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IDP Pre-Season Preview: NFC North
Steve Gallo
August 19, 2013
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Every year there are new faces in new places – not just players, but coaches too.  With those changes come scheme changes, and value changes with regard to fantasy football.  Which is why drafting off stats from the previous year isn’t a wise thing to do. However, reading each divisional preseason update would be a wise thing to do. If you have any additional questions please feel free to email me at gallo@thehuddle.com or find me on twitter @SteveGalloNFL.

Chicago Bears

HC: Marc Trestman
DC: Mel Tucker
Base Defensive Scheme: 4-3
Scheme Change: No

Defensive Line
Julius Peppers was once the type of DE that could put up massive points on any given week and almost single handedly carry a fantasy team to a win. Now, that’s not the case. In 2012 Peppers only had four game where he scored more than 10 fantasy points, and on the other end of the spectrum he had five games where he scored 4 points or fewer. An ADP of DL13 probably seems like a bargain, but not for me, I’d pass. Instead of drafting Peppers as DL13 I’d look to get a player like Justin Smith who can be had much later and offers less downside, or a player like Carlos Dunlap who offers much more upside than Peppers does now. In DT mandatory leagues I like Henry Melton and think he has top-5 upside.

Linebacker
The Bears have a new defensive coordinator this year, but their biggest adjustment may be playing without future HOF LB Brian Urlacher. Lance Briggs should outperform his ADP of LB45. Last year he finished as LB25, and even with Mel Tucker taking over as the defensive coordinator he should finish no worse than a LB3. The real question at LB comes at MLB. Will it be DJ Williams or rookie Jon Bostic that starts at Urlacher’s old spot? Early on my money was on Williams, but a early camp injury has allowed Bostic to get some time with the 1’s. As long as Williams gets back on the field by week 1 I think he’ll win the job, and in turn I think he too, like Briggs, will have LB3 value at the worst.

Secondary
Charles Tillman finished as the #1 ranked DB last year, and in 2011 he finished as the #2 DB. It’s not very often we see DBs finish like that in back to back seasons. After all, turnover at DB is usually massive. This year he has an ADP of DB3, and living up to that lofty goal will be a tough thing to do. I love the game that Tillman plays, but another top 5 performance at a position that sees as much turnover as it does just doesn’t seem to be in the cards for 2013. I might be wrong, but the one thing I won’t be, is left holding the bag if I’m right because I won’t be spending that early of a pick on a DB.

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Detroit Lions

HC: Jim Schwartz
DC: Gunther Cunningham
Base Defensive Scheme: 4-3
Scheme Change: No

Defensive Line
The Lions have put together a very nice front four. It is of course anchored by their stout DTs – Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley. Suh has immense talent, but with an ADP of DL16 I think he is being over-drafted. Fairley has an ADP of DL27, which is better, but still high for a DT that finished with a 6.654 PPG average in 2012. But make no mistake about those two very well may e the best DT combo in the game today. As for the pass rush from the DE position, both Cliff Avril and Kyle Vanden Bosch are gone. Rookie, Ziggy Ansah will have a chance to contribute right from the start, and with an ADP of DL26, he makes for a nice swing for the fences selection. The key to his fantasy value will be if he can make noise in the tackle department. In deeper leagues, Jason Jones – the former Seahawk – should present some fantasy value.

Linebacker
With the beef in front of them, Lions LBs should have no issues staying clean so they can make tackles. Stephen Tulloch isn’t flashy but he is a solid producer – finishing 30th in fantasy scoring among LBs in 2012 – and an ADP of LB41 seems low for him. He won’t give you much upside, but if you need safe production from your LB3 spot he fits the bill well. As far as Ashlee Palmer and DeAndre Levy  goes you’re looking at bye week replacements that hold little to no upside.

Secondary
The Lions secondary has two new starters this year. One is rookie CB, Darius Slay, the other is former Texans safety Glover Quin. As it stands now, neither is being drafted in the top-31, and neither are the other two secondary starters (Chris Houston, CB and Louis Delmas, FS). I think Quin could put up DB3 or better numbers and have no qualms at all making him one of the final picks in a draft. In CB mandatory leagues, the rookie will more than likely get picked on enough to make him a viable CB3 with some upside.

Green Bay Packers

HC: Mike McCarthy
DC: Dom Capers
Base Defensive Scheme: 3-4
Scheme Change: No

Defensive Line
The Packers 3-4 scheme, like many other 3-4 schemes just doesn’t provide us with any viable fantasy options.

Linebacker
Desmond Bishop was cut loose this offseason by the Packers, and since has signed with division rival Minnesota. That leaves Brad Jones as the Packers ILB to own.  From when Jones took over starting duties in week 7 thru week 16 he ranked 18th in fantasy points scored among LBs. With an ADP of, wait, he isn’t even listed among the top 47 LBs being drafted, yeah, that makes him an excellent value in drafts. I wouldn’t get cute and wait to land him 45 LBs into the draft. I’d probably look to target him in the LB35 range. In big play leagues you can’t help but give Clay Matthews a big bump, but in tackle heavy/neutral leagues, unless they are best-ball leagues, it’d be best to leave Matthews for someone else to draft.

Secondary
Morgan Burnett signed a big extension with the Packers this offseason. That wasn’t the only big news surrounding the Packers secondary. The other bit of big news was that Charles Woodson was released and signed with the Raiders. Fantasy wise, Burnett is still the DB to own, but with an ADP of DB1, I’m not buying. Sure, Burnett can finish as a top-5 DB, even DB1, but I think you’ll be better off addressing other positions in round 10 or 11 which is where his ADP has him being selected. In CB mandatory leagues, I like Casey Hayward as a player you should be able to get rather late and has some nice upside.

Minnesota Vikings

HC: Leslie Frazier
DC: Alan Williams
Base Defensive Scheme: 4-3
Scheme Change: No

Defensive Line
Jared Allen can be a beast, but last year it looks like Adrian Peterson hoarded all the Vikings beast pills. In 2012, Allen had the fewer than 40 tackles for the 1st time since 2004 and his sack total dropped by half from 22 in 2011 to 11 in 2012. Even then, he still ranked as DL16. Allen’s best years very well may be behind him, but he still has a top-5 ADP (DL5). I’ve been on the Allen train a very long time – so long ago that I traded Dwight Freeney for LJ Smith and Allen. But now, I think it is time to realize that Allen is no longer the no-brainer DL1. I won’t be shocked if he ends the year as a DL1, but there’s enough risk with him that I can’t in good conscience invest in him as early as you would need to in order to own him.

Linebacker
Chad Greenway – SLB extraordinaire – finished as LB4 in 2012. If you think that is fluke, it wasn’t, in 2011 he finished as LB7 and in 2010 was LB4. Most SLB’s struggle to put up consistent fantasy numbers, especially big ones, but not Greenway.  Considering his track record, it’s a bit shocking that he has an ADP of LB14. That might seem like Greenway is a value in drafts, but I do have concerns about his production this year. Not due to his skill set, but the fact he’ll have Desmond Bishop to contend with for tackles. That is unless a groin injury keeps Bishop from making the Vikings 53 man roster. If Bishop doesn’t then I like Greenway at his current value, but if he does then I don’t hate it, but it’s not as attractive.

Secondary
In 2012, two Vikings defensive backs finished in top-10 in fantasy scoring. Veteran Antoine Winfield finished 7th and rookie Harrison Smith finished 6th.  Winfield, after playing for the Vikings for the past nine seasons is now playing in the great northwest for the Seahawks. That leaves Smith as the lone viable fantasy option for IDPers. Smith has a very high ADP of DB2, but if the Vikings offense struggles, like it very well could this year, then Smith very well could outperform his lofty ADP. But as is the common theme with my DB stance, I just can’t see taking the risk on a DB that high in drafts.

Scoring system used for this article: solo tackle (2), assisted tackle (1), sack (3), forced or recovered fumble (3), interception (3) and pass defended (1).


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