One of the most common ways to start your fantasy football prep for the upcoming season is to not just look at positional rankings but also by the state of offense of each NFL team.
Which teams are most geared to success? Which teams are going to struggle? Which of those expected bottom-feeder teams have latent fantasy talent to mine? Which of those top teams could disappoint fantasy managers?
Over the next few weeks, fantasy football analyst Liz Loza will scour each division, highlighting each team’s biggest fantasy problems. Next up, the NFC North!
Is Darnell Mooney ready for the WR1 challenge?
Volume is king in fantasy. And Darnell Mooney standing in line for the crown.
Mooney achieved a top-11 target share (26.7 percent) in 2021. He averaged just over six looks per game in games Justin Fields started. Efficiency proved to be a major obstacle for the duo (and the attack as a whole) as conversions dropped to 3.4 per match. Despite this, Mooney leaned on his 4.3 speed and catching ability (391† WR18) to clear 1,000 meters and close the year as fantasy WR23†
From the front office to the coaching staff to the receiving corps, much of the Bears attack has been gutted on its way to 2022. Mooney and Fields have reportedly been inseparable throughout posterity, taking the opportunity to improve their understanding. With a rebuild apparently shelved until 2023, Mooney will have to morph from an additional deep threat to a true alpha. Given the surrounding talent — Byron Pringlea† Equanimious St. Brown† Dante Pettis† Taje Sharpe and 25-year-old rookie Velus Jones — Mooney figures to get most of the defensive attention. He did it top-11 route win rate in 2021indicating solid growth potential.
From a fantasy POV, however, it wouldn’t be wise to expect anything more than WR3 numbers from the former fifth round pick. FF: 75-980-5
Can Amon-Ra St. Brown Deliver WR2 Fantasy Value to Artists?
Amon-Ra St. Brown stormed through the 2021 trajectory, driving throngs of managers to fake football victories. His increase came as a result of addition by subtraction. By week 13 — after Anthony Lynn was relieved of his playing duties and TJ Hockenson went down with a thumb injury – St. Brown emerged as Detroit’s most powerful offensive threat.
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Younger brother of fellow NFC North wideout Equanimious St. Brown, Amon-Ra was a direct (60-750-3 as a true freshman in 2018) and regular producer at the USC. His sharp trail running, natural hands and excellent body control was acclaimed in college… and was on full display last winter.
taking in 435 yards after the catch (WR11), St. Brown largely worked as the Lions slot receiver (488 slot snaps, WR6) before going out in the double-digit weeks of the season.
With Ben Johnson – who was? instrumental in revamping the team’s passing game last season — with the attacking clipboard, St. Brown is expected to work and stay all over the field Jared Gofffavorite target in 2022. But now that Swift and Hockenson are healthy again, DJ Chark added and first round pick Jameson Williams finally part of the equationit is unlikely that St. Brown will maintain the monster volume he managed to achieve during his rookie campaign.
But that doesn’t mean he won’t eat. St. Brown has already shown that he can bear this offense. At a reasonable seven cans per game, he is still lining up for 120 goals on the season. Establishing a catch rate of more than 75 percent (WR6) and modest 11 YPR, he’s looking at a 90-990-6 stat line. Those are low-end WR2 numbers.
Who’s the Packers’ Best Sleeper?
Robert Tonyan recorded no less than 11 scores (only tying) Travis Kelce) in 2020. A converted WR that excelled in red zone situations in the state of Indiana, the Illinois native converted 10 of 11 RZ looks, finishing the year with the same number of scores as Aaron Jones (and seven less than Davante Adams†
Interestingly, Tonyan scored his first TD of 2020 in Week 2 against Detroit (the team that initially signed him as UDFA) when Adams was in and out of the game with a hamstring problem. Over the next few outings – with Davante on the sidelines – Tonyan would collect four extra spikes.
Heading into last season, Tonyan’s numbers were predicted to likely decline. What no one could have foreseen, however, was that he would rip his ACL on Week 8 @ Arizona. Up to that point, the team’s TE1 had pulled six RZ targets, putting it on pace to beat its 2020 tally.
Re-signed by the Packers in March and reportedly “ahead of scheduleDuring his recovery, Tonyan has a huge draw in 2022. More than 200 targets have been cleared through the exits of Adams and Marquez Valdes-Scantling† While the fantasy community has fallen on itself to draw Christian Watson (with his limited route boom and 12.7% career loss), Tonyan has been largely ignored.
understand that Aaron Rodgers is a (as my colleague Scott Pianowski so aptly puts it) “a man of confidence” and noting how much he trusted Tonyan before the knee issue, the 28-year-old TE is a steal in the 15th round of 12-team practice. I take over on 5.5 touchdowns.
Can Dalvin Cook Start a Career Receiving Songs Under Kevin O’Connell?
As discussed on the Yahoo Fantasy Forecast, news from Minnesota is that: Kevin O’Connell plans to revive the Vikings Offensive, turning it into a high-flying operation. Beat reporters estimate over 4,500 passing yards and 40 passing scores for Kirk Cousins†
That would jump the captain into QB1 area, but it also boosts the stock of his pass-catch weapons – the most interesting thing is that Dalvin Cook†
The workhorse of the Vikings and an elite fantasy producer since 2019, Cook’s receiving chops have made him one of the virtual game’s most sought-after players in the position. The 26-year-old has averaged nearly three catches per game (his number dropped to 2.6/gm in 2021), recording at least 40 grabs in three of his five seasons as a pro. His most prolific attempt at catching passes came in 2019 when he posted 53 receptions (RB10†
Featuring O’Connell – who hails from Sean McVay‘s coaching tree – installed, Cook figures to flirt with career numbers in 2022. However, the odds don’t seem to be as vast as some fantasy managers may think.
Nothing but Leonard Fournette† Austin Ekeler† Najee Harris and De’Andre Swift managed more than four catches per game last year… and none of those backfields had an RB2 as capable as Alexander Mattison† Assuming the Boise State product is used more consistently and notes: Irv Smith‘s expected return, Cook estimates at an average of 3.5 catches per game. He probably hits the ball 16-18 times per game and flirts with 50 grabs in his sixth professional attempt.
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