Sunday, July 6, 2014

2014 Fantasy Football Augury, Chapter 17: Green Bay Packers

One of the unique twists in fantasy football is that it forces a smart owner to put aside rivalries.

Intense, nasty rivalries.

A great example of this came last year, when I (a die-hard Minnesota Vikings fan) crept to the edge and drafted a dreaded rival, Aaron Rodgers.

This was a big deal.  And yes, I was mercilessly harassed by my league-mates during our live draft.

"You drafted Aaron Rodgers?  Have another drink!"

It's true, my decision to draft the detested quarterback was encouraged by ample amounts of an adult beverage of my choice.

And it's true, the next morning I had buyer's remorse.

What the hell have I done?  How am I going to root for Aaron Rodgers?

But I must confess I felt pretty smug during the first eight weeks of the season when he threw for 2,200 yards and 15 touchdowns (and only four INTs).

Nice pick.

Unfortunately, in Week 9 he broke his damn collar bone and left me screwed for the fantasy playoffs.

It was a conspiracy all along, wasn't it?

The truth is, going into his 10th season Rodgers is one of the best in fantasy (and reality) football.  That's not groundbreaking news.  He's a top five quarterback and, aside from last season, he has proven to be as durable as any signal-caller in the game.  Taking him in your draft is as close to a sure thing as you can get.

I predicted last year that Eddie Lacy would break the Packers rookie rushing record and I was correct.   He scored 11 touchdowns and totaled 1,435 combined yards.  That's a nice start to a career.

Heading into his sophomore season, Lacy will be one of the very few running backs in the NFL with little competition for the ball.   There is something that feels very "old school" about this scene and I like it.

Lacy will be one of the few running backs to get the ball early and often, and he's got a great passing game to keep defenses honest.  This makes him top tier stuff and an absolute first round fantasy prospect.  Grab him if you can.

Even though he's a dreaded Packer, I admire Jordy Nelson.  Once the low man on the totem pole behind the likes of Greg Jennings and Donald Driver, he's now Aaron Rodgers' top target.  Hard work and consistency have paid off.

Coming off an injury-plagued 2012, many fantasy owners were gun-shy of Nelson in 2013, but those who drafted him were treated to 1,314 yards receiving (10th-best in the league) and eight touchdowns.  Rodgers targeted him 127 times.

As long as Nelson can avoid the hamstring flu he will be a top ten fantasy receiver again in 2014.

When a dude breaks a leg, I can't really say much about his toughness.  I mean, it's a broken leg, right?  Randall Cobb looked poised to take the proverbial "next step" last season after an impressive 2012 (954 yards receiving, eight touchdowns).  He stormed out of the gates in 2013 with back-to-back 100+ yard receiving games and a pair of touchdowns.

Then in October, he fractured his leg.  Buzzkill.

To Cobb's credit, he rehabbed his way back into the starting line-up before the end of the season and had a two touchdown performance the last week of the season.  Cobb is not a player you should overlook and I will give him a second tier ranking.  He is an excellent compliment to your primary fantasy receiver.

There is a lot of talk about Jarrett Boykin having a break out season this year, but didn't that happen last year?  Boykin stepped into Cobb's role admirably last season; his 103 yard, one touchdown performance in week 7 sent fantasy owners scrambling for the waiver wire.  He ended up with an unexpected 681 yards and three touchdowns as the #3 guy.

It bears mentioning Boykin was shut out of five games and had only one reception in two games; however, with James Jones seeking greener pastures in Oakland, the door is wide open for Boykin.  He's a decent flex option as a third tier receiver.

Jermichael Finley is a free agent at this time; even though he's been cleared to play, he may not be picked up by an NFL team.  Finley is coming off neck surgery and his return to the NFL has future lawsuit written all over it.

Andrew Quarless is the best fantasy tight end option in Green Bay, which isn't saying much.  He doesn't see the ball enough to even tier him.

Best Regards!
That Damn Sam
"Fantasy Football for the Forsaken Few"