What consistency can be found in the receiving corps?
Vikings receiver Adam Thielen was one of the bigger surprises in fantasy this season. In standard scoring, Thielen finished as the No. 11 wide receiver, with 91 catches for 1,276 yards and four touchdowns. However, Thielen scored more than 15 points only five times this season. In fact, Thielen scored less than six points in seven different games.
The other core Vikings receiver, Stefon Diggs, finished as the No. 17 wide receiver in standard scoring. Diggs’ season was more boom-bust, as he scored less than 10 points in nine games and more than 10 points in only four games (he was inactive for two games). His high finish is likely due to his performances in Weeks 1 and 3, in which he scored 20.7 and 29.3 points, respectively. After Week 3, his highest point total came in Week 10 where he scored 13.8 points.
The case of the Minnesota wide receivers is certainly interesting considering the success of quarterback Case Keenum. While the Vikings are a good football team, their receiving corps seems to be lacking consistent fantasy production.
What will the quarterback situation look like?
As of right now, the Vikings have no plan to use a franchise tag on starter Case Keenum. He and Sam Bradford are expected to become free agents this offseason. Minnesota is also expected to sign Keenum to a longer deal, as he has been phenomenal this season. If, for some reason, Keenum is let go and signs with another team, Teddy Bridgewater is healthy and has one year left on his contract.
Is Stafford reliable enough to be a weekly start?
Matthew Stafford finished as the seventh-best quarterback in fantasy this season. The Detroit Lions also made him the highest-paid player in the NFL with a five-year, $135 million contract. That begs the question: Stafford finished as a valuable quarterback, and his team paid him more than most valuable quarterbacks, so why is he still considered a middle-tier quarterback streamer?
It could be because Stafford scored less than 16 points in eight games, or that he turned the ball over 17 times, or that he only scored 23 touchdowns this season. The point is: Stafford is a weekly streamer because his ceiling is high and his floor is low. What I mean is, one week he throws four touchdowns and no picks and the next week he throws one touchdown and fumbles twice. His success is match-up dependent and his offensive line can’t inhibit long-term success.
Will there ever be production from the running game?
Speaking of a poor offensive line, the Lions’ running game has been lacking for quite some time. Coming into the 2017 season, Pro Football Focus ranked the Lions’ offensive line 24th, citing their loss of Taylor Decker and average performances from their high draft picks.
It also doesn’t help that Ameer Abdullah doesn’t possess the play-making talent that you see in star running backs like Todd Gurley, Alvin Kamara, or Le’Veon Bell. Abdullah isn’t the best at breaking tackles or making guys miss. There is hope, however, as Lions general manager plans to bring in another running back through the draft or free agency. Abdullah is also heading into the last year of his contract.
Green Bay Packers
How shaken up is the receiving corps?
To be clear, I don’t mean shaken up as in “got your bell rung.” I mean shaken like a James Bond martini. This all stems from the year Davante Adams had. He finished as the No. 12 wide receiver in standard scoring and ended the season by signing a four-year, $58 million contract. Those two facts lead to two questions: Is Adams the No. 1 receiver for the Packers, and what does his huge contract mean for the other receivers?
Adams performed very well overall this season, but how much does Rodgers’ injury play into that and the disappearance of Jordy Nelson? Nelson was coming off a big year, and the questions may not be truly answered until we get another year of the Rodgers-Nelson duo.
As for the contracts, Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb each will become free agents in 2019. Each is making roughly $10 million a year, which, along with Adams’s $14.5 million a year, takes up a lot of cap space for just three players. It wouldn’t be a huge surprise if Cobb, in particular, was let go by the Packers, given his steady decline in production over the years.
Will there be a consistent running game next season, and if so, from who?
The Packers haven’t had a consistent running game in a few years. After Eddie Lacy’s departure, it seemed that wide-receiver-turned-running-back Ty Montgomery would take over. Overall, it worked well at first. However, after being plagued by injury, rookie Aaron Jones flashed talent and also seemed capable of carrying a heavy load in the running game. After he was injured, fellow rookie Jamaal Williams also sparked good production on the ground for Green Bay.
If I had my pick of the three, I would choose Jamaal Williams. I think he is the most talented back, but after all three backs are healthy, the job could be completely up for grabs. I think that the Packers will find a running game in 2018 no matter who they decide.
How much can Mitchell Trubisky improve from last season?
I’ll be the first to tell you that the Bears trading up one spot in the 2017 draft to take Trubisky was the strangest move I’ve ever seen, and I can’t come up with any argument for it. That being said, I do believe that Mitchell Trubisky is a talented quarterback. Is he capable of playing in the NFL? Yes. Is he worth a second overall pick and everything the Bears gave up to get it? Not even close. Trubisky had a nice finish to the 2017 season, which leads me to believe that he can be something special with time.
All in all, I think that with some development and more talent at the wide receiver position, Trubisky could be something close to what Bears fans were hoping he would be.
Is there any value to be found from this group of receivers?
No team was safe from the injury bug in 2017. Wide receiver Cameron Meredith suffered an injury in the preseason, dealing a big blow to Chicago’s receiving corps. Meredith has shown signs of being a high-tier wide receiver but must remind everyone when he comes back in 2018.
The Bears lack talent in the receiving corps. Period. They’ve acquired some free agents, including Markus Wheaton and Dontrelle Inman, but none have performed. The Bears have the eighth overall pick in the 2018 draft. There are plenty of talented wide receivers to choose from: Calvin Ridley, Courtland Sutton, Arden Tate and the list goes on and on.
There is no value to be found in this current receiving corps, but if adjustments are made this offense has the foundation to yield good fantasy production.