Stock Up, Stock Down for Key Green Bay Packers Heading into Week 8
With the Packers riding a three-game winning streak, it should come as no surprise that a number of Green Bay players have seen their stock rise over the past few weeks. However, there have also been those Packers who have needed their teammates to pick up the slack for their poor play, as their stock is declining.
Let's take a look whose stock is up and whose stock is down for the Packers heading into Week 8.
Stock Up: Aaron Rodgers, Quarterback
When your All-Pro quarterback's stock is improving, you know things are going good. That's what's happening for the Green Bay Packers, and the rest of the league needs to take notice.
Aaron Rodgers is coming off a spectacular performance in Week 7, passing for 260 yards and three touchdowns. He did it without injured wide receivers James Jones and Randall Cobb, and lost starting tight end Jermichael Finley before the end of the game.
What Rodgers is doing better right now than he's ever done before is raise the level of his teammates' play. He did it last week with wide receiver Jarrett Boykin, and he'll have to do it again this week with the bevy of new targets he'll have on the field.
With Rodgers playing so well, the Packers will be one of the most difficult teams in the league to beat going forward.
Stock Down: James Starks, Running Back
It may seem a little unfair to say James Starks' stock is down due to the fact he's been out with a knee injury for the past three games. However, while Starks has been injured, fellow running back Eddie Lacy has been on an absolute tear.
This is why Starks has seen his stock decline as the Packers prepare to face the Minnesota Vikings in Week 8. Even if Starks is ready to play on Sunday, which it looks like he may be, according to Mike Vandermause of the Green Bay Press-Gazette, it'd be hard to see him taking too many carries away from Lacy.
What's even worse is that Starks may have some other difficulties in getting ahead of Johnathan Franklin on the depth chart. Simply put, Starks' injury came at the worst possible time and his stock is suffering because of it.
Stock Up: Eddie Lacy, Running Back
Since we're talking about running backs, how good has Eddie Lacy been the past three weeks? He's averaging over 100 yards rushing per game since the Packers' bye week in Week 4.
Lacy has become such a huge part of the offense in Green Bay that you could easily make a case that he's been just as important as quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Without Lacy's success on the ground, opposing defenses would be able to focus solely on slowing down the Packers passing game.
However, that hasn't happened and the end result has been Green Bay fielding one of its most balanced offenses in recent memory. Look for Lacy to continue to get plenty of touches and for his stock to continue to rise in the coming weeks.
Stock Down: Don Barclay, Offensive Tackle
The offensive player who had the worst game against the Cleveland Browns was Don Barclay. In fact, Barclay had the third-worst grade of any offensive tackle in Week 7 according to Pro Football Focus (subscription required).
As poorly as Barclay played on Sunday, things just kept getting worse for him over the course of the week. By Thursday, Barclay wasn't even taking snaps with the first-team offensive line during practice.
Even if Barclay still starts this week against the Minnesota Vikings, it's almost guaranteed that he'll be on an extremely short leash. One small mistake and Barclay's stock will drop to an all-time low.
Stock Up: Jarrett Boykin, Wide Receiver
When you post eight receptions for 103 yards and a touchdown out of absolutely nowhere, your stock is bound to go up. In fact, no player on the Packers has seen his stock rise as much as that of Jarrett Boykin.
The great thing about Boykin is that he stepped up exactly when the Packers needed him. With Randall Cobb and James Jones injured, Green Bay needed a receiver to have a big game opposite Jordy Nelson.
The only question that remains is what type of role will Boykin have once Cobb and Jones return. It might not be a huge one, but the Packers certainly need to figure out how to keep getting him the ball, which is why his stock is up.
Stock Down: Mike Neal, Outside Linebacker
Offensive tackle Don Barclay had the worst game of any Packer on the offensive side of the ball against the Cleveland Browns. On the defensive side of the ball, that honor went to outside linebacker Mike Neal.
Neal had been playing well for the Packers going into the Browns game in place of Clay Matthews. Unfortunately, Neal failed to create any type of pass rush and was also terrible against the run.
His overall play was good enough to earn the second-worst grade for a 3-4 outside linebacker according to Pro Football Focus (subscription required). If Neal wants to continue to have a role once Matthews and Nick Perry return from injury, he'll have to play much better than he did in Week 7.
Stock Up: Jamari Lattimore, ILB
When starting inside linebacker Brad Jones was injured, the Green Bay Packers had to rely on second-year linebacker Jamari Lattimore to step up in his place. Not only has Lattimore done that, but he's made it difficult for the Packers to bench him once Jones returns.
Lattimore has been playing exceptional football the past two weeks. Last week against the Cleveland Browns, he finished the game with 12 total tackles, one sack and even had one pass-defensed.
Overall, Lattimore looks like he brings a playmaking ability to the field that the Packers haven't had in recent seasons. If he continues to play as well as he has been, it'll be tough for Jones to get his starting job back.
Stock Down: Jerron McMillian, S
We all know just how bad Jerron McMillian has been for the Green Bay Packers this year. In case you forgot, McMillian has been graded as the league's third-worst safety this year, according to Pro Football Focus (subscription required).
Unfortunately, the Packers have't had the depth in the secondary to keep him off the field, although that may have changed last Sunday with the play of cornerback Micah Hyde. The Packers decided to replace McMillian with Hyde when playing in their dime defense and Hyde rewarded them by playing solid football.
With Morgan Burnett back from injury and Hyde providing depth, McMillian will likely see his snaps quickly fall towards zero in the coming weeks.
Stock Up: Sam Shields, CB
Sam Shields' first great performance came against the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 3, when he held Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green to only four receptions for 46 yards and a touchdown on eight targets.
Shields was faced with another difficult matchup last week in wide receiver Josh Gordon. Once again, Shields was fantastic as he limited the Browns receiver to only two catches on six targets for only 21 yards.
Heading into the season, many expected Shields to be the third-best cornerback on the Green Bay roster behind Tramon Williams and Casey Hayward. However, Shields is playing like an elite No. 1 shutdown cornerback right now, sending his stock soaring.
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