Green Bay Packers
|By Matt De Lima, Wednesday, October 16, 2013|
QB Aaron Rodgers - Stud (low risk)
Aaron Rodgers signed a five-year, $110 million extension last month, making him the highest paid player in NFL history. Fantasy owners owe him a debt of gratitude as well. Rodgers has been excellent in his five years as a starter. His numbers did take a small step back though without WR Greg Jennings around for most of the year. Jennings is now in Minnesota and WR Donald Driver has retired. Even with both gone, Rodgers remains a Top 3 fantasy QB. With over 4,000 passing yards in four of his last five seasons and 84 passing TDs in his last two seasons combined, the 29-year-old is in his prime. With excellent weapons at WR and TE, Rodgers should be expected to have another big year.
RB Eddie Lacy - Solid/Safe Pick
Eddie Lacy's role will slowly be carved out during training camp and into the preseason. Right now, the Packers and the media have anointed him the starter. The Packers have a number of capable backs who will all compete for touches. Lacy will fend off Johnathan Franklin and DuJuan Harris. Ideally, you should draft Lacy as your third RB. This greatly minimizes any risk that he might forfeit playing time. It will be interesting to see how Green Bay splits the workload. If Lacy plays every down and is used as a workhorse back, he could easily contribute 1,300 total yards and a half dozen scores. That's high-end RB2 territory. However if he sits in goal-line situations or sacrifices third downs to another back, Lacy is a flex option at best.
RB Johnathan Franklin - Super Sleeper (high risk/potential)
Right now, the top RB spot in Green Bay is up for grabs, but Eddie Lacy was and still is the early favorite. The other back, Johnathan Franklin could emerge during the season. The former UCLA star is a solid dynasty add and a decent handcuff for Lacy considering his injury-riddled collegiate career. Both guys have the same opportunity and for all we know, the Packers may still use a 50-50 split workload. Franklin is going a few rounds later in the draft, so give him a shot in deeper leagues.Injury Status: Injured Reserve
RB John Kuhn - Not Draft Worthy
One thing is for certain, John Kuhn is costing somebody a fantasy win by poaching a touchdown or two away from the No. 1 Packers back every season. That just goes to show how potent Green Bay's offense is when the fullback is mostly known as a vulture.
RB Alex Green - Not Draft Worthy
Alex Green slowly worked his way into the starting lineup in his second season and could not capitalize. In 2012, he rushed 135 times for 463 yards (3.4 ypc) and no TDs. A very telling number, which is a bit vague for some, but he only earned 17 first downs when rushing. Look at this way, if you touch 135 times and only convert a first down about 13-percent of the time, you will not have any job security. Green went from a deep sleeper a year ago to a fantasy afterthought today.
WR Randall Cobb - Stud (low risk)
Update (10-14): Green Bay's victory in Week 6 reminds one of the saying win the battle but lose the war as wide receiver Randall Cobb reportedly suffered a fractured fibula. The injury is expected to keep the slot receiver out 6-8 weeks, meaning Cobb be out until Week 14. He left in the second quarter after Ravens safety Matt Elam tackled Cobb low with a helmet to the knee. Second-year receiver Jarrett Boykin becomes a strong free agent pickup this week.
In his second year, Randall Cobb blossomed into his role. He saw 104 targets, caught 80 passes for 954 yards and eight scores. For those leagues that also count return yardage, he was a prolific returner as well. Cobb is an excellent PPR player, but I'm not as high on him in standard scoring leagues. Those eight TDs will be tough to match for a slot receiver, even with Greg Jennings and Donald Driver gone. Receiver touchdowns can be a fickle thing and for a slot player, receptions and yardage are much more consistent year-to-year.Injury Status: Injured Reserve
WR Jordy Nelson - Solid/Safe Pick
Update (8-21): Jordy Nelson's recovery from recent knee surgery is progressing, but at a pace that makes him questionable if not doubtful for Week 1 of the regular season. His potential with Aaron Rodgers throwing his way makes him a potential fantasy stud, but the uncertainty lowers his ranking away from any potential WR1 talk on draft day.
Profile: Injuries really hurt, no pun intended, Jordy Nelson's stats. He had two great games in Weeks 6 and 7, totaling 17 receptions for 243 yards and four TDs and then injured his hamstring. After that, he didn't play as much and was not that effective. QB Aaron Rodgers began targeting WRs Randall Cobb and James Jones more frequently, leaving Nelson as more of a decoy than threat. This down year has pushed Nelson down a full round in average draft position and that's with Greg Jennings and Donald Driver out of the picture. Great value here.
WR James Jones - Solid/Safe Pick
For years, fantasy owners had not-so-patiently waited for James Jones to live up to his potential. Finally, it all came together in 2012 with injuries to WRs Greg Jennings and Jordy Nelson, making Jones the primary target. Jones responded with 64 receptions for 784 yards and 14 touchdowns. His red-zone production was off the charts. Just like Nelson scoring 15 TDs in 2011, Jones should not be expected to score anywhere close to 14 TDs ever again, or even half that total. He is a very good WR3/flex player and will have his fair share of big games, but do not reach for him expecting him to put up Jennings-like numbers now that he has finally earned an expanded starting role.
WR Jarrett Boykin - Super Sleeper (high risk/potential)
Update (10-14): Fantasy owners, it's time to learn about Jarrett Boykin now that Randall Cobb reportedly suffered a fractured fibula. The injury is expected to keep the slot receiver out 6-8 weeks, meaning Cobb be out until Week 14. He left in the second quarter after Ravens safety Matt Elam tackled Cobb low with a helmet to the knee. The 6-foot-2 Boykin went for 41 yards with his only catch against the Ravens. Depending on the status of James Jones, Boykin could be the Packers No. 2 receiver and have immediate WR3 status for fantasy owners.
Profile: With an offense this potent, the player that the earns the No. 4 spot on the depth chart has a big opportunity. Jarrett Boykin is a second-year receiver out of Virginia Tech with excellent hands. Former Green Bay legend Antonio Freeman was also a Hokie, so perhaps Boykin can make a name for himself as well. The problem is a lack of experience. Boykin did not play much as a rookie. He caught five of his six targets for 27 yards. Given the injury history of Jordy Nelson, Boykin is only an injury away from a lot of playing time in an excellent offense. He will have to fend off challenges from many other young receivers that are behind him on the depth chart though.
TE Jermichael Finley - Gamble (high risk)
According to the average draft position numbers from last year, Jermichael Finley was the sixth TE selected in fantasy drafts. He finished the season outside the Top 15 and it got to the point where many draft analysts expected the Packers to draft a tight end to remedy the position. That draft pick never came and now we have another year of trying to figure out Finley's enigma. We all know Finley's upside, that's why he was so highly drafted a year ago. Now he is going around the end of the 10th round. Fall far enough in a draft and eventually even the most overrated player becomes a value pick. If Finley continues to fall in drafts, especially into the 11th round, snatch him up as a backup if you can. If his stock rebounds, it is likely not worth the risk with the position full of so many breakout players with late-round value like Cleveland's Jordan Cameron.Injury Status: Injured Reserve
PK Mason Crosby - Bye Week Fill-in
It was a very poor 2012 for Mason Crosby. He missed 12 field goals, converting 21 of his 33 attempts. The typically strong-legged alum from the University of Colorado was 2 for 9 from 50-plus yards. The Packers have brought in Giorgio Tavecchio, an undrafted free agent from the Cal Golden Bears. Crosby is not worth a draft pick even if he does keep his job, despite playing for an offense that will give him a plethora of extra point attempts.
Green Bay Defense - Solid/Safe Pick
Green Bay fell from the ranks of the NFL's elite defenses last year. They still managed 47 sacks, good for fourth in the NFL (and having WR Randall Cobb as a returner should lead to a special teams TD sooner rather than later). The continued development of OLB Nick Perry and the recent arrival of UCLA DE Datone Jones could swing this defense back into the conversation of a Top 5 defense. Replacing future Hall of Famer Charles Woodson is next to impossible though. Elite caliber players like OLB Clay Matthews, DT B.J. Raji and a healthy ILB Desmond Bishop should keep Green Bay's D/ST around the Top 10.