Aug 13, 2015; Foxborough, MA, USA; Green Bay Packers wide receiver Randall Cobb (18) runs the ball against New England Patriots linebacker James Morris (49) and corner back Robert McClain (22) during the first half in a preseason NFL football game at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports
WRs –Randall Cobb, Davante Adams, James Jones, Jeff Janis, Ty Montgomery
Cobb – 91 catches, 1,287 receiving yards, 12 rush, 37 rush yards, 12 TDs; 200.40 fantasy points
Adams – 38 catch, 446 receiving yards, 3 TDs; 62.60 fantasy points
Jones – 73 catch, 666 receiving yards, 6 TDs; 100.60 fantasy points
Janis – 2 catch, 16 receiving yards; 1.60 fantasy points
Montgomery – N/A (rookie)
Here I must remind us again of the important piece of the team that’s missing for this year.
Jan 11, 2015; Green Bay, WI, USA; Green Bay Packers wide receiver Davante Adams (17) gets past Dallas Cowboys strong safety Barry Church (42) to score a touchdown in the third quarter in the 2014 NFC Divisional playoff football game at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports
Last season, the Packers had two of the top six fantasy receivers in the entire league; Randall Cobb was one, and Jordy Nelson was of course the other.
Nelson was actually #2 in terms of fantasy points for wide receivers on the season, behind only the ridiculous Antonio Brown.
He’ll obviously be missed, but the talent still here can have a strong impact, using this game as a nice springboard for the whole season.
Cobb is of course here to now lead this stable on his own after his impressive season in 2014.
Based on the way he lit up the Bears last season (11 catches, 185 yards, 3 TDs), he could already be expected to do so again here in Week 1.
With no Nelson, he should undoubtedly be the focal point of the passing game this time around, which could mean a huge game.
It also probably means more focus from the defense. That, plus his shoulder injury, could slow him down somewhat, but there isn’t nearly enough on the Bears’ defense to worry about him not having a decent showing to start the year.
After Cobb is where the questions are though.
Who is the #2 option in the passing game? Davante Adams, last year’s #3 and unequivocal coach’s champion of the offseason?
Or maybe James Jones, the now-returned former Packer with a career’s worth of experience in the offense here?
For this week, each of these two should have a decent chance at a good receiving output.
Aug 22, 2014; Green Bay, WI, USA; Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) gives Oakland Raiders wide receiver James Jones (89) a hug before pre-season game at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports
My first pick would be Adams, since he’s been talked up so highly all offseason and was most likely to have received an enlarged role in 2015 regardless of Jordy’s injury.
He showed his potential last year in a couple big games, excelling against defenses woefully unprepared for a player of his talent to be the third receiver.
As the #2 receiver, the talent he’s matched against should be more difficult than what he saw in most weeks of 2014; fortunately for this week, the Bears only have yet-proven and/or underwhelming talents to throw out at cornerback (the starters appear to be 2014 first-rounder Kyle Fuller and oft-replaced Alan Ball). So no matter who gets to line up on Adams, they will have a good chance at being beat.
Jones would be next, for two main reasons.
First, he’s just returning to the team, so he may not be ready to step in at the same level of comfort as the guys who have been here all offseason; it could take a couple of games to really get himself into the flow of the offense again.
Second, he’s just not as dynamic as Adams has the ability to be. Don’t let the down year in Oakland or getting cut by two teams in the offseason fool you; Jones still has ability left in the tank, and being on a stable team with a much stronger offensive group around him should allow those skills to show more frequently.
My expectations are modest for this game, but Jones should be someone to keep tabs on during at least these first few weeks.
Beyond him is our unknowns.
Aug 29, 2015; Green Bay, WI, USA; Green Bay Packers wide receiver Ty Montgomery (88) runs for extra yards after catching a pass against Philadelphia Eagles cornerback Nolan Carroll II (23) in the first quarter at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports
Janis has been tantalizing us fans for two straight preseasons, grabbing TDs like he can’t not catch them.
If he can capture some of that ability and translate it into the regular season, this receiving corps would be even more threatening.
With Nelson out for the year, I expect he’ll be given more chances to prove himself, but it may take a few games and/or blowout contests for him to be given the opportunity to show it.
Ty Montgomery is an intriguing case unto himself.
He may be the singular return man for both kick and punt return units, where his explosive nature can be put clearly on display immediately.
Depending on matchups, formations, and how the coaching staff feels, he may get to see decent action himself.
It’s too early to know though just how much statistical potential he has; we know nothing of how he’ll manage to see the field. I’m thinking a handful of snaps here against Chicago, preparing him for a bigger impact down the line.
Week 1 Predictions:
Cobb – 8 catches, 90 receiving yards, 2 TD; 21.00 fantasy points
Adams – 5 catches, 60 receiving yards, 1 TD; 12.00 fantasy points
Jones – 4 catches, 42 receiving yards; 4.20 fantasy points
Janis – 0 catches; 0.00 fantasy points
Montgomery – 2 catches, 18 receiving yards; 1.80 fantasy points
Verdicts: Must-Start (Cobb); Startable (Adams); Decent Bet (Jones); Too Early To Know (Montgomery/Janis)