Packers Fantasy Preview

Fantasy experts will tell you not to target members of your favorite team, at least not with significant draft capital. I disagree. Every season I have at least one skill player, usually Aaron Rodgers, and, if it’s an annoying league that requires a kicker and defense, the Packers defense and Mason Crosby. There have been years where I didn’t bother with the defense or switched out Crosby, but I’ll always have at least one Packer fantasy player.

This year will be harder than ever. The skill players are either expensive or probably not worth having. Rodgers is good, but is he pocket only? Let’s go over by position.

Quarterback

Rodgers will still be an elite QB, he may not be an elite fantasy QB anymore. He doesn’t scramble or run ever. He doesn’t have any elite wide receivers. The offense will likely tilt more toward running than passing than it has been in his tenure.

Rodgers is a great guy to take in a two QB league or to pair with a young boom or bust prospect (e.g., Lawrence or Lance), but I wouldn’t spend a high pick or a lot of money in an auction on him. Just too many forces working against him being even a top 10 QB consistently.

Running Back   

I would take Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon where they’re going in drafts in a second. I would even take both and start both. I think both will have 1,000 rushing yards. I think Aaron Jones could lead the team in receiving yards. I think AJ Dillon will be one of the best runners in the league. And I think they’ll be on the field together a lot.

Jones is going among the top RBs in the league right now—which is for someone with an AJ Dillon level RB2. I would still take him, and if you take Jones, you basically have to handcuff him to Dillon. Jones hasn’t played every game in a season yet in his career and will never be an every snap back.

Both are viable in a PPR. Jones may end up as the most valuable receiving back in the league and Dillon has above average receiving and run after catch skills.

Wide Receiver

Wide Receiver is rough. Sammy Watkins and Juwann Winfree may not even make the team. Randall Cobb didn’t play on a lot of snaps last year. Amari Rodgers was the team’s most disappointing draft pick last season. Christian Watson hasn’t even practiced with Rodgers. It comes down to two guys.

First, is Romeo Doubs. Doubs is the surprise breakout of camp. A fourth-round pick who fell further than he probably should have in the draft, Doubs has the size, speed, and route running acumen to a make an impact in year 1. The problem is that no wide receiver has really done that with Aaron Rodgers. Doubs is worth taking a shot late in drafts if you can get him cheap, but it’s too early to spend significant draft capital on him.

Lazard is another boom or bust guy. He hasn’t been an impactful fantasy player so far in his career and his reception perception numbers are meh. But he lost weight this offseason (putting him in the same category size and athleticism wise as Kenny Golladay and Drake London) and will be the true WR1 for at least part of the season.

There’s a chance Lazard hits 1,100 yards and 10 TDs. Rodgers has gotten worse wide receivers to those numbers before. There’s also a chance that he stays a glorified tight end and Doubs or some other guy is the new top target by week 8. Like Doubs, Lazard is worth a shot if he comes cheap, but don’t pay up.   

Tight End

Packers tight end is a wait and see approach this year. If Tonyan comes back early and is back to his old self, he could end the season as a top 10 tight end. There’s also up and coming guys who could break out and surprise everyone.

Tyler Davis is a Gutekunst favorite and has looked good in camp. Deguara was an early draft pick, and this will be his first full, healthy season. Even Dominque Dafney has made plays. With the dearth of wide receivers, there’s certainly an opportunity for a Packers tight end to be a great fantasy option. Wait and see who it is.

Defense

I try to avoid having defense or kicker spots in my fantasy leagues. They’re not fun to watch. It’s maddening to lose a week because a kicker missed a field goal, or a defense gave up a td in garbage time. And, more than other spots, they’re based on luck. If you have to pick a defense, the Packers should be good this year.

Jaire, Amos, and Douglas have all shown that they can intercept the ball. Stokes and Savage have a lot of dropped picks in the past that could turn into picks this year. Gary could lead the league in sacks with Preston Smith also having double digits sacks. And the defense is good enough all around to have a respectable points per game average.

Finally, I wouldn’t take Crosby this year. Probably the first time in over a decade that I won’t start the season with him in one league or another. He’s ancient and hasn’t practiced yet. Plus, no one knows who the long snapper will be yet. There are other kickers you can take (in the last round or for a dollar).

Mike Price is a lifelong Packers fan currently living in Utah. You can follow him on twitter at @themikeprice.

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