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NFC North Risers/Fallers - 2018 Season Review

Throughout the course of any fantasy football season, it's inevitable that we're going to be surprised by the performances of certain players, both good and bad. Many highly-drafted players will fall short of expectations, while plenty of late-round fliers and waiver wire acquisitions will show up to save the day. It's important to take note of these developments throughout the year and to file them away for next season.

Players, teams and the league evolves each season. Staying ahead of why the change has happened and what that means for the future means you are more likely to be able to find that late-round gem or avoid that early-round bust.

For that reason, we will examine the biggest risers and fallers from each NFL division. Today, we look at the NFC North. When you're done, check out our breakdowns of the NFC West, NFC East, and AFC East.

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Chicago Bears

Riser - Tarik Cohen, RB

Cohen was one player who really was able to get a grasp of the offense that Matt Nagy wanted to run in Chicago. Cohen has always been the pass-catching running back, but this season he was able to really stamp that authority by notching 71 receptions.

Cohen's 71 catches were only bettered by five running backs (Saquon Barkley, Christian McCaffrey, Alvin Kamara, Ezekiel Elliott, and James White). The Bears used Jordan Howard as their primary runner, but given the effectiveness of Cohen on the field going into 2019, it wouldn't be a surprise if he was able to increase the 99 carries that he had in the 2018 season.

Cohen was drafted in the middle rounds last season but with an improved offensive showing, he could move into the 4th-5th rounds this draft season.

Faller - Trey Burton, TE

Burton flashed during his time for the Philadelphia Eagles when Zach Ertz wasn't able to take the field. When Nagy was given his chance at being the head coach in Chicago, the first big signing he made was at tight end with Trey Burton.

There was talk about Burton even helping quarterback Mitch Trubisky understand the offense. However, that hype and faith didn't really translate to the field. Burton finished the season with 54 receptions, 569 yards, and six touchdowns.

However, that doesn't show the way that Burton's season went. Burton was able to have some games that would have won owners their weekly matchup, but those were sparse with only six top-12 performances all season. Depending on the form and availability of other tight ends, Burton may see his ADP fall come draft season.


Minnesota Vikings

Riser - Adam Thielen & Stefon Diggs, WR

I chose both Thielen and Diggs as risers because they were able to show that they can co-exist in the offense together. Both receivers finished the season with similar stat lines, both able to get over 100 receptions, 1,000 yards and nine touchdowns apiece. 

Looking at their fantasy points by week, Thielen did have some struggles towards the end of the season. But it is clear to see that Thielen was more consistent of the two, owing to his more role as the slot receiver on the offense, allowing more receptions.

While Thielen may be drafted ahead of Diggs, ultimately the Vikings offense is effective and should have room for both receivers.

Faller - Dalvin Cook, RB

This fall is mainly due to the inability to stay on the field. Cook missed the majority of last season through injury but was able to show enough that fantasy owners trusted him to be an effective running back this season. Cook ended up playing 11 games, but one was a 20-yard rushing performance against the Rams and countless others were disappointing given expectations.

Cook is going to entice owners who will believe in his ability when he is on the field, but with a soft tissue injury this season to combine with an injury to his ligaments last season, there could be better options for fantasy owners looking to avoid risk in the early rounds.


Green Bay Packers

Riser - Aaron Jones, RB

Aaron Jones was the clearest choice as a riser for the Packers. The backfield looked like a mess at the start of the season with Jamaal Williams and Ty Montgomery (before the trade to the Ravens) as well as Jones starting the season with a suspension.

However, Jones came back from his suspension and ended up stealing the backfield away from his rivals. He finished the season with 728 yards and eight touchdowns on the ground, combined with 26 receptions, 206 yards and one touchdown through the air.

Ultimately Jones is (at this extremely early juncture) considered to be a talent worthy of being taken in drafts within the first three rounds. Given where he was drafted at the start of the last season that is a significant step forward in draft stock.

Fallers -  Aaron Rodgers, QB

Rodgers is an elite quarterback, but last season he didn't look quite right and that was evident in his fantasy performances. The real issue that affected Rodgers was that he just wasn't able to get the ball into the end zone. Rodgers was only able to finish with 25 passing touchdowns, which is far below the levels that he has historically been able to achieve.

Part of that could be that the offense seemed to be changing personnel week to week, as well as the lackluster play-calling compared to the high octane offenses in Kansas City and Los Angeles.

Rodgers is in a good position to bounce back next season, with the aforementioned Aaron Jones on the ground, and the elite Davante Adams as a primary receiver. Combine that with the expected improvement in offense and the undoubted talent that Rodgers has and this should be a one-season blip.


Detroit Lions

Riser - Kenny Golladay, WR

Golladay started the season as one of three serviceable receivers in Detroit along with downfield threat Marvin Jones and PPR monster Golden Tate. Tate finished his season on a different team, and Golladay seized the opportunity with both hands.

Golladay ended up being the leading receiver for Detroit, finishing the season with 70 receptions for 1,063 yards and five touchdowns.

Golladay is now the primary threat on an offense that has always needed to pass the ball. While the Lions struggled with consistent quarterback play this season, the number of opportunities for Golladay to be involved means that he should be considered as a fringe WR1/ WR2.

Faller - Matthew Stafford, QB

Stafford was previously the prime example of why to wait at quarterback on draft day. The Lions were a team that needed to put up a lot of points to win games and they struggled to move the ball on the ground- perfect streaming material.

This season though, that wasn't the case. Stafford struggled in the offense, especially once Tate left town. The Lions weren't overly competitive and couldn't put long drives together to give their defense any respite.

The Lions offense is going to get a new OC, so Stafford may bounce back with a different voice in his ear. But until that is seen, fantasy owners should look elsewhere for their late-round quarterback.

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