Fantasy Football: NFC North Division

Many fans play fantasy football, but few take the time necessary to dominate. Here, get an expert's look at the breakout players and where they've landed now that the smoke has cleared from the offseason.

Chicago: The Chicago Bears had everything but a quarterback last season after yet another injury sidetracked Rex Grossman. Not wanting to go through a similar situation again this year, the team signed former Denver and Tampa Bay starter Brian Griese. Griese lost his job in Tampa last year to Chris Simms after suffering a severe knee injury, but don't be surprised if he eventually replaces Grossman, who is shaky, at best, as the starter. The team added return specialist Devin Hester in the draft, making Chicago's oustanding defense/special teams unit even stronger. It's now possibly the best in terms of fantasy production.

Detroit: The Lions brought in two quarterbacks to replace soon-to-be released Joey Harrington when only one would have done the job. Expect Jon Kitna to win the starting job over Josh McCown, at least for now. Kitna knows how to distribute the ball and should thrive as a solid sleeper QB in new offensive coordinator Mike Martz' offense. Expect Martz to also get the most out of Detroit's receiving corps as the Lions offense should be more explosive in 2006. Last year was supposed to be Kevin Jones' coming out party. It could happen this year instead. There was little offensive help in this draft as the Lions went after defense.

Green Bay: Brett Favre will be back for at least one more season, though he's no longer a top-flight fantasy QB. The team also re-signed running backs Ahman Green and Najeh Davenport, both of whom are coming off of injuries. With Javon Walker now in Denver, Donald Driver is the unquestioned No. 1 receiver, with Robert Ferguson, who is also coming off an injury, sliding into the No. 2 spot. Speedy Greg Jennings, one of two second-round draft picks, excels at catching short passes and turning them into long gains. He's a decent late-round pick given Ferguson's injury status and relative lack of productivity in his career. Reliable placekicker Ryan Longwell moved on to Minnesota. Billy Cundiff is expected to take his place.

Minnesota: The Vikings jettisoned star quarterback Daunte Culpepper, meaning veteran Brad Johnson is now their No. 1 quarterback. Johnson will never be a fantasy star, but is a solid No. 2 fantasy QB. Running back Chester Taylor was signed and will battle Mewelde Moore for the starting job. Both will likely see time, though Taylor has more fantasy value given the team's investment in him. Wide receiver Nate Burleson was lost as a restricted free agent to Seattle, but the team expects Koren Robinson and last year's top pick Troy Williamson to pick up the slack. Placekicker Ryan Longwell, late of Green Bay, should have good value moving indoors after spending his career with the Packers on the frozen tundra of Lambeau Field. The Vikings surprised many by trading a pair of third round picks for a second round selection used to draft Alabama State quarterback Tarvarius Jackson. But the team feels Jackson, who has a strong arm and good mobility, can be its quarterback of the future.

Dale Lolley appears courtesy of the Observer-Reporter

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