Saturday, August 25, 2007

Top Fantasy Stars: NFC North

Chicago Bears:

1. Cedric Benson-RB- Finally free of the timeshare with Thomas Jones, Benson is set to carry the load for the Bears for the first time. There have been huge expectations for him since he was drafted 4th overall and he showed a glimpse of reaching that potential last year by scoring 6 times. However, there are serious questions about his durability. He'll be taken by late in the second round as an RB1 and will be good fall back option for those who wish to draft another position with their first pick.

2. Bernard Berrian-WR- Berrian is a speedster who can break a game open on any pass thrown to him. He looks to supplant Mushin Muhammed this season as Chicago's top receiving threat. In addition to his 15.2 yards per catch last year, he also racked up 775 yards and 6 touchdowns. Take as your WR3 by late in the 9th round and he will provide good depth to your squad.

3. Chicago Defense-Def- Chicago, along with Baltimore, is one of the only defenses worth reaching for. They led the league in Forced fumbles last season, were second in interceptions and third in Points per Game Allowed. If your league awards points for Special Teams play, Chicago has the ever dangerous Devin Hester returning it's kicks (5 returned for touchdowns last season). You'll have to take them no later than the early ninth round (and, in many cases, before then) but you won't be disappointed if you do.

Bargain Bin: Mushin Muhammed-WR- Though he's 34 years old and entering the downside of his career, "Moose" is still a fantasy force. He caught 60 balls last year to go with 5 touchdowns. His stock may be dropping because of the youthful presence of Berrian, but you can still get him in the later rounds as a fine reserve WR.

Detroit Lions:

1. Roy Williams-WR- He's been a bit overshadowed by the arrival of Calvin Johnson, but many forget that Williams is still the number one wide receiver for the Lions. He had an excellent season last year, recording 82 catches for 1,310 yards and 7 touchdowns. He's also healthy for the first time in awhile. Take advantage of the CJ smokescreen, grab Williams by the beginning of the 4th round as your WR1 and watch him outscore several of the bigger name receivers taken ahead of him.

2. Calvin Johnson-WR- It's rare that a rookie WR makes an immediate impact in the NFL Johnson is one of those rare individuals who can do just that. Not only is he blessed with wish-list size (6'4, 237lbs), he has speed , agility and fantastic hands as well. His value in a Keeper league is off the chart, but in a yearly league, you'll need to take him by the early part of the sixth round as your WR2.

3. Tatum Bell-RB- Bell, fresh from his timeshare in Denver, gets a chance to start all over again in Detroit. With Kevin Jones still being affected by his Lisfranc Sprain injury, Bell has the opportunity to shine as an unquestioned starting running back. While he earned 1,025 rushing yards in part time work last season, his low touchdown total (2) is worrisome since the Lions also have renowned goal line vulture TJ Duckett on their roster. Since he's potentially has a starting gig, he'll be gone before the seventh round is done, but don't expect more than RB3/Flex player stats from him.

Bargain Bin: Jon Kitna-QB- Kitna must believe he has died and gone to heaven with the amount of options he has available to him. The only thing that limits him from reaching top ten status is his propensity for turning over the ball. With Williams, Johnson and Furrey catching his throws, Kitna is worthy of being drafted by the eight round as a QB2 or a solid Reserve.

Green Bay Packers:

1. Donald Driver-WR- Driver has proven his critics wrong, flourishing as the Packer's number one receiver since Javon Walker left. His reception and yardage totals have all steadily improved the past three years and he is Brett Favre's unquestioned Go To Guy. On the downside, he's 32 years old and just suffered a sprained foot which will keep him out of action for an indeterminate amount of time. If you're willing to roll the dice, taking him in sixth round as a low end WR1 or a high WR2 could pay very nice dividends.

2. Brandon Jackson-RB- Jackson looks like he'll be the main ball carrier for the Packers this year with Vernand Morency being injured in preseason. A second round pick from Nebraska, he possesses a nice blend of speed and strength. One drawback to his potential thus far has been his struggles to pick up the backfield blocking assignments. That should improve as he gains more experience and Jackson is worth taking in the sixth round as an RB3/Flex player.

3. Greg Jennings-WR- Jennings is a speed demon who started last year on fire then tailed off after injury woes took their toll. He is a very nice compliment to Driver, snagging 45 balls for three touchdowns in his rookie campaign. His role could expand this year though he will be pushed by rookie James Jones for playing time. He makes a nice pick in the tenth round as a good WR3.

Bargain Bin: Brett Favre-QB- It may be hard to believe that one of the best quarterbacks in NFL history could be overlooked in a draft. Favre may be chronologically old (he'll turn 38 during the season), but he still approaches the game with the enthusiasm of a rookie. You can find him late in the draft as a great backup to your starting QB.

Minnesota Vikings:

1. Adrian Peterson-RB- Peterson has had an excellent preseason, flashing the skills that made him a first round pick. He is expected to supplant the more experienced Chester Taylor simply due to his potential. However, Peterson is a bit of an injury risk and does play for the woeful, offensively challenged Vikings. Defenses will be stacking the box against him early and often, so take him no sooner than the 4th round as your RB2.

2. Chester Taylor-RB- Taylor must have been the only Viking who was unhappy to hear the news that Peterson had been drafted. He probably figured his fine season of 1,216 rushing yards and six touchdowns last year would ensure that he'd be the starter again this year. Such is life in the NFL, but with Peterson's injury history, Taylor will still see plenty of work. Look to draft him in the eight round as an RB3/Flex player and hope for the best.

3. Tarvaris Jackson-QB- Jackson does have a rifle for an arm and fleet feet, so the potential to create some semblance of offense is present. However, he has a mostly unproven WR corps to work with and his decision making ability is still very much in it's infancy. Still, he has an enviable situation with an excellent offensive line and a top notch backfield to take some of the pressure off of him. Don't draft him, but keep an eye on him as the season progresses.

Bargain Bin: Troy Williamson-WR- Williamson has been labeled a major bust since being drafted in the first round in 2005. On the bright side, he did improve his catch totals from his rookie season and is entering his third year in the league, giving a small reason to hope for a better performance. No Viking WR is draftable, but give a glance towards Williamson on the waiver wire every now and then to see how he's progressing.

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