With the Green Bay Packers season slowly creeping up, it means one thing, the start of fantasy football.
Luckily, the Packers are loaded with fantasy options that can help bring the title back to the arm chair quarterbacks.
One of the first steps as a fantasy football owner is to sort out whether you are in a standard league or a custom scoring league. If you are unsure, you can use this as a guide or ask your league commissioner.
The following is my breakdown of the Green Bay Packers, while utilizing the standard scoring system.
QB: Aaron Rodgers – Even though Rodgers missed 8 games last season, there is no reason to doubt his value. Statistically, Rodgers has been in the upper echelon since 2008 for fantasy quarterbacks, minus last season’s injury mishap. The biggest draw for Rodgers has been his ability to scramble and score touchdowns with his feet (2nd most by QB’s since 2008)
Looking ahead to the 2014 season, Rodgers will face some stiff competition against the pass (Seattle, New Orleans, Carolina, and Buffalo), with three of those games in the first 8 weeks. Outside of the teams just mentioned, if you were to make it to the playoffs or championship, Rodgers has favorable matchups against the Buccaneers in Tampa and Detroit at home to close out the season.
Baring another catastrophic injury, Rodgers will be a sure starter every week. It will be interesting to see how much production he gets on the ground after breaking his clavicle last season, but I wouldn’t let it bother you.
Draft Projection: Late 1st to 2nd round
RB: Eddie Lacy - Last season’s NFL Rookie of the Year is also this season’s biggest riser. Lacy proved to be a pleasant surprise last season finishing as the 7th overall running back in fantasy football. In just 15 games last season, Lacy, managed to accumulate 1435 total yards as well as 11 scores.
One of the key components to fantasy football is the amount of touches a player receivers opposed to the number of turnovers they produce. Last season Lacy totaled 319 total touches while only losing 1 fumble, which also happened in his first ever game week 1.
The Packers have made a point this offseason in turning Lacy into a 3 down back and with that comes more opportunities in the passing game. Lacy had a solid year totaling 35 receptions on 44 targets last season. Those numbers will only go up with Rodgers back under center.
The sky is the limit for Lacy this season as long as he stays healthy. The Packers have enough depth at the running back position which will allow Lacy to get a little rest during games.
Expect big things
Draft Projection: Mid-to-late 1st round
RB: James Starks - Starks is statistically coming off of his best season in the Green and Gold. Starks averaged a career high 5.5ypc while relieving Eddie Lacy as the number 2 running back.
Even though Starks is not a starter, he does have value due to Eddie Lacy’s bouts with durability, but tread with carefully so you are not wasting a spot.
Draft Projection: Late Round – UDFA
WR: Jordy Nelson - Jordy Nelson is coming off of a great season that just earned him a lot of money. Now Nelson will look forward to having his guy back under center this season.
Nelson finished last season ranked 11th at a very crowded wide receiver fantasy position. This season Nelson is ranked as the 8th overall wide out.
If Nelson can top last seasons career highs in receptions and yardage, you’ll get your value in selecting Jordy.
Nelson will also be looking forward to the return of Randall Cobb. With Cobb on the field, the Packers have one of the better tandems in the NFL.
Draft Projection: Mid 2nd to 3rd round
WR: Randall Cobb - Randall Cobb’s time to break out actually left him broken last season. Cobb was off to a hot start until he broke his leg week 6 against the Ravens. He did, however, give us a glimpse of the potential that may come with his season finale return, with his only two catches being touchdowns.
Heading into the 2014 season, Cobb, will be even more poised to finally break out because he is in a contract year. It’s no secret that the Packers would like to use him all over the field, but his durability has really been put to task the past two seasons.
Cobb will do a lot of work this season in the slot and if he can stay healthy, his owners will not be disappointed.
I expect Cobb to see a lot of passes thrown his way as well as a trick running play here and there. If you can look past all of the injury concerns, Cobb will be a hot commodity in the draft.
Draft Projection: 3rd to 4th round
WR: Jarrett Boykin and Davante Adams - Even though Boykin saw his share of playing time last year, I am leery about the prospects of it happening again this season. Boykin was a great mid-season acquisition for any fantasy owner last season. The only problem is Boykin had to emerge due to all the injuries at the position.
Introducing Davante Adams to the mix will only make things harder for Jarrett Boykin. Competition for snaps is great for the product on the field, but not for the fantasy owner sitting behind the computer.
I think that both players will have good seasons, but wont have much of an impact unless Nelson or Cobb become injured.
If you play in a deep league (ten or more teams), either guy will be a solid pick up in the later rounds. If you play in a league less than 10, I would wait until an injury forces your hand to pick one of these guys up.
Draft Projections: Boykin - 8th or later round. Adams – 12th or later round
(Rest of receiving core does not boast any draft stock)
TE: Brandon Bostick/Andrew Quarless/Richard Rodgers - This is the big question mark of the Green Bay offense. I added all 3 tight ends to the race because at this junction, I have no clue which one will start.
Bostick and Rodgers look to have the most natural fantasy potential. Bostick is the most athletic of the group and shows the ability for making big gains after the catch. Rodgers on the other hand is a big-bodied tight end that could have an immediate presence in the red zone.
This leaves Quarless. If Quarless get the nod, he too becomes valuable in Green Bay system. But the potential for big gains and red zone touchdowns goes down substancially.
This is one position to truly keep your eye on and not to jump the gun on during the draft. Regardless of who becomes the starter, the value of these guys will be considerably lower than Finleys was in the past.
Draft Projections: 12th round or later
Defense: Green Bay Packers defense- Outside of the top couple defenses in the league, fantasy defenses can become a crapshoot. Thus the same situation we have with Green Bays defense.
Last year the Packers defense was dismal to say the least for fantasy owners. After the first couple weeks of the season they completely fell apart.
But I’m a believer that the Packers will go above and beyond expectations this season.
The secondary is where I am finding my hope. In fantasy the easiest points come from teams that can cause turnovers. Last year, the Packers could barely muster a few, but I think that will change this season.
The return of Casey Hayward gives the Packers a legit, ball hawking corner that will generate some much needed defensive turnovers. The shift of Micah Hyde and the addition of first round draft selection Ha’ Ha’ Clinton-Dix to the safety positions can only improve a position that was the only one in the NFL not to record an interception last season.
The defenses success both on the field and off will rely on the health of the major starters. If the Packers stay healthy, I think this could be a sneaky top-10 caliber fantasy play. If not, they may end up like last season.
Draft Projection: 10th round or 2nd wave of defenses to be taken
Kicker: Mason Crosby - Crosby followed up a career worst 2012 campaign by completing a possible career saving 2013 season. Crosby did so well last season he finished 5th in the rankings for kickers.
I know what your saying. Kicker isn’t that important in fantasy football. You could make a point on how that statement is true, but I’m on the other side of that token.
A good offense is the best friend to a kicker. The Packers just happen to have that.
Last season Crosby made 5 field goals from beyond 50 yards placing him 5th overall in that category. 50 yard field goals are the money makers in fantasy.
If Crosby can replicate last season, he will be a very reliable kicker which will steer you away from the kicker recycling that can happen for teams with unreliable kickers.
Draft Projection: Later rounds or when the kickers start to become selected