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Fantasy Football Preview: Packers' Early Rankings

Two main fantasy football websites released their preseason rankings, and we examine where the Packers' stars fit in.

Jeff Gross

Tomorrow marks the start of June, a time when we realize that football season is about three months away. 99% of the offseason transactions around the NFL are complete now, so it's time for fantasy football analysts to start projecting their draft boards. With the caveat in mind that we'll know far more in three months than we do now, why not get an early look at where certain Green Bay Packers are slotting in on the experts' rankings?

For this exercise, we used the rankings from ESPN and the conglomerated Yahoo rankings, which take several of that network's analysts' boards into account. The results are below, and are actually relatively consistent.

Player Position ESPN Overall ESPN Position Yahoo Overall Yahoo Position
Aaron Rodgers QB 12 1 18 2
Randall Cobb WR 35 11 31 11
Jordy Nelson WR 48 17 38 T-14
James Jones WR 69 27 74 29
Eddie Lacy RB 61 26 80 T-31
Johnathan Franklin RB 88 34 103 39
DuJuan Harris RB 222 76 n/a n/a
Jermichael Finley TE 149 18 128 14
Packers Defense D n/a 10 211 10

* Note: Berry only ranked his top 200 players

A few things jump out to me, and the first is what I mentioned before: both sets of rankings seem pretty close. I do have a few notes here, however.

The first is on Randall Cobb. I think somewhere around the 10th-best wideout seems about right for Cobb - at least in a standard league. In a point-per-reception league, however, I think Cobb needs to be ranked higher, probably around 5th or 6th among wideouts.

As for Jones and Nelson, it's clear that the experts expect Nelson to rebound from his inconsistent (and injury-marred) 2012 season. Jones, on the other hand, is obviously not expected to repeat his league-leading 14-touchdown season.

The running back situation is interesting, as Lacy is expected to earn the starting job. However, as is the common opinion, he's expected to share the load with fellow rookie Franklin. I'd be happy with either of them as a RB3 or RB4 on my team, but I definitely wouldn't yet trust the Packers running game to provide a consistent starter for my team. What is interesting to me is that Alex Green is nowhere to be found, while Harris is just barely ranked by ESPN. I still expect one of the two of them to be draftable by the end of August, especially as a handcuff to whichever rookie looks most promising.

Finley's drop over the past few years is expected because of his injury in 2010 and inconsistency since, but I think this year he's gone from overrated to underrated. He was in the top 10 tight ends in receiving yards over the second half of 2012, and though he only had one score in that span I think he'll end up with at least six touchdowns this year. It's a contract year for Finley so he'll be plenty motivated and by all accounts he's catching everything in sight in OTAs. That spells a return to relevance for Finley, in my opinion.

Finally, I firmly believe that the Packers' defense will be back to its ball-hawking and QB-sacking ways in 2013, and that they'll be on the bench only against exceptional offenses. I'd put them a few notches higher than 10th at the position, probably in the 6-8 range.

Give us your thoughts on the early rankings in the comments.

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