Few teams are able to have a Fantasy Football impact, year in and year out, like the Green Bay Packers. From the glory days of Brett Favre, Antonio Freeman and Dorsey Levens, to the modern day heroics of Aaron Rodgers , Greg Jennings , and Ryan Grant , the Packers have been Fantasy relevant for two decades now. Let's take the Lambeau Leap and check out the 2012 Fantasy prospects in TitleTown USA.
Green Bay Packers Quarterback Fantasy Options
Amassing 18,161 total yards and 147 touchdowns, with just 37 interceptions thrown, Aaron Rodgers has been the cream of the Fantasy football quarterback crop since 2008. Simply put, in his first four years as a full time starter in Green Bay, Rodgers has produced better numbers than any other QB in the National Football League. Plus, he gets bonus points for spearheading the drive to end the fiasco known as the NFL Pro Bowl. Seriously though, Peyton Manning and Tom Brady have both missed a full season in the last four years, Drew Brees has been a stud but his INT ratio is 64-37 when compared to Rodgers, and no one else is even close at the position.
Packers QB Analysis: While matching his 2011 numbers will be a challenge (especially the ridiculously low six interceptions thrown), Rodgers will be a Top Five Fantasy QB once again in 2012. Though I am personally not big on drafting pivots in the first round of any Fantasy Draft, if I have a late round draft spot - say the 11 or 12 hole, I will strongly consider setting up in Rodgers' camp.
Green Bay Packers Running Back Fantasy Options
With the Packers flying Air Rodgers, Green Bay has been largely irrelevant from a fantasy football running back perspective in recent years. Apart from Ryan Grant's top ten placing during the 2009 season, it has been a decade since the Packers had a top fantasy ball carrier (Ahman Green 2001). At the time of writing, Grant is still a free agent but will likely get re-signed after the Packers loaded up on defense in the 2012 NFL College Draft. James Starks , the heir-apparent to Grant, has played in just 16 over his first two seasons. Laden with injury concerns since his college days as a Buffalo Bull, Starks can't be trusted as a RB1 on any fantasy squad. 2011 third round NFL Draft pick Alex Green is still recovering from a torn ACL; while there's nothing "full time starter" about John Kuhn or Brandon Saine.
Packers RB Analysis: If you can get Starks at a decent price, he may be worth a look as sleeper pick as a low end RB2 who could rise. We would back him up with whatever player emerges from the scrum as the backup (Grant) in the Green Bay backfield. That said, move along as there's not much to see here.
Green Bay Packers Wide Receiver Fantasy Options
It's not a matter of if you should wrangle up a wide receiver in Green Bay, it is who will be the first Packer wideout off the board during your 2012 Fantasy Draft? WR Greg Jennings is in the final season of his current four-year deal and he dropped out of the Top Ten list after he missed three games in 2011. Jordy Nelson picked up the slack and was the top fantasy receiver in Green Bay last season. Expect Donald Driver to start and end his stellar career as a Packer as the 13-year veteran is in the final year of his current contract. The Packers are still waiting on WR James Jones to step up to the next level – though to his credit, he is buried as the WR4 in Green Bay.
Packers WR Analysis: Nelson is a homerun hitter (eight of his 15 TD catches went for 36 yards or more) and with Rodgers tossing the pigskin, both he and Jennings are worthy of WR1 consideration on Draft Day 2012. Driver and James will continue to get the leftovers.
Green Bay Packers Tight End Fantasy Options
When it comes to enigmas, few are more difficult to read than Packers tight end Jermichael Finely. As I mentioned in a previous column, Finely (due his butterfingers) was a source of frustration for Fantasy Owners for the better part of the 2011 season. Finley produced double digit fantasy points just four times last season and, with the TE crop improving annually, that doesn't cut in land of Fantasy football. The shining light for Finely, who has also developed a case of "foot in mouth" disease, is the fact that he is unchallenged as the TE1 in Green Bay.
Packers TE Analysis: Yours truly was high on Finely heading into the 2011 season. Knowing that Rodgers has a lot of hands to feed, hopefully he has learned to catch during the off-season. With another bumper crop of big men expected to bloom in 2012, safely consider Finely as a solid middle of the pack top ten tight end.
Green Bay Packers Bottom Line: Rodgers will continue to be a huge factor in the Fantasy QB neighborhood. We do caution that selecting the "wrong" WR1 in Green Bay could be very costly and suggest that you move on the Green Bay wide receivers with caution.