Training Camp Preview: NFC North

Fri Jul 26 9:16am ET
By JEFF PAUR
Sr Fantasy Writer

Rodgers played hurt last year


This is the sixth preview in a series of training camp previews. We will continue to release the previews throughout the week. The previews give you a quick look at each team, going over position battles and injuries to watch in camp. The season is right around the corner.

Packers

The Packers have a new coaching staff for the first time in a long time. This means the team has to learn a new offense and defense for the coming year. This will be the big theme of training camp for Green Bay. Aaron Rodgers has a new offense to learn for the first time in his entire career, so there could be a learning curve for him. Keep an eye on the team’s progress during camp. There could be some bumps along the way.

Position battle: The big position battle in Packers camp is for the right to start opposite Davante Adams. The two most likely candidates are Geronimo Allison and Marquez Valdes-Scantling. The Packers have a lot of young receiver vying for playing time but these two players stand out above the rest. Many think Valdes-Scantling is the most likely to earn the job but don’t discount Allison, who has produced with past chances. The winner of this job will have some fantasy value for the coming year in the Packers pass-first offense. 

Injury watch: Aaron Rodgers played the entire season last year, but was hurt much of the year. He played at less than 100 percent because of a tibial plateau fracture and a sprained medial collateral ligament. It is pretty amazing he was able to play with these injuries. He is recovered from the injuries but his health is really a key to the Packers season. He played hurt last year and was limited to just seven games the previous year. Injuries have been a factor for him in recent years.

Vikings

There were high hopes for the Vikings last year with Kirk Cousins now on board as their franchise quarterback, but things didn’t go quite as planned. Cousins had an up and down season and the team followed his lead with inconsistent play. Minnesota will look to right the ship this training camp. Much of the year might depend on Cousins. He will need to play more consistent football if the Vikings hope to return to the playoffs. Cousins has a new offense to learn but could be a better fit for the system, which bodes well for him. We will get our first look at Cousins and the new offense, starting in camp. 

Position battle: The Vikings surprised some by using a second-round pick on tight end Irv Smith in this year’s draft. Smith is a pretty complete tight end that does well as a blocker and receiver. He will look to push Kyle Rudolph for the starting job this year. Rudolph has produced for the Vikings in recent year but probably hasn’t been the player the team hoped. He could lose out on playing time to the rookie this year.

Injury watch: Running back Dalvin Cook has played 15 games in two seasons. He missed time again last year after missing nearly all of his rookie year. Cook has really struggled to stay on the field to start his career. He seems to be over his hamstring injury from last year, though, and should be 100 percent for the start of the camp. The trick for Cook is now staying healthy for the entire season. We’ll see if he is able to do that. 

Lions

Detroit had a season to forget last year, finishing 6-10. The team is in a bit of rebuild mode after trading and letting some key players from past teams go. Some younger players will get their chance to shine this year, though, so much of this camp should focus on the progress of those young players. Can guys like Kerryon Johnson and Kenny Golladay take their games to new levels this year? The Lions sure hope that is the case, giving them a chance to shine this year. 

Position battle: The Lions made some changes at tight end this offseason, signing Jesse James and drafting T.J. Hockenson. Both these guys will challenge for the right to start. James might have the edge because of his experience, but Hockenson is the future of the position for the Lions. He should be given every opportunity to start because he provides the most potential for big things. James can be a bigger asset as a blocker. 

Injury watch: Quarterback Matthew Stafford played every game last season but played with a back injury much of the year. He reportedly played with broken bones in his back, which could explain his down play. Stafford didn’t play at his usual level, struggling with accuracy and consistency. He should be over his back injury for the start of this year but keep an eye on him in camp to make sure he looks back to old form. Stafford could be a sneaky late pick for fantasy teams this year if he is healthy and back to his old self. 

Bears

The Bears had a great season last year, going 12-4. Expectations are going to be very high for this team and with good reason. It is a pretty complete squad. The big thing to watch this training camp could be the progression of starting quarterback Mitchell Trubisky, though. He played well last year but had some consistency issues. If the Bears truly hope to be a special team, they will need Trubisky to play at a high level all season. 

Position battle: The Bears will have a battle on their hands for the starting running back job. The team signed Mike Davis this offseason and drafted David Montgomery. These guys will battle it out for the right to start. Davis had a breakout season last year with the Seahawks, showing he could start and produce at a high level in the league. Montgomery is a three-down back that can carry the load. He probably has the edge to start but don’t discount Davis. He just made plays when given the chance last season. 

Injury watch: Tight end Trey Burton had hernia surgery this offseason. He should be ready for the start of camp but nothing is 100 percent certain right now. Keep an eye on his progress to make sure he doesn’t have any setbacks. Burton can play a big role in the offense, an offense that likes to look for the tight end. He didn’t have quite the season as expected last year but could turn things around this year in year two with the Bears.

Jeff Paur is a two-time finalist for FSWA Fantasy Football Writer of the Year and won the FSWA award for Best Fantasy Football Article on the Web in 2011. He also was the most accurate expert in 2012, winning the FSTA Fantasy Football Accuracy Award. If you have any questions for Jeff, email him at jeff@rtsports.com. Follow Jeff on Twitter @jeffpaur.

Player Notes
Matthew Stafford Oct 15 8:10am ET

Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford finished with 265 yards on 18-for-32 passing in the loss to the Packers on Monday. The veteran still played relatively well despite failing to throw a touchdown and had it not been for rookie mistakes from tight end T.J. Hockenson, the story would have been different. With Week 6 in the books, things will get tougher for Stafford against a tough Vikings Defense on Sunday.

From RotoBaller

Jimmy Graham Oct 15 7:30am ET

Green Bay Packers tight end Jimmy Graham pulled in just two of his five targets for 17 yards during the Monday night win over the Lions. With Marquez Valdes-Scantling (leg) and Geronimo Allison (concussion, chest) both missing some time in this one, fantasy managers were hoping for an increase in production. That did not happen. If Davante Adams (toe), Allison, or Valdes-Scantling miss more time moving ahead, look for Graham to see a slight uptick in looks from Aaron Rodgers. However, continue to expect the worst and hope for the best from week-to-week.

From RotoBaller

Marquez Valdes-Scantling Oct 15 7:20am ET

Green Bay Packers wide receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling finished with two catches for 48 yards in the win over the Lions on Monday night. Valdes-Scantling would briefly exit this one after injuring his leg but would return to haul in a 46-yard catch to offset his lack of fantasy progress up to that point. With Davante Adams (toe) and Geronimo Allison (concussion, chest) potentially not playing against the Raiders on Sunday, the 25-year-old could see an increased role in Week 7.

From RotoBaller

Geronimo Allison Oct 15 7:20am ET

Green Bay Packers wide receiver Geronimo Allison (concussion, chest) hauled in three catches (seven targets) for 40 yards in the win over the Lions on Monday night. After leading the way in looks from quarterback Aaron Rodgers, the 25-year-old would exit the game prematurely in the second half. He did not return. With Allison's status for Sunday's showdown with the Raiders in question, fantasy managers will want to monitor his progress throughout the week.

From RotoBaller

Jamaal Williams Oct 15 7:00am ET

Green Bay Packers running back Jamaal Williams ran for 104 yards on 14 carries to go along with four catches in the win over the Lions. After Aaron Jones fumbled and dropped a wide-open pass from Aaron Rodgers that would have led to a score, Williams was inserted and made the most of it. Though the 24-year-old will likely continue as the No. 1 option out of the backfield, Williams may have some value against the Raiders on Sunday. If Davante Adams (toe), Geronimo Allison (concussion, chest), or Marquez Valdes-Scantling (leg) aren't able to suit up in Week 7, look for Jones to get more looks as a receiver, with Williams coming in for relief, especially on rushing downs.

From RotoBaller

Aaron Jones Oct 15 6:30am ET

Green Bay Packers running back Aaron Jones ran for 47 yards on 11 carries in addition to four receptions for 13 yards in the win over the Lions. It was a much different performance than the four-touchdown outing that Jones had against the Cowboys in Week 5, and while it wasn't a horrible performance, he did fumble and drop a wide-open, 33-yard toss from Aaron Rodgers that would have led to a score. Jamal Williams did get some touches, rushing for 104 yards on 14 carries to go along with a few receptions after Jones hit the sidelines, but expect the 24-year-old to reclaim his role as the No. 1 option against the Raiders in Week 7.

From RotoBaller

Aaron Rodgers Oct 15 6:10am ET

Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers went 22-for-39 for 283 yards and a touchdown in the narrow win over the Lions on Monday night. Though he did throw an interception, it was an acceptable performance for the signal-caller who was without top receiver Devante Adams (toe), while also dealing with the in-game losses of Marquez Valdes-Scantling (leg) and Geronimo Allison (concussion, chest). Despite the injuries on the offensive end, Rodgers' outlook against the Raiders in Week 7 is still promising.

From RotoBaller

Rashaad Penny Oct 14 9:03pm ET

Seattle Seahawks RB Rashaad Penny (hamstring) should be a full participant during practice Wednesday, Oct. 16, according to head coach Pete Carroll.

Fantasy Spin: Penny was held out of the Week 6 game but likely will be available for Week 7. He will receive a handful of carries if he plays but may only be a flex option in deeper leagues because of the matchup.

From TheHuddle

Mitch Trubisky Oct 14 8:23pm ET

Chicago Bears QB Mitchell Trubisky (elbow) participated in practice Monday, Oct. 14.

Fantasy Spin: Trubisky has been sidelined for a few weeks but appears to have a decent chance to play in Week 7. He would be facing a tough New Orleans Saints defense if he is active and could be benched in leagues if fantasy players have better options.

From TheHuddle

Todd Gurley Oct 14 8:23pm ET

Los Angeles Rams RB Todd Gurley (quadriceps) hopefully will be available to play in the Week 7 game, according to head coach Sean McVay.

Fantasy Spin: Fantasy players will need to monitor the situation during the week to see if Gurley will be able to practice this week. He likely would have a favorable matchup if he is able to play and would be a starting option in leagues.

From TheHuddle

Stephon Tuitt Oct 14 8:13pm ET

Pittsburgh Steelers DE Stephon Tuitt (pectoral) has been diagnosed with a torn pectoral muscle and will miss the rest of the 2019 season. He will undergo surgery in the near future.

From TheHuddle

Dre Kirkpatrick Oct 14 8:03pm ET

Cincinnati Bengals CB Dre Kirkpatrick (knee) is expected to miss around four weeks because of a hyperextended knee, according to sources. He is scheduled to meet with a doctor Tuesday, Oct. 14, to confirm the diagnosis.

From TheHuddle

Nathan Stupar Oct 14 7:53pm ET

New York Giants LB Nathan Stupar was released Monday, Oct. 14.

From TheHuddle

Amari Cooper Oct 14 7:43pm ET

Updating a previous report, Dallas Cowboys WR Amari Cooper's (quadriceps) quadriceps injury is no worse than it was for the last two weeks, but his status for Week 7 is uncertain, according to a source.

Fantasy Spin: Fantasy players will need to monitor Cooper's practice participation during the week to have a better idea on his status for Week 7. Cooper is a solid starting fantasy option when healthy, but players will need other options ready is case he does not play.

From TheHuddle

Laquon Treadwell Oct 14 7:30pm ET

Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Laquon Treadwell caught his only target for 15 yards in Week 6's 38-20 win over the Philadelphia Eagles. Treadwell played 7-of-71 (10%) offensive snaps operating as the fourth receiver and hasn't been in on more than 15% of snaps in a game since being re-signed prior to Week 4. Treadwell will likely continue to work in as the fourth receiver moving forward but won't offer any fantasy value with his very limited role in the offense.

From RotoBaller

Kyle Rudolph Oct 14 7:30pm ET

Minnesota Vikings tight end caught 3-of-3 targets for 36 yards in a Week 6 win over the Philadelphia Eagles. This was Rudolph's best game this season by quite a large margin, which just reinforces that he can't be trusted as a starting tight end even with the position being as shallow as it is. He played in 68-of-71 (96%) offensive snaps and had the third-most targets this week, but he still possesses a low weekly floor and ceiling with his lack of red-zone usage. Rudolph is only a desperation play as a TE2 heading into Week 7's road game against the Detroit Lions.

From RotoBaller

Danny Amendola Oct 14 7:13pm ET

Detroit Lions WR Danny Amendola (chest) is officially active for the team's Week 6 game.

Fantasy Spin: Amendola posted 104 yards in Week 1 but has posted only 34 combined yards in his other two games this season. He probably will see a handful of targets this week but can be avoided in most leagues.

From TheHuddle

Cam Newton Oct 14 6:53pm ET

Carolina Panthers QB Cam Newton (foot) is making good progress in his recovery and is expected to return to practice after the team's Week 7 bye, according to a source.

Fantasy Spin: Kyle Allen has won each of the last four games with Newton hurt, so it is not known if Newton will regain his starting job when he is healthy. Fantasy players will need to monitor the situation over the next few weeks to see if Allen or Newton will be the starting quarterback.

From TheHuddle

Davante Adams Oct 14 6:53pm ET

The Green Bay Packers have declared OL Adam Pankey, TE Robert Tonyan, S Darnell Savage, WR Davante Adams, CB Tony M. Brown, RB Dexter Williams and OT Cole Madison inactive for Week 6.

From TheHuddle

Quandre Diggs Oct 14 6:53pm ET

The Detroit Lions have declared CB Amani Oruwariye, DL Mike Daniels, OG Beau Benzschawel, DE Da'Shawn Hand, OT Oday Aboushi, CB Quandre Diggs and QB David Blough inactive for Week 6.

From TheHuddle