32 Questions Part 6 - NFC North
By Sigmund Bloom
July 21st, 2011

Green Bay Packers - Who will start at running back and will it become full-blown RBBC?

James Starks ended the Packers championship season with a bit of bang, but Ryan Grant should be back to full health, setting up a battle for the starting running back job. It seems like this will be one of those RB depth chart battles where the loser will still be a 1A, not a backup. On top of that, third-round pick Alex Green was praised for his short yardage and third-round skillset by the team and we all remember how John Kuhn mucked up the picture in the backfield last year. The team could even re-sign Brandon Jackson for his third-down prowess. The Packers backfield could resemble New England's this year when the roles are carved up, but if they decide to go with a true lead back, one of Starks or Grant is going to be a great value in hindsight. We'll get our first hints as to their approach and the favorite to lead it from camp reports and the preseason. Be ready to take a stand on the Packers backs, even if that stand is "no thanks".

Detroit Lions - How much work does Mikel LeShoure get this season?

Detroit gave up a fourth-round pick to move up and take LeShoure in the late second, which really shouldn't have been as much of a surprise as it was. Even if Jahvid Best had stayed healthy and flourished last season, head coach Jim Schwartz has made no bones about wanting to be able to run the ball with authority since he showed up in Detroit, and we all know it's a two-back league now. LeShoure should get short yardage and ball control work, but Best will get enough touches (especially catches) to be a quality RB2, even in non-PPR leagues. He is slightly underrated, but like another rookie disappointment, Ryan Mathews, he still has enough backers in most leagues that his ADP won't drop much if at all from the rookie-optimism inflated levels Best was drafted at last year. The question that fantasy owners can take even more advantage of if they get it right is "How good can Detroit and their offense be this year ?". If they turn into a winning high-scoring team, LeShoure can put numbers along the lines of Marion Barber 2006-07, when he was a part-time NFL back, but full-time fantasy back.

Minnesota Vikings - How committed are the Vikings to re-signing Sidney Rice?

At this time last year, we were just beginning to wring our hands about Rice's hip injury, which now threatens to take some of the edge off of his first big payday. Many have speculated that Rice will get a short or incentive-laden contract to protect his new team from long-term problems with his surgically repaired hip. We will learn a lot about what the doctors are saying in regards Rice's medical fitness behind closed doors by the contract he gets. He is such a dynamic talent and Rice will have just turned 25 when the season starts, so we wouldn't blame a team for going the extra mile and offering more guaranteed money to secure Rice for the duration of the prime of his career. Will that team be the Vikings? They have absolutely no plan B for the starter opposite Percy Harvin on the roster, so you would hope the organization that found room in their deep pockets for Brett Favre can also convince themselves to keep Rice in purple. This one is hard to gauge, but no matter how it turns out, we will get insight into how Rice is viewed around the league and how aggressive some teams are going to be about upgrading their WR corps when Rice signs on the dotted line.

Chicago Bears - How big will the move be at wide receiver?

Santana Moss, Malcom Floyd, Steve Breaston, Sidney Rice, Braylon Edwards, even Plaxico Burress - the Bears have been linked to just about every free agent wide receiver over the last few months. Their wideout group certainly lacks a big receiver and a complete receiver. Devin Hester is back to being a return man-slash-wide receiver, and Johnny Knox did his Nate Washington impression last year. Earl Bennett should get a chance to compete for a starting job if the name Chicago signs isn't too big, but regardless it seems like their signing someone of potential starting caliber is a foregone conclusion. So, who will it be? Even though the Bears will have money to spend in free agency, the latest reports have them not making a bid for the big names and instead aiming lower to fill their needs. This could be your last chance to target Bennett in dynasty leagues before he is penciled in a provisional starter. We also shouldn't forget the promises to do more with Greg Olsen in the passing game if the Bears hibernate while other teams fight over the top wide receivers in free agency.

Questions, suggestions and comments are always welcome to bloom@footballguys.com.

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