PACKERS FOOTBALL FRIDAY: Packers Fantasy Primer

The Green Bay Packers have been among the best offenses in football for the last decade.  In 2007, Mike McCarthy’s second season as head coach of the Packers, he helped resurrect the (pretty awful) late stages of Brett Favre’s career.  Favre had an 82-67 TD/INT ratio from 2003-05 and the Packers had just finished 16th in offensive DVOA.  The only reliable fantasy player Green Bay had was Ahman Green.  My how times have changed.

Since 2007, Green Bay has never finished outside the top 11, and has multiple top three finishes.  Everyone knows that fantasy football is about yards and points, and McCarthy’s offense provides plenty of both.   Offensive football is fun, and it’s been a fun time to be a Packers fan over the last ten years.

Because it’s so fun, though, to root for your “own” Packers on your fantasy team, it’s easy to fall into the trap of overdrafting them.  It’s a weakness that can be exploited by your league-mates both during the draft and in trade negotations during the season.  I know.  I’ve been that guy.  I live in the heart of Vikings territory and on more than one occasion over the last decade drafted Adrian Peterson with the express intention of trading him to a desperate Vikings fan.

I’ll provide an average ranking of the relevant Packers fantasy options and give my opinion of their value.  I’ve used a personal composite of ESPN, Yahoo!, and Pro Football Focus’ overall rankings for these numbers.  I’ll also lean towards standard scoring, though I understand many of you are in PPR leagues.

Jordy Nelson- AOR (Average Overall Rank): 10- About Right.

Nelson is now a 32 year old hybrid wide receiver.  Certainly not hybrid in the sense that he’ll ever line up in the backfield, but in the sense that he can line up at X, Z and slot in McCarthy’s offense.  In fact, Nelson is more effective from the slot than nearly any receiver in football, and that is likely to be the next chapter of his career.  This makes him more and more likely to be valuable in a PPR format.

Nelson is a strange study.  Though he certainly got a year older, and is unquestionably moving towards a different part of his career, he’s also exploring this effectiveness from the slot and is a year further removed from ACL surgery.  It’s not unfathomable that he reemerges as a deep threat for a season or two, though it may be unlikely.  Nelson is still the top receiver on what is likely to be one of the league’s top three offenses.

The cherry on top of Nelson’s value is his ability to find paydirt.  In his last two full seasons (he sat out in 2015) Nelson has 27 touchdowns, an incredible number.  He also scored 15 times in 2011 and has never had fewer than 7 in a season since then.  He’s a true WR1 in all formats.

Ty Montgomery- AOR: 38- Too low

Maybe I’m a homer but if Ty Montgomery is on the board any time in the third round he’s going to be on my team.  With the dearth of reliable, #1 running backs in the NFL it’s difficult to understand why T Mo is so underrated.  He’s been moved full time to running back and has two (or maybe three) rookies that are going to back him up.  He knows the offense better than his teammates and, despite what the ill informed might tell you, is the exact correct size to play running back.

Montgomery’s time as a wide receiver makes him even more of a receiving threat than your standard “scat” back.  He understands every non-tight end responsibility in McCarthy’s offense and has the opportunity to rarely leave the field, especially if the rookies can’t pass protect, is going to offer Montgomery more touches in a very good offense than most of his running back counterparts.   I have Montgomery inside my top 10 at RB and at the top end of the third round overall.

Aaron Rodgers- AOR: 38- Too low

Rodgers is the clear #1 option at QB for the 2017 season.  His passing offense hasn’t been as loaded as it is now since 2011.  His line is now more of a finesse offensive line that pass blocks better than it run blocks (it always has, but this year it’s pronounced).   He’s a scrambler at the peak of his powers and the ultimate fantasy QB.

Not only that, but there is more of a clear delineation between him and your other top options than there has been.  I’m not buying that there’s a tight race between he and Brady.  Brady is now 40, offers zero threat of rushing points and hasn’t been a huge touchdown guy, scoring just 30.5 TD per year over the last four seasons.  There’s nothing wrong with that, but when there’s no threat of rushing yardage or rushing TDs, it’s not #1 fantasy QB stuff.  His weaponry hasn’t really improved either, Dwayne Allen isn’t actually very good.  He’s just a former high pick.  Martellus Bennett is much better.  It’s not as if Brandin Cooks’ numbers are going to improve.  Brady isn’t exactly an upgrade from Brees from an accuracy perspective.  The ball was on him before it’ll be on him now.

Andrew Luck is too up and down, Matt Ryan lost Kyle Shanahan, and Drew Brees hasn’t been the same TD producer without Jimmy Graham.

It’s the separation between Rodgers as fantasy QB1 and the candidates for QB2 that create a value.

Davante Adams- AOR: 43- Too high

Adams is a very good player who silenced many of his critics in 2016 (as I said he would).  With that said, he’s going off the board as a WR2.  There have been plenty of guys who are WR2 on their own teams who have been good enough fantasy options to be WR2 options in fantasy.  It’s not even that strange.

With all that said, I worry about Adams’ fantasy value.  Not as a startable option, because he certainly is that, but as a dependable force.  Adams only managed 997 yards on 75 catches last season.  Those are respectable numbers but his fantasy value was propped up by 12 touchdowns.  Those 12 touchdowns were three times as a many as he had in his previous two seasons combined.

Touchdowns are fickle, and without them, Adams is more of a flex play.  Adams also has more competition for TDs.  The Packers found last year in the playoffs that Ty Montgomery and Aaron Ripkowski were fine goal line options, and Martellus Bennet and Lance Kendricks are likely to vastly improve last season’s tight end TD share of 3/40.

I can definitely foresee Davante’s first 1,000 yard season, but it’s also easy to see the TD total drop to 8 or so.  That’s a very mediocre WR2.  Take him as your flex.

Randall Cobb- AOR: 102 – Too low

Cobb is too close to Adams in real value to be selected six rounds after he is.  His numbers have decreased of late, but he’s still one of the best slot receivers in football and he’s in a very good offense.  Cobb finished inside the top 25 at the receiver position according to Pro Football Focus’ grading systtem, and while that grading system may not be perfect, it is a film study of wins vs. the coverage.  There are few available metrics more readily available to find out if a receiver is winning and not getting the ball or just not getting the ball.

Randall Cobb is open a lot.  I still like him as a WR4 or a fringe flex play, and that’s why he ranks inside my top 75 overall.

Martellus Bennett- AOR: 114- about right

There’s a lot to like about Bennett as a player, but he’s frankly going to be just the same from a yardage and touchdown standpoint as any of the non Gronk/Reed/Kelce tight ends.  You’re praying for 80 receiving yards and you’re praying for a touchdown.  He’s an upgrade over Jared Cook, but Cook wasn’t a weekly fantasy play last year, either.

 

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Ross Uglem is a writer at PackersTalk.com. You can follow Ross on twitter at RossUglem

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