Camp Questions – NFC North

Entering training camp, there’s plenty of unanswered questions that will impact rosters moving forward. In our Camp Questions series, our writers are looking at an issue with dynasty impact for each team.

Chicago Bears

Question: Will the real Kevin White please stand up (and who else is there if he doesn’t?

The Chicago Bears offense going into 2017 has questions at quarterback and wide receiver. Jordan Howard is the only established starting skill position player, which could make him the only dynasty relevant position player on the entire roster. While that might be harsh to 2016 darling Cameron Meredith, he needs to show more of an outside presence to truly become the dominant wide receiver in Chicago. What the Chicago Bears want is their invested draft capital over the last few seasons to step up to the plate and perform, none more needed than the 2015 first round pick Kevin White. White’s career has been blighted by injury, his first season lost to a stress fracture in his leg and managing just 4 starts and 19 receptions in his second season before being placed on injured reserve with a fractured left fibula and a high ankle sprain. What made White such an intriguing prospect coming out of college was his size-speed combination, but his physical dominance appears to have been stunted by back to back season ending injuries. This is a sink or swim season for White, one in which if he fails, Meredith stands to be slotted in as the lead receiver for 2017 and possibly beyond. Beyond Meredith, Victor Cruz, Kendall Wright, and Markus Wheaton will all compete for snaps, but none of them should be on your dynasty radar.

Detroit Lions

Question: Should we be getting “overly excited” about Eric Ebron?

The dynasty tight-end landscape for the foreseeable future is rosy – and another name to add to that list is Eric Ebron. Still just 24, Ebron’s credentials for a 2017 breakout are off the chart as a player who should see his ADP sore come the end of the season in dynasty drafts. Ebron recently told Sirius XM he is “overly excited” about his upcoming role and the tweaks which that entails. The loss of Anquan Boldin and his red zone targets should pave the way for a more considerable role for Ebron, while outside the red zone it will be Theo Riddick who sees the uptick in targets and receptions. Nonetheless, the Lions, led by Matt Stafford and not featuring a true WR1 (rather a 1A and 1B in Golden Tate and Marvin Jones), will look to include all their pass-catching options prominently in an offense which will have to be firing on all cylinders to challenge for the NFC North title. Ebron is a matchup nightmare with a physical skill set that shines when the Lions can line him up against linebackers or safeties. If Ebron establishes himself as the Lions primary red zone threat, double digit touchdowns is a possible outcome. If Ebron fails to do so, expect red zone passing targets to flow toward Tate and Riddick, with Ameer Abdullah adding touches near the goal line in an offense lacking a traditional red zone weapon.

Green Bay Packers

Question: Can Ty Montgomery establish himself as a legitimate running back?

Ty Montgomery emerged as a midseason fantasy darling due to the litany of the injuries which plagued the Packers backfield. Eddie Lacy and James Starks couldn’t stay healthy, while Christine Michael’s glimmers of talent during his brief stint in Green Bay did not earn himself another contract with the team. Entering 2017, none of these backs find themselves on the Packers roster. Montgomery was by far the most efficient and effective option in the Green Bay backfield, with the expectation for 2017 the converted wide receiver will assume the feature back role. The Packers did add a fresh cohort of young running backs in the 2017 draft: Jamaal Williams, Aaron Jones, and Devante Mays. Of these Williams projects the greatest as he was the highest selection (fourth round) and showed good pass blocking ability in college football, an area which Montgomery has received criticism. Although Montgomery had been receiving specialized pass protection training from ex-Packer Brandon Jackson, the presence of Williams and fullback Aaron Ripkowski could reduce Montgomery’s total snaps if this remains a deficiency. The Packers coaching staff will be hoping that Montgomery can get up to speed, as Montgomery is a prototypical dual-threat running back the Packers want on the field as much as possible. If Montgomery does secure the RB1 role for the Packers, his fantasy outlook is frankly scary. While Ripkowski and Aaron Rodgers own natural scrambling ability may reduce his rushing touchdown upside, Montgomery has the natural skill set and size to emerge as an every-down back and a focal point of the Green Bay offense.

Minnesota Vikings

Question: What is progress from Laquon Treadwell?

The Minnesota Vikings offense of recent years is built to serve a function, pragmatic and conservative without much flair or star quality. All this changes in 2017, as the entire Vikings offensive outlook going into this season has shifted after a season of solid quarterback play from Sam Bradford, the development of two legitimate wide receiver options in Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen, fantasy’s most underrated tight end Kyle Rudolph, and the addition of workhorse running back Dalvin Cook. Missing from this list, of course, is 2016’s first round pick. To say Laquon Treadwell went missing in 2016 is an understatement, managing just 1 catch for 15 yards in the entirety of his rookie campaign. Treadwell figures to contend for the WR3 role with Michael Floyd and Jarius Wright, with both having issues preventing them from being fantasy assets (kombucha tea and generally being bad at football). Treadwell does have a myriad of severe injuries dating back to his college career which should make Vikings and dynasty fans question his durability, but if he can make it through training camp unscathed, his natural talent should secure Treadwell the WR3 role. Treadwell is the physical antithesis of fellow wide receivers Diggs and Thielen and will give the Vikings a much needed big bodied receiver. This could have an impact on Rudolph’s touchdown upside, and in Pat Shurmur’s short passing offense Treadwell could also be a useful asset in PPR formats with potential to turn catches into long runs. While a breakout year is a stretch after missing the entirety of his rookie campaign, a positive showing in 2017 could see his ADP rocket going into 2018. With Diggs cemented at the top of the wide receiver hierarchy, a productive Treadwell could cut into Thielen’s workload. If Treadwell fails to cement the WR3 position as his own during training camp or gets injured again, fantasy owners should bump up projected targets and ADP of both Diggs and Thielen with the depth behind them non-existent. If this is the case, both are buys in all formats, especially Diggs with his potential to pace the league in targets and receptions.

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