Fantasy Football Focus: Green Bay Packers

Russell IvanacSenior Analyst IAugust 3, 2008

He is retired. He isn't retired. He is being traded. He isn't being traded.

And so the soap opera continues. You-know-who is back in Green Bay for now, and it should be obvious that he has made an impact on the team's fantasy value at almost every position.

The Green Bay Packers are a solid team with or without the media's biggest meal ticket to date. Whether or not he starts for the Packers will not affect their team's success too much, but it will affect their fantasy value.



Aaron Rodgers/Brett Favre

Will Favre really be coming into camp as the backup? Does anyone else find it hard to believe that he could possibly be the backup? If he does stay with Green Bay, he will start, but I think he will be kept on a short leash and any struggles could result in Rodgers going under center.

Either way, Favre coming back to the Packers hurts Rodgers' fantasy value, and Rodgers being around could hurt Favre's fantasy value. Unless he does get traded.

Let's assume that Rodgers wins the starting job for a second. It would mean shorter passes and more bootlegs, which would mean less fantasy production from the receivers. Rodgers showed plenty of ability behind center, but he also showed an inability to stay healthy.

He was injured in two of the three games that he saw significant playing time. He is still a decent No.2 fantasy quarterback in this scenario, but if Favre sticks around, Rodgers' fantasy value doesn't.

If Favre sticks with the Packers, the receivers will be the biggest beneficiaries. He throws the ball down field more than Rodgers and takes more risks. Don't forget that he will be entering his 18th year in the league and more than likely won't be able to reproduce his surprisingly high number of touchdowns and yards last year. He is a solid No. 2 fantasy quarterback, as long as he is starting, even if it isn't in Green Bay.



Ryan Grant/Brandon Jackson

Teams will more than likely be focusing more on stopping the run now that Grant has proven he can be effective. That will be especially true if Rodgers is the starter. Regardless, it will be interesting to see what Grant can do with a full season of carries as the starter behind a very solid offensive line.

Grant briefly held out in order to get a new contract, and with his new contract in hand, he should be ready to have a solid season. He has great acceleration and makes good decisions while running, which usually results in him getting into the open field, where he can really showcase his abilities.

Green Bay will be leaning on Grant this season, and you can depend on him being a fringe No. 1 fantasy back.

Jackson had a disappointing rookie campaign last year and is looking to bounce back and cement himself as Grant's backup. Grant's holdout could have helped him do that because Jackson has looked impressive in camp, filling in Grant's role.

If he can improve his blocking skills, then he could fight off sharing carries with fellow backups Vernand Morency and DeShawn Wynn. No real fantasy value here, unless Grant struggles a lot.



Greg Jennings/Donald Driver/Donald Lee

Both Jennings and Driver will see an increase in their fantasy values if Favre does take back the starter's job. Both are also tremendous route runners and will be a big part of the offense.

Jennings looks to be the better fantasy option, as he has more big-play potential and is more athletic than the aging Driver. At 5'11" inches, Jennings shouldn't be such a tremendous deep threat.

The quickster is though, and had the best yards-after-catch average out of the top-30 receivers in the league last year as a result. He also has the ability to juke defenders out of their jock straps, making him a solid No. 2 fantasy WR.

Driver's best days are behind him, but he still has enough left in the tank to be a solid slot receiver and possibly break 1,000-yards receiving once again. He isn't that tall (6'0") and isn't as fast as he used to be, but he won't have the same pressure on him that he used to. He is a decent No. 3 fantasy receiver and would love to see Favre behind center.

Tight end Donald Lee may be the only receiver that will put up better stats if Rodgers is the starter. Lee could develop into a nice security outlet for Rogers, which would obviously increase his value. Regardless, he should keep getting the same four to five catches that he did all last year.

He is a good downfield threat as well, boasting a 6.0 yards-per-catch average last year. He is a No. 2 fantasy tight-end now, but if Rogers starts, he could end up being a fringe No. 1 guy.



Mason Crosby

Crosby led all kickers in fantasy scoring last year, but don't expect him to repeat that feat this year. The cold weather in Green Bay will work against him. He did make three of his five field goals of 50 or more yards last year, so he has proven he can make the long ones. He won't be the best this year, but he will be a No. 1 fantasy option.



The strength of Green Bay's defense is their front seven. Their defensive line is led by DE Aaron Kampman, who led the league in quarterback hurries and ranked second in quarterback hits. The line does a good job of disrupting runs, but their strength is their depth, which keeps them fresh through the entire game.

MLB Nick Barnett is a great overall linebacker and arguably one of the best against the run. OLB A.J. Hawk is a great open-field tackler and has improved his coverage ability, which was one of his weak points. Their linebackers are their strongest unit and could be one of the better linebacking corps in the NFL.

Two aging ball-hawks (Al Harris and Charles Woodson) anchor the Packer’s defensive backfield. They will get their fair share of interceptions this year, and more than their fair share of penalties.

The Packer's defense led the league in defensive pass interference penalties (13) and all of them were against their defensive backs. SS Atari Bigby is a hard-hitting run stopper, but is average at best in coverage, along with the rest of Green Bay's safeties.

Their return game will improve with the arrival of rookie receiver Jordy Nelson. He will most likely take over as the punt returner, considering his college success at the position (five punt-return touchdowns).

He may see some time on kickoffs as well, but so may Wynn and Jackson. The return game isn't spectacular, but it should be well above average, leading me to believe that this unit will be a No. 1 fantasy defense.


Top Five Green Bay Packers Fantasy Players

1. Ryan Grant

2. Greg Jennings

3. Donald Driver

4. Brett Favre

5. Donald Lee

Bye Week: 8


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