NFC Weekly Preview — Week 8

NFC North Preview — Jerry Sinclair @JerrysinDFF

What We Learned From Last Week:

Sell your Green Bay pass catchers before it’s too late. Brett Hundley started his playing career with a 12/25, 87-yard clunker. Jordy Nelson and Davante Adams combined for 3 catches and 25 yards against a New Orleans defense that is not exactly the 2000 Ravens. No more Rodgers, no more trust. We’re seeing a budding star in Aaron Jones emerge in the Packer backfield, which cannot be ignored in fantasy circles. The Pack attack is on a bye in week 8, so I’m giving it another week for Ty Montgomery to heal up fully before anointing Jones as the workhorse. Of course by the look of the Green Bay passing game, if a running back does emerge as a workhorse, he’ll be relied on early and often to help Hundley get more comfortable with his new role as commander in the great white north.

What to Watch For:

Is anyone going to be a fantasy superstar in the NFC North? Aaron Rodgers breaking his collarbone has the stocks of Davante Adams and Jordy Nelson plummeting. Jordan Howard certainly gets a superstar’s workload, but thus far he’s shown to be nothing more than Lamar Miller with a big game sprinkled in sporadically. Sorry Lions fans, but nobody even comes close to resembling a superstar fantasy option out of the Honolulu Blue and Silver. Stefon Diggs had been one through the first four weeks, only to miss, essentially, the previous three games. Just a few years ago this division was a pinnacle of fantasy superstardom with the likes of Calvin Johnson, Aaron Rodgers, Jordy Nelson, Eddie Lacy, Adrian Peterson, Alshon Jeffery, Brandon Marshall and Matt Forte. Now there’s but a few who take three steps toward stardom, only to take two steps backward the next week. Who is going to step up during the 2nd half of the season to lead their respective teams to the NFC North championship, giving their fantasy owners the opportunity to drink champagne out of their championship chalices to the chagrin of their league mates?

Who Brings the Boom:

Adam Thielen. Going a little riskier with this one. I just can’t imagine Stefon Diggs misses two games, then comes back for a game in London against the Cleveland Browns before the Vikings bye in week 9. I’m putting my money on Diggs missing this game. Who does that leave? None other than the great white hype, Adam Thielen. He’s been a solid part of the Vikings offense, getting at least 5 catches in every game thus far this season. The touchdown drought to start the season is concerning, but going against the Browns, with Diggs likely out, that’s a recipe for one of Thielen’s patented out-of-nowhere explosion performances.

Who Drops the Ball:

Ameer Abdullah. There’s the Ameer Abdullah we know and love. Had a productive three weeks to hype the fantasy community up against the Giants, Falcons, and Vikings, only to have back to back clunkers against the Panthers and Saints. The Steelers have allowed bigger, workhorse running backs like Jordan Howard and Leonard Fournette have monster games on them this season. Unfortunately for Ameer, he’s not either of those things. Maybe one day Abdullah will live up to the hype, but I’m not buying it from the Nebraska product this week.

Game Predictions:

Minnesota Vikings 26, Cleveland Browns 14

Detroit Lions 21, Pittsburgh Steelers 27

Chicago Bears 17, New Orleans Saints 28

Green Bay Packers — Bye

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NFC South Preview — Jeremy Wyman @DFF_JerWyman

What We Learned From Last Week:

I just can’t figure out New Orleans Saints. I thought the Saints defense was going to be a powerhouse vs. the gimpy Packers sans Aaron Rodgers last week. Well, I was wrong. I believe the word “feast” was part of my prediction. Riiight. While New Orleans did hold Brett Hundley to only 87 passing yards, logged a sack and a turnover, they gave up 44 yards and a rushing TD to the inexperienced QB. Their passing defense was stout, keeping Jordy Nelson and Davante Adams in check; however, they allowed 138 total yards and a rushing TD to rookie RB Aaron Jones. I can’t say they feasted, but it was an average performance.

I also said Ted Ginn, Jr. would take a back seat to Willie Snead’s return to his old self. Oops, wrong on that one, too. Snead didn’t even play. As it turns out, Snead’s hamstring “issue” might just be worse than the Saints’ back office led us to believe. In Snead’s absence, Ginn racked up the big plays, posting 7 receptions on 7 targets totaling 141 receiving yards. Talk about efficient.

What to watch for:

Bears @ Saints — The New Orleans defense should have a better performance at home vs. Chicago in this one. They’ll have another easy matchup vs. Mitchell Trubisky and whatever receivers they have on the offense (what are their names, again?), but it will be interesting to see how they fare against Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen on the ground, who were less than stellar at home vs. Carolina in Week 7. The high-powered Saints offense will be just fine in the Superdome. I expect big things from Drew Brees, Michael Thomas, and from Ginn once again. On the other hand, even if Snead works his way back into the lineup, he won’t be start-worthy; at least not for this week. UPDATE: The Bears picked up WR Dontrelle Inman from the Chargers on Wednesday. He’ll likely make an instant impact on the offense, but probably not enough to make a big difference in this matchup.

Panthers @ Buccaneers — Cam Newton struggled against Chicago in Week 7, giving the Bears 2 interceptions and a fumble, not to mention getting sacked 5 times. The Bears defense won them the game and made Carolina look like they didn’t even prepare for the matchup. Look for Cam, Kelvin Benjamin, and Devin Funchess to get back on track vs. Tampa Bay’s defensive backs. They’re all viable starters this week. Christian McCaffrey and Jonathan Stewart should also be able to get things rolling on the ground against an overall weak Buccaneers defense. If you’re a Cam Newton owner who still has a bitter taste in your mouth from Week 7, don’t let that cloud your judgment. He’s a start this week for sure. He’ll look to bounce back in a big way. On the defensive side of the ball, Luke Kuechly’s still in the concussion protocol and is a question mark for Sunday. If he’s out, Doug Martin could be in line for a big day. Although the Panthers defense is still a top-notch unit, Tampa Bay proved that it could still move the ball against quality defenses last week vs. the Buffalo Bills. Mike Evans, DeSean Jackson, Cameron Brate, and Jameis Winston are all worthy of the start in this matchup. This’ll be another close, high-scoring game.

Falcons @ Jets — This is a case of an offense on the rise vs. another in a mid-season free-fall. The rising unit? It’s not the Falcons. It’s the New York Jets. They lost a heartbreaker by a last-minute field goal vs. Miami last week, and another close one against New England the week before, but they have proven to be a formidable opponent this far this season, beating Miami, Jacksonville, and Cleveland in weeks 3–5. This might be this week’s upset special if Atlanta doesn’t right the ship. They need to keep pushing the ball to Julio Jones, who scored the team’s only touchdown vs. New England in the “fog bowl” on Sunday night. He had a solid game and needs the opportunity to be the team’s leader through the rest of the season. Devonta Freeman needs to step it up this week and get back to early-season form. Since their Week 5 bye, Freeman’s put up 2 mediocre, nay, lackluster performances, and he needs to turn it around sooner rather than later, or Atlanta will continue its downward spiral.

Who Brings The Boom:

Cam Newton. As I mentioned, Cam’s looking to have a bounce-back performance vs. Tampa Bay. As horrible as he looked last week, he’ll turn the tables and look better than he has in a long time. Expect his performance to be reminiscent of his electric 2015 season, dropping a few bombs to Kelvin Benjamin and Devin Funchess, completing some short, effective tosses to Christian McCaffrey, and picking up some yards with his legs on the ground. Go ahead, Cam, Dab on ‘em.

Who Drops the Ball:

The Falcons’ Defense. Yep, I’m going with the upset in New York. Look for Atlanta to take the early lead, but the Jets will keep it close. Yes, the Falcons D has only given up 9 passing TDs this season, but this will come down to a last-minute field goal. Josh McCown will put together a late game-winning drive (yes, Josh McCown), setting up a Chandler Catanzaro kick to win the game, leaving Atlanta’s defense holding the bag when the game clock runs out.

Game Predictions:

Saints 28, Bears 10

Panthers 34, Buccaneers 30

Falcons 20, Jets 21

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Click below to see our predictions and fantasy breakdowns for the NFC East and NFC West

Originally published at on October 26, 2017.