In six of the past seven seasons, Rodgers has finished as either the 1st or 2nd ranked fantasy quarterback, missing the distinction in 2013 when he missed eight games due to a broken collarbone. Last season, he finished as the 2nd ranked quarterback behind Andrew Luck as he couldn’t overcome Luck’s sheer volume in passing attempts (just 520 to Luck’s 616). In fact, amongst the top five fantasy quarterbacks, Rodgers had the fewest passing attempts with Peyton Manning next in line at 597, a reminder that Rodgers career high in passing attempts is 552. However, as the league’s top quarterback, Rodgers makes the most of his attempts, finishing last season with 4,381 yards and 38 touchdowns with just five interceptions. While Luck benefits from playing against the sad sack defenses of the AFC South, we still rate Rodgers as the top ranked quarterback for 2015. With Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb arguably the league’s top wide receiver duo, and Davante Adams expected to take a leap forward, the Packers return their key receiving weapons and there is guarded optimism regarding 2nd year tight end Richard Rodgers. The offensive line also returns intact and running back Eddie Lacy showed impressive improvement as a pass catcher in 2014, hauling in 42 passes for 427 yards. Add it all up and Rodgers should be the first quarterback taken in your fantasy draft.
Two years into his career, Lacy has proven to be more than worthy of having been selected in the 2nd round of the 2013 NFL Draft. The 5’11’, 230 pound Alabama product has chalked up 2,317 rushing yards, 20 rushing touchdowns, 684 receiving yards and four receiving touchdowns during his first two years in the league. Even more impressive was his increased efficiency in 2014 as his yards per carry increased from 4.1 to 4.6 and his yards per reception increased from 7.3 to 10.2. Simply put, Lacy’s quick feet and power running translate into solid playmaking ability on a consistent basis. In 31 career games, he has reached double digit fantasy points 23 times, including in 12 of the last 13 games last season. While we don’t rate Lacy as our top rated fantasy running back for 2015, we certainly wouldn’t criticize anybody for taking him 1st overall in their fantasy draft. The arrow is pointing up for the big Packers running back.
Entering his 6th season in the league, Starks has proven to be a valuable backup capable of stringing together a few solid games when called upon. After posting arguably the strongest performance of his career in 2013, he struggled somewhat in 2014, gaining just 333 yards and a pair of scores on 85 carries and adding another 140 yards as a receiver. He enters 2015 with little competition to remain Eddie Lacy’s main backup.
For some players, fantasy football owners need to chalk up extraordinary touchdown production as unsustainable. That isn’t the case for the Packers Jordy Nelson. With 43 touchdowns in his last 60 games, Nelson is a proven touchdown machine in the Packers high-powered passing attack which, oh by the way, features preeminent signal caller Aaron Rodgers. In 2014, Nelson reached career highs in targets with 151, receptions with 98 and yards with 1,519 while notching 13 touchdowns, the 2nd most of his career. He was also remarkably consistent with eight or more fantasy points in 13 games. What’s not to like? Well, not much other than offseason hip surgery. While the Packers line is that the surgery was minor and that Nelson will be ready for the opening of training camp, the surgery increases his risk factor for the 2015 season since there aren’t any hip surgeries that should be considered minor for a wide receiver. Provided there aren’t any complications from the surgery, we rate Nelson as a Tier 2, borderline Tier 1 WR.
What do we know? We know that Aaron Rodgers is going to throw for over 4,000 yards if he remains healthy. We know the Packers will feature Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb at wide receiver with Davante Adams picking up a fair number of targets as their third receiver. With Eddie Lacy and the team’s tight ends likely on track for 60-70 receptions, it is pretty easy to project Nelson and Cobb for 1,200 receiving yards each. It’s simply math really. The dynamic Cobb enjoyed the finest season of his four-year career in 2014, reaching career highs in all receiving categories with 127 targets, 91 receptions, 1,287 receiving yards and 12 touchdowns. Of those numbers, only the touchdown count seems like a stretch for Cobb to repeat. If Rodgers and Cobb both remain healthy, there is little doubt that Cobb will finish the season ranked no lower than a lower tier WR1.
The Packers used a 2nd round pick to acquire Adams in last year’s NFL Draft looking for a big, physical receiver to replace James Jones. The 6’1″, 212 pound Fresno State product had a solid, if not spectacular rookie season, catching 38 of his 66 targets for 446 yards and three touchdowns. While the Packers won’t say it publicly, the truth is that they were probably expecting more. Adams caught just 57.5% of his targets, was targeted five or more times in just six of his 16 regular season games and topped 50 receiving yards just three times. While Adams will likely improve on his production in 2015, we don’t see him emerging as a solid, consistent fantasy option. He rates as mid-tier WR4 in redraft formats.
In May, the headlines in Green Bay screamed that Packers head coach expected Janis, a 2014 7th round pick, to take a big step forward in his 2nd season. While Janis possesses solid size at 6’3″ and 219 pounds to go along with enough speed to get past opposing defensive backs, the odds aren’t great that he will unseat Davante Adams to emerge as the team’s top backup at wide receiver. Dynasty leaguers should consider Janis as a potential prospect.
Any wide receiver selected by Green Bay in the 3rd round warrants fantasy consideration. It’s just hard to predict much of a role for Montgomery, who is considered a raw prospect coming out of Stanford, until Jordy Nelson departs since Randall Cobb and Davante Adams are young, productive players. In addition, the Packers are high on Jeff Janis, the team’s 7th round pick in last year’s draft. Montgomery warrants consideration only in deep dynasty formats.
Taken in the 5th round of the 2014 NFL Draft, Rodgers was handed a golden opportunity to emerge as the team’s starter at tight end but he failed to push journeyman Andrew Quarless into a purely backup role. He will look to build upon his rookie production of 20 receptions for 225 yards and a pair of touchdowns and the odds of that happening are decent given the Packers lack of depth at tight end. However, given the team’s solid depth at wide receiver and Rodgers lack of playmaking ability as a rookie, we rate him as nothing more than a lower tier TE2 in 2015.
Over the past two seasons, Quarless has proven to be a middling receiving option at tight end for the Packers, approaching 30 receptions and just over 300 yards in each season. He isn’t the future at tight for Green Bay and has little fantasy appeal as he enters his 5th season in the league.