Now that the holiday weekend is over and America's birthday traditions of apple pie and blowing your fingers off with an M80 have come to an end, it's time to focus on what's now become our true national pastime: Gambling on football!
That’s right. With training camp just around the corner and the smell of fresh desperation and Matthew Berry’s insomnia in the air, it’s time to start thinking about fantasy football. Now, since we haven’t had a chance to see players go at it in pads, or no one’s gotten injured or
arrested, yet, it’s difficult to gauge how players will project this fantasy season. So for the purpose of this article, let’s concentrate on ranking the players we know best: The Green Bay Packers.
However, rather than assign positions like QB, TE or a Flex spot, I’ll just take the top 10 players in order of most valuable to "total shot in the dark but seems like they have potential." For the sake of equality I’ll say right off the bat that kickers and defense (as a whole unit) could be included, but let’s face it, probably won’t because of things like this.
Okay, onto the rankings.
1.) Aaron Rodgers
Well, obviously. Not only is Rodgers the most prolific fantasy player on the Packers, he’ll likely once again be a top-5 overall selection in every league out there. He runs, he passes and he continues to be one of the most turnover-averse quarterbacks in football.
2.) Randall Cobb
Cobb emerged last season into what reminded me of a poor man’s Steve Smith. This season, he might be an even better version. Cobb’s versatility should help put the ball in his hands both in catching and receiving situations, and should propel him into a top-tier fantasy player this season.
3.) Jordy Nelson
It looks like Cobb will likely be Rodgers’ favorite target this season, but that may actually work out best for Nelson as he draws a much more favorable matchup VS. opponents’ #2 corner. Last season’s injuries caused his numbers to come back down to earth, but with a healthy season and with a potentially better rushing attack, Nelson could see his value go back to 2011 levels.
Finley has never been the mark of consistency and his bark is still louder than his bite, but the bottom line is, he still presents significant match-up problems for defenses. And with Greg Jennings gone, Rodgers may have to rely on his tight ends even more this year, making Finley’s potential, once again, the most appealing part of his game.
5.) Eddie Lacy
Things are all kinds of murky in the running back department with the Packers. While some are higher on fellow rookie Jonathan Franklin due to his speed, I still like Lacy as the guy to emerge as the Packers’ featured back this season. Why? three letters: SEC. I still like Franklin’s potential (and Alex Green will have something to say about all this, too) but Eddie Lacy consistently faced the toughest defenses in the nation - and still excelled.
6.) James Jones
While the additions of Lacy and Franklin should certainly give the Packers offense a bit more balance, their strength still lies in the arm of #12. And last season, Jones reaped the benefits of that arm, becoming a bonafide #3 WR for many fantasy teams while putting up career highs in TD’s (14) and receptions (64). Jones’ numbers will likely come back down a bit this season, but he’s still an excellent late-round addition that can put up points.
7.) DuJaun Harris
While I’d like to put Franklin here, the chances of two rookies being the #1 and #2 backs are slim. And while most see Harris as more of a change-of-pace back, I think he’s got a chance to play a much bigger role this year. In his limited playing time last year, Harris showed much better burst than incumbent starter, Alex Green, while also proving to be reliable in blitz pickups, something both Lacy and Franklin could struggle with.
8.) Andrew Quarless
Remember him? He was the guy who looked like he was Finley 2.0 before the ligaments in his knee became unhinged like a bunch of broken guitar strings almost two years ago. But now? According to McCarthy, he’s not only healthy, but in the best shape he’s seen him in. It’s far- fetched to think Quarless will become much more than a mid-season desperation pickup in fantasy leagues, but remember, he was the team’s best blocking tight end before his injury, so he could see some real playing time.
9.) Jonathan Franklin
This is the portion of the show where I just start throwing haymakers and Franklin, with 4.40 speed, is just that waiting to happen.The question however, isn’t about Franklin’s speed or agility, but rather, whether he’ll be able to break tackles, pick up zone blocking concepts and maybe most importantly, not get Aaron Rodgers killed. If he can do all that, and with the ever-present threat of Rodgers and the passing game, Franklin could reel off an impressive rookie campaign if given the chance.
10.) Charles Johnson
While co-rookies Myles White and Tyrone Walker might be more polished, it’s hard to argue with Johnson’s immense physical gifts. Listed at 6’2 and 215lbs., the Grand Valley State product ran a blistering 4.38 during his workouts. Certainly, route running and his ability to deal with physical cornerbacks are even more important than straight line speed, but when you’re taking a flyer on a guy in late rounds, you could do a lot worse than a guy with Johnson’s size/speed having Aaron Rodgers throw to him.