Chicago Bears running back Jordan Howard rushes during first quarter action against the Carolina Panthers on Sunday, Oct. 22, 2017 at Soldier Field in Chicago, Ill. The Bears defeated the Panthers 17-3. (Jeff Siner/Charlotte Observer/TNS)
Photo: Jeff Siner/TNS
Photo: Jeff Siner/TNS

Fantasy Football 2018 preview: NFC North

Knowledge is power and the greatest asset you can acquire in order to compete for a fantasy football championship. Here’s your 2018 preview of the NFC North, the second of eight division profiles leading to draft season.

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CHICAGO BEARS

2018 Fantasy MVP: Jordan Howard, RB

Head coach Matt Nagy said, “Jordan can play all three downs. We’re going to do that.” We already knew the kid could handle the first two downs easily. In Nagy’s scheme, there’s no reason Howard and Tarik Cohen can’t be on the field at the same time and both thrive.

2018 Fantasy Rookie of the Year: Anthony Miller, WR

Miller is one of my favorite receivers out of this draft class. After last year’s debacle, the Bears added some significant mouths to feed on offense so targets might be hard to come by initially, but Miller will eventually be a standout. He’s a late-round stash in re-draft leagues and an early consideration in dynasty leagues.

2018 Fantasy Sleeper: Trey Burton, TE

Burton will now be featured in the same scheme that made Travis Kelce a superstar in Kansas City.

2018 Fantasy Bust: Allen Robinson, WR

I’ve been a fan of Robinson since Penn State, and believe he will eventually be a star in Chicago, but his current average draft position is a price too steep for the likely payoff year one. He’s currently a borderline second- or third-round pick in PPR leagues. Remember, he has a second-year quarterback with an influx of weapons, operating in a brand-new scheme. If the price tag is closer to the fifth or sixth round, I’d consider it.

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DETROIT LIONS

2018 Fantasy MVP: Matthew Stafford, QB

If you don’t want to pay the premium for an elite fantasy quarterback, Stafford is an ideal target around the ninth or 10th round. He’s averaged 4,564 yards and 28 touchdowns since 2011.

2018 Fantasy Rookie of the Year: Kerryon Johnson, RB

Head coach Matt Patricia has created a New England-like situation at the running back position with Johnson, LeGarrette Blount, Ameer Abdullah and Theo Riddick all likely to get an opportunity early. Johnson’s talent should win out. Draft him in sixth or seventh round and be patient.

2018 Fantasy Sleeper: Kenny Golladay, WR

Golladay was a dynamic weapon when he was healthy during his rookie season, especially near the red zone. Target him in the 12th or 13th round, making him a high-upside value pick late in drafts.

2018 Fantasy Bust: Marvin Jones, WR

Jones benefitted heavily from converting big plays during his breakout 2017 season. With Golladay’s ascension, it’s unlikely Jones receives the targets or converts a similar amount of big plays to match last season.

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GREEN BAY PACKERS

2018 Fantasy MVP: Aaron Rodgers, QB

Rodgers only managed seven games last season. He played in only nine games in 2013 and followed that up with a MVP season in 2014 (4,381 passing yards and 40 total touchdowns). He’s the only quarterback I’d consider taking in the early rounds.

2018 Fantasy Rookie of the Year: J’Mon Moore, WR

The Packers drafted three receivers in April and while both Equanimeous St. Brown and Marquez Valdes-Scantling have legitimate potential, Moore has the inside track at getting the earliest opportunity to play. Any wide receiver who plays with Rodgers has potential to be a fantasy asset. Moore had two very productive seasons in the SEC at Missouri, but hurt his draft stock with a 4.6 40-yard dash at the combine. Regardless, he features good size (6-foot-2, 207 pounds) and had top-five marks among receivers in the vertical jump (38 inches), short shuttle (4.04 seconds), three-cone drill (6.56 seconds) and bench press (21 reps).

2018 Fantasy Sleeper: Aaron Jones, RB

A two-game suspension to start the season, likely due to his arrest for marijuana possession last year, will likely drop Jones down most draft boards. He’s currently a 10th or 11th round selection in most drafts. Jamaal Williams and Ty Montgomery will have value to begin the season, but I’m a firm believer in talent winning in the end. Montgomery is miscast as a running back and Williams simply doesn’t measure up. Draft Jones late as a throwaway, but understand there’s RB1 upside here.

2018 Fantasy Bust: Jimmy Graham, TE

His days of 80-plus receptions are long gone. He’s still capable of being a red-zone threat, but I doubt he has another double-digit scores season in him. He’s likely touchdown-dependent going forward and the price tag is far too high for that — somewhere between the third and fifth round.

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MINNESOTA VIKINGS

2018 Fantasy MVP: Dalvin Cook, RB

Cook would have already had his breakout season if it weren’t for a pesky torn ACL suffered during Week 4 of last season. If he can take over the majority of the passing-game volume leftover from Jerick McKinnon while maintaining a sizable workload on the ground, he’s capable of being a fantasy star. Take him as top 15 running back, knowing he has top five potential.

2018 Fantasy Rookie of the Year: Tyler Conklin, TE

Honestly, I don’t expect there to be much opportunity for rookies to contribute to this stacked lineup. However, if injuries strike — as they tend to do — Conklin could take advantage. He was a solid run-blocker in college and is athletic enough (with good hands) to make an impact in the passing game.

2018 Fantasy Sleeper: Kyle Rudolph, TE

Rudolph is currently being drafted somewhere between the sixth and seventh round. With an upgrade at quarterback, this former mid-tier touchdown-dependent TE1 could produce his best season yet — double-digit touchdowns are in play — and fulfill his top five potential.

2018 Fantasy Bust: Kirk Cousins, QB

I believe Cousins will have a successful season, but he’ll likely be asked to throw less and you’d possibly have to draft him as early as the sixth or seventh round. If you’ve already waited that long, there will be better value available in a few rounds.

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