Green Bay Packers 2012 Fantasy Preview and Projections

Chris Peterson@@ThePPRExpertsAnalyst IJuly 13, 2012

Green Bay Packers 2012 Fantasy Preview and Projections

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    The 2011 version of the Green Bay Packers put up video game type numbers on offense. Led by Aaron Rodgers, the MVP of the National Football League, the Packers put up more points than any team in the league last season, which meant that Packers players proved to be a gold mine for fantasy football owners.

    To put it simply, it was a good thing to own a Packer on your fantasy team. After all, Rodgers was the top ranked player in fantasy football and others such as Jordy Nelson and Greg Jennings were elite fantasy options at wide receiver. Nelson actually finished second in fantasy  points, behind only the immortal Calvin Johnson at wide receiver. In Point Per Reception scoring formats, Nelson finished fourth at his position.

    Jennings would have easily been a top-10 receiver had he not missed the last three games of the regular season due to injury.

    Tight end Jermichael Finley also ranked among the top-10 at his position, while James Starks, Ryan Grant, Donald Driver and James Jones were all decent contributors.

    With the start of Packers training camp less than two weeks away, it is a great time to preview the fantasy value of each Packer. Who has relevance to fantasy football owners in regards to the 2012 NFL season?

    Here is the Packers Fantasy Football Preview. 

Aaron Rodgers

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    Rodgers was more dominant than his numbers show and in 15 games, he posted 393 points, which equates to a 26.2 average, tops among all fantasy players. There is no reason why his play should drop off and in fact with the emergence of second-year receiver Randall Cobb as a bigger part of the offense, he could have even more weapons in 2012, so the possibilities are endless.

    You can be sure that Rodgers will throw for at least 4,500 yards and 40 touchdowns. He can also be counted on for about five rushing touchdowns per season so a total of 50 touchdowns is not unrealistic especially considering he finished with 48 last season in 15 games.

    Even though there are plenty of fantasy experts that will tell you to wait and draft a quarterback later, Rodgers is going to score more fantasy points than any other player this season and in my estimation that makes him worth a top-5 pick any day of the week.

    2012 Projection: 4,832 total yards, 46 total touchdowns.  

Jordy Nelson

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    Nelson has been a hotly debated topic among fantasy experts this offseason and in truth it is wise to be weary of a player, who comes out of nowhere to dominate fantasy football the way the former Kansas State product did last season.

    Nelson put up ridiculous numbers in 2012 and it will be hard to repeat those but if Rodgers is throwing for 4,500 and 40-plus touchdowns it would be reasonable to assume that Nelson is going to post at least 1,000 yards receiving and 6-8 touchdowns.

    Nelson will be a very solid WR2 for the 2012 season. Yet, Fantasy owners should hold off on Nelson until at least the fourth round.

    2012 Projection: 70 receptions, 1,100 yards eight touchdowns. 

Greg Jennings

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    When it comes to producing fantasy numbers, there are few wide receivers better or more consistent than the Packers' Jennings, who over the last five season has averaged 69 receptions for 1,109 yards and nine touchdowns.

    Last season Jennings finished 17th in standard scoring leagues and 18th in PPR formats mainly due to injury. Before that, he was enjoying one of his finest season as he caught a career-high 66.3 percent of his targets.

    Over the past five seasons, Jennings has posted a 9.7 yards per target average and has received an average of 125 targets per season. With that in mind I am projecting him to be a true WR1 that fantasy owners should definitely look to draft late in round two or early in round three.

    2012 Projection: 77 catches, 1,212 yards and 10 touchdowns. 

Jermichael Finley

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    To be honest Finley's 2012 was rather disappointing, especially to those fantasy owners that used a fairly high draft pick on him expecting him to have a transcendent season as a la Jimmy Graham or Ron Gronkowski. Unfortunately, that did not happen for Finley in 2012, who was very mediocre last season given the tremendous skill set he possesses.

    For his career, Finley has caught 68.2 percent of his targets and averaged just over nine yards a target. Yet, last season, Finley was well below his career average in both areas, catching just 59.8 percent of his passes for a yards per target average of 8.3.

    Finley just was not the same player in 2011 that he was in 2010 or even in 2009. Maybe he was distracted because of the lack of a long-term contract or maybe he was just trying to hard to secure that deal. Whatever the reason for his struggles, particularly with drops, Finley is too good a player not to rebound in 2012.

    2012 Projection: 61 receptions, 880 yards and nine touchdowns. Finley will should be drafted in rounds 5-6.

James Starks

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    Starks has been identified as a fantasy sleeper by some and he certainly deserves that thought, the only question with Starks is his ability to stay healthy. When he has been on the field, he has produced for the Packers and was fairly productive last season, carrying the ball 133 times for 578 yards good enough for a 4.34 average. He also caught 29 of 36 passes thrown his way for a total of 216 yards.

    Last season, Starks split carries with former starting running back Ryan Grant and was limited also due to injury, so we have not seen the real Starks for an extended period of time. Yet, Starks is a big, strong runner that can make people miss and always seems to fall forward to extra yardage.

    Do not expect Starks to get a ton of carries cause historically Mike McCarthy has preferred a pass-heavy offense but he has proven he can make plays as a receiver as well as a runner and if he can stay on the field for at least 14 games he should be a low-end RB2.

    2012 Projection: 225 carries, 967 rush yards, 45 receptions 405 yards and six total touchdowns.

The Rest

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    James Jones 

    Jones had arguably his best season in 2011, hauling in 38 passes and taking them for 635 yards and seven touchdowns. Unfortunately, unless there are some injuries at wide receiver, he will be nothing but a fantasy backup because his number of targets are inconsistent.  He may be worth a late-round pick, but nothing more than that.

    Randall Cobb 

    Cobb is one player on the Packers offense that really has a chance to increase his role and become more of an integral part of the offense. Last season, he was targeted only 31 times, but he came away with 25 receptions for 375 yards and a touchdown. He also returned a kickoff for a touchdown, and the Packers recently announced he will continue his return duties in 2012.

    So while Cobb may not get enough opportunities to breakout in a big way in 2012, he will be worth a pick in Dynasty Leagues and in formats that allow points for return yardage. Again, I would not reach on Cobb until the last few rounds of the draft.

    Donald Driver 

    Driver caught just 37 passes for 445 yards last season and continues to lose out on targets, as players like Finley, Nelson, Jones and Cobb need more opportunities. While he has no real fantasy value, he is still a valuable asset to the Packers.

    Brandon Saine 

    Saine flashed a little bit of ability last season when given the opportunity to play, so he has a chance to surprise. Rodgers recently said he has the best hands on the team, which speaks for how accomplished he is as a receiver. Yet, his fantasy value is all dependent on Starks. If Starks remains healthy for the majority of the season, Saine will have little value.

    Alex Green 

    Green is in basically the same boat as Saine, except he is coming off an ACL injury, so he may be forced to open the season on the PUP list. If you are in a dynasty league, he may be worth a late-round pick, other than that, he has very little value this season.