Rookie Fantasy Impact: NFC North

Another exciting NFL Draft has come and gone, and fans are either excited about the future of their team or want to put a paper bag over their head. If you have a bag over your head, please take it off for a bit because we will be looking at the immediate and long-term value of all the offensive skill position rookies taken in the draft. First up is the NFC North.

Chicago Bears

Draft Picks: Anthony Miller-WR(2nd), Javon Wims-WR(7th)

Fantasy Impact: The Chicago Bears entered the 2018 offseason with glaring needs at the WR position. They have since added the top free agent WR target in Allen Robinson and added depth with Taylor Gabriel and Bennie Fowler. However, this does not rule out the chance that Miller and Wims can have an immediate impact for fantasy owners. Miller stands to see his early reps out of the slot and is talented enough to win the job outright. If he can win that job outright, he stands to be a solid contributor in Matt Nagy’s offense. Last season Albert Wilson was able to garner 62 targets out of the slot and converted that into a nice payday in free agency.

An interesting storyline to watch is the way Nagy will compensate for his lack of receiving options out of the backfield. The Chiefs used their RBs heavily in the passing game, and the Bears’ only real threat out of the backfield is Tarik Cohen. Anthony Miller lined up in the backfield for Memphis regularly and could be utilized as a trick weapon in that same way for the Bears. As for Javon Wims, the role is not as clear. It is hard to expect a late round pick to contribute right away but Wims has shown the ability to be the go-to guy in college. His size and ability to win contested throws should at least get him some red zone looks during the season.

Future Outlook:  Both Miller and Wims have landed in an advantageous position. The WR group is not very deep, so both stand to have a shot at being in the rotation early, Miller more so than Wims. The Bears also have serious injury concerns surrounding their top two WRs, Robinson and White. The rookies are one injury away from getting more work than expected in their first year. Overall, neither guy has much value in standard or redraft leagues. However, Miller has value in rookie keeper and Devy leagues. Wims should only be rostered in deep Devy leagues as a “sneaky play.”

Green Bay Packers

Draft Picks: J’Mon Moore-WR(4th), Marquez Valdes Scantling-WR(5th), Equanimeous St. Brown-WR(6th)

Fantasy Impact: The Packers are in the midst of a talent restock at the WR position. The Packers will have a large hole to fill as they released Jordy Nelson over the offseason and, to a lesser extent, allowed Jeff Janis to leave. They will also have a decision to make on Randall Cobb, who is a free agent after the 2018 season.

In the draft, the Packers did not attempt to hide their desire to get taller and faster at the WR position. By drafting J’Mon Moore, Equanimeous St. Brown and Martez Valdes-Scantling, they will have one of the fastest and tallest receiving groups in the NFL. All three stand 6’3” or taller, and all three put up very good 40 times at the combine, 4.6, 4.48 and 4.37 respectively. In this pass-heavy offense all three stand to see playing time and contribute early. Who steps in and eats up the Nelson production is anybody’s guess.

Future Outlook:  Of the three rookies, J’Mon Moore might initially find himself as the odd man out. Moore struggles to get off the jam against physical DBs and is slow out of his stance. These issues make him more of a development WR despite being the first WR taken by Green Bay. Given this offense, he should be rostered in Devy leagues.

On the flip side, St. Brown does well getting out of his stance and will effectively fight to get free from jams. However, he is the type of receiver that needs an accurate QB to make him successful because he struggles to adjust to badly placed throws. Luckily Green Bay has a guy named Aaron Rodgers to help with that issue. St. Brown’s deep speed and size will make him a very interesting piece in this offense that likes to stretch the field. St. Brown should be a late-round gamble in standard and keeper leagues and may be a must in Devy formats.  

The sleeper for Green Bay will be Martez Valdes-Scantling. Valdes-Scantling made a name for himself at the combine, but his amazing offseason started at the NFLPA Bowl, where he showed off very good route running ability and hands. Of the three WRs Green Bay selected, he may be the best at those skills as well. Valdes-Scantling could be a surprising contributor early and is worth the gamble taking him a little higher in all formats.

Detroit Lions

Draft Picks: Kerryon Johnson-RB(2nd)

Fantasy Impact: I believe the term for the Lions backfield is called RB hell for fantasy owners. The Lions will enter the season with an RB rotation of Theo Riddick, Ameer Abdullah, LeGarrette Blount and Kerryon Johnson. While Aameer Abdullah has been disappointing as a starter he enters camp fully healthy for the first time in two years. He is also in his contract year and has extra incentive to have a huge season. This didn’t seem to convince the Lions of his dependability since they signed LeGarrette Blount to a 1-year contract. Blount is coming off a great performance in the Super Bowl and is joining up with a Head a Coach he is very familiar with in Matt Patricia.  

Blount will be used heavily in the RB committee and can easily step into the lead back role if Abdullah struggles early. The Lions love Theo Riddick and he is well solidified as the pass-catching back for them as he has racked up almost 200 receptions over the last 3 seasons. Where does that leave Johnson? Looks like a sit and learn year for him. Does he have the talent to be the starter? Yes. Will I gamble on him to win me a fantasy championship? No.

Future Outlook: Despite landing in “RB hell,” Johnson does carry value in some leagues. Owners in keeper and dynasty formats should take a long look at Johnson. Luckily for Johnson, both Abdullah and Blount’s contracts end after this season, so his stay in purgatory won’t be a long one. Johnson can very well be the feature back in Detroit to start the 2019 season. His value will still be slightly hindered by Riddick eating up the passing downs but he has shown receiving ability and should get some of that pie. Johnson’s “breakout” year could be in 2020 when Riddick is in his final year and he may be getting groomed to be a 3 down feature back.


Draft Picks: Tyler Conklin-TE(5th)

Fantasy Impact: Conklin is a talented, do it all type TE that has landed in a tough spot for fantasy owners. His value will be held back since Rudolph is still the big dog in Minnesota and will get the vast majority of targets for them during the season. Minnesota’s new OC, John DeFilippo, does come from a system that did utilize more than one tight end. So he should see some production in his first year, but not enough to justify using a roster spot on him for the coming year.

Future Outlook:  I wish things got better for Conklin here, but they didn’t. Kyle Rudolph is signed all the way through 2020 and is still a central figure in this offense. Owners should still monitor the situation in the long run since Rudolph is getting up in age and had a dip in production last year.

Thank you for reading. You can find me on Twitter @TonyG_DevyScout. Let me know your thoughts the rookies that the NFC North added this season.

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Aspiring NFL scout Cert through @SMWW NFL Draft Writer for @DFF_Devy #DFFArmy #DevyWatch #NFLDraft Engineer of Isaiah Wynn/AMiller/JWilkins/JScott Hype Train. @TonyG_DevyScout

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