NFC North Fantasy Preview- Bears and Lions

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Studs receivers Davante Adams and Kenny Golladay lead the way for a NFC North division that is loaded with top tier talent at multiple positions.

The Chicago Bears and Detroit Lions are the two teams being featured in this two-part series previewing the NFC North. These two division rivals offer fantasy football players a pair of stud WRs, excellent value plays at QBs, underrated RBs with upside and couple of Tier 3 sleepers to fill out your RB or WR depth.

Each tier breakdown will preview players that have potential to finish in the Top 12, 24 or 36 at their respected positions. Both of these offenses will look improve this season after battling ineffective QB play and key injuries in 2019.

If you are looking for the IDP tier recommendations in the NFC North, you should definitely be giving Kyle’s article a hard look. Just click here to get an edge on your IDP competition. 

Chicago Bears: (8-8, 4-2 in NFC North)

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Tier 1 (Top 12 potential):

  • Potential studs to build your roster around
  • Will most likely command early round draft capital

Allen Robinson, Wide Receiver (30.25)

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  • 2019 stats: (154 targets, 98 receptions, 1,147 receiving yards, 7 TDs)
  • 2019 positional finish: WR #12 in PPR format

It was a difficult season for any fantasy owners who invested in Da Bears, unless you invested in Allen Robinson. The 6’2” 220 lbs target monster was a homerun pick for anyone who targeted him in the middle rounds of dynasty start-ups. He finished 3rd in targets behind only Michael Thomas and Julio Jones, which is clearly impressive company. 

Entering his 7th season at the age of 26, the Penn State product is the clear go-to guy in Chicago and will continue to contend for a top 12 finish at his deep and talented WR position. Don’t be surprised if he surpasses his 2019 totals if the Bears can figure out their QB situation, which may be easier said than done. 

Tier 2 (Top 24 potential):

  • Key starters that you need to be a contender in your league
  • Most likely to have middle round ADP – where fantasy seasons are won or lost

David Montgomery, Running Back (50.75)

  • 2019 stats: 242 carries, 889 rushing yards, 6 rushing TDs, 35 targets, 25 receptions, 185 receiving yards, 1 receiving TD, 2 fumbles)
  • 2019 positional finish: RB24 in PPR format

David Montgomery was a highly-sought after RB prospect in 2019 rookie drafts. If you wanted him, you needed to spend mid-to-late 1st round draft capital and you may have been disappointed by the initial results of your investment. The former Iowa State star was given plenty of opportunities with 277  total touches and did manage to barely break over the 1,000 scrimmage yard mark. 

Montgomery struggles can be partly attributed to a Bears offensive line that went from a possible top 10 line to a 25-ranked offensive line, according to an excellent 2020 offensive line preview from Although they have the pieces to have a solid line, they didn’t do much to change their situation and will look to return to 2018 form. 

Montgomery has plenty of room for improvement and should be a workhorse in terms of carries. He’s a solid late RB2 target if you are investing early at other positions. 

Whoever ends up the Bears QB- Nick Foles and Mitchell Trubisky

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  • Trubisky 2019 stats: 3,138 passing yards, 63.2 completion percentage, 17 TDs, 10 interceptions
  • Foles 2019 stats- Jacksonville: 4 games started, 736 passing yards, 65.8% completion percentage, 3 TDs, 1 interception

What a mess! Do you really want any part of this situation? In superflex, yes you do. Why? Because it’s cheap that’s why. Though Trubisky didn’t meet expectations, he finished just outside of the QB2 discussion as he finished as the 25th best quarterback in 2019. However, he did manage to produce 5 games where he finished as a top 12 QB and would be a solid QB3 with QB2 upside. 

Clearly the UNC product needs to win the job from Nick Foles, who is definitely seen as more of “a winner” than Trubisky. That’s not shocking as Foles is a Super Bowl MVP and Trubisky has one playoff loss under his belt.

NFC North does not boast the strongest defenses (except the Vikings), so either QB will have some decent division match-ups. Whoever wins that starting job offers a lot of value in Superflex formats. Take your best guess and invest, which shouldn’t cost you much anyways. 

Tier 3 (Top 36- RB and WRs only):

  • Steady depth players or high upside picks that can make or break your team
  • These players could be labeled “sleepers” if you are look that type of player

Tarik Cohen, Running Back (158.50)

  • 2019 stats: 104 targets, 79 catches, 456 receiving yards, 3 receiving TDs, 64 carries, 213 rushing yards, 0 rushing TDs, 3 fumbles
  • 2019 positional finish: RB27 in PPR format

It just makes sense to highlight Tarik Cohen’s receiving stats before his rushing stats. The 5-foot-6 191 lb dynamo finished second in targets for the Bears last season and has steadily seen his targets increase over his first three seasons. 

Yes, his production nose-dived last season, but so did the rest of the Bears not named Allen Robinson. Cohen’s yards per catches were also cut in half after averaging 10.2 yard/receptions in 2018. Savvy owners should be seeing this as a volume receiver who should see his numbers bounce back after a down year for an entire team. 

The Bears’ offense should improve and that means Cohen’s stats should as well. The man known as “The Human Joystick” is dangerous in open space and is a sneaky upside play as low-end RB2/high-end RB3 in PPR format. Anything he does in the rushing department is actually just a bonus. 

Detroit Lions: (3-12-1, 0-6 in NFC North)

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Tier 1 (Top 12 Potential):

  • Potential studs to build your roster around
  • Will most likely command early round draft capital

Matthew Stafford, Quarterback (167.25)

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  • 2019 stats: 64.3- completion %, 2,499 passing yards, 19 touchdowns, 5 interceptions in 8 games
  • 2019 positional finish: QB29

Twitter has been buzzing about Matthew Stafford as a buy-low candidate. The 2009 #1 overall pick was a top 6 QB before his back injury ended his season. Prior to last season, Stafford started every game for the Lions under center for 7 straight seasons. From 2011 to 2018, Stafford has averaged 4,465.5 passing yards and 27.3 touchdowns, proving that he has been consistently underrated for many, many years. 

The Georgia product was on pace to have his best season since 2011. His supporting cast features an elite go-to wide receiver, an excellent No. 2 receiving option, a second-year tight end who looks primed to break out, two talented running backs and an improved offensive line. With that cast and his numbers historically, Stafford could be a steal.

If Stafford can stay on the field, he’s a lock to finish as a top 12 QB with a ceiling of finishing in the top 6. He’s the perfect late round QB to be targeting in all formats and could be the best fantasy QB in the NFC North this season.

Kenny Golladay, Wide Receiver (25.50)

  • 2019 stats: 116 targets, 65 catches, 1,190 receiving yards, 11 TDs
  • Positional Finish: WR9

Kenny Golladay is a beast. An absolute beast. The 6-foot-4 214 lb wide receiver followed up his breakout sophomore campaign (70 catches, 1,063 receiving yards, 5 TDs) with a monstrous third year. He put up those numbers with David Blough and Jeff Driskel as his quarterback for half of his games. Now that’s impressive. 

Despite only 65 catches, the Northern Illinois star finished as a top 12 WR in all formats. Now let’s imagine what he could do with a full season of Stafford throwing him the ball. At 26 years old, Golladay is an excellent target in the early 3rd rounds of your redraft formats.

If you are in an established dynasty league, the Lions star is an excellent trade target for rebuilding or contending team. The NFC North has another star WR on their hands and those division defenses need to plan accordingly. 

TJ Hockenson, Tight End (187.50)

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  • 2019 stats: 59 targets, 32 receptions, 367 yards, 2 touchdowns
  • 2019 positional finish: TE31

The hype train was out of control for TJ Hockenson in rookie drafts, as managers were investing 1st round draft capital in the Iowa tight end. Those managers may have come away disappointed from his rookie performance and how he ended the year on the IR. These are the people you should be trying to trade with and get Hockenson on your team. 

The tight end is a difficult position to transition into the NFL and it usually takes 2 to 3 years to fully acclimate to the pro game. Hockenson is an unbelievable talent who exploded in his first NFL game for 131 yards on 9 catches with a score, then fizzled out a bit and saw his stock drop quite a bit.

He should take a big leap this season and has the potential to finish as a TE1 this year. He’s easily the best TE in the NFC North division and will be for quite some time. 

Tier 2 (Top 24 potential):

  • Key starters that you need to be a contender in your league
  • Most likely to have middle round ADP – where fantasy seasons are won or lost

D’Andre Swift, Running Back (52.25)

  • 2018 stats at Georgia: 1,049 rushing yards, 32 receptions, 297 receiving yards, 13 total TDs
  • 2019 stats at Georgia: 1,298 rushing yards, 24 receptions, 216 receiving yards, 8 total TDs

With all the hype around Clyde Edwards-Helaire and Jonathan Taylor, D’Andre Swift is somewhat undervalued. In DFD’s August 2020 ADP, Swift is being picked at 52.25, which is significantly lower than CEH (20.5) and Taylor (33.5).Though people might not be buying it, there is a reality where he could be the best back in the 2020 class. 

A lot of pre-season rookie rankings had Swift as their top running back prospect after an outstanding sophomore season as he displayed an impressive all-around skill-set against SEC defenses. For an encore in his junior year, Swift produced 1,435 scrimmage yards and 8 touchdowns, despite Georgia experiencing offensive struggles as a team. 

Then there’s the film – elite speed, making tacklers miss, breaking tackles, advanced receiving ability, spins, jukes, burst. The Lions used some significant draft capital using the 35th pick on Swift. With Kerryonès disappointing 3.6 yard per carry and injury concerns, the Georgia product could be in for a healthy workload. 

For redraft formats, Swift would be a RB2 you should pick with a great deal of confidence. Dynasty managers won’t have to give up nearly as much to get Swift than you would for CEH or Taylor – and it could provide bigger rewards as well. Swift is a buy-now before it gets much more expensive to make that trade.

Tier 3 (Top 36 Potential- RB and WR only): 

  • Steady depth players or high upside picks that can make or break your team
  • These players could be labeled “sleepers” if you are look that type of player

Marvin Jones, Wide Receiver (108.25)

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  • 2019 stats: 92 targets, 62 receptions, 779 receiving yards, 9 touchdowns
  • 2019 positional finish: WR28

Even with his ADP recently trending up, Marvin Jones continues to be undervalued.  The Lions wide receiver has been a favorite on Twitter as a potential sleeper or buy-low candidate. It’s with good reason, as he has provided steady production throughout his NFL career.

Jones had three straight 100+ targets seasons prior to an injury-riddled 2018 season. Stafford targeted Jones at least 5 times per game for 7 out of his 8 games last season. The Stafford-Jones connection included an explosive 10 catch, 93 yards and 4 TD performance against the Vikings in Week 7. There is a strong rapport between these two teammates.

Despite missing 10 games over the last 3 seasons, the former Golden Bear still managed to average 7.7 TD per season. Jones also averaged just under 800 receiving yards over the last three years, which offers a really nice floor as a potential WR3 even though he’s being selected as the 40th WR in recent DFD mock drafts.

Though he does carry some injury concerns, Jones has little competition for WR2 status and he consistently finds pay-dirt when he’s on the field. He’s an outstanding decision in the 9th round or even later, as well as being a solid trade target for dynasty managers contending in 2020.

Look out for part 2 of my NFC North tiered team previews. Follow me on Twitter @FF_Banterman. Check out my FF podcast A Tale of Two Rivals with co-hosts @FF_Spaceman & @ff_walrus wherever you find your favorite podcasts. Get all the dynasty advice, rankings, and featured articles that you need by subscribing to Dynasty Football Digest. Looking for the best IDP takes to help win your league? Look no further than the IDP Guys, just click here to dominate your league.