The Green Bay Packers lost TE Jermichael Finley to a bruised spinal cord midway through the season last year. After undergoing spinal fusion surgery last October, Finley has still not been cleared to play. Assuming the Packers don’t have Finley, whoever starts at TE has a lot of potential for fantasy football relevance.
As a Chicago Bears fan, I hate to admit that the Packers have one of the best offenses led by one of the best QBs in the league. Aaron Rodgers is a dangerous QB, and there are plenty of fantasy points to go around for his receivers.
In five healthy games last season, Finley averaged five receptions for 60 yards and 0.6 TDs per game. Extrapolate that out to a full 16-game season, and it comes out to 80 catches, 960 yards and about 10 TDs, tying Vernon Davis as the No. 2 TE in standard scoring. In PPR formats, those stats would’ve been good for the clear No. 2 TE behind Jimmy Graham.
So clearly the Packers’ starting TE in 2014 will have high potential. With Colt Lyerla injured, the primary contenders right now seem to be Andrew Quarless, Brandon Bostick and Richard Rodgers. But which of these three TEs should you target?
Both Quarless and Bostick played in 2013 following Finley’s injury, but neither TE impressed. Quarless tallied 32 receptions for 312 yards and two TDs, and Bostick only had seven catches for 120 yards and a TD. However, it should be noted that Aaron Rodgers broke his collarbone just three games after Finley was injured, and Bostick’s season was cut short by a foot injury.
At 6-foot-4 and 252 pounds, Quarless is a solid receiver, but his blocking skills leave a lot left to be desired. Bostick is similarly a weak blocking TE but also has good measurables as a big target, coming in at 6-foot-3 and 250 pounds. Both will need to improve to become a more complete TE before they can be a clear-cut starter.
My bet is on the rookie. Rodgers is the same size as the other TEs at 6-foot-4 and 257 pounds, but he has higher upside. Both Quarless and Bostick had their chance to make their case last year with Finley out, but neither showed exceptional talent. Rodgers has a lot to learn as a rookie, but he may have the best chance to improve during preseason and show what he can do.
Reports out of training camp have been that Rodgers has made quite a few spectacular catches, even garnering praise from the other Rodgers, his QB. Aaron Rodgers said that the rookie TE “made some incredible catches” and “makes it look easy”. It’s just preseason talk right now, but he must be doing something right.
Rodgers is currently going undrafted in many shallower leagues and can likely be landed with one of the last picks of your draft. I don’t know that I would take him as a TE1 right now, but Rodgers is a very cheap TE2 with immense upside. With the TE position such a toss up in fantasy, I will be targeting him late in all of my leagues.