It’s time to start thinking about fantasy football, and we have started going team by team to let you know what each NFL franchise can do for your fantasy squad. You can click here to see if your team has been previewed yet. If it isn’t there, chances are it’s coming soon. We have finished the NFC and AFC West, the NFC and AFC South, the NFC and AFC East, and now move on to the NFC North.
*Rankings are based on a 12-team, standard scoring format.
Green Bay Packers
2011 RECORD: 15-1
2012 BYE WEEK: 10
TOP DRAFT PICKS: (1) Nick Perry- DE- USC
(2) Jerel Worthy- DT- Michigan State
(3) Casey Hayward- CB- Vanderbilt
QUARTERBACK: There aren’t many negative things you can say about Aaron Rodgers. Sure he finished 5th in the league in passing yards with a measly 4,643 (a career high by the way). He also finished with a career high 45 touchdowns and threw only 6 interceptions in 502 attempts. An added bonus is that Rodgers gives you close to 300 yards rushing per season, and should be good for 3 or 4 more touchdowns on the ground. He has stayed healthy throughout his career, so that isn’t a concern either. Graham Harrell is the backup, but it shouldn’t matter. Rodgers is one of the top 3 fantasy quarterbacks and will be the top guy on many lists. If you want him, expect to use your first pick on him.
RUNNING BACK: Ryan Grant is gone, and that leaves James Stark in the role of lead back. Unfortunately for Starks, the Pack is not going to turn into a run-first offense anytime soon. Starks finished with 578 yards and 1 touchdown last year. Those numbers should improve, but how much remains to be seen. Alex Green will likely be the number 2 guy. He comes off an ACL injury, but has a realistic chance to see a lot of carries, perhaps even a split. John Kuhn occasionally sees the goal line touches. Starks and Green can both be drafted as backups. Kuhn can be ignored.
WIDE RECEIVER: Greg Jennings is the go-to guy once again in this offense. He was on track for another 1,000+ yard, double digit season, but missed the last 3 games with an injury. Expect him to be back and healthy, and the primary target for Rodgers. Jordy Nelson will likely be in the same area as Jennings from a production standpoint. Last year he was exceptional, with 1,263 yards and 15 touchdowns. It might be hard to match those numbers, but not out of the question. James Jones has been frustrating, as he has been the guy many expected to step up and become a real factor. He comes into the season competing for the #3 role. While he did score 7 times last year, almost everyone on the Packers catches a lot of touchdown passes. He has to earn his way onto the field. Randall Cobb and Donald Driver will be his main competition, but I expect Jones to be the guy. Jennings and Nelson are both WR-1 quality guys. Nelson is a lower tier option though, despite the better 2011 numbers. Jones is going to be a fantasy backup. The other two would be note-worthy only if one of them beats out Jones for the 3rd spot.
TIGHT END: Jermichael Finley is behind only Jimmy Graham and Rob Gronkowski as far as tight end rankings go. He put up almost 800 yards and 8 touchdown catches, but he plays on an offense that spreads the ball around quite a bit. He will put up big numbers overall, but will have weeks where the ball goes to the other guys. Tom Crabtree is the backup, but not really a factor. Finley is probably the #3 tight end behind the two aforementioned guys. Draft him confidently as a TE-1.
KICKER: Mason Crosby plays for the highest scoring offense in the league, and has a leg that is trusted over 50 yards. He is a no-brainer for fantasy purposes. Definitely a draft-worthy kicker.
DEFENSE-SPECIAL TEAMS: The Packers are a much better fantasy defense than real-life defense. They force turnovers and are great pass-rushers. They also spent their first 3 picks on defense in the draft. Adding Nick Perry and Jerel Worthy to Clay Matthews and BJ Raji will bolster the pass rush even further. Remember they have to play the Lions and Bears twice, but the Packers are still a very draft-able defense.