Around this time last season the Packers were gearing up to defend their NFC North crown while trying to put a devastating NFC championship loss to the Seattle Seahawks behind them. As expected from the number one offense in 2014 the fantasy goodness was oozing everywhere on the roster. Aaron Rodgers was coming off a MVP 38 touchdown 5 interception RELAX season, Eddie Lacy a career best 13 total TDs 1566 total yards and 4.6 yards per carry, Jordy Nelson career high in reception and yards 98/1519 respectively with 13 TDs, and a Randall Cobb career year across the board 91/1287/12 line. It was definitely Fantasy Gold in Lambeau until Nelson suffered a season ending ACL injury in Week 2 of the preseason and Lacy’s inability to stay away from the “cheeseburgers.” The Packers offense was a shell of its former self in 2015 as the receivers struggled to create separation which led to a middling offense ranked 23rd in total yardage and 15th in scoring. Now with the band back together healthy and in shape will the Packers’ fantasy prowess be on full display in 2016?
QB Aaron Rodgers
The NFL’s best quarterback not named Tom Brady is fantasy royalty and is as sure as it gets if you are looking to acquire a QB that you can count on to blow it up each week. Think about how ridiculous it is to say that his 2015 season where he had 3,821 yards and 31 TDs was a down season. His struggles last season with a career worst (as a starter) 60.7 completion percentage, 6.7 yards per attempt, 238.8 yard per game and 92.7 QB rating had nothing to do with him at all. Rodger’s decline was a product of a non-existent Lacy and a receiving core missing the big play ability and separation skills of Nelson. The younger receivers, especially Davante Adams, failed to make the most of their opportunity and left Rodgers having to adlib more than he is accustomed to. I expect a RELAX part 2 season and if he isn’t the first quarterback to come off the board, he better be the second as he gets his number 1 option back in the lineup which should alleviate the pressure on the other receivers.
WR Jordy Nelson/Randall Cobb
Cobb and Nelson go together like cookies and milk. They need each other to create space and open opportunities for one another on the football field. It was evident Cobb missed Nelson last season as he put up a measly 829 yards receiving and 6 touchdowns. The pressure of being “the guy” may have gotten to Cobb but he will be relieved with the return of Nelson, his partner in crime. The addition of Nelson on the outside will free Cobb up from double teams in the slot and give the dynamic playmaker more room to rack up yards after the catch. Expect a bounce back WR2 season for Cobb. Nelson on the other hand has the potential to put up WR1 numbers if he can stay healthy. I say if because usually when an older player suffers a major knee injury and then tries to over compensate for it, other leg injuries tend to pop up. I expect Nelson to produce with Rodgers peppering him with targets but proceed with caution as he comes with a risk.
RB Eddie Lacy
Fool me one time shame on you, fool me two times can’t put the blame on you. This is exactly how I feel about Lacy after he disappointed me and many fantasy owners after eating himself out of a starting fantasy running back role. I totally understand if a player struggles with injuries, a system change, or even just an off year on the football field. However, for Lacy to totally not care enough to get into shape and go Sherman Klump on us makes me wonder how important football is to him. He was slated to be a Top 5 fantasy player last season in an explosive Packers offense before blowing his opportunity. Although Lacy is still the most talented back in Green Bay and sits atop the depth chart, backup James Starks’ relief effort last season cannot be overlooked by the Packers as he will still have a role in the offense in 2016. Lacy is a boom or bust back who will make fantasy owners either very happy to get him at such a bargain rate or disappointed yet again. There are only two ways Lacy can go with his career: either go out like Trent Richardson or re-invent himself like Mark Ingram. Whichever way he goes it’s up to him but as a fantasy owner I am not waiting around to see if he can regain that magic.
Others of note:
- TE Richard Rodgers
- RB James Starks
- WR Davante Adams