NFC/AFC North Hidden Values

Conlin Postma

Here we are once again. Adam and I will be covering our favorite NFC/AFC North Hidden Values this time around. If you missed our first article, here you go. Both these divisions pride themselves on defense, but some teams are slowly starting to establish up and coming offenses. A prime example of this is the Cincinnati Bengals.

The Bengals are a dark horse to not only fight for a Wild Card spot but to take the AFC North. Not only did they draft LSU, QB, Joe Burrow with the first overall pick, but have A.J. Green returning. As of right now, they possess two top 30 receivers in A.J. Green and Tyler Boyd, a top ten running back with Joe Mixon, and Joe Burrow, who is a lead candidate to win Offensive Rookie of the Year.

When it comes to the NFC, one common theme among most of the teams is their running attack. Look at Green Bay, they invested a second-round pick into running back, A.J. Dillon after they just had 343 carries between two backs. Detroit has made it known they want to run the ball more, and that was evident with the D’Andre Swift draft pick. The Vikings had a combined 399 carries with just three backs, and in 14 games star running back, Dalvin Cook secured 250 attempts. Lastly, the Chicago Bears have had the lead back with more than 242 carries since 2015. If that doesn’t say run first, I’m not sure what does.



NFC North (the most disappointing division in football annually)

Green Bay Packers: Aaron Jones, RB

The Green Bay offense has been a prolific staple for the last decade within fantasy football circles. Aaron Rodgers and his days of slinging it around the field seem to be fading, but that should not stop you from targeting a player that finished with more fantasy points than Zeke, Dalvin, and Henry. He also picked up a backfield partner that will allow Jones to be used even more frequently on third downs. He is an absolute scoring machine (19 last season) and will be utilized

Minnesota Vikings: Adam Thielen, WR

Thielen has been an absolute monster in Minnesota, and he routinely comes at a discount. His rapport with Kirk Cousins, in conjunction with the departure of Stefon Diggs, means that Thielen (who is already one of the biggest target vacuums in the NFL) stands to see even more volume this season. And coming off a disappointing season, other owners may forget that he was a top 8 fantasy wide receiver the prior two seasons. Thielen is set up to have a monster year and should set career highs in both targets and catches, given the lack of depth behind him.

Detroit Lions: Matthew Stafford, QB

This is a tough one for me to write. Before last year’s conversion, I had historically been at the front of the Stafford smashing parties. But, as often happens with high-volume passers, Stafford is now criminally undervalued. For those who like to wait on quarterback. PAUSE SO EVERYONE READING CAN REALIZE IT SHOULD BE THEM UNLESS THE VALUE IS ABSURD…. Stafford is a great pairing candidate with someone like Rodgers, Rivers, Brady, or even Brees. You can scoop up multiple elder statesman signal callers and then play matchups as you ride your geriatric quarterback room to the playoffs with their weekly QB1 performances.

Chicago Bears: Allen Robinson, WR

This edition hasn’t seen the flash of the NFC West, and that’s not getting any better with me highlighting Allen Robinson. He’s a well-known commodity, possesses an elite skill set, and is the unquestioned alpha in Chicago’s passing attack. That said, he does possess one huge flaw. And that flaw was drafted ahead of Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson. Mitchell Trubisky is cruising down the proverbial bust freeway, and a COVID19 offseason isn’t likely to help him in his development. It doesn’t matter for Robinson. Honestly, who is the best quarterback he’s ever had throwing him the ball? He is signal caller proof, and that’s one of the premier traits of a fantasy monster. If the sucking in the Chicago QB room continues, you are getting a solid WR2, and if Foles steals the gig or Mitch figures it out, you are looking at a locked and loaded WR1 that can be drafted behind A.J. Brown and Cooper Kupp.


AFC North

Cincinnati Bengals: Joe Mixon, RB

Last season was a tale of two tapes for the former Sooner. From Week One to Eight, he had just 430 total yards and had three touchdowns, all receiving. In that time frame, he was the RB32 in Half-PPR scoring format. From Week Nine to the end of the season, Mixon finished as the fifth-best running back, while racking up 994 total yards and five rushing touchdowns. It should be noted that he had the same amount of games (four) with less than 18 rushing yards as he did with over 112 rushing yards. This year should be more consistent given an improved offensive line, new quarterback, A.J. Green and John Ross returning, and Tee Higgins as another weapon. Mixon won’t have to face a constant eight-man box, and there is a strong chance he can finish as the RB4 or better.

Cleveland Browns: Baker Mayfield, QB

This season the third-year signal-caller will have more weapons than ever. A full season of Kareem Hunt, who is better than most running backs in the league and was considered top five just a couple of years ago. Mayfield’s receivers are Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry, who are arguably the best duo in the league. Now factor in David Njoku, who is fully healthy and newly acquired Austin Hooper as tight ends. On top of that, Nick Chubb, who had the second-most rushing yards last season. This is a low-risk high reward option to take Baker. You can stack Mayfield with any of his weapons; I just mentioned and get double points. On the other hand, he can be a valuable streamer or a simple backup quarterback on your team. Either way, this pick has little risk, but all the possible rewards.

Pittsburgh Steelers: JuJu Smith-Schuster, WR

We have another 2019 disappointment here, but JuJu can finish as the WR1. There is no doubt about his talent, but some people might be hesitant to select the USC alumni after his poor performance last year. That was out of his control as he had two awful quarterbacks throwing him the ball. Fast forward, and now he has a potential Hall of Famer in Ben Roethlisberger throwing him the ball. If history proves anything, Big Ben will pepper JuJu with over 150 targets. A quick history lesson, while in Pittsburgh, Antonio Brown was the WR2WR2WR3WR1WR1, and WR7, dating back to 2013. As I stated before, JuJu Smith-Schuster can easily be the best wide receiver in the 2020 Fantasy season.

Baltimore Ravens: Marquise Brown, WR

It was a shock to many when the Ravens took “Hollywood” Brown, especially since he was recovering from surgery on his foot. He still wasn’t 100% heading into the season but played anyways. His playstyle is that of a boom-or-bust receiver like DeSean Jackson, Will Fuller V, and Mecole Hardman. Brown is the apparent leading receiver for Baltimore as he continues to work in the offseason with quarterback, Lamar Jackson. Brown can easily surpass his 46/584/7 2019 stat line due to his new rapport with Jackson and now that he is fully recovered and healthy from his Lisfranc surgery. At the end of the season, don’t be shocked if “Hollywood” sneaks into the top 20 wide receivers.

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