Fantasy Football

NFC North and East 2020 NFL Draft Team Needs

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We’re t-minus one week away from the NFL Draft! Prepare yourselves for the endless amount of memes that Dave Gettleman is about to provide us. In the meantime, I’m here to break down the NFC North and East 2020 NFL Draft team needs.

This is the time of year when fantasy players start mock drafting and dynasty startup drafts begin to take place. If you’re getting your draft board ready, I’m here to help.

For information on the AFC, check out the article I wrote on the AFC North and East. You can also find the article I wrote on the AFC South and West.

NFC North and East 2020 NFL Draft Team Needs

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NFC North

Chicago Bears

This is Mitchell Trubisky‘s do-or-die year. Heading into his fourth season, Trubisky has had a lackluster career for a former first-round pick. He showed signs of life in his second season but has since taken a step back.

The Bears have brought in Nick Foles to compete with Trubisky for the starting role. Foles has some familiarity with the Bears coaching staff, as newly-hired offensive coordinator Bill Lazor worked with him during his magical run in 2013. He’s going to serve as stiff competition to Trubisky heading into training camp.

A playoff run for the Bears is possible if they play their cards right in the draft. To compete, they’ll need to add a guard to replace Kyle Long and fill holes in their secondary. Additionally, adding another threat at wide receiver could help the team rebound from a dreadful passing performance last season.

Wide Receiver

The Bears released Taylor Gabriel this offseason after two years with the team. With Gabriel’s absence on offense, the team lacks a third-option at the position.

Gabriel offered top-end speed and served as a dynamic field-stretcher for the Bears. They’re going have to replace that role in the draft, and there are plenty of young speedsters available.

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The Bears first pick in the second round at 43 overall, though they also pick seven spots later at 50. If the Packers don’t take Denzel Mims in the first, he would be the ideal replacement for Gabriel. Brandon Aiyuk could also be interesting, but one of those players will have to slip for Chicago to snag them.

Assuming the Bears add a young receiver to the roster, they likely won’t offer much value in redraft leagues. It’s what their arrival could mean for rising star Anthony Miller that should have fantasy owners slightly concerned.

Tight End

Trey Burton has left the building. The Bears cut the veteran tight end before the start of his third season in a four-year, $32 million deal.

Welp, this changes things.

Before releasing Burton, the team signed Jimmy Graham to a two-year, $16 million contract. Post-signing, it didn’t appear that there would be much to talk about at this position heading into the draft. Seeing the depth chart without Burton, however, shows a team that may need to look to the draft for a replacement.

As far as rookies go, Notre Dame’s Cole Kmet has been talked about as a draft-day candidate for the Bears. Suddenly it appears more likely that Kmet could find his way on their roster if he slides down the draft board.

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Kmet has the athleticism and talent to become a dynamic play-making tight end in the league. Still, it can’t be ignored that Chicago signed Jimmy Graham to a substantial and lucrative contract. The team has a role carved out for him, and any rookie would take the backseat behind him.

For fantasy purposes, the likely additions of a wide receiver and tight end strip Graham of TE1 upside.

Detroit Lions

I hope Matt Patricia’s No. 2 pencils are sharpened and ready to go because he has a lot of work to do if he wants to remain employed. Life hasn’t been easy for the head coach since he flew out from under Belichick’s wing. This draft and the ensuing season are as crucial as ever for the third-year head coach.

The Lions lost a key piece of their defense when Darius Slay was traded to the Eagles for their third and fifth-round picks. Detroit signed Desmond Trufant three days before shipping Slay to Philadelphia, but he’s far from an adequate replacement at cornerback. Because of this, it’s highly likely that the team selects Jeff Okudah with their first pick.

Detroit needs help at a couple of other positions as well. Most notably, they need to pick up a solid edge rusher. A good running back and left guard could also improve the team’s chances of success. Considering the trade rumors surrounding their first pick, they’re poised to get additional draft capital to fill these holes.

Quarterback

There is the occasional rumor that Detroit will stun the league and select Tua Tagovailoa with the third overall pick. Truthfully, I don’t believe this rumor to be anything but a smoke-screen.

Matthew Stafford was torching defenses before he got hurt and was on pace for over 5,000 yards. If there was one bright spot on that team, it was him.

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Lacking job security, Patricia and General Manager Bob Quinn simply don’t have time to develop a young quarterback. Case closed.

Running Back

There’s no doubt that Kerryon Johnson has incredible talent that could propel him to be a star in the league. Unfortunately for Kerryon, what he has in talent, he lacks in durability. The third-year back has already missed 14 games in his first two seasons.

Last year, we got a glimpse of the team’s backups at the position, and by that,  I mean we saw nothing. Ty Johnson was a waiver-wire darling that burned fantasy owners from the moment they picked him up. Bo Scarbrough had his moments, but he’s not who the team wants toting the rock should Johnson go down.

Running back is a big need, and they’ve already had virtual meetings with talented players like D’Andre Swift and J.K Dobbins. Expect to see a day two addition to Detroit’s backfield.

Kerryon is young, and he still has time to develop into a reliable running back. However, if the team addresses the position as expected, Kerryon’s fantasy value will take a big hit. This might be a bold take, but depending on who they bring in it might be worth drafting the cheaper option in this committee.

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Wide Receiver

Danny Amendola and Marvin Jones are on the last year of their contracts. Amendola seems unlikely to return as he’ll be 35 in November.

There are other positions in need of young blood, and wide receiver isn’t particularly pressing. The Lions could, however, still plan for the potential departures of Jones and Amendola by taking someone in the mid to late rounds of the draft.

Fantasy implications of this pick depends on draft price. No one they bring in will make an impact this season on your fantasy roster. If, however, they turn heads and pick a receiver earlier than expected, they’ll deserve dynasty pick.

Green Bay Packers

Good for Mike McCarthy for landing that job in Dallas. Hopefully, that takes some of the sting out of watching his former team put on a 13-3 showing following his unceremonious departure. His replacement, first-year Head Coach Matt LaFleur, revived the franchises’ hopes of winning one more Super Bowl with Aaron Rodgers.

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The Packers have a tight window for a championship run, with Aaron Rodgers inching closer to retirement. What they need to focus on is fortifying their offensive line and providing another receiver for Rodgers. Please, just draft someone, anyone!

Wide Receiver

Aaron Rodgers has been criminally deprived of a capable bunch of receivers to get the ball to. Sure, he has Davante Adams, but what happens if Adams goes down? Well, we saw that question answered last year, and it wasn’t pretty.

With Rodgers under center, there’s no excuse to finish 17th in the league as a passing offense. Young guys like Equanimeous St. Brown and Marquez Valdes-Scantling have failed to live up to the team’s expectations. The Packers need to make right on their perenially under-tooled receiving corps. It’s first round or bust for this position.

Drafting at the back of the first round, getting someone like Denzel Mims would be a dream come true. He’s a field-stretcher that offers great contested-catch ability. He’s the perfect complement to Davante Adams.

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If the Packers draft a receiver with their first pick (they had better), their incoming rookie provides immediate value in redraft leagues. We’re looking at a great option to take as your WR4 with upside.

Tight End

After releasing Jimmy Graham this offseason, the Packers missed out on the Austin Hooper sweepstakes. Bidding on a starting-caliber guy doesn’t bode well for their level of confidence in Jace Sternberger.

Sternberger missed the majority of his rookie season due to injury. When he finally suited up in the regular season, he failed to manage a single reception.

The tight end class is shallow this year, but that isn’t to say it’s completely devoid of talent. Ideally, Green Bay could draft a guy like Thaddeus Moss on day three of the draft. Moss came on strong late in the season last year at LSU and showed out in the National Championship Game.

Barring any major injuries, Rodgers still has a few quality years left in the tank. If a talented pass-catching tight end is thrown into the mix, they deserve a spot on your dynasty roster.

Minnesota Vikings

Following an offseason that left Minnesota thin at defense, the Vikings war-room will be bustling come draft night. The Vikings lost Everson Griffen and the majority of their secondary, leaving massive holes to fill. With Mike Zimmer being a defensive-minded head coach, expect to see their draft predicated around that side of the ball.

Offensively, they took a hit when they traded away their star receiver Stefon Diggs. To be fair, Diggs made it known that he wanted out. Still, following their trade to the Bills, their receiving corps looks suspect and needs attention in the draft.

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Wide Receiver

Slow your roll. Despite what you read on Twitter, Minnesota is not in talks to acquire Odell Beckham Jr. Cleveland has addressed these rumors and said that Odell is not on the trade block. Look at it this way, at least Minnesota won’t be swapping one diva for another.

Rumors aside, there’s a high probability that Minnesota uses two picks to bolster this subpar group of receivers. Behind Adam Thielen, the next two players on the depth chart are Tajae Sharpe and Chad Beebe. To put it delicately…yikes.

The Vikings have two first-round picks, and it would be a surprise to see them not select a wideout. Realistically, Minnesota is looking at players like Justin Jefferson and Denzel Mimms. Justin Jefferson would be a great addition to the team, offering versatility by effectively lining up in the slot and the outside.

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Whether it’s Jefferson, Jalen Reagor, Tee Higgins, or Denzel Mimms, they would be walking into a great situation.

Minnesota is a run-first team, and if things go according to plan that’s exactly what they’ll do. On the other hand, this strategy is highly contingent on the success of their incoming defensive rookies. There’s a possibility that the Vikings find themselves in high-scoring games more often than not.

Should the Vikings have to rely heavily on their passing game, there’s a golden fantasy opportunity available for a rookie. Diggs left 94 available targets behind him that are up for grabs, and possibly more for the above reasons. Consider their WR2 a great late-round addition in redraft and a fantastic pickup in dynasty with Kirk Cousins signing a tw0-year extension.

NFC East

Dallas Cowboys

It was a disappointing season for Cowboys Nation. Dallas was a legitimate Super Bowl contender at the beginning of the year. It was the right move for the Cowboys to move on from Jason Garrett after an 8-8 performance. Hopefully, the newly-hired Mike McCarthy can turn things around.

Mike McCarthy’s decision to keep Offensive Coordinator Kellen Moore around is great news for their offense. Last year, the Cowboys ranked first in yards per game, and they finished sixth in points scored. The offense lost Randall Cobb and Jason Witten, but Cobb is replaceable. As far as Witten goes, the combination of Blake Jarwin and a talented rookie should soften the blow of losing him.

It’s the Cowboys defense that could use the most help in the draft. They lost Byron Jones to the Dolphins and could use help with depth in their secondary. Dallas made impressive signings on the defensive line, but it couldn’t hurt to grab someone who fits into a 3-4 scheme like Defensive Coordinator Mike Nolan wants.

Wide Receiver

With a solid WR3, the Cowboys would have one of the most impressive wide receiver units in the league. Dallas doesn’t need to use a high pick with Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup being the stars of the show. A late pick on day two is possible, but an early day three pick is what you should expect.

Kentucky’s Lynn Bowden Jr. would fit nicely in the offense as he could take over the slot in Cobb’s absence. His best trait is arguably his yards after catch ability. In 2018, he ranked 15th among wide receivers in that particular category. Fittingly enough, his NFL comparison is Randall Cobb. Go figure.

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Cooper and Gallup will see the majority of the targets, and rightfully so. Taking a shot on Dallas’ slot guy as a late-round PPR bye week fill-in, however, isn’t a bad idea.

Tight End

Seeing Jason Witten leave Dallas was a hard thing to watch. Witten had become synonymous to the Cowboys franchise. Sentimentality aside, Dallas made the right decision.

Dallas made room for the young Blake Jarwin and signed him to a four-year, $22 million deal. That’s not too shabby. Jarwin has shown brief moments of explosive play-making ability, but he lacks significant playing time.

In addition to Jarwin’s lack of experience, Dallas’ TE2, Dalton Schultz, is a non-factor on offense. Dallas has too many defensive needs to take a tight end early, but they’re almost certain to take someone on day three.

For all of you Jarwin truthers out there, Dallas’ pick at tight end might rain on your parade. If the Cowboys take someone in the sixth or seventh round, Jarwin’s breakout potential remains mostly unscathed. A pick any higher than that, however, leaves Jarwin as a late-round pick with only modest upside.

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New York Giants

Draft season just wouldn’t be the same if we didn’t discuss New York’s perpetual need to strengthen their offensive line. The Giants have weapons, but they need to protect Daniel Jones and open up running lanes for Saquon Barkley. To build up this unit, they desperately need help at offensive tackle.

Defensively, the Giants have to invest in a solid linebacker, and their secondary needs work as well. Clemson linebacker Isaiah Simmons seems like the safe bet for their first pick, and day two should yield a cornerback. Fans shouldn’t be surprised if the vast majority of the team’s picks revolve around their defense.

Wide Receiver

The group of receivers the Giants have collected is often overlooked as a solid crew. Golden Tate and Sterling Shepard are both reliable receivers in the slot, and second-year player Darius Slayton flashed great potential. All that the group lacks is a large statured pass-catcher that can create mismatches against opposing defenses.

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Looking at the team’s needs a whole, wide receiver takes a backseat to the offensive line and secondary. Depending on the value of the players on the board, however, the Giants could still use a late day two pick to address the position. Antonio Gandy Golden and Chase Claypool should still be available at this point. Both players would fill the need for an athletic receiver with size.

Should the Giants forego drafting a wide receiver until day three, Collin Johnson is another prospect that would also serve the team’s needs. Due to his size, he can bully defenders down the field. He would be a great complement to a group of reliable underneath options.

Adding another viable option for Daniel Jones would muddy the waters for the fantasy outlooks of his receivers. Last season, it was difficult to predict which guy would step up on a game-to-game basis as the primary target for Jones. Each receiver will offer production, but fantasy owners’ best bet is to gamble on Slayton’s upside.

Tight End

Tight end feels like an afterthought when you look at other positions on the team. When healthy, Evan Engram dominates the middle of the field. Unfortunately, he’s missed 12 games in his last two seasons, making tight end a possible draft priority by the team.

Engram’s fantasy value should be unaffected this season if he can stay healthy for 16 games. Dynasty owners, on the other hand, need to pay close attention to the Giants draft picks. If they bring in a rookie and Engram goes down yet again, he may soon be on his way out.

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Philadelphia Eagles

By week 11, the Eagles had a “receiver wanted” ad out in local Philadelphia newspapers. When a practice squad receiver like Greg Ward is your primary target at the position, you have a problem. If the Eagles neglect to draft a receiver in the first round, fans are likely to riot.

With virtually no receivers, it’s impressive that Carson Wentz scraped and clawed his way to a division title. So what the NFC East would have been the second strongest conference in college football behind the SEC? A playoff berth is a playoff berth.

The Eagles need more than receiver help on offense. Jason Peters is no longer with the team, and they don’t have the tools to protect an injury-prone Wentz. More than one pick needs to be dedicated to improving this regime.

Defensively, free agency was not kind to Philadelphia. They’re in dire need of help at linebacker and safety. Outside of a receiver and upgrades to the offensive line, the majority of their picks are needed on defense.

Running Back

Doug Pederson is notorious for his committee-based approach at the running back position. Since Pederson took over as head coach in 2016, he has yet to produce a 1,000-yard rusher in a season. His penchant for involving multiple backs may not be fully realized this season with more pressing needs on the team.

After Jordan Howard went down to injury late in the season, Miles Sanders took over and made his mark in the backfield. Sanders broke every rookie rushing record in Eagles history. He’s the undisputed, top dog in Philly, and it doesn’t look like that’s going to change.

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The Eagles don’t have the draft capital to take a running back earlier than day three. Should they draft someone, we’re talking a 5th-7th round pick. A rookie taken that low won’t pose a threat to Sanders’ workload.

Don’t let Pederson’s history of a committee approach scare you in your fantasy drafts. Miles Sanders is primed for an outstanding year.

Wide Receiver

For the sake of Eagles fans, I won’t disparage last year’s performance any further. Still, the team needs to address this position, like yesterday.

Alshon Jeffery just hit 30 and remains a serious injury liability. Meanwhile, his counterpart, DeSean Jackson is 33 and coming off of a core muscle surgery he underwent late last season. Get the picture?

Speaking of Alshon Jeffery, the rumor mill has speculated that thanks to the new June 1st designation provided by the CBA, the veteran receiver could be cut at that time. This only adds to the need to grab a number one option.

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Bank on the Eagles taking a receiver with their first pick. General Manager Howie Roseman even teased that his team could trade up to grab one of the elite prospects. Given the aforementioned rumors regarding Alshon, it’s highly possible that a second pick could be used at the position.

The new guy in town has a shot to walk in as the immediate WR1 on the team. They need to be on your radar in redraft leagues, and a priority in dynasty.

Washington Redskins

Washington has had a rough go of it for quite some time now. Except for Kirk Cousins, and some might debate that, the Redskins have lacked stability at quarterback for years on end. It appears to be status-quo in Washington with Dwayne Haskins and Kyle Allen competing for the starting gig.

Washington split with former Head Coach Jay Gruden last season, and Ron Rivera has since been brought in to replace him. Rivera is a defense-oriented coach who must be chomping at the bit in anticipation of drafting Chase Young. Outside the first-round, Washington’s main needs defensively include linebacker and cornerback.

On offense, the Redskins need help at offensive tackle and tight end. Both Vernon Davis and Jordan Reed are no longer with the team, leaving a gaping hole at the position. If developing Haskins is a priority, they’ll need to add someone he can go to when he’s in trouble.

Wide Receiver

Amari Cooper turned down Washington’s lucrative offer in favor of staying in Dallas. The Redskins offered him more money, but it wasn’t enough to sway him. When you compare Dak Prescott to the Haskins-Allen Frankenstein monster, can you blame him?

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After missing out on Cooper, the Redskins are going to eye the draft for someone to line up opposite of Terry McLaurin. Steven Sims Jr. came on strong in the final three games of the season. When you consider how small that sample size is though, it’s not enough to trust him as a second option.

The Redskins have to take a receiver, but they’re without a second-round pick in this year’s draft. Their other needs are more urgent, so, unfortunately, this position will have to wait. Round four or five feels like the probable range they’ll consider taking a receiver in.

Due to the lack of options in the passing game, anyone they take has fantasy potential down the line. Still, with two mediocre, relatively inexperienced quarterbacks duking it out, that potential isn’t worth spending a draft pick on. Don’t write their youngster off though, he could still be worth a waiver-wire pickup if he begins to consistently perform.

Tight End

Oh, what could have been? Jordan Reed’s time in Washington has come to an end after years of concussion problems. When healthy, Reed was a difference-maker. His departure inspires little to zero faith in their current stable of tight ends.

The pool of rookie tight ends is shallow. If the Redskins want to make an upgrade, they’re going to have to spend a third or fourth-round pick. Cole Kmet will likely have gone by their third-round pick, but guys like Adam Trautman and Hunter Bryant should still be available and could make an impact on the team.

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Outside of Terry McLaurin, the Redskins passing attack is one that I want to stay away from in fantasy. Anyone in their right mind will avoid drafting a tight end newcomer on this team. As with any talented rookie with a cloudy forecast, scoop him up with a dynasty pick.


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