Over the next few weeks, myself and @DFF_JamesH will be bringing you a potential sleeper pick (both offensive and IDP) and a player to avoid for every team in the NFL. I will be focusing on the NFC, while James concentrates on the AFC. James already reviewed the AFC North last week
I will be starting this series in the NFC North. If you find this useful, please check back regularly for the next division.
Green Bay Packers
My sleeper for the Green Bay Packers coincides with my player to avoid. Geronimo Allison showed flashes towards the end of the year filling in for an injured Randall Cobb in weeks 16 and 17 with 8 catches for 157 yards and a TD. The Packers are stacked at wide receiver but will find a way to get him on the field in 2017 and especially beyond. With more playing time, I could see him as a flex option while Jordy is still around and a WR2 afterward.
This is probably an unpopular pick, but I’m looking to avoid Jordy Nelson this year. I’m big on selling him high this offseason as he turns another year older, turning 32 years old in May. Jordy wins with speed, and that speed will start to diminish soon. After putting up an unexpected monster year in 2016, I’m selling all shares and avoiding his cost this offseason.
Looking at the Packers defense for an IDP sleeper I keep coming back to Jake Ryan. After an impressive 2016 with 82 tackles in 14 games, I see him putting up even better numbers in this season. Ryan, going into his third NFL season out of Michigan, should anchor the middle of the defense and be that tackling machine in the middle for the Packers.
The Lions passing offense was deadly at times last year while the running game never got going. They used numerous running backs either because of injury or because of the lack of efficiency. That’s where Ameer Abdullah comes in. I see him as the sleeper pick for the Detroit Lions and leading all Detroit running backs in fantasy points in 2017. His season was cut short in 2016, but I see a bounce back sophomore year. The Lions signing of two new offensive tackles this offseason also improves the running game and offense in general. Abdullah’s ADP in the 4 mock drafts run by Dynasty Football Factory’s @FFBlitz is 88 since January 1st, 2017. That’s a great value for a starting running back in the league. After the draft, it’s clear that he will be the starter going into 2017 season.
This might be the toughest decision of the article here, none of the offensive players for the Lions cost too much to acquire. The earlier player going in DFF’s mock draft is Golden Tate at 72. My choice for a player to avoid is Theo Riddick because I don’t think he is the only pass-catching running back on the roster anymore. With Abdullah coming back from injury, he should see plenty targets out of the backfield.
Not only will Abdullah eat into his targets but also his carries. Riddick set a career-high 92 carries last season, 43 was his previous high, and the biggest reason for that was the loss of Abdullah. I could see Riddick’s carries cut in half in the 2017 season. It took just one game in 2016 to show Abdullah’s versatility in this offense, gaining 63 yards on the ground while catching 5 passes for 57 yards and a touchdown. I see more of this happening in 2016 with him being the focal point of the offense in the backfield.
My choice for IDP sleeper is Miles Killebrew. He didn’t make a huge impact in 2016, but I liked this kid coming out of college last year. I think he makes a big jump this year and becomes that box safety who racks up a ton of tackles for years to come.
After a disastrous rookie year, Laquon Treadwell’s value is so low that I’m buying all shares of him that I can. He struggled from the get-go, failing to make a presence in training camp or the preseason. From there it got worse where he was a healthy scratch for games, playing in just 9 of the 16 games in 2016, and recorded just one catch for 15 yards on the season. Things can’t get worse than, barring injury, and therefore I consider him to be a great sleeper in an offense that should be improving with the addition of Latavius Murray and 2 new offensive tackles.
Looking at their running game, I’m avoiding Jerick Mckinnon. After a solid 2014, while Adrian Peterson served his suspension, Mckinnon has failed to do much on the field to make him a legit threat. He catches the ball well out of the backfield, but that’s about it. I don’t see him as a big-time contributor on a team that signed Latavius Murray. Along with signing Murray, they drafted Dalvin Cook in the second round of the 2017 draft which muddies the waters for Mckinnon even more.
After a disappointing year in 2016 where his coach called him out publicly, I think that Anthony Barr makes a significant impact in 2017. Although Barr didn’t make as big as impact in 2016, his numbers were on par for his career. Over his first 2 years, Barr has averaged 69 tackles and averaging 3.75 sacks per year. In 2017 he finished with 70 tackles and 2 sacks. I feel he has a next level of his game and hope to see that in 2017. I think this is the year he takes the next step and alongside Eric Kendricks, they should form a great duo on an already impressive defense.
I’m not sure that this pick is truly a sleeper because his value is all over the place, but I’m becoming a big fan of Cameron Meredith especially at his ADP of 92. Meredith splashed last year with Jeffrey out, catching 66 passes for 888 yards and showed that he has talent that could make him an asset especially if you can get him at his ADP. A converted QB, Meredith is just learning the WR position, and that adds to the intrigue of him.
I just can’t buy the hype on Kevin White, not until he proves he can both stay healthy and contribute on the field. I’m avoiding him this year, and that’s just another reason why I am high on Meredith. White has played just 4 games in 2 years as a pro because of injuries; I don’t see him being the #1 WR in Chicago this year even though he is getting drafted well before Meredith. White is currently going off the board at 80, 12 spots in front of Meredith.
Looking on the defensive side of the ball for Chicago, I have Eddie Goldman as my IDP sleeper. Goldman, who was the Bears second round pick in 2015, failed to stay on the field last year. He missed 10 games because of numerous injuries, and therefore his stock has fallen. The Bears appear to be better on defense and Goldman should be that run-stuffing defensive tackle that they need.
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