Wednesday, June 13, 2012

32 in 32: Green Bay Packers

Aaron Rodgers is (almost) everyone's top ranked quarterback for the 2012 season, and he definitely deserves that position. Rodgers has scored as one of the top two quarterbacks in fantasy for the last 3 years running, due largely in part to his ability to run the football. He is almost guaranteed to rush for 250-300 yards and 4 rushing touchdowns, which is what puts him apart from Tom Brady, Drew Brees, and Matthew Stafford, and the fact that he has the lowest interception percentage in NFL history is certainly a benefit for fantasy owners. No reason to beat this into the ground; I definitely like Rodgers as the top passer in the league, but I'm unlikely to draft him since I have 4 running backs ranked ahead of him on my big board.

Greg Jennings does not catch passes in huge numbers. In fact, he hasn't had more than 80 receptions in his 5 seasons as a significant player for the Packers. That being said, 13.3% of his receptions are touchdowns. I think 70 catches, 1,200 yards, and 12 touchdown receptions is perfectly reasonable. Those numbers make him a mid-level WR1, meaning he should have significant value at the end of the 2nd or the beginning of the 3rd round. Jordy Nelson caught 68 passes to Jennings' 67 receptions last season, but he had 1,263 yards and 15 touchdowns. Those numbers are insane, and Nelson should regress towards 1,000 yards and 8 touchdowns this season. Still good WR2 numbers, certainly, but make sure you don't get dazed and draft him early. Temper your expectations a bit. If you are in a keeper league or a deep league, draft Randall Cobb. Cobb caught 25 passes last season as a rookie and should double that number this season. 700 yards and 4 touchdowns is expected, but with Aaron Rodgers throwing, he could have some really big games. At the end of the draft, feel free to stock up on receivers on teams with elite QBs (Packers, Saints, Lions, Patriots, and even the Chargers). They could be the guys who step up if injuries mount.

Jermichael Finley gets his own paragraph because of how absolutely disappointing he was last season. I'm glad I didn't draft him in any leagues last season (got to follow the Golden Rule of Fantasy - look at the bottom), because I would have dropped him early in the year. He is probably the 5th or 6th rated fantasy tight end going into the season because he is so big and athletic, but the guy drops the ball; literally and figuratively. Do not draft him before the 4th or 5th round, because he has a huge potential to be a bust. We will see more as the off-season progresses, and I might be able to change this prognosis, but bad hands put you on the bench. You don't want your fantasy tight end on the bench. Be cautious drafting him, and make sure to grab a second tight end who you think highly of.

James Starks could end up being a solid flex running back this season. Ryan Grant is gone and Alex Green had a really rough rookie season. Starks put together 800 scrimmage yards last season but only scored 1 total touchdown. His 4.3 ypc average is pretty good, and he will definitely be worth 6th-8th round pick you'll drop on him. I really think he could be a solid sleeper as a 3-down back who can catch the ball out of the backfield. I really don't think Alex Green can compete for carries, but John Kuhn tends to be a touchdown vulture. I really like Starks, but listen to someone else on this front. I'm a Packers fan, so my criticism of my team is weak at best.

The Packers defense generate oodles of turnovers and defensive touchdowns. Even with their terrible ranking they were in the top-10 of DST last season. Draft them and down worry about how many points the other team scores. This team gets TONS of interceptions, especially with teams throwing the ball all over the place trying to keep up offensively. Finally, Mason Crosby is one of the best kickers in fantasy. The 50-60 touchdowns mean he gets 3-4 points per game in extra points and then kicks 1-2 field goals per game. His percentage isn't great, and he hit a 58 yarder last season, so his range isn't a problem. Draft him and be happy with his production. 

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