Packers vs. 49ers Fantasy Preview: Who to Start and Who to Sit

Jeff Gross

There are plenty of relevant fantasy football players for both the Packers and Niners. Here's a look at who to start, who to sit and who not to admit you drafted in the first place.

By now you've likely got your Sunday planned for watching the Packers season opener. You've got your seating chart for friends well organized. The TV and surround sound perfectly calibrated. And an inordinate amount of unhealthy, cheese and meat-filled snacks in the works. Having a defibrillator nearby probably isn't the worst idea, either. There is one, rather important thing that remains however. Setting your fantasy football roster.

Now, at this point in the season this should be a rather straightforward affair. Start the guys you drafted first, bench the ones whose names you weren't sure how to pronounce. I'm looking at you Joique Bell. Is it Joy-que? Jo-qui? Hell I don't know. But the Packers and Niners are both deep in talent, meaning if you own a number of players from either team, the decision might not be all that simple. So let's break this down, shall we?

Tier 1: No-brainer starters

Aaron Rodgers
Randall Cobb
Frank Gore
Colin Kaepernick

Regardless of how your draft turned out, the first three on this list should be in your starting lineup. While Randall Cobb doesn't have the name cachet of the more well-known guys and Frank Gore is kinda old and kinda fat, both are still starting caliber fantasy players. Aaron Rodgers is Aaron Rodgers. The wildcard of this bunch is Kaepernick. Look, there are better quarterbacks out there than Kaepernick from a fantasy standpoint. In CBS leagues, he's going in the sixth round on average and finished 2012 as the 9th best fantasy QB. That was before his best receiver's achilles went boom. Then again, remember this? The bottom line is, we still don't know if the Packers defense is any different than the one that made Kaepernick look like he was Bo Jackson in Tecmo Bowl. He might not be a starter for every game, but against Green Bay, he should be.

Tier 2: Borderline starters

Jermichael Finley
James Jones
Jordy Nelson
Vernon Davis

While the memories of last season's matchups between these two teams usually conjure up images of the Packers defense getting ruthlessly shredded, it's easy to forget the Packers offense was actually pretty good as well. Jordy Nelson ended up with five catches in both games and James Jones caught four including a touchdown in each. That's not exactly the kind performance you name your fantasy team after, but for a flex spot or second WR, you could do worse. Finley and Davis are both boom-or-bust players at this point. Davis essentially disappeared last season when Kaepernick took over and Finley went through stretches where we appeared to forget he was playing football. Still, if you waited until the later rounds to pick a TE, both options are viable starters. Just don't expect too much.

Tier 3: I totally screwed my draft and I'm already desperate

Eddie Lacy
49ers' Defense
Anquan Boldin
Kendall Hunter

In the later rounds of one my drafts this year, the guy who selected first took the Niners and Seahawks defense in consecutive picks. At the time, we all laughed and called him horrible names, but I'm starting to think he might have been onto something. In nearly any other matchup, the Niners defense is a no-brainer start. Against the Packers? There's better matchups to be had. As for the other players, each has some intrigue as a starter, but they all come with question marks. Lacy has looked impressive in preseason but is unproven and plays in a pass-heavy offense. Plus, the Niners defend the run as well as any defense in the league. If you have another option on your bench, it's probably best to roll with him for this week. Hunter is a decent handcuff option if you have Gore, but Gore should easily take the majority of the carries if he manages to A.) Stay healthy and B.) Stay away from the concession stands long enough. Of the bunch, Boldin might be your best bet. He's a proven possession receiver and without Crabtree, he's one of Kaepernick's few legit options to throw to.

Tier 4: Don't even bother. For now.

Jonathan Baldwin
Johnathan Franklin
LaMichael James
James Starks

Look, if you're starting any of these guys, I'm not really sure what to tell you. They're fine for later round bench guys who you start once your entire team gets injured (an annual tradition for me), or you're just really bad at drafting. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news. The good thing is, these players aren't total lost causes. Every year there's an Alfred Morris that someone drafts because they watched the show Alf as a kid and then boom - that person is a fantasy football genius.

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