Fantasy Team Preview: Packers

BY John Halpin • July 24, 2013

Overall outlook: The NFL’s fourth-highest scoring offense let Greg Jennings depart via free agency, but drafted a couple of running backs that might interest you. With the same guy calling the signals, this will again be a potent fantasy unit.

Bye week: 4

Quarterback: Aaron Rodgers

Ranked a close second behind Drew Brees with 419.6 fantasy points in 2012 … Ranked eighth in passing yards (4,295) and second in touchdowns (39), and was picked off just eight times … Also ran for 259 yards, which doesn’t make him Cam Newton, but did rank him seventh among QBs … Has run 50-plus times for 200-plus yards in each of his five seasons as a starter, with 18 TDs over that span … Is the consensus No. 1 QB among fantasy experts, and you should expect another stellar season.

Running back: Eddie Lacy

The Packers drafted Lacy in the second round out of Alabama … Ran for 1,322 yards and 17 touchdowns last season … At 230 lbs., could end up in a thunder/lightning pairing with fellow draftee Jonathan Franklin … Going as a low-end RB3 in the early going, but the extent of his timeshare might not be clear until deep into the preseason … Seems to get nicked up a lot.

Running back: Jonathan Franklin

The Packers drafted Franklin in the fourth round out of UCLA … Ran for 1,700 yards and 13 touchdowns last season, and added 32 receptions for 319 yards … Getting some RB3 love from some analysts, but playing time is unclear … Smaller and quicker than Lacy, and some think he’s a better runner … Some upside here, if you think one Pack back can get the ball enough to be a fantasy contributor.

Running back: DuJuan Harris

Didn’t play much during the 2012 regular season, but ran 28 times for 100 yards and two touchdowns in the Pack’s two postseason games … Appeared to have a bright 2013 ahead before the draft brought Lacy and Franklin to Green Bay … Still in the mix, but no more than an RB5 flier unless the preseason shows him to be in line to contribute.

Wide receiver: Randall Cobb

Ranked 18th in standard scoring with 154.6 points … Broke out in his second season, catching 80 passes (17th in the NFL) for 954 yards (24th) and eight touchdowns (T-15) … Also lined up in the backfield occasionally, running 10 times for 132 yards … Is better in PPR formats, but as Rodgers’ favorite target, has entered the fantasy WR1 conversation for his third NFL season.

Wide receiver: Jordy Nelson

Ranked 30th with 118.5 fantasy points in just 12 games … Caught 73 passes for 745 yards and seven touchdowns … If he lands somewhere close to halfway between his spectaculat 2011 and disappointing 2012, will be a strong WR2.

Wide receiver: James Jones

Ranked 16th with 162.4 fantasy points in 2012, thanks to 14 touchdown receptions … So why is Jones a WR3 on most draftboards? Because he was T-34 in receptions (64) and 44th in receiving yards (784) … Jones will be a good fantasy wideout again, but his 2012 TD total was probably a bit of a fluke.

Tight end: Jermichael Finley

Holy disappointment, Batman! Finley ranked 19th with 76.7 fantasy points in 2012 after being drafted as a top-six TE … Caught 61 passes for 667 yards and two touchdowns, but appeared to earn a spot in Rodgers’ doghouse after some early-season drops … Very talented, and could bounce back as a TE2, but we’ve heard this before, right?

Placekicker: Mason Crosby

Ranked 14th with 125 fantasy points in 2012 … Ranked 10th with 33 field goal attempts, but struggled with accuracy, converting just 21 … Thanks to his team’s terrific offense, ranked fourth with 50 extra points … If his accuracy returns, could become a low-end PK1 again, but don’t reach for him on draft day.

Team defense (DST)

Ranked 18th with 114 fantasy points in 2012 … Were fourth in sacks (47), 10th in interceptions (18) and 11th in yards allowed (5,388), but recovered just five fumbles and scored only four touchdowns … Because of the sacks, not a bad idea as a low-end DST1 on draft day.