Fantasy Football 32: Green Bay Packers
2013 was a test for the Green Bay Packers.
They dealt with a handful of injuries to their offense, including a rather large one from their star quarterback. Backup quarterback after backup quarterback, the Packers persevered and made the playoffs once again. And seemingly every year that different teams from the NFC take steps forward, people forget about the Packers, helping them become a dark horse Super Bowl candidate.
I’m sure that’s fine by them.
Sure, Peyton Manning had the greatest season a quarterback has ever had, but I still think Aaron Rodgers is the best passer in the NFL.
Deadly accuracy, the best velocity in the league, great mobility, terrific touch on the deep ball, you name it, Rodgers can do it all. Combine that with the fact that he still has some nice weapons to work with himself (and he just turned 30), and it’s no wonder why he’s the number one quarterback on my rankings right now.
Last year was obviously rough for Rodgers, as played just nine games due to a broken collarbone. Of course, the Green Bay offense took a major dip, but when he returned, Rodgers was just as good as ever, leading his team to a tough road win over the Bears to join the playoffs. And look at his always elite numbers when he was on the field. He averaged 18 fantasy points per game last year, good for 4th-most among quarterbacks. And in the games he did play, Rodgers tossed 17 touchdowns and just six interceptions. Prior to last season, Rodgers had finished as a top-2 fantasy passer in every single season since 2007. So why can’t he be considered the number one option for fantasy owners?
On top of his elite passing skills, Rodgers is also one of the most mobile quarterbacks in the league. He’s fast, has great improvisation skills and, since 2008, he has the second-most rushing touchdowns among signal callers (18). Not only would it not surprise me if Rodgers finished the year as the top-scoring fantasy quarterback, I expect it.
Giddy. Giddy, I tell you.
Eddie Lacy, the thundering bowling ball, was very productive during his rookie campaign. He finished 8th in the league in rushing yards (1,178), 3rd in touchdowns (11) and seventh in fantasy points among running backs. However, for as good as he was, there is reason to believe that the numbers from the Offensive Rookie of the Year were possibly his floor.
Hence the giddy.
Lacy was that good last year without Rodgers under center, helping the team move down the field and drawing attention to opposing defenses. Yet, the Packers still averaged a healthy 4.1 red zone scoring chances per game last year, the third-most in the league. And with a terrific short-yardage runner like Lacy, it’s no wonder he found the end zone 11 times. He also posted 11 weeks as a top-24 fantasy back, and finished as an RB1 81.3 percent of the time, good for fourth-best among rushers. Keep in mind that he suffered a concussion in Week 2′s game, and then missed the entire game the week after. Meanwhile, the Packers are talking about giving him more touches on offense, just one season after ranking 5th in the entire league in carries– as a rookie.
Outside of maybe Larry Fitzgerald, no one in football has better hands than one Jordy Nelson.
It’s true and you know it.
I love Nelson, and think he is still one of the more underrated wideouts in fantasy, despite most people having him inside their top-10. He just doesn’t seem to be talked about as much as the other top-tier guys. However, Nelson belongs in that class, as he finished as a top-12 fantasy receiver, despite only having Rodgers for nine contests. Nelson wasn’t close to his best without Rodgers, obviously, averaging over 14 fantasy points per game with Rodgers under center, compared to just 6.6 the other weeks.
And, via Rich Hribar of XN Sports, the entire Green Bay offense just wasn’t as dynamic with the likes of Matt Flynn under center.
There was more volume for Green Bay players with Rodgers, and if he hadn’t went down, Nelson would have likely been a top-seven fantasy wideout, at the least.
Nelson and Rodgers have that red zone connection, too. Last year, Nelson caught 10 of 14 red zone looks from Rodgers, scoring five touchdowns. And Nelson is an elite deep threat, and according to ESPN, Nelson ranked fourth among all wide receivers in fantasy points on vertical throws. 118 of his 167 fantasy points came off such throws, so he clearly has that big play potential.
Then there’s Randall Cobb, who also struggled to stay on the field last year. He played in just six games, but remained a PPR stud in the games he did play, hauling in at least four passes in all but one game, and seeing a healthy 46 targest in six contests (7.6 per game). Also, keep an eye on Jarrett Boykin, who was very productive during his time on the field last year. According to Hribar, he was one of only two wideouts to post a top-24 fantasy week with three different quaterbacks throwing him the football. And he was actually the most targeted Green Bay receiver in the red zone without Rodgers. He’s a nice sleeper to target as the Packers’ WR3 with James Jones in Oakland.