by on August 13, 2019

NFC North Fantasy Football Preview: Vikings players to consider drafting Preseason games are about to get in full swing and it’s a glorious time of year. We’re still going through the NFC North to look at players whom you might want to keep an eye on to see where their fantasy football value is trending. We’ve already looked at the Detroit Lions and Chicago Bears that you can check out here:Avoid these Detroit Lions players in your early draftsDetroit Lions players you should consider draftingChicago Bears players to avoid in early roundsChicago Bears players to targetThese players can either be trending towards fantasy relevance or complete irrelevance. This article addresses players who are in the former group. We’ll look at three fantasy options from the Minnesota Vikings whom I would not hesitate to use draft capital on http://www.packerslockerroom.com/authentic-aaron-jones-jersey , whether that’s for a redraft league or for a dynasty league. We’ve already looked at players to avoid on the Vikings as well, so let’s look at the more appealing options. Fantasy season is just around the corner, and it’s time to start building those big boards.Vikings DefenseThe strongest unit for the Vikings, much like last season, is still the defense. Their front adds Sheldon Richardson to go along with Linval Joseph, Everson Griffen and Danielle Hunter. If Andrew Sendejo doesn’t get suspended for being a fool, their secondary unit is still rock solid. Trae Waynes will still need to prove he’s not a pass interference waiting to happen, but they also added DB Mike Hughes from Central Florida who could be a low-key DROY candidate. According to CBS Fantasy sports, the Vikings D finished 9th in points scored among defenses last season, but owns the third overall spot for three-year averages. Remember— it’s not just the defense that you have to keep an eye on, but also the special teams prowess of each respective defense. If there’s a weakness for the Vikings, it’s the kick return and punt return ability. The Vikings weren’t able to return a kick or punt for a touchdown last season. If they can make a little more magic happen there, then they only become more valuable.Defenses are often hard to gauge for when you should jump on one during drafts. They’re a 9th-round ADP currently and should be right up there consistently in drafts with the Jaguars, Rams, and Eagles.Kyle Rudolph, TEKyle Rudolph isn’t often mentioned among the top TEs in the league, but he’s very much like Jason Witten; he’s consistent. Both those tight ends have had the same number of average targets over the past three seasons (95), and nearly the same average amount of receptions, yards and yards per catch. Where they vary is TD reception averages. Rudolph has averaged seven over the past three years compared to four from Witten. The best stat for Rudolph over those past three years is that he hasn’t missed a game in those years. That is really great stuff if you’re used to drafting Gronkowski or Zach Ertz. Now, Rudolph’s ceiling isn’t as high as theirs, but he’s consistently been on the field.I mentioned in a separate article that Stefon Diggs’ target share could take a hit because of all the weapons and that was primarily due to Kirk Cousins being his best in two-TE sets. This always made Jordan Reed an interesting fantasy option in Washington, but unlike Rudolph, Reed has never played a full season. Per Pro Football Reference, Rudolph saw his targets take a dramatic dip from 2016 to 2017, going from 132 to 81. If the Vikings o-line improves— reducing Rudolph’s need to help block— then he could see an uptick in targets.Dalvin Cook, RBThis suggestion is more of a don’t-forget-about-Dalvin situation than it is a question about his talent. Ever since he was at Florida State, Cook has had a knack for ripping off big plays and that’s exactly what you want in a young running back today; those bursts of explosion that signal consistently high yards per touch. If it takes Cousins a while to mesh with the offense once the hitting starts Bart Starr Jersey White , Cook could be the respite early on. Before losing the majority of his rookie season to injury, Dalvin Cook played the first month of the season averaging 4.8 yards per carry and 88 rushing yards per game. Throw in his 8.2 yards per reception average and he was pumping out 5.2 yards every time he touched the ball. Had he not gotten injured, we could have seen Cook make vast improvements and join Kareem Hunt and Alvin Kamara in the rookie of the year conversation. Currently, Fantasy Football Calculator has Cook as the 10th ranked running back, so, again, this is just a reminder to keep an eye on him since we didn’t get to see what a full season of Cook was like. Also, be wary of the Vikings offensive line. They’re down three starters in training camp and that could effect how well the unit gels early in the season. They haven’t made any discernible improvements on the line over the past year so that’s worrisome. The Green Bay Packers had their worst season in recent memory in 2018, and somehow they did so while having a full season of Aaron Rodgers under center. This weekend, we’ll look at the overall numbers for the team on offense, defense, and special teams in an effort to try to identify the critical pathways to turning the team’s record around in 2019.Today, we’ll start with the offense.Conventional StatsOverallOverall, the Packers still managed to finish in the top half of NFL offenses in points and yards, ranking 14th and 12th respectively. They turned the football over just 15 times, second-fewest in the league.Third downs were an obvious problem, however. The Packers converted just 36.8% of their third downs, ranking 23rd in the NFL. They did finish above-average in converting touchdowns in the red zone at a 61.7% rate, but they had just 47 attempts, ranking them 21st in that area.PassingAs a result of a combination of factors, the Packers finished the 2018 with the third-most pass attempts of any NFL team, throwing the ball 640 times. Aaron Rodgers finished sixth in the NFL in passing yards with 4,442, but he was a startlingly low 21st in touchdown percentage at just 4.2% of attempts. Rodgers did lead the NFL in interception rate, throwing just two picks all year for a rate of 0.3%. However, where Rodgers once excelled — yards per attempt — he finished just 17th this year at 7.4. That was Eli Manning-Mitchell Trubisky territory, not in the realm of the better quarterbacks in the NFL. Likewise Corey Linsley Jersey , Rodgers’ completion percentage was 26th out of 33 qualifying players at just 62.3%. Another critical component of the passing game is that the offense took 53 sacks, tying for the third-most in the NFL. Many of those were due to Rodgers holding the football too long or taking a sack instead of forcing a football into coverage. However, the frequency at which he was sacked on third downs was painful to watch.RushingWhile the Packers threw the third-most of any NFL team, they finished dead last in the NFL in rushing attempts, running the ball just 333 times all season. However, the argument can be made that the team should have run the ball more, since the Packers finished second in the entire NFL in yards per carry at 5.0.LeadersAaron Jones 133-728-8 (5.5 YPC)Jamaal Williams 122-464-3 (3.8 YPC)Aaron Rodgers 43-269-2 (6.3 YPC)Ty Montgomery 26-105-1 (4.0 YPC)DVOAFootball Outsiders’ DVOA is generally becoming accepted as the best single measurement of a unit’s effectiveness. It stands for “Defense-adjusted Value Over Average), and FO’s brief description states as follows:“(The system) breaks down every single NFL play and compares a team’s performance to a league baseline based on situation in order to determine value over average.”Remember that positive numbers favor the offense and negative numbers favor the defense, and that this measure is an attempt to measure success on a per-play basis. Despite the Packers’ struggles on offense, the unit still managed a seventh-place rating overall in offensive DVOA (+11.0%). The rushing offense was third in the NFL at +12.4%, while the passing offense came in just 12th at +18.0%.One thing to remember about DVOA is that it tends to reward big plays. The Packers did hit on plenty of explosive passing plays this season, with Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Davante Adams accounting for most of them. However, it was the shorter conversions that stalled out the offense often, which helps to account for the discrepancy between a 12th-place DVOA ranking and Rodgers’ mediocre rate stats.QuarterbackDespite the issues with his receivers as described below, Aaron Rodgers’ DVOA was still positive, as he finished 13th among passers with 200 or more attempts at +8.2%. His DYAR also ranked higher, in ninth place at 821. However, that was less than half of the top-ranked QB, Patrick Mahomes, who had 2,039.By comparison, Aaron Rodgers had 1,564 DYAR in 2014 when he won the MVP, and his career high was 2,059 back in 2011. Running BacksBy DVOA, Aaron Jones was the sixth-best running back on a per-play basis this season (+16.9%) among players with 100-plus rushing attempts and he was the 11th-best among runners with 20 or more attempts. He also finished tenth in the NFL in DYAR (145), a measure of total productivity Kenny Clark Jersey White , and sixth in success rate (55%).Jamaal Williams, on the other hand, was 22nd in DVOA (+1.7%), 25th in DYAR (51) and 32nd in success rate (45%).ReceiversDavante Adams’ great counting stats didn’t really translate to DVOA, as he finished just 30th at +6.1%. His DYAR was much better at 246, good for 16th, with the difference due in part to his high volume of targets. The other two qualifying wideouts (50 or more targets) were Marquez Valdes-Scantling, who was 63rd in DVOA out of 84 qualifiers at -11.1%, and Randall Cobb, who finished 78th at -22.1%.Among all Packers receivers with at least 10 targets, Geronimo Allison led the way in DVOA with +16.8%. 49 tight ends qualified at that position with 25 targets or more, including two Packers: Lance Kendricks and Jimmy Graham. Both were negative in DVOA, with Kendricks sitting at -0.1% (25th place) and Graham at -6.6% (30th).ConclusionsThe Packers hit on some big plays this season, which helped their ranks in yardage and some of their DVOA rankings, but where they failed was in consistently reaching the red zone and on converting third downs. The running game was generally effective, but it was seemingly used far too often — though this was a practical result of the Packers being behind in many of their games. In the modern NFL, teams take the lead by passing and hold the lead with the run game. Considering that the Packers lost nine games and had to mount significant late comebacks in three of their victories (against the Bears, 49ers, and Jets), the game situations dictated that they could not use the running game as much as they might have liked. Fixing the third-down issues (including convincing Rodgers to get rid of the football more quickly on those downs) should be the biggest priority for whatever coaches are in charge of this offense in 2019. That will help ensure that the team can sustain drives better, get the ball into the red zone more frequently, and ultimately score more points. That in turn gives the team a lead more often, which allows a heavier dose of the running game.Stay tuned for a look at the defense on Sunday.

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