option will continue with Irv Smith in 2022. He was supposed to be the starter in 2021 after Kyle Rudolph finally left the team, but he tore his meniscus in the preseason. Now he will the opportunity he’s been hoping for since the Vikings drafted no weapons until round 6 and haven’t brought in any competition either.

We’re not talking about a high-ceiling, or even crazy consistent value here. But Smith should be available as a flyer if in a bind. And he has a solid enough possibility to at least score a TD. Look at Tyler Conklin last season who averaged 8.1 (No. 18 among qualified tight ends) Fantasy Points Per Game in Smith’s absence. Smith is faster than Conklin but also not quite as explosive, so they’re arguably pretty comparable in terms of expectations. Smith’s ceiling does however go way up if Adam Thielen misses time.

Chicago Bears

2021 Record: 6-11

Offense: Points For – No. 27, Yards For – No. 24

Defense: Points Allowed – No. 22, Yards Allowed – No. 6

Top Fantasy Players

1. Darnell Mooney, WR – 219.7 points

2. David Montgomery, RB – 195 points

3. Justin Fields, QB – 126.8 points

Fantasy Relevant Players Leaving

1. Andy Dalton, QB – Saints

2. Nick Foles, QB* (still a free agent)

3. Tarik Cohen, RB* (still a free agent)

4. Damien Williams, RB – Falcons

5. Damiere Byrd, WR – Falcons

6. Jakeem Grant, WR – Browns

7. Marquise Goodwin, WR* (still a free agent)

8. Allen Robinson, WR – Rams

9. Jimmy Graham, TE* (still a free agent)

10. Jesse James, TE* (still a free agent)

Fantasy Relevant Additions

1. Byron Pringle, WR

2. Trevor Siemian, QB

3. Equanimeous St. Brown, WR

Draft Results

R2: Kyler Gordon, CB, Washington / Jaquan Brisker, S, Penn State

R3: Velus Jones Jr., WR, Tennessee

R5:  Braxton Jones, OT, Southern Utah State / Dominique Robinson, EDGE, Miami (OH)

R6: Zach Thomas, G, San Diego State / Trestan Ebner, RB, Baylor / Doug Kramer, C, Illinois

R7: Ja’Tyre Carter, G, Southern / Elijah Hicks, CB, Cal / Trenton Gill, P, NC State

Potential Breakouts

Justin Fields, QB

Justin Fields averaged 11.4 (No. 31) Fantasy Points Per Game, an abysmal season for the No. 11 overall pick. Because of that, basically any improvement at all would be a breakout year for him. The weight falls mostly on his shoulders since the Bears new head coach is Matt Eberflus, the former Colts defensive coordinator. Chicago also let Allen Robinson walk, putting a dent in the WR corps. However, they did bring in an exciting WR prospect in Velus Jones via the draft, and some solid role-players in Byron Pringle and Equanimeous St. Brown. Fields’ rushing prowess alone makes him an exciting fantasy prospect. If he takes a step forward he could provide solid value, and also increase the value of the players around him.

2. Cole Kmet, TE

As a result of Allen Robinson leaving, Cole Kmet probably becomes the No. 2 target. Kmet is a prime candidate for a third year breakout campaign. He averaged 7.1 (No. 21) Fantasy Points Per Game last year without scoring a single TD. If the Bears offense improves, he should score some touchdowns next season. Jimmy Graham and Jesse James both scored for the Bears last year, combining for four TDs. Those TDs go to Kmet now, plain and simple. The former second-round pick could provide excellent value next year.

Detroit Lions

2021 Record: 3-13-1

Offense: Points For – No. 25, Yards Allowed – No. 22

Defense: Points Allowed – No. 31, Yards Allowed – No. 29

Top Fantasy Players

1. Amon-Ra St. Brown, WR – 227.3 points

2. D’Andre Swift, RB – 208.9 points

3. Jared Goff, QB – 194.5 points

Fantasy Relevant Players Leaving


Fantasy Relevant Additions

1. D.J. Chark, WR

Draft Results

R1: Aidan Hutchinson, EDGE, Michigan /  Jameson Williams, WR, Alabama

R2: Joshua Paschal, DE, Kentucky

R3: Kerby Joseph, S, Illinois

R5: James Mitchell, TE, Virginia Tech

R6: Malcolm Rodriguez, LB, Oklahoma State / James Houston, EDGE, Jackson State

R7: Chase Lucas, CB, Arizona State

Potential Breakouts

1. Jared Goff, QB

Take your pick on this offense as basically everyone’s value has increased this offseason. But perhaps the main benefactor is the quarterback. Jared Goff now has an arsenal of Amon-Ra St. Brown, D.J. Chark, Jameson Williams, T.J. Hockenson, and D’Andre Swift.

Goff has had two years where he averaged in the top 10 of Fantasy Points Per Game. He averaged 19.9 (No. 9) FPPG in 2018, and 17.5 (No. 8) in 2017. He’s not with Sean McVay anymore, but his receiving corps is certainly better. His dynasty ranking is QB30, which provides excellent value for a potential QB1 season with a fairly safe floor as well.