Fantasy Football: Ranking Packers ahead of fantasy playoffs

Oct 30, 2016; Atlanta, GA, USA; Green Bay Packers wide receiver Jordy Nelson (87) runs after a catch against the Atlanta Falcons in the fourth quarter at the Georgia Dome. The Falcons defeated the Packers 33-32. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 30, 2016; Atlanta, GA, USA; Green Bay Packers wide receiver Jordy Nelson (87) runs after a catch against the Atlanta Falcons in the fourth quarter at the Georgia Dome. The Falcons defeated the Packers 33-32. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports /

Inching closer to the fantasy football playoffs, how do the Green Bay Packers stack up at each position?

Whether you’ve secured your spot into the fantasy playoffs or not, having one eye on the end-of-season schedule is important. Ensuring your roster is ready for the playoffs now can put you a step ahead of your opponents.

FANTASY: Packers start, sit advice for Week 13

ANALYSIS: Packers season could depend on cornerback play

Of the Green Bay Packers, who can you trust to start in the playoffs? It’s important to consider players who offer reliability and won’t kill your chances by laying an egg in a close game. We’ll look at recent form, the upcoming Packers schedule and determine who you can play with confidence.

Let’s start with the hottest quarterback in fantasy this season.


Aaron Rodgers: QB1

You’re not dropping Aaron Rodgers against anyone. Bad hamstring or not, the two-time MVP is fantasy’s highest scorer entering Week 13, and he’s been red hot over the past six weeks. Plug him in with great confidence even against tough opponents.

Of the three opponents in the fantasy playoffs, Seattle and Minnesota provide the toughest matchups, but both games are at Lambeau.

Chicago’s defense has been surprisingly good, although injuries have decimated their roster. With Jay Cutler not expected back this season, the Packers offense should see plenty of time on the ball.

You’ve come this far with Rodgers. Ride with him into the fantasy postseason with confidence.

Week 14: Seattle (allows sixth fewest points to QBs)

Week 15: at Chicago (allows 15th fewest points to QBs)

Week 16: Minnesota (allows third fewest points to QBs)

Running backs

James StarksRB3/Bench

Christine MichaelBench

James Starks has quietly produced in fantasy since returning from injury, posting double-digit numbers twice in three weeks. He found the end zone in both those games, but his yardage totals are concerning. Since his return, Starks hasn’t rushed for more than 41 yards in a game or added more than 46 in receiving.

If you get desperate, plug him in. Starks is, after all, a starting running back, and those aren’t always easy to find. But if you have other options, put him on the bench.

The Packers’ schedule isn’t kind on running backs, so limit your expectations.

Christine Michael is worth a stash if you have space on your bench, although I’d rather handcuff your running backs or other team’s workhorse backs. The likes of Alfred Morris, Andre Ellington and DeAngelo Williams need to be owned in all leagues, as an injury to their lead back would have potentially championship-winning consequences for the handcuff’s owner.

Michael offers upside, but the worry is he gets stuck in a timeshare. Take a wait-and-see approach with the former Seahawk.

Week 14: Seattle (allows ninth fewest points to RBs)

Week 15: at Chicago (allows sixth fewest points to RBs)

Week 16: Minnesota (allows eighth fewest points to RBs)

Wide receivers

Jordy NelsonWR1

Davante AdamsHigh upside WR2

All other Packers WRs: Bench

Jordy Nelson has offered nothing but reliability over the past five weeks. He’s found the end zone in four of those games and posted healthy yardage totals in all but one. Since a disappointing one-catch, nine-yard outing against Chicago in Week 7, Nelson has put up at least 91 receiving yards or a touchdown in each game.

The schedule isn’t friendly, but given the volume Aaron Rodgers’ top targets are receiving, Nelson is a safe play the rest of the way.

Seattle’s defense has been hit with injuries, and their seventh-best record against WRs has dipped to 12th the past month. Minnesota has allowed the 11th-fewest fantasy points to WRs over that span, which compared to their season average shows the drop in production on defense for the Vikings.

Davante Adams’ emergence has sparked the Packers offense into life. Considered a cut candidate in August, Adams now sits as the seventh-highest scoring receiver in fantasy. Over the past four weeks, only Antonio Brown, Mike Evans, Odell Beckham Jr. and Rishard Matthews have scored more points.

No player in the NFL has seen more red zone targets (eight) than Adams over the past four weeks. Aaron Rodgers doesn’t hesitate to fire his way in scoring situations.

Due to a lower floor than Nelson, Adams slots in as a WR2 the rest of the way. Plug him in with confidence throughout your playoffs, as the upside to post huge numbers is always there, no matter the matchup.

It’s not worth starting any other Packers wideout until further notice. Randall Cobb‘s fantasy production has fallen off a cliff, and Ty Montgomery‘s spell as a reliable weapon has disappeared since James Starks took back the starting running back gig.

Week 14: Seattle (allows seventh fewest points to WRs)

Week 15: at Chicago (allows 11th most points to WRs)

Week 16: Minnesota (allows second fewest points to WRs)

Tight ends

Jared CookBench

Richard Rodgers: Drop to waivers

Despite Jared Cook’s upside, he remains a risky play any time you plug him into your lineup. You only have to look at the stark contrast in performances over the past two weeks—105 yards and a touchdown against Washington to just seven yards against Philadelphia—to understand the high-ceiling, low-floor risk Cook offers on a weekly basis.

Cook is a desperation play at this point, which in deeper leagues might be the way you have to go given the volatility at the tight end position.

If you’re a Rob Gronkowski or Jordan Reed owner scratching your head for cover, here’s some names to consider potentially on your waiver wire along with their playoff schedules:

Cameron Brate (Tampa Bay, 26.7% owned): NO, at DAL, at NO

Eric Ebron (Detroit, 21.9% owned): CHI, at NYG, at DAL

C.J. Fiedorowicz (Houston, 10.4% owned): at IND, JAX, CIN

Vernon Davis (Washington, 11.1% owned): at PHI, CAR, at CHI

Hunter Henry (San Diego, 18.3% owned): at CAR, OAK, at CLE

Note: Percentage taken from standard leagues

Given the Packers’ matchups against tight ends, your best bet is to stream each week off the waiver wire than trust one of Jared Cook or Richard Rodgers.

Next: Packers stock up, stock down entering Week 13

Week 14: Seattle (allows eighth fewest points to TEs)

Week 15: at Chicago (allows 13th fewest points to TEs)

Week 16: Minnesota (allows 17th fewest points to TEs)