Fantasy Football: Top 5 Deep Sleepers in the NFC North

DETROIT, MI - JANUARY 1: Geronimo Allison
DETROIT, MI - JANUARY 1: Geronimo Allison /
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SEATTLE, WA – JANUARY 07: Quarterback Matthew Stafford
SEATTLE, WA – JANUARY 07: Quarterback Matthew Stafford /

3. Zach Zenner, RB, Lions

Diehard supporters of the Lions are keeping their fingers crossed that Ameer Abdullah can finally put his past injuries and ball-security dilemmas in the rearview mirror to finally rise up in becoming the team’s undisputed feature runner.

And while there’s little doubt of the third-year pro having the ability to meet that objective, Detroit is still going to need to find ways of hammering the ball into the end zone on 3rd-and-1 from the 1-yard line.

Neither Abdullah nor pass-catching specialist Theo Riddick have the size to bully their way for tough yards in short-yardage situations.

This is why GM Bob Quinn brought in the plodding former Viking Matt Asiata to compete for a roster spot with his other power backs, including Zenner and undrafted rookie Tion Green.

Don’t worry—I didn’t forget about Dwayne Washington, who at 6-foot-1, 223-pounds very much looks the part of a bruising chain mover.

Yet, Washington played a lot smaller than his listed size as a rookie by often preferring to wait for non-existent cutback lanes instead of slamming the ball into the teeth of the opposing front seven.

Zenner, on the other hand, may not be as athletic as the University of Washington product, but exhibited a natural feel for breaking tackles on inside plays.

The unheralded grinder’s balance and low pad level allowed him to produce positive yardage.

New additions on the offensive line, including former long-time Packer T.J. Lang, may be enough to assist Abdullah in attaining his first-ever 1,000-yard campaign.

Big plays by Abdullah between the 20s should lead to plenty of opportunities for No. 34 to score 8 or more short-yardage touchdowns if things go according to plan.

Detroit’s reluctance to run the ball in past years has resulted in the Lions passing more than any other team in the league three years running.

Look for the coaching staff to prioritize keeping Matthew Stafford out of harm’s way this year through the revival of a long-dormant running attack.