2011 Fantasy Football Packer Prospects

By Billy Needham

With the upcoming 2011 NFL season quickly approaching, another phenomenom is racing right along side it. That opponent in fantasy football! I have fallen in love with it, having leagues with old buddies, a work league, starting a league with family members this season, even random ones just to have one more matchup to prepare for. Whether there is money on the line, bragging rights, or personal pride, it is a pretty addicting way to occupy a Thursday night on NFL Network, all day Sunday, and the finale, Monday night football. Every team has their options, some studs, some duds, but the Packers may have the most surefire fantasy phenoms of anyone, lets review……….

QB: ARodge has been the fantasy points leader two of the last three seasons , with a great blend of 4000+ yards, 25-30+ passing TDs, and usually 300+ rushing yards with 4-5 rushing TDs. He is essentially the cream of the crop of fantasy QBs. Michael Vick has taken the league and fantasy football by storm with his electrifying speed and strong arm but I take Rodgers any day #1. Rodgers is at his prime, surrounded by an elite crew of playmakers, and a head coach that loves to sling it, take Aaron Rodgers in the FIRST round, he can carry your team!

RB: As a team, it is a great problem to have, but when you are running a fantasy team, a split backfield makes me want to split my laptop in half. Ryan Grant has been our starter for the previous 3 seasons, and two of which, he had great success, breaking long runs, 1200 yards at the end of the season, but the tides may be changing. James Starks came essentially out of nowhere last postseason to LEAD all RBs in rushing yards (that Eagles game was sick). I see no other alternative than feeding whoever gets hot from quarter to quarter, game to game. Grant may start, but Starks may finish. Starks is the younger of the two, the cheaper, and not going bye bye after this season, so I think Starks has the most value over the course of the season. I want neither as my #2 RB, but both are great as #3 and bye week replacements, with a little more upside with Starks.

WR: Oh Boy, this is where it gets really complicated. We, fortunately, have a great group of receivers, 5 deep now with Randall Cobb thrown in. Our #1 to me is a tie, between Greg Jennings and Jermichael Finley. I know, Finley is not a WR, but he might as well be. Rodgers looks to Finley first more frequent, because he gets seperation from whatever poor LB or safety is covering him quicker. Jennings may be wide open, but Rodgers spots Finley first, but this is WRs, so Jennings is by far our #1 and your #1, excellent routes, great hands, great speed, excellent after catch, a QB’s dream. Our #2 is a toss up between Jordy Nelson and James Jones. Had Jones not resigned, Nelson’s fantasy stock would have exploded, but he did resign and I am glad he did. I cannot pick one over the other except for both were on the team through the playoffs, and Nelson had 21 catches, 286 yards, 2 TD, and Jones had 11 catches, 144 yards, and 2 TDs. Nelson doubled Jones up on everything except TDs. If I had the choice, I would take Nelson as a #3 WR, and Jones as a #4. Donald Driver is still serviceable, but the old man has definetly lost a small step, Cobb has no real value except in deep keeper leagues or fantasy leagues that give credit for return yards.

TE: This is the real gem for the Packers! Jermichael Finley is the best receiving TE in the NFL, as long he stays healthy. I cannot stress how good this kid is and if he stays healthy, applies himself, he can change the TE/WR position. He wants to lineup on a two point stance to get a quicker jump on the defender, by gosh, let him. He is projected top five by almost every fantasy site or magazine, I have a hard time not placing him in the 1/2 spot.. The other options: Antonio Gates has bad, lingering toes, torn foot tendons, and is 31. Dallas Clark ended last year with torn ligaments in his wrist, and is 32. Jason Witten is good, has a fragile QB, and has no game breaking qualities. Vernon Davis has those game breaking qualities, just no decent QB to deliver the ball. Finley has top of the league athleticism, QB, and determination. I would have no problem picking him as the top TE overall, please prove me wrong!

K: Mason Crosby has one of the strongest legs of any kicker in the league, but his accuracy is pretty suspect. He is top 5, maybe top 3, in my opinion, especially in leagues who reward 50+ yard FGs. He finished 12th in the rankings last year, 4th the year before that. He kicks with a great offense that should give him plenty of oppurtunities. Kickers go in the last round, it is almost impossible to rank fantasy kickers, so take it with a grain of salt.

DEF: A more than reliable pass rush, a ball hawking secondary, and a superior defensive coordinator make our defense really fun to watch, and really fun to have on your fantasy team. This group is definetly top 3, and can remain as your starting defense despite any matchup. I love drafting two defenses and playing the matchup but if I were able to get the Pack’s D, I would save that backup spot (thanks Keith). Defenses go too early in most drafts, but the Packers should have a reliable crew, worthy of a mid to late round pick, especially for you Packer fans!

IDPs: I love having Packer defenders on my fantasy team, giving me just another reason to be rowdy on the weekends screaming for Desmond Bishop to smack someone or when Clay rounds the o-line, but unfortunately, the Packers have too many good defenders. The best IDP players to draft are good defenders on bad squads if you are looking for tackles. Of course, you have your Polamalu’s and Reed’s, who are just ball hawks, but the only true IDPs I see worth drafting are Bishop, Matthews, and either starting CB. I used to have Collins hoping for INTs but they came sparingly and he would usually only give me 3-4 tackles a game. Raji is a good IDP defensive lineman, but 3-4 d-lineman hardly get any stats. Raji did have a dominating playoffs and I am seeing that Capers may change the d-line to their Eagle formation lining Raji between the Center/Guard letting him shoot that B gap, so he could also be worth a pick if you must play a d-lineman.

Hope this has helped any Packer fan out there with picking up these guys to win a fantasy championship!

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