Breakouts, Busts, and Sleepers: NFC North

By: Joe Jenkins (@joejenkins78) July 18, 2017

Chicago Bears -

Breakout: Tarik Cohen, RB

The Reason: You're probably saying to yourself, “Who?”. But this rookie has a chance to make a major impact on this Bears team. People have already labeled him “The human joystick”. At NC A&T he rushed for 5,619 yards and 56 TDS! You read that right. And although most would think of him as Darren Sproles Jr, he is much more of a threat running the ball. He carried the ball 868 times in college, with most of those runs going right up the middle. The amount of college carries does concern me slightly. But with Jordan Howard being there, it should mean Cohen will be put in situations that best suit his talents. Jordan Howard had 7 drops on 50 targets last year meaning there may be an opening for a receiving role in this backfield.
Tarik Cohen's college stats from 2013-2016

Bust: Cam Meredith, WR

The Reason: In 2016, Meredith was the breakout fantasy player for the Chicago Bears. He totaled 66 receptions for 888 yards and 4 Touchdowns. But the most impressive statistic, and the one that made him so valuable for fantasy football, was the 97 targets. It was obvious that both Brian Hoyer and Jimmy Clausen felt comfortable with Meredith after Cutler went down. But neither Hoyer or Clausen are members of the Bears in 2017. In comes free agent QB Mike Glennon and 2nd overall pick Mitchell Trubisky. Who knows if Meredith will receive the same amount of targets that made him a viable fantasy receiver in 2016? He is being drafted in the late 7th round of drafts and could easily be irrelevant by mid-season. He may not be a traditional “bust”, given his ADP. However, other than Jordan Howard, Meredith has the highest draft value on the Bears. Training camp and preseason should show us if he will be a part of the offense this year as well as in the future.

Sleeper: Mike Glennon, QB

The reason: I know, gross. But hear me out. Glennon comes into an offense with last season’s runner-up to the rushing title, in Jordan Howard. An improving offensive line as well as some veteran, proven receivers, should mean good things for Glennon. The coaching staff has already said that Glennon will be the starter this year and the rookie staring over his shoulder should add some extra motivation. I'm not saying to take Glennon as your QB1, but in deeper leagues he is worth a stash. He also has streaming value in the middle of the season when the Bears play several subpar defenses.

Detroit Lions-

Breakout: Ameer Abdullah, RB

The reason: Welcome aboard the Ameer Abdullah hype train! I have always been a believer in Abdullah. I loved him at Nebraska and was ecstatic when my favorite team selected him! I cannot say that he has been all that I had hoped for when we drafted him. But in 2017, I predict Abdullah makes that jump to the next level. He has pure talent but, due to injuries, we have yet to see him perform consistently. The coaching staff has expressed their desire to use him more often in the passing game as well as in the red zone. With the emergence of Riddick as a pass-catching back, as well as an improved offensive line (despite the loss of LT Decker), Abdullah should be the workhorse for this team.

Bust: Golden Tate, WR

The reason: Golden Tate has become the undoubted #1 receiver in Detroit since Calvin Johnson’s retirement. He has 90+ receptions in all 3 seasons with Detroit. However, Tate has never been a major red zone threat, with his career high in TDs in a season is only 7 in 2012 with Seattle. I believe that the emergence of rookies Dontez Ford and Kenny Golladay (refer to sleepers), along with the improvement of Jared Abbrederis, could take a significant chunk of targets away from Tate. I would hate to call Tate a bust this season, but given his ADP I would say that he has the highest potential to bust in 2017.

Sleeper(s): Kenny Golladay & Dontez Ford, WR

The reason: Marvin Jones burst onto the scene last year, becoming the WR1 in fantasy football after 3 weeks. However, his season quickly declined as he started to drop passes and Golden Tate became Stafford’s main target in between the 20’s. This brings me to Kenny Golladay and Dontez Ford. Both of these rookie wide receivers are large bodied, talented players who could very quickly become THE red zone target for Matthew Stafford. Golladay seems to be the more likely choice as the 3rd round pick, compared to Ford being undrafted. But I really like what I'm seeing so far from Ford. He has strong hands and a willingness to catch the ball and seems to be a very quick learner in the film room. Training camp should help tell the story of these two rookies.

Green Bay Packers-

Breakout: Geronimo Allison, WR

The reason: Geronimo Allison has the best chance to be the 4th WR for the Packers. Which means that he should see a fair amount of targets from the league's top fantasy QB. His size/speed combination allowed him to make contributions as an undrafted rookie in 2016. With an offseason to solidify his knowledge of the playbook, and improve his strength, Allison should have an upper leg on the competition.

Bust: Davante Adams

The reason: This one almost seems too easy. Adams was considered by many as a bright, young talent when he first came into the league. So, when Jordy Nelson went down in 2015 with a torn ACL, the world assumed that Adams would be the one to step into that role. He was a massive disappointment to both fantasy football players and Packer fans. Fast forward to last year and he is taking the league by storm, scoring 12 touchdowns on the year. However, he only caught 75 out of 121 targets for 997 yards. What this means is, if the touchdown total drops, so does his potential to be a WR1. He is being drafted as the 18th WR right now. Just behind Allen Robinson and just ahead of Michael Crabtree. Two players that I have much more confidence in this year.

Sleeper: Jamaal Williams, RB

The reason: Williams is a big back that benefits from running downhill. While at BYU, Williams rushed for 3,900 yards, including 274 yard, 5 td game against Toledo on Sept. 30th, 2016. In the Green Bay offense, I think he will fit right in as the short yardage/goal line back. I still believe this coaching staff wants a traditional running back despite showing support for Ty Montgomery. Don't sell the farm for him, but keep Williams on your radar this year and in the future!

Minnesota Vikings-

Breakout: Adam Thielen, WR

The reason: Thielen began his breakout the second half of last season. He started 10 games for Minnesota and accumulated 69 receptions for 967 yards and 5 touchdowns. The breakout moment for Thielen came on Week 16 (championship weekend) against the Green Bay Packers. He caught 12 passes for 212 yards and 2 touchdowns! Sam Bradford seemed to become more comfortable with Thielen as the season progressed. I expect that trend to continue in 2017. Thielen was also awarded with a new contract, which shows me that the coaching staff trusts him as well.

Bust: Dalvin Cook, RB

The reason: This off-season Minnesota signed free-agent Latavius Murray from Oakland, where he recorded 12 touchdowns in 2016. Murray is a massive (6’3” 230 lbs) back who can do damage in short yardage situations. So, bring in Dalvin Cook, a shifty back with breakaway speed, to complement the brutality of Murray. The main issue with this team, however, is the offensive line. They ranked 29th in 2016 and must improve if this running game wants to see any success. I believe Cook never gets a full shot at the #1 job in Minnesota this year and thus will not live up to his current draft status.

Sleeper: Laquon Treadwell, WR

The reason: I must admit that I laughed while writing this. In all seriousness, this is a make or break season for Treadwell. He recorded ONE reception in 2016. Yup… One catch. However, he was an incredible player in college and made dozens of big time plays while at Ole Miss. Michael Floyd is already suspended and this team needs Treadwell to step up this season. He should have the opportunity, and I trust what I've seen from him in the past and believe he will bounce back this year.

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